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 Is being MSPA Silver or Gold Certified Worth It?
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KathyBee
Member

CA
USA
28 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2006 :  10:04:56 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I think it is well worth the fee and time, just for the networking part of it alone. Personally I didn't really learn anything...
I took this quote slightly out of context. I missed the San Francisco Gold certification, and was thinking of flying North for the next certification on August 26th. My question is this: if it is all about the networking, will I be short-changing myself if I catch an early flight that morning, and then jump on a flight again when the session is over? If I am going to buy the ticket I want the full value of the experience! I think I just answered my own question in regards to getting the "full experience," but I am curious to see what the gurus have to offer

Thanks in advance for your insight! I am always appreciative.

Happily shopping the East Bay, Northern CA
MSPA Silver Certified #me5dmo
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SheilaW
Star Contributor

Fairfield, CA
USA
881 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2006 :  10:33:52 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
KathyBee - whether you'll learn anything depends on what you already know!
I have shopped for about 18 months and just took the Gold in SF. I did learn some things that I didn't know or failed to realise.
There were only 3 MS companies represented in SF so, once again, networking helps if you're not "in" with those companies otherwise.......
I think just getting the Gold has been a big help to me. I am getting pre-notifications, more job offers and some jobs are paying me a little more now than they were before and that's in just the first couple of weeks.
Good luck

Sheila, NoCal
Proudly shopping Solano County including Travis AFB.
Gold Certified.
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Ron de Sacramento
Valued Contributor

Sacramento, CA
USA
214 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2006 :  4:56:48 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Just got done writing my report for today's activity. Damn it, Jim there was brandy and cigars available again today. I'm an honest shopper, not a doctor! And, I get to do it again in two weeks.

Got a couple of hotel assignments lined up in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties. I *hate* to brag and poach, but man oh man this gold certification ROCKS!

By the way, today's shop is the ultimate "I do this anyway" and "they're forcing me to do this and get reimbursed."

Now, if I could just swing some tix for Sunday's concert at Arco Arena. . .
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Terri C.
Valued Contributor

ME
USA
121 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2006 :  3:54:20 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Depends on the amount of shops, types, and how many other shoppers in an area.

If you plan on doing 10 shops a month and already do them, most likely you will seek little benefits from certification.

Gold and Silver- I have gotten jobs because I was certified and also first dibs on jobs.
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TamiH
Contributor

TN
USA
57 Posts

Posted - 08/28/2006 :  2:00:50 PM  Send TamiH an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
One of the biggest things going Gold helped me to do is to write better reports. I found after I attended the certification training day and completed more shops and reports, I was getting praise from many schedulers that I didn't get much of before. I see where there are some shops that Gold can do that other shoppers can't. I see where Gold and Silver are notified of some shops before others that are not certified. I do believe Gold and Silver are selected first as long as other items about the shopper are good as well - like how many times you cancelled or spelled words incorrectly, etc.

Tami
Gold Certified
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Ron de Sacramento
Valued Contributor

Sacramento, CA
USA
214 Posts

Posted - 08/29/2006 :  8:41:38 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have to admit is kind of nice to see $150 deposited to my PayPal account for *just one* shop.

Just finished a report for a shop I totally enjoyed today and the first check from this same company is on its way to the tune of 49 smackers.

Life is good in the Gold lane. . .
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KellyH
Star Contributor

USA
316 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2006 :  3:00:45 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I can speak for my family members. They are in rural areas of the US in Florida, Kentucky, and Texas. I got them into mystery shopping. For them, they get assignments without having a certification. They either fit the older demographics needed or the need for shoppers in the rural areas. Shops I never received until I went Gold (a year after shopping), they got in their first month of mystery shopping!

In my case, I am in a metropolitan area. If I wanted shops, I needed to have my certification or I would be at the bottom of the list.

I would say that if you are being turned down for shops, you should look at getting MSPA Silver/Gold certified. At the same time, if you're not seeing lots of shops in your area, it may not be worth. ANother point to make is whether you want to be a professional IC. I do this full-time, so getting certified (plus being in a big city) was a no-brainer for me!
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MichaelinNH
Star Contributor

New Hampshire
USA
488 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  5:48:36 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have seen no difference from now and six years ago. All the companies that I worked with have re-engaged me pretty much.

I don't know if I am missing assignments because I am Silver and not Gold. But I have 100 or so shops available pretty much every month, just a question if the money and the time will work around my traditional job. I drive 200-500 miles a week between my two offices, so a lot of the gas shops that many would turn down at $6-10 a pop are a benefit to me.

MSPA Gold 8/9/2006 MSPA Silver 6/23/2007
Video Shopper Certified 6/9/2011 NV Workcard R-061144. Shopping 50 States, Puerto Rico & Canada.
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HeatherN
Valued Contributor

New York
USA
142 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  9:00:55 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Frankly, I'd like to see "proof" of gold certified shoppers making more than non-certified shoppers on jobs. I'm gold and I have plenty of certified shopper friends and none of us have seen an increase in fee for gold shoppers. There is obviously a preference for some MSPs to pick certified shoppers first, but the most MSPs don't follow this mindset, including the MSPA member MSPs I've done editing for in the past. Most companies want "fresh blood" and try out the new shoppers, regardless of certification.
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Dee in AZ
Star Contributor

Tucson, AZ
USA
663 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  09:40:09 AM  Send Dee in AZ an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I was told by the Gold certification promoter a few years ago that my business would "dry up" if I did not get my Gold certification. It was right here on Volition although that thread eventually got deleted. There was some pretty heavy handed pressure back when this all started to get shoppers to go for the gold.
Well I did end up getting it a few years after they started but I can't say it has really affected my business. I see the early emails and a few shops that prefer Gold shoppers but overall I can't say that I get more jobs or even better jobs. I was already turning down more shops than I could do and I already saw good shops before becoming Gold. I really think that a good reliable shopper has just as much chance at the majority of work as a gold shopper. And forget it if the gold shopper is just "gold" in name. If they can't back it up with a track record they won't go any further with the gold than they would have without it.
I have never seen a company state that they pay gold shoppers more. I think telling shoppers that their pay will go up if they get the gold is really misrepresenting the facts. Why is there the need to promote this as something it clearly isn't? The Gold was fun, I enjoyed the contact with other shoppers although no company reps (not even Kern) showed up at the one I went to so as far as networking it really didn't happen much. I didn't really learn anything new but it was an enjoyable day.

Deanna Kessler
Deannna.kessler@seelevelhx.com
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Vonda
Valued Contributor

Virginia
USA
137 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2006 :  5:37:48 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I can't say I learned anything new in the workshop. Given the limited amount of time I started shopping once gas prices went up, I cannot say it helped me get more work, as I was not looking for more. However, it did definitely give me an edge over other editors when picking up new accounts.

Vonda
MSPA Gold Certified
Serving Northern Virginia
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2006 :  6:27:16 PM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Dee, I do get offered more from companies since my Gold. Their emails clearly state this. One, being Doug and the wing shops. I have had at least 8 or 9 companies that stated they paid more for me being Gold. There are alot more companies than the ones listed here that do mystery shopping and have great respect for the MSPA. They cannot join as they have not been in business long enough.

I have no desire to list the companies here as I do not want any of them to get those "Why don't I get more money?" emails. Doug has probably already gotten a few of them.

Now mind you, I think all companies should do this, I do not feel that non certified or even Silver shoppers should be paid the same as the shoppers who have taken the time and spent their money to get Gold certified. I am sure the Silver and non certified shoppers do not feel that way, but that is ok.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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RuthHallows
Valued Contributor

Mesa, AZ
USA
117 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2006 :  6:39:26 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
One of the biggest things going Gold helped me to do is to write better reports.
I have to agree. I noticed the evening after the workshop, at my first shop post-certification. Instead of stating the windows, doors, etc were "clean and neat" I found myself describing exactly what I saw from shiny windows to the brochures organized at checkout.

Prior to Gold, I had received a lot of 10's with "very detailed narrative" . . . now I think I'll do even better.

MSPA Gold Certified
Serving Mesa, Tempe, and Gilbert, AZ
Shopping Since 2001
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SheilaW
Star Contributor

Fairfield, CA
USA
881 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2006 :  9:34:19 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
After I spent the hours putting the Gold on all the websites that take it, I noticed that some jobs that I was paid $10 for before my Gold Certification were suddenly paying $12. Some at $15 went to $17 etc.
These companies didn't email me and say that they would pay me more for Gold but there were too many of them and the timing was such that it couldn't have been a coincidence.

Sheila, NoCal
Proudly shopping Solano County including Travis AFB.
Gold Certified.
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Dee in AZ
Star Contributor

Tucson, AZ
USA
663 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2006 :  07:39:17 AM  Send Dee in AZ an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
I do not feel that non certified or even Silver shoppers should be paid the same as the shoppers who have taken the time and spent their money to get Gold certified. I am sure the Silver and non certified shoppers do not feel that way, but that is ok.
I am gold certified and I do not agree. I cannot imagine any reason why someone who paid to go to a 1 day class that really was not educational is worth more than someone who didn't pay for it. I could see if there was a real educational value and people came out of the class much improved shoppers but we all know that isn't the case. I think it would make more sense for a company to pay their best, most reliable shoppers more, regardless of certification. I know of at least one company that I work for that does this. When I get the email from them telling me I got a "raise" I really feel like I have worked for it and earned it.


Deanna Kessler
Deannna.kessler@seelevelhx.com
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2006 :  07:49:41 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Here here Dee
I was going to say something about that, but I've already said plenty before in the thread. If the MSC's really want to treat Gold shoppers better than their should be a requirement other than 'pay the money for silver, pass the SIMPLE test (not my words, from people who've taken it) and then pay the money for the Gold, pay attention at the seminar, and then easily pass the test (if you were paying attention, which a good ms'er should be doing).

If it had some kind of verified experience and/or reference requirement than I could see companies treating Gold better, but there isn't so I don't see the reasoning. Or if it were a more stringent training program or one where you had to update your skills and pass a harder test and have completed a certain number of shops w/a minimum average grade each year to keep your Gold Cert, that might get me to sign up (e.g. a Paralegal needs to take continuing education).

But as I see it, the majority of the shops are low pay simply because, as has been stated here I believe, as well as in other threads, we're seen as lucky to get 'free food' or 'free merchandise'. There are plenty who do it for that and that keeps the fees down. The certain jobs that are higher for Gold will just get harder and harder to get as more newbies plunk down their $$$ to get that piece of paper.

And a $2 boost in pay as Sheila noted isn't that big of a deal, sometimes I get bonuses from shops that aren't picked...and I get a lot more than a $2 increase in shop fee

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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Mimi
Star Contributor

USA
1691 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2006 :  1:26:58 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Certification is a really big selling point with a few of the MSCs who are actually MSPA members. I really don't know why, but I believe they are thinking if we invest the money, we must be serious shoppers.

Now we have to look at a serious shopper who spends their money to get certification ~vs~ a serious shopper who refuses to pay the fee.

If you cannot write a logical paragraph...much less sentence...it would be to your advantage to get certified, and, I would recommend a gold certification in this case. Just spending $15 for a silver certification will not get you the top jobs when you have inferior writing skills. However, if you pay for the gold certification, your mediocre writing skills are no longer an issue. You are gold; that's all you need to be, and the MSCs will hire you simply based on this premise. Unfortunately, they will only hire you ONCE.


Mimi
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SheilaW
Star Contributor

Fairfield, CA
USA
881 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2006 :  1:33:07 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Chris
I agree that $2 extra per assignment is pretty small. I was just addressing the question of whether or not there is extra pay from some companies for Gold Certification.
I also like those bonuses - many are way higher than $2
Happy shopping!

Sheila, NoCal
Proudly shopping Solano County including Travis AFB.
Gold Certified.
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LisaTX
Valued Contributor

Plano, TX
USA
239 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2006 :  2:56:11 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I may not have an objective view since I became gold certified a mere 6 weeks after becoming a Mystery Shopper. I enjoyed the MSPA certification workshop because it furthered my resolve to become a top notch shopper (and I enjoyed networking and meeting other shoppers). The number of offers I received jumped dramatically after my certification but I couldn't tell if that was due to the certification or just because companies were realizing that I was a reliable shopper.

I think if you're a serious shopper and want to be the best, by all means, gold certification is the way to go. I can't imagine not being gold certified now, but I realize that I was fortunate to have had the opportunity.

As Kathy Stucker says in the workshops, the gold certification will open doors but if you're not a good writer or not reliable, then you will limit your opportunities. By the same token, if you're a great writer, reliable, and build good relationships with schedulers, there should be no limit to what you can accomplish, with or without the certification.

I would like to see a platinum certification for those of us who are really, really, really serious about being the best and want to be challenged further. Just an idea.

Lisa
MSPA Gold Certified and happily shopping in North Texas
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.KimSVision
Star Contributor

Orange County, CA
USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2006 :  3:29:31 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LisaTX

I would like to see a platinum certification for those of us who are really, really, really serious about being the best and want to be challenged further. Just an idea.
Oh, please no! After Mystery shopping for over 10 years, I can't imagine what more could be taught at the Platinum conference, that wasn't covered at the Gold.

SEE:
The Future of Shopper Education: Platinum Certification
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