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 Is being MSPA Silver or Gold Certified Worth It?
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Mazie
Star Contributor

Forest Grove, OR
USA
468 Posts

Posted - 02/28/2007 :  5:02:48 PM  Visit Mazie's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I think that Gold certification is definetly worth it. When I got certified I had been shopping for about a year and a half. Then I noticed a big jump in the amount of shops I was offered and I was also offered better shops. If you live in a competitive area sometimes a cerfication can put you ahead of another shopper for a good shop. Even though I am no longer new to mystery shopping there are new companies that I sign up with occasionally, and being a gold shopper gives me a bit of credibility and says that I was willing to take some time in order to legitimize my business. As a self employed business owner with other businesses I can tell you that taking classes and certification courses legitimize you to the IRS and other members in your industry. Just my 2 cents, obviously it is not applicable to everyone.

Gold Certified shopper, editor, editor trainer.
Shopping the Portland Metro area, willing to travel.
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Betsy E
Valued Contributor

Birmingham, AL
USA
170 Posts

Posted - 02/28/2007 :  7:10:39 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
My oh my! What an interesting debate!

Here's mine:

Starting shopping in early 2003. Shopped the obvious self-assigns everybody finds out about first. Had fun. Made a little money. Began applying to some Volition companies which do not self-assign. Hit a brick wall. Could only get an occasional orphan shop with only a few new companies.

Early 2004 - took MSPA Silver certification. Scratched head at silliness of it, but shrugged shoulders and completed. Updated applications with *Silver Certified* noted, especially pretty-looking on Sassie sites with the nice silver oval that appears after re-submitting. Waited until next shop cycle. Applied for shops previously denied. Acceptances come. Many. Make even more money (because of more shops, not because of higher reimbursements). Do more interesting shops. Eat first fine dining shop ever, then another, then another. Happy MSer.

Today - To this day, that Silver certification is a door-opener. Silly indeed, but I can only say that so are many things one does in life, and it has helped tremendously.

Epilogue - Had chance to go for gold, will not. Don't see the need as I have plenty to do. Often, frustratingly, there are too many opportunities and not enough time. Although, somebody keeps beating me to the Krispy Kreme shops month after month and it's chapping me!

Hope this helps somebody.
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RickMI
Member

Piggott, Arkansas
USA
10 Posts

Posted - 03/01/2007 :  3:26:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have been MS’ing for more than 9 years. As companies have come and gone, fees dropping significantly in recent years, I had to look for other companies to fill my time. Many of the companies today do notify Gold shoppers first, Silver second, and others third. If you are in a competitive market with an abundance of shoppers vs. shops, MSPA Gold is definitely worth the money.

Rick
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2007 :  10:42:19 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I would not bother to be in this business to make a living without having as much of an upper hand as my competitors.

I like not having someone to beat me to the jobs I want. I am not all that into self assign, search fast, grab the jobs fast and waiting until the last minute to see if I get the other jobs I apply for. I like scheduling in advance and knowing what I will be doing next month.

On the other hand, I have friends in this business that only do it for fun or extra money and they just take a few jobs here and there. For them, it appears not being certified is ok.

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

USA
66 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2007 :  7:16:04 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
There are 2 moderate benefits of Gold Certification:
1) you might get more jobs in saturated shopper environments like big cities as long as your scores are 9/10's
2) when you are a new shopper for a mystery shop company, they let you out of the gates faster

Other than that your reputation is as good as gold.
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Mary Elizabeth
Valued Contributor

USA
117 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2007 :  10:30:51 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by PamInCa
On the other hand, I have friends in this business that only do it for fun or extra money and they just take a few jobs here and there. For them, it appears not being certified is ok.
When I started shopping, I did as many shops as I could get. I cut way back over the last few months and I guess I'm now one who does it for fun and extra money.

I understand the point you were making, Pam, but I want to say that having my Gold is a great advantage to me even now. I want only good-paying jobs and I don't want to travel too far from home. I usually get the jobs I apply for. Getting the Gold is a good thing.

Mary Elizabeth
MSPA Gold Certified
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2007 :  05:25:06 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Sara, I have to respectfully disagree.

1) you might get more jobs in saturated shopper environments like big cities as long as your scores are 9/10's
In the big cities, there are hundreds more shops to choose from, I can see the smaller cities being a bigger problem. For those who know Mary Lou, she literally lives around the corner from me and when she moved here, I never saw any change in my jobs, there are just so many to choose from.

2) when you are a new shopper for a mystery shop company, they let you out of the gates faster
You can accomplish this by getting the silver.


Other than that your reputation is as good as gold.
My reputation does not and will not get me emails about jobs that are only for or offered to "Gold shoppers."

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

Birmingham, AL
USA
170 Posts

Posted - 03/06/2007 :  06:35:52 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Other than shops that fellow MSers have "stolen" from me (those who I told about MSing and are now competing with me, live and learn! And sadly they're the awesome gas station shops, convenience store and casual dining shops! Sob! My old stand-bys!) I have not seen the need to get Gold certified. My silver certification has seemed to be enough, thus far, three years into this adventure.

I think Pam is right. I live in a mid-sized city and there is not a huge amount of competition for all the jobs. Some do go very quickly, and I do not get all the jobs I want, but I do get most of them, most of the time. At least the non-self-assign ones. The self-assign jobs, forget it. It's been difficult at best to get them consistently. SNC and SI are not my bread and butter anymore, even though I still like them. I can't get to the job boards fast enough to get the good stuff.

So far I've been able to do fine without the Gold. But I bet if I were to move to Atlanta or LA or some other large city, the Gold would put me ahead of others. I hit a wall before I got Silver, and I can see how I would hit another wall in a bigger city if not for Gold. But in my city, right now, I'm fine without it. It's a big investment in time, travel and money to get the Gold, so I'm not going to do it unless it seems absolutely necessary.

Are there others in mid-size cities or rural areas who have had similar experiences? I'm interested to see if that's true everywhere.
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GloriaGtz
Trainee

Houston, TX
USA
6 Posts

Posted - 03/07/2007 :  8:38:52 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I recently attended the gold workshop in Houston and can say that it has definitely made a huge difference in the kind of shops and pay after getting the certification. It's definitely worth it.

Gloria
Gold Shopper 2007
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Betsy E
Valued Contributor

Birmingham, AL
USA
170 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2007 :  06:41:04 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Here's an update:

I was passed over yesterday to shop a store I love with a nice fee due to the fact that there was a gold shopper also applying. That is 1 shop thus far I know of that I haven't gotten because of only being silver certified. I am sad, but it was only 1 shop. I'll see what I can discover over the next few months and update this to let y'all know. I will make 2007 the year I fully investigate this for myself.

My personal tally if I had attended the gold seminar in Atlanta this weekend would have been $40 (gas) + $100 (certification workshop) + $10 (coffee/snack on way to and from seminar) = $150. Plus a husband watching 3 young children at home for 12 hours, which costs me in grumpy husband syndrome, and I'm not sure what price to put on that?? The shop I missed out on was about $20. So I am still $130 up. Will let you know the $$ tally in 2007 as I figure it out.
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 03/08/2007 :  06:52:44 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Betsy, I love this. "Plus a husband watching 3 young children at home for 12 hours, which costs me in grumpy husband syndrome."

My first thought was "Priceless."

I guess it is a good thing the two of you have determined you should be a stay at home mom and not go back to school or anything. It doesn't sound like he would be very supportive of the time you would need to advance yourself. Maybe it will be easier when the kids are in school.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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Lisa1964
Apprentice

Longview, TX
USA
1 Posts

Posted - 03/27/2007 :  9:54:21 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
What non sassis ms company are you referring to. I am a shopper in East Texas and West Lousiana. I an trying to figure out if I need to go beyond my silver certification. You mentioned a company you have been working for alot. DO you mind sharing the companies name?

Learning in Longview

Lisa
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LoriBird
Apprentice

Brandon, FL
USA
3 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2007 :  04:59:12 AM  Send LoriBird an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Just curious, I plan to attend the 4/14 Tampa Gold Cert Workshop, and I was wondering what to expect.

Silver has been worth it for me and I can't wait to go GOLD!!!!


Shopping Brandon & Tampa FL
MSPA Silver Certified
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 03/28/2007 :  07:31:03 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Lisa, what post are you referring to? Also, if you do a search on favorite companies or who you shop for any why, you will find some of these shoppers favorites.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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Kris R.
Valued Contributor

CA
USA
135 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  12:52:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I got certified for silver before I even did my first shop.

The other day, I added it to my signature line here on the forums.

Within hours I had an email from a shopper company located about 30 -40 miles from me inviting me to sign up on their site, and saying that they were looking for MSPA certified shoppers in my area, and that they largely do restaurant chains. (Of which we have a msjor abundance here in my city!)

This may be a coincidence, or were they browsing the forums??
I don't even know if they are a good company yet or if I will ever see anything from them closer to home, but I thought it was interesting. (I now very rarely travel more than 15 miles for a shop)
It was the first email I had gotten from a company asking me to sign up with them.



MSPA Silver Certified
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Bessie N.
Member

Pennsylvania
USA
28 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  2:40:25 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I cannot comment on gold certification, since I do not have it. I am silver certified, and I can say I am glad that I spent the money. I believe that my certification shows companies that I take my shopping responsibilities seriously.

Bessie N.
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Sara D
Valued Contributor

South Hadley, MA
USA
163 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  4:20:27 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Heather N,

I just wanted to mention that that's not necessarily true.. That companies don't want their lead employees to go back through basic training. The agency that I worked at for seven years suddenly got it in their head that they needed to 'standardize' everyone's training and sent even managers such as myself who had been there for several years through the basic training from which I learned *absolutely* nothing.

In any case, it's now more than six months since I got gold certified. I have to say that I'm still not seeing any huge differences in the types of jobs I'm being offered and getting, though I do periodically see those *gold certified shoppers notified first* e-mails come through with shops. However, often, they're not shops that are all that interesting to me! In terms of those that I apply to, I still get more shops than not, but that was true before I 'went gold' and has more to do (I think!) with my years in the business and the average scores on my reports.

Ah well... I'm sure there are differences that it has made that I'm not even aware of and I don't *regret* getting the certification.. (The fee and mileage are, afterall, tax deductible!)

-Sara

Sara A Davidow,
MSPA Gold Certified shopper #aziwc5
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Carla H
Member

Wentzville, MO
USA
28 Posts

Posted - 03/30/2007 :  08:59:43 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I became Silver Certified last June. I did pick up a few more shops. I have one company that only uses silver or gold shoppers. As far as pay is concerned,no I don't receive any better pay than before I was certified. I shop 3 or 4 days a week and average 25 to 30 shops per month. I just can't handle any more work. I still would recommend getting certified. Happy shopping.
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 03/31/2007 :  10:41:08 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Dilemna, dilemna ...
I have been silver certified since November 2006 and I am considering the Gold Workshop in April...
I don't know that being Silver certified has changed anythhing for me. I'll let you know about the Gold Certifcation!

Servanne
Merrily shopping my way through the Twin Cities, Western Minnesota and beyond...
MSPA Gold Certified since April 2007!
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Julie_WA_Writer
Star Contributor

Western, Washington
USA
1889 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2007 :  02:53:36 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:

My reputation does not and will not get me emails about jobs that are only for or offered to "Gold shoppers."


Pam, if it's not about work and reputation, then isn't getting the Gold certification paying for shops?

“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” Tacitus
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