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

New Hampshire
USA
488 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2007 :  5:37:45 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
It's been three weeks since I took the Gold Certification. I have updated my Certification on the websites of about 40 companies. I have seen no change, but it has only been a short period of time. We are also in a major holiday period and I wonder if the over all volume of shops declines for the time period around Independence Day.

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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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2007 :  09:23:27 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Woo hoo! I took their new, very small survey and I was an instant winner. An additional five dollars in my Paypal account for less than one minutes work! I really like easy money!

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

Washington, DC
USA
436 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2007 :  6:54:21 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
It's hard to know how much it has helped, especially since I got my Gold certification the day before I got the Rookie Shopper of the Year award. However, in the few weeks since I got the Gold, I've gotten a day cruise that I suspect had a lot of applicants, and I've been assigned a hotel shop by a company with which I just signed up and had not done any prior evaluations. Thus, I'm suspecting the Gold is helping.

Washington, DC-area Gold Certified #cr5xij
MSPA Rookie Shopper of the Year 2007
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Mery
Member

USA
21 Posts

Posted - 07/29/2007 :  8:38:22 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Erik, what I actually meant to write is that I have seen a significant increase in jobs that are first offered to Gold shoppers rather than non-Gold. But to me, that's just as good as only being offered to gold, because non-Gold probably rarely even see those shops. Especially if they're in my area

But actually, I have seen some Gold-only shops though, such as upscale restaurants or shops involving complex scenarios. Or if it's a "really important" or new client that the MS company is trying to impress.

Mery
MSPA Gold Certified
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Mildred
Contributor

NC
USA
79 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  07:16:15 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Can someone please give an overview of just what is covered in the workshops for silver and gold certification? What would be learned that an experienced shopper in good standing with numerous companies would not know? From what I have heard in the past, you are basically buying a certificate that says you are a knowledgeable shopper. I have never gone for either certification because I have all the work I can handled without it. I just wonder why so many people think it is necessary. I am not being critical of those who feel it is necessary/beneficial. I just don't understand why.
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Carol C
Star Contributor

Washington, DC
USA
436 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  07:46:29 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Mildred, the Silver is an online thing. What is taught in it probably does not cover anything you do not already know, so the question is whether it is worth it to spend the $15 to get the priority with schedulers. From my perspective, the point was not to get more shops, but to get better shops. I, too, was able to get as many shops as I wanted while uncertified. However, some companies send offers to certified shoppers before they send them to uncertified ones. This means that uncertified ones may never see those that are snapped up by the certified shoppers first--which may mean the most desirable ones.

The Gold requires an actual all day course. I found it interesting, in that I picked up some things about how the systems work from a scheduler's or editor's perspective. However, I'd certainly figured out most of what was taught on my own before I arrived. My reason for taking it was that I figured that with a good track record and Gold certification, I'd get first notice of all the shops, and could get the really good ones. If Gold certification really was what gave me the edge to get that day cruise shop, that alone would have more than made up the cost. Of course, I didn't have to pay for airfare to get there, or a hotel, as those costs were covered as part of my award.

So, your mileage may vary. If you are in a small rural area in which you are one of the few shoppers, you may already be getting all of whatever mystery shopping offers there are in your area. If you are shopping only occasionally, and it would be a big expense just to get to a Gold workshop, the cost may not be worth it. If you're in a major metropolitan area, the Gold workshop is in your city, and you are regularly mystery shopping, it's probably worth it just for the chance to upgrade the type of shops you are doing (not necessarily the number). And of course, Silver certification (which is inexpensive, and readily available without travel expenses) may be a compromise if you want to see whether certification helps, but do not want to do the travel or expense of Gold.

Washington, DC-area Gold Certified #cr5xij
MSPA Rookie Shopper of the Year 2007
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MargeI
Star Contributor

Middletown, MD
USA
900 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  08:29:07 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I recently got $370 worth of work that was only offered to Gold shoppers.

As far as the "not learning anything new" argument goes -- I respect and understand this argument. I was shopping for a year or so before I went gold, and I didn't learn much either.

I also took College Accounting and learned nothing, because I had learned it all in high school. But I didn't get the 3 credits until after I took the course. I am not angry or resentful of my university over that. That's just the way it is. Real life experience is great, but proving you know something requires certification.

I personally wish there were higher level certifications. I don't feel that the gold really proved that I can write competently or that I have good observation skills. A much more rigorous program could exist, but it would have to cost more.
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.KimSVision
Star Contributor

Orange County, CA
USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  08:54:48 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MargeI

As far as the "not learning anything new" argument goes -- I respect and understand this argument. I was shopping for a year or so before I went gold, and I didn't learn much either...........
I personally wish there were higher level certifications. I don't feel that the gold really proved that I can write competently or that I have good observation skills. A much more rigorous program could exist, but it would have to cost more.


I've been Mystery shopping for 11 years, and have been Gold for 2 years.

I also believe that I didn't learn anything from the Gold that I didn't already know. I was offered more shops after going Silver, but did not see an increase of more or better shops after going Gold.

I don't see a benefit of higher level certifications. If I found that my writing was starting to look unprofessional or sloppy, I would probably take a class at the local community college to brush up on my writing skills.
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  09:40:14 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Getting Gold is not the only thing a shopper needs to do. *It is not a one stop get all the shops ordeal.* They will not offer you jobs just because you have taken the courses. Shoppers still need to be proactive in searching for shops, building their reputations and being willing to plan, travel and move out of their normal comfort zones AND signing up with every company the MSPA has that recognizes these certifications.

If a shopper limits themselves to certain types of shops, in certain areas, they are not going to see a difference, in my opinion.

However, if a shopper is willing to devote 8 hours a day to this job, between doing shops, scheduling and searching for jobs, they will see a difference.

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

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  09:40:29 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MargeI
I also took College Accounting and learned nothing, because I had learned it all in high school. But I didn't get the 3 credits until after I took the course. .. proving you know something requires certification...



A little bit off topic but I thought I'd respond to your analogy:

Not necessarily with a university. If there was an AP accounting class in high school that would've waived you taking intro accounting and would've given you the credits. Also sometimes you can petition for college credit by real life knowledge or somehow demonstrating you know it. If I had known that when I had started college I wouldn't have had to take such a simple math course(one I could've done in my sleep). I could've just gone to a professor or counselor and see how to petiton to take a harder one.

So these are 2 different things. If there was a way to take the Gold cert. test without going to the class(and thus reducing the cost to say what the Silver cert costs) that would be much better for those who have years of experience and either don't have the means to go to the class or the time(i.e. got mystery shopping or other commitments) or prefer not to.

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  09:55:52 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I agree with Chris. There could be a stringent test as well as a writing test to determine if the shopper could do as well as those who have taken the one day class. I read this is in the works.

The testing is way toooooooo easy!

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

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  2:51:01 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Woohoo Pam!
If that is true and the cost is low because of that, I might be tempted to take it

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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Debbo
Star Contributor

Charlotte, NC
USA
267 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  4:33:07 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
There is another benefit or two, at least in my case. I knew nothing about mystery shopping when I started, and taking the Silver exam, before I did anything else, gave me great confidence.

I've gone on to sign up for the Gold workshop in Charlotte later this month primarily to meet people. I have never actually come face to face with another shopper, and believe that it will be interesting to compare notes; it would be an added bonus to meet a few schedulers. As new as I am to this, I can't fail to learn something, and if I pick up some additional, interesting assignments as a result of it, I shall be thrilled!

Debra
MSPA Shopper of the Year 2009
Video shopping in the Carolinas and throughout the US
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  5:12:48 PM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
at Chris. I don't know if the fee would be something you would consider low, I only know they are working on it. However, for most online classes and tests, the fees don't seem to be much lower. My college courses are the same if I take them online or in person.

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

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2007 :  10:08:51 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Well they don't have to feed us lunch so I would think there would have to be some savings

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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Mildred
Contributor

NC
USA
79 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2007 :  10:00:19 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thanks Carol, and everyone that commented on my question regarding the benefits of Silver and Gold Certification. I am not in a metropolitan area. I would have to travel and would have overnight expense if I attended a workshop. I have been shopping for about 9 years and, as I said before, I have all of the work I want. I receive calls from schedulers on a regular basis with incentive pay. I do not feel that it would be beneficial to me because my reason for shopping is to supplement my retirement income, and to give me incentive to get dressed and get out. Unfortunately I am one of those people that often needs a nudge. I can certainly see that it could benefit a person that is shopping full time.
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GNovello
Valued Contributor

Framingham, MA
USA
172 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2007 :  6:39:26 PM  Send GNovello an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Greetings,

One benefit I got from the workshop is meeting other shoppers and chatting with them. These are the things that are unique to each workshop.

Actually, the best part was I got to meet my favorite scheduler and give her a hug. That was priceless!

Regards,
Guy Novello
Gold Certified
Full Time Shopper
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Carol C
Star Contributor

Washington, DC
USA
436 Posts

Posted - 08/08/2007 :  4:24:07 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I think I just got all the justification I need for why the Gold is worth it to me. This weekend, I applied for jobs with two MSCs for which I had not previously done any shops. At one, which uses the MSPA certification system, I was immediately assigned a lunch shop with a very high reimbursement at an upscale department store. At the other, which does not use the MSPA certification system, I got turned down for a dog food shop.

Okay, that's not a statistically significant sample. But I really think the certifications can help you get your foot in the door, and get better shops faster, among those MSCs that recognize them.

Washington, DC-area Gold Certified #cr5xij
MSPA Rookie Shopper of the Year 2007
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MargeI
Star Contributor

Middletown, MD
USA
900 Posts

Posted - 08/09/2007 :  08:30:31 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Hey Carol, I got three of those dog food shops (if they are in fact the same ones...)

Well....OK so I'm gold. But I guess I got lucky, LOL. They're actually good jobs, if you ask me. And yes, I do have a dog AND a cat.
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 08/09/2007 :  08:58:47 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Carol,

I do not think getting a will 'work for food' job is justification for getting gold
Also, there could be many other reasons you didn't get the dog shop.

If it works as justification for you more power to you, but that is just not enough evidence to justify gold, you need a much higher statistical sample

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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