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

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2008 :  03:41:59 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
The incidentals involved in attending a workshop, as troublesome as they may be, remain what they are--- incidental and irrelevant to the actual certfication. I wouldn't care to speculate that those who have attended conferences in or near their home city are somehow less "dedicated"; this doesn't really warrant consideration as a factor in awarding a certificate of any kind. I inferred from Jan's post that she found the actual "curriculum"---the critical factor in any educational process---to be lacking in any degree of difficulty.
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2008 :  05:54:08 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I was by no means insulting Jan. I have an appreciation for all shoppers who attend.
I was referring to this post:
"It is very difficult to correlate a simple willingness to sit through a daylong conference, or a possibly hours-long DVD, with a demonstration of commitment."

I was merely pointing out that just the fact that shoppers get there, makes the task less than simple for most.

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

OH
USA
4831 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2008 :  05:58:17 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I took no offense at any comments.

Jan
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2008 :  06:54:13 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I don't think the certification was in any way intended to be hard. Let's face it, our job is not always simple, but it is also rarely difficult. The MSPA is not out to fail every single person who goes through the process.
I still believe firmly that it shows you are serious about this profession. If two new applicants to a new company are considered for a job, will the shopper with no certification, and thus possibly no experience at all for all they know, or the shopper with a Gold certificate, and thus showing a strong interest in shopping to say the least (and basic knowledge), be chosen?
Nora, have you not noticed any difference after you got your Gold certification? As I said before, the jobs may be the same (even though I do think they are better) but it is easier to get them.

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

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2008 :  2:01:57 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Servanne, I am not gold certified and do not plan to become so. The present argument being floated that a free pass be awarded primarily for simply showing up has the rather unfortunate effect of highlighting the program's rather substantial flaws that have sparked so much debate.
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2008 :  7:53:45 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
May I ask you then, if you are not Gold Certified, how you can appreciate the value of the certification? If you do not know personally what being Gold Certified can bring, as far as new jobs, good jobs, etc, how can you be so adamant that it is not worth anything?

That the program is flawed, that the certification process is accessible to anybody with $99, that nothing glamorous happens at the workshops, well I can't really argue with that. Any program has flaws, the fee is quite high (especially for the DVD version) and I did not take anything home besides a bag of goodies.
But I will reiterate that it has brought on better jobs, better paying jobs and it has made my life easier in the sense that I do not have as much "competition" for jobs. All of which I would not have known had I not taken the Gold certification course.

What do you make of companies that explicitly state that certification matters to them? Add to that the myriad of companies that ask for your certification number, probably not just for the fun of having a cute little logo on your home page, and it is indeed easy to recognize the value companies place in the Gold certification.

Of course, and I am not trying to pretend that there is some sort of secret Gold society, but if one is not certified, certainly those exclusive offers would not be noted. Or missed. I am sure non certified shoppers keep plenty busy. I am just saying you don't know what you're missing.

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

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2008 :  04:55:55 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Those are fair questions, Servanne, and I'll try to answer. First, since the initial introduction to the idea of certification, silver, is so unilaterally acknowledged as being insultingly simple in what it requires as proof of knowledge or ability, it's nearly impossible to stifle the thought that gold certification is similarly lacking and that both are awarded not so much on the basis of merit as on one's willingness to pay a fee. I am not disparaging the shoppers who attend; that's not really where the fault lies. I have not attended a workshop, based not only on that conviction derived from that initial experience, but from experiences related by other shoppers who have attended and returned disappointed and skeptical.

Many of those shoppers have noted that many of the attendees at the workshops are entirely or largely without any experience with mystery shopping, yet depart as gold certified. We know, courtesy of none other than the MSPA, that the "failure" rate has been negligible-to-none; an implausible scenario in any program intended to measure ability. This gives a disturbing credence to the argument that certification relies more on willingness to pay than on any other factor. That there are (relatively few ) companies that acknowledge, in the face of this reality, that they use only certified shoppers only adds even more credence to the belief that something is deeply amiss.

Given the reality that gold has been, up til now, so freely given, it's fairly safe to assume that the value of that is already well on its way to being dilute to the point of no or little value.

I know that I mentioned this in an older, related thread (possible even this one), so forgive me if I'm being redundant. I, at some point, found myself receiving emails for gold certified shoppers. Most posted fees insignificantly different from those going to lesser-or non-certified shoppers. In one case, the fee listed was roughly 30% less than a similar---and less time consuming---assignment from a non-MSPA affiliated company for the exact same client.

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Vivian B
Contributor

Gahanna, Oh
USA
78 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2008 :  5:44:04 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I recall weighing whether I felt it worth the effort to 'go for the gold' certification. I finally did it for ME. By the time I attended the workshop (mine was in Toledo more than 5 years ago), I had worked as a shopper for over three years. Yes, I did think it interesting that there were shoppers in my workshop with far less experience, but one should also consider that experience, while important, does not a good shopper make. I have friends who are new to the business who do great shops, consistantly score high with the evaluations they submit, and are in demand by the companies they represent. Most are silvers and golds. Others are not certified at all. Who are we to determine what they should do?
It is harder for the good yet uncertified shoppers to get the plum shopping assignments, but we have an occupation in which reputation opens many doors. I'm coming back from an extended time off. I realize that, even though I am a gold with a lot of shops under my belt, I will have to reestablish myself to get back to the level that I was working before.

I wish all of you success, but, even more, folks, keep the fun in your shopping. If mystery shopping isn't fun, you might as well not do it!

Vivian B
++MSPA GOLD++
Sailing with Distinction Through Metro Columbus (Ohio) Shops
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2008 :  05:27:08 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
"I recall weighing whether I felt it worth the effort to 'go for the gold' certification. I finally did it for ME."

Exactly Vivian, that is why we all do it.It certainly isn't for lining others pockets or helping some type of conspiracy or some other crazy notion. It is a personal decision we make based upon what we think is in our own best interest, business wise.

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

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  08:21:08 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I received this e-mail this morning from Customer Perspectives. Among announcement of the new Gold DVD, it stated: "It's widely known and accepted among MSPs that MSPA-certified shoppers are more
reliable and produce better reports, so take the next step and achieve your MSPA Silver and Gold Certification."
Food for thought...


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

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  08:43:01 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Considering that this announcement comes from one of the charter members of the MSPA, there is little surprise that they would make that assertion.
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Quinn
Star Contributor

Atlanta, GA
USA
50247 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  08:45:46 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
It might also help sales of an overpriced course.
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  08:59:01 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have a question: What kind of windfall do MSPA member companies get from being members of the MSPA or from the workshops?
I am pretty sure they do not get any kind of sales percentage. Call me naive, but I thought that the member companies contributed monetarily to the MSPA, not the other way around. And if my assumption is correct, the main interest they would have in the matter would be to recruit better shoppers, or at least shoppers who have been told about the basic requirements of mystery shopping.
Now I may be totally wrong, I honestly have not done any research on this, so any input will be welcome.

As for the value of the certification, I stand my grounds: it is valuable on a self-marketing point of view. I still think it makes it easier to be chosen over a non-certified shopper in the case of a new (to you) company, or even for better assignments. I have never pretended that it has a huge educational value, but it's been worth the time, effort and price to me.

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

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  09:27:30 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
As a partial answer to your first question, Servanne, it is helpful to understand the structure and benefits of forming a non-profit group. Off hand, as I type this, I can't refer you to a specific website for clarification, but this information will be readily available through a search engine.

Though you, and many others, have thankfully refrained from claiming that there is any educational payoff from the certification workshop, the educational component is ostensibly the key purpose which is heavily advertised in the marketing materials for this program.
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  09:50:20 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Servanne
"It's widely known and accepted among MSPs that MSPA-certified shoppers are more reliable and produce better reports, so take the next step and achieve your MSPA Silver and Gold Certification."
Food for thought...


Is that from the MSPA's bible?
Do they have verifiable, scientific studies that prove that(and you can always find a study that disproves a previous study) or is this just plain inference based on past experiences(which is faulty to rely on)?

I believe earlier John from the MSPA said it's benefical. It is beneficial to their MEMBER companies. It allows them to go to a client and say, "Hey, you know the MSP you're using right now doesn't use 'certified' shoppers, but we do and certified shoppers are more reliable and better trained."

Shoppers do get a benefit as there are companies that will prefer certified, take only certified, or pay them more. But this could happen for shoppers as well even if ceritification weren't around and shoppers wouldn't have to pay for that privilege.

It is mainly a marketing tool, and now with the gold DVD, the MSPA can't even claim the 'networking' benefit. Even the MSPA is not sure how good the quality of DVD certified shoppers will be, John(from the MSPA) stated this in response to why companies differentiate between gold and gold dvd in profiles; they want to see how well gold dvd shoppers do. If they don't do well, they'll have to retool the dvd certification. So essentially, if you're doing the gold dvd, you're paying to be their guinea pig.

OTP: I can see why the charge the same for the workshop and dvd gold, they may be thinking that the 'content' of gold certification is worth the $99. They also don't want to dilute the worth of the workshop gold. If they charged less for the gold DVD, they would see a huge decrease in people going to conferences(just an inference ). However, as has been said before, there is no lunch, no space to rent....so much less overhead, there should be some discount for gold DVD.

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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Quinn
Star Contributor

Atlanta, GA
USA
50247 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  10:05:25 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
This new DVD and the new gold training seminars are supposed to be much better and more comprehensive than the prior certification. The MSPA or its spokespeople has even admitted that the system was flawed and have said that some people will actually fail this one. Since this is the case, one would think that existing gold shoppers should be recertified.
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  10:12:29 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Quinn

The MSPA or its spokespeople has even admitted that the system was flawed ... one would think that existing gold shoppers should be recertified.


And for FREE, if they really admitted that; do I smell a class action lawsuit

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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Servanne
Star Contributor

Silver Lake, MN
USA
2430 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  10:14:16 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ChrisT
Shoppers do get a benefit as there are companies that will prefer certified, take only certified, or pay them more. But this could happen for shoppers as well even if certification weren't around and shoppers wouldn't have to pay for that privilege.


However, since the current situation does involve an available certification, it is to the shopper's advantage to become certified.
You can try to make a point and not be certified and get passed on some great opportunities. And that's of course not saying that your reputation does not give you great opportunities as well. But my reputation gives me good jobs too, in addition to the ones received thanks to my Gold certification.

Utopia is a great place. But even Thomas More would agree that it is not an applicable, realistic societal system.

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

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  11:01:42 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Chris, I adore you and you know that. However, even you have stated you might consider going Gold once the DVD came out. I don't really see any purpose in insulting everything the MSPA does to try and accomodate shoppers requests.

I think we can all agree that the Silver does little to prove anything more than you can write. However, when it comes to the Gold, I just cannot understand how shoppers who are supposed to be able to give unbiased opinions, can offer any opinion on something they have never attended. It appears more like a statement saying, "I am not going to like it no matter what you do!" "I will find a way to negate everything you try to do!" It almost seems like a personal vendetta for some reason against the MSPA and I really don't get it.

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

NH
USA
227 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2008 :  11:10:18 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Gold Certification DVD -- It's Here!

I have have gotten emails from two of my MSCs today with the new Gold DVD info.

The info link at MSPA is:

http://www.mysteryshop.org/golddvd/#Anchor-47857

and to purchase the DVD:

http://www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers/golddvd.php

Laura
MSPA Silver Certified Shopping in New Hampshire
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