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 Is being MSPA Silver or Gold Certified Worth It?
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NatalieH
Contributor

USA
8291 Posts

Posted - 04/06/2007 :  11:26:26 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Since I presume my position is one of the positions to which you are directing your comments, Dan, I will clarify. I paid for my silver test, so in essence, I am "certified."
quote:
It may be that you believe it is not worth it but you cannot verify that it is not.
....Consequently, I can absolutely verify that it is not "worth it," both in terms of practicality and personal applicability. However, the reason I have neglected to personally mention my own experience and circumstances is because my own situation is irrelevant to someone else's; and if I offer an opinion or advice about something, I prefer to base my observations on 1) the bigger picture, and 2) what appears to be typical.

And the whole debate over "worth" in relation to this topic only further advances the "pay-to-play" question, because it attributes a commodity status to this particular certification, as opposed to defining it as a true enrichment of either skills or education.
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Kris R.
Valued Contributor

CA
USA
135 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2007 :  9:55:55 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by NatalieH
....Consequently, I can absolutely verify that it is not "worth it," both in terms of practicality and personal applicability....



Natalie,
I think you must mean to say that you can absolutely verify that it is not "worth it" both in terms of practicality and personal applicability........to you.

That is a sweeping statement as it is written.
You cannot possibly mean to say that you can absolutely verify that it is not worth it to anyone.

At first, I thought you were going that direction when you said, "My own situation is irrelevant to someone else's" But then you went on to say "I prefer to base my observations on what appears to be typical, and the bigger picture." And went on to say it proved the "pay to play" arguement. So it ended up still sounding like a sweeping statement that you can verify whether certification is "worth it" to anyone and everyone.

On the other thread for this subject concerning companies preferring certified shoppers, a scheduler from KSS replied and "absolutely verified" that she is currently hiring for a project and that the emails are going out to MSPA certified shoppers only. She made it very clear that if you did not get an email about this project it was for only one of two possible reasons..........something is amiss with your certification number, or you do not live in the area where they are doing the shops.

Therefore, only certified shoppers are going to know that these jobs are out there, by email invitation only.
For those shoppers getting those jobs, (offered only to them) certification might very well be "worth it" to them.

MSPA Silver Certified
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NatalieH
Contributor

USA
8291 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2007 :  05:48:58 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Personal applicability : Being directly applicable to a specific person or individual; i.e. to me

So, as you can see, this did not comprise a sweeping statement; however, I presume if I had said that I was a gold shopper and personally found the certification to be the best thing since sliced bread, my comments would have been lauded.

...the whole debate over "worth" in relation to this topic only further advances the "pay-to-play" question

Advancing a question is not the same as proving an argument. I choose my words carefully, according to their intended meanings. Please try not to misconstrue them.

Those of you who are continuing to speak in terms of personal "worth" (i.e. access to more jobs as a return on your "investment") must not realize how you are inadvertently contributing to the questionable nature of this certification.
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2007 :  07:57:57 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Some may be able to choose their words more carefully than others, but that does not change the fact that out of all of these pages, the small amount of shoppers who stated no, it was not worth it, is minimal and limited to a handful.

The post on the front page states:

"When a moderator was deleting some very off topic comments."

,it looks like this thread has taken that path again.

"That being said, lets start over. Please repost about how much more work you have gotten since being certified and about all the companies that are giving preferential treatment to those that are."

There is a list of related topics for those who wish to discuss other issues regarding the MSPA and the certification. Maybe some of these posts would be better suited on those threads.

http://forum.volition.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=30465&whichpage=1

Kris, it would not matter to some, if every scheduler and company owner posted yes, it matters and yes we give preference and yes it is worth it. There would still be that handful that would continue to say it did not matter and was not worth it.

Some might say,maybe it would not be worth it for that handful, based on other factors.

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

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2007 :  09:14:47 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
From the first page, and directly from the forum's administrator, and as a clear response to my own query:

quote:
Should a Mystery Shopper get certified? Is it worth it? Has it paid for itself? Have you gotten more work? Have schedulers been nicer to you?

This is crystal clear and supports the complete spectrum of opinion that has been been invited to and contributed to this thread. The purpose is to provide feedback that will help others consider the value of, or lack of, certification as it pertains to their own circumstances and judgment. Notice, the purpose is not to force a consensus, and it seems that it is that misdirected purpose, along with the inappropriate snide innuendo, that forces this topic off the rails.

quote:
Kris, it would not matter to some, if every scheduler and company owner posted yes, it matters and yes we give preference and yes it is worth it. There would still be that handful that would continue to say it did not matter and was not worth it.

Some might say,maybe it would not be worth it for that handful, based on other factors.


Every business owner and scheduler has not, and it is maliciously inappropriate,as well as counterproductive to the purpose of this thread, to state as truth, the result that you have extrapolated from something that has rather conspicuously not occurred. You expressed concern over staying strictly on topic, did you not?

You feel that certification has been good for you. Others have expressed less than an overwhelmingly positive experience or failed to be convinced that a positive outcome is either typical or necessary. That is their point of view, and is due the same degree of respect as those opinions which are almost militantly supportive of certification, and curiously derisive of those objectively expressing conflicting experience.
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BethInNJ
Valued Contributor

NJ
USA
105 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2007 :  11:47:50 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Why on earth don't you all let this topic go? This subject always turns into a you know what contest. I'm sure the original poster has left the building wondering if there was an answer to their question somewhere in this endless thread. Just agree that there will never be a definitive answer to this question and get on with it. Pretty please.

Beth
Silver Certified
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Alana Marie
Trainee

Aiea, HI
USA
8 Posts

Posted - 04/30/2007 :  01:34:26 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Well, I didn't take the time to read everything on this one but I just attended the Gold Certified Class in Costa Mesa. I highly suggest everyone doing it. I learned a lot from the class as well as met some Wonderful people. I flew from Hawaii to California just to attend this. Getting to be more informed about a lot of other things that I didn't know before was very uplifting and it exceeded my expectations on the class.

~~~Aloooooooha~~~
MSPA Gold Certified
Love to take last min shopping, always ready and willing to help here in BEAUTIful HAWAII
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ColleenB
Member

USA
31 Posts

Posted - 05/08/2007 :  9:19:50 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am silver; my husband, sister and friend are not certified at all. They have all gotten good shops. However, when they go to some of the job boards, there are some shops that I see that are not even listed on theirs. The difference is like I can apply or self assign $95 dinners and they are limited to $30 or so. I definately think silver is worth it and WILL get my gold when they come back to my area. I had to cancel my reservation in November fue to surgery. I can't wait, though, to be GOLD!

It's so cheap to get silver, go for it immediately if you are going to bother shopping.
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Jen Ohio
Star Contributor

North Olmsted, Ohio
USA
285 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2007 :  05:18:54 AM  Send Jen Ohio an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Does anyone know if you have a better chance of finding a spa or nicer hotel shop if you are certified?

Finally Silver Certified!!
Shopping Northeast Ohio Full Time
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BrianCollins
Valued Contributor

USA
243 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2007 :  06:59:53 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jen Ohio

Does anyone know if you have a better chance of finding a spa or nicer hotel shop if you are certified?



In my opinion, and it is just an opinion, the pecking order for a spa or a nice hotel assignment would be something like:

EXTREMELY HELPFUL: background in hotel/hospitality management

VERY HELPFUL: satisfactory work completed for other high end mystery shopping companies

PRETTY HELPFUL: impressive writing samples and good phone interview skills

SOMEWHAT HELPFUL: correctly completed application listing fair amount of general mystery shopping experience

KIND OF HELPFUL: any MSPA certifications or "white-collar" work experience outside of hotel/hospitality management

NOT CONSIDERED: random person without much mystery shopping experience, no MSPA certifications and/or no significant work history


And there's a lot of people with a background in hotel/hospitality management or who have lots of experience in high end mystery shopping. I think it takes years and not months to crack the starting lineup, but you can pick up the odd assignment here or there and build your way up with good work.
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Jen Ohio
Star Contributor

North Olmsted, Ohio
USA
285 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2007 :  08:45:09 AM  Send Jen Ohio an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thanks Brian and Pam. I have noticed that there are a few companies that stress on hospitality/management experience which I do not have. I am strongly considering getting certified. It may bring many more opprotunities. Is there only the round of workshops in the spring?

Finally Silver Certified!!
Shopping Northeast Ohio Full Time
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BrianCollins
Valued Contributor

USA
243 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2007 :  11:39:12 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Oops, I never gave my opinion on the original questions.

1. Should a Mystery Shopper get certified?

Personal choice. I'm not the one for telling anyone what to do. I suppose it would depend on your expectations.

2. Is it worth it?

In my opinion, yes. I was just starting when I took the silver course and it helped clarify exactly what I was supposed to be doing and how I should be doing it. I printed out the material and have referred to it several times for guidance. As for the gold course, I understand it is part of a conference and in my general opinion the best part of a conference is the chance to network/exchange with others. $99 for a one day conference is typical in my experience.

3. Has it paid for itself?

Yes, I can usually (but not always!) sign up with a company and be immediately trusted with as many basic assignments as I care to take. My previous (limited) experience was that I had to start off with a single job or initially take some less desirable assignments. And it is not hard to offset $15 or $99.

4. Have you gotten more work?

I certainly see more opportunities! I get solicited to sign up with new companies who then actively encourage me to take their assignments. But I only mystery shop part-time so I have never been in a position where I've exhausted the available assignments.

5. Have schedulers been nicer to you?

I don't understand what is meant by "nice" but I think some schedulers have trusted me quicker. But ultimately, doing a good job with your first batch of assignments is the best way to ensure a second batch of assignments.


These are just my opinions. I will probably try the "gold" certification if they have a conference within 500 miles of me on a convenient date.
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GNovello
Valued Contributor

Framingham, MA
USA
172 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2007 :  1:28:29 PM  Send GNovello an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Greetings,

In summary:

I did get work before I was certified but I get more now that I went Gold. I learned quite a bit during my training, which has improved my shops and therefor increased my offers.

I have also seen some great shops offered to "Gold Certified" only.

All my schedulers have been nice to me but are MUCH nicer when they are begging me to take a last minute shop

Hope this helps.

Regards,
Guy Novello
Gold Certified
Full Time Shopper
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LoraM
Valued Contributor

Eau Claire, Michigan
USA
135 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2007 :  08:46:56 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I'd enjoy being gold-certified, but one thing is holding me back. All the conventions seem to be on Saturdays, which I cannot do for religious reasons. Does anyone know if conventions have ever or will ever be held on another day?

Loralee ~Silver Certified
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DebbiM
Contributor

Redondo Beach, CA
USA
88 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2007 :  07:25:05 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Last month I attended the gold certification workshop and I found it to be worth it for the following reasons;
1. Met other mystery shoppers
2. Met and networked with MSC's
3. Since updating my info with Gold Certification I have seen a 20% increase in shop opportunities.
4. I have received emails and phone calls from schedulers for higher paying shops and for bonuses on regular shops.

Debbi
MSPA Gold Certified
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2007 :  07:35:18 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Lora, I have never seen it happen on a day other than Saturday. The conferences start on Fridays, but go the whole weekend. I would think this is to prevent people from having to lose work to get there. You could always take the Silver test and then you would be a good candidate for the Gold when/if it becomes available as an online opportunity.

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

Schererville, IN
USA
197 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2007 :  09:15:20 AM  Send Angela Burton an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
My gold certification was on a Friday. It was in conjunction with the annual conference in Orlando back in 04. Gold was Friday - then the conference started Friday evening with the welcome reception and the rest of the annual conference on Saturday and Sunday. I think it was the same last year in Naperville with Gold on Friday.

It's the same in TX this year - the Gold Certification Workshop is on Friday:

07/06/2007 Embassy Suites Outdoor World Hotel
Grapevine (Dallas), TX USA
9:00am - 4:00pm Seats Available

Shopping NW Indiana
MSPA Gold Certified #7cw9pu
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2007 :  09:21:28 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Very cool. I thought they had the Gold after, but it would only make sense that it was done before. Old age is so hard.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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JanB27
Star Contributor

OH
USA
4831 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2007 :  10:58:38 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I went to the Gold Workshop in Toledo, OH yesterday. Some things have changed and some apparently will. First of all, Cathy Stucker is not the only person doing the workshops. I had someone else. She said that the MSPA is planning to change the exam to include a narrative, and it may happen as soon as a month or two. She also said they were looking into having a video for people who are too far to ever go to a Gold Workshop, such as Alaska. Perhaps that would work for those who have religious restrictions as well.

Jan
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LoraM
Valued Contributor

Eau Claire, Michigan
USA
135 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2007 :  12:35:10 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thank you! I really appreciate all your responses. I'm already Silvered up, so I want to acquire that Golden touch soon . I wish I could do the one in Dallas and then swing up and visit the family, however, good ol' school calls. Hopefully the annual conference will be near by next year!

Loralee ~Silver Certified
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