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

MN
USA
2659 Posts

Posted - 08/10/2008 :  4:54:00 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I'm not anythng, well... nothing but a great shopper. But no, I've not gone gold or silver or even aluminum foil. I have no idea if this has hurt me or not. At some point I'm sure I'll look into it, but I've just been too busy shopping to care.
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 08/31/2008 :  07:15:11 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I had a phone call last week from the head of a business consulting firm that has done a few mystery shops in the past. They are about to greatly expand the MSing component of their services to a well-established client. They have decided to take recruiting and scheduling "inhouse," after getting burned by some poor shoppers. Their first decision was to limit their very well paid bank shops to MSC Gold Certified shoppers or shoppers who came with sterling silver letters of reference from other MSCs.

I have no doubt that LisaOV, and other non-certified Volition regulars, would easily qualify for their shops (which pay about 4x the ordinary bank shop). So, Gold shoppers, watch the Volition (and other) new shop boards for an unfamiliar MSC company name, if you are in or near DC, LA or NYC.

Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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ChristiRose
Contributor

Indiana
USA
79 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2008 :  2:26:07 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I just got my silver certification today! I'm excited to see if it increases my shops.

Question - when I added my number to a Sassie company, it displays a icon/button thing that says "Silver 04-06". If it were April 2006 I'd assume that was a date, but since it's not I'm wondering what those numbers mean?

Christi
MSPA Silver Certified
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Aileen M.
Star Contributor

Naperville, IL
USA
410 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2008 :  2:26:55 PM  Visit Aileen M.'s Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Not sure...but I see the same thing on my profile...

Aileen Mullee
General Manager
Ann Michaels and Associates
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Robin in OR
Member

Oregon City, Oregon
USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2008 :  3:30:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
ChristieRose: the "date" for your Certification is, I believe, the "version" or last update for that Certification. Don't worry; it means nothing to you.

I have been shopping GOLD since the month after I began, but have been told a few times that it has made the difference. It matters MORE what your shop "score" with a company is, because that's your actual performance history with them.

Recently, I scored a higher paying job with a company who CALLED to talk to me about a project in my area; they wanted a GOLD shopper, because there were no shoppers they knew who could do the job.
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AnitaTNShopper
Star Contributor

Nashville, TN
USA
704 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2008 :  10:09:09 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Robin I too have gotten those calls in the two years since I have been Gold! I think it is just another perk of getting out there and getting certified.

I ran across a fellow church member and she mentioned she shopped in a group meeting we were having, after it was over we chatted and I mentioned I too was a shopper and which companies were her favorites. Well her favorites differed from mine, and one company that she mentioned that I get a ton of shops from, she didn't like so much because of the lack of 'good' shops.

Of course my very next question was to ask if she was GOLD certified, and she was not. I can only conclude that since we have basically the same demographics, and the same area, the only difference is me being Gold, and she not. Therefore I can conclude that Gold shoppers do get more shops in my area. One other difference is that she does it full time, whereas I just shop part time.

MSPA Gold Certified 2006
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Alan-Texas
Star Contributor

Arlington, TX
USA
544 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2008 :  4:29:56 PM  Visit Alan-Texas's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Since 2005, I've signed up with over 50 MSCs. During that time, I've only seen 3 MSCs (and I don't even remember who they were now) that made any specific mention (not including the profile section) about being Silver or Gold Certified.

The first three companies I signed up with when I first started all had a spot for the Certificate # in the registration process. When I saw the spot on the 4th company, I decided it wouldn't hurt me to go ahead and become Silver Certified. Although I have zero proof that being Certified has resulted in me getting any extra work over someone who is not Certified, I have no regrets at all about going through the process. Especially since it cost so little to do so.

A few months after I started shopping, I became curious whether being Certified really mattered, since only the three companies had specifically mentioned it on their Website. I asked a then-favorite scheduler of mine (who has since moved on) if it made a difference. She said she could only speak for herself, but it did make a difference when it came to new shoppers (this was an apply-for-shops company). When giving assignments to shoppers who weren't established with her company yet, she would give them to Gold Certified first, Silver Certified second, and then all the rest.

Alan A.
MSPA Silver Certified
Shopping the Dallas / Ft. Worth area since 2005
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Carol C
Star Contributor

Washington, DC
USA
436 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2008 :  8:01:56 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
One more advantage I can see to being certified: I make it a policy never to give references to an MSC. My theory is that it is worth my colleagues/friends being bothered to give a reference if we are talking about a full-time job, but not if we are talking about a shop that is most likely going to pay under $50.

For years, I would not apply to any company that demanded references. However, recently (since the Gold certification), I have been applying to such companies and merely putting "declined" in each of the spaces for a reference. I have never had an application turned down. While I can't prove that this is because of being Gold certified, my suspicion is that a company that asks for references would not accept an uncertified shopper without them.

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

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2008 :  8:55:46 PM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Alan, 50 companies, means you only have about 190 more to go.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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Alan-Texas
Star Contributor

Arlington, TX
USA
544 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2008 :  06:22:38 AM  Visit Alan-Texas's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by PamInCa

Alan, 50 companies, means you only have about 190 more to go.

I know! Don't remind me!

I got lucky when I first started shopping in that the first MSCs I signed up with ended up providing me with all kinds of work right off the bat. Although I don't do routes like many shoppers do, I still end up doing 30 - 50 shops a month, which usually includes a few multi-hour audits and open checks. Once I'm done with looking for shops, conducting shops, entering reports, and all of my regular activities, I really don't have much desire to sign-up with new companies.

Alan A.
MSPA Silver Certified
Shopping the Dallas / Ft. Worth area since 2005
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KevinT
Member

RI
USA
20 Posts

Posted - 09/11/2008 :  06:53:19 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have been mystery shopping for over a year and I consistently work with companies that pay well in the hospitality industry for some real interesting jobs. I dont' have any of the MSPA certifications because the companies were more interested in my hospitality experience than my mystery shopping experience.

Right now I do not have any need to get the certifications because I enjoy the jobs I do right now and are getting other jobs from referral the companies I work with that talk to other companies.

Kevin from Rhode Island
Shopping the hospitality industry in New England and beyond.
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Julie in Iowa
Member

Des Moines, Iowa
USA
35 Posts

Posted - 09/13/2008 :  1:24:08 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have thought about getting the MSPA Silver or Gold many times, but I am too busy shopping and don't have time!

Julie
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Ellen Christian
Star Contributor

Castleton, VT
USA
647 Posts

Posted - 09/13/2008 :  3:32:53 PM  Visit Ellen Christian's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I've been considering Gold but I'm not sure if it's worth it or not. It's an awful lot of money & with my husband out of work, I'm not sure it would be worth it income wise for me. We have a fairly small rural area and I don't think there is tons of competition out there right now. We have no spa shops or hotel shops or apartment building shops so most of my shopping income is from the retail/fast food market & the occasional bank.

~*~ Ellen ~*~
Silver Certified ndkvcr
Merchandising, Demonstrating and Shopping in Rutland County, Vermont and Eastern Washington County, New York!
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MsJudi
Star Contributor

New Jersey
USA
582 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  08:07:48 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Ellen,

You're probably correct in your assumption of the Gold not making a difference in your area. If there isn't much competition and you're doing a great job, that will more than work for you. If you ever have higher shopping aspirations, maybe go for it, but you're probably fine with the silver right now.

I'm in an area with loads of all kinds of shops. There are way too many for me to even think about with my teaching job. I'm Silver and have no need to go Gold right now. Someday, if I ever do it full time or I need it for that golden offer, I might get it. Right now, my hands are full with what I have. And yes, there are probably shops I'm not seeing because I'm only Silver, but I don't care, 'cause I don't have the time to do anymore than I am doing.

I have to force myself to lay off once in a while because it's just not worth the running around and fatigue that comes with all the shopping and reporting.

Judi
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Ellen Christian
Star Contributor

Castleton, VT
USA
647 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2008 :  03:52:10 AM  Visit Ellen Christian's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thanks MsJudi. I have actually just this week seen shops posted where you must be gold certified or have loss prevention experience. They are advertised as "very well paying". Not exactly sure what that is but it makes me wish I was gold certified. Too bad there isn't any kind of scholarship program for it. You can be very dedicated to your mystery shopping and still lack the funds to be able to get gold certified. It's not always the case that just because you're gold certified you know more or are a better shopper than someone who isn't.

~*~ Ellen ~*~
Silver Certified ndkvcr
Merchandising, Demonstrating and Shopping in Rutland County, Vermont and Eastern Washington County, New York!
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MsJudi
Star Contributor

New Jersey
USA
582 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2008 :  2:58:32 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Shhhh...I have completed several of the "You must be Gold Certified or have loss prevention experience" shops and they do pay well for what is involved. I'm Silver, but I was assigned them anyway. Apply and see what happens.

Judi
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TammiT
Contributor

Paramus, New Jersey
USA
67 Posts

Posted - 10/22/2008 :  05:06:35 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am debating whether to get Gold certified as well. I do well now even with Silver. There are TONS of shops in this area - however, too many of them are unrealistically priced (an $8 shop when even public transport to the location will cost $10 ).

Tammi
Silver Certified
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Erik K
Valued Contributor

NY
USA
209 Posts

Posted - 10/22/2008 :  09:11:53 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I haven't read all the posts but as the questions ask is it worth it. How about from a different view. Do those that took the course feel it improved their shopping ability. Did it help reduce the time to perform a shop. Did it offer tricks to better remember all you need to observe?
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2008 :  06:22:12 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Erik,
I most certainly learned a ton of useful things when I took the gold workshop within 3 months of starting to shop. In addition, I made connections with a recruiter at the workshop who sent over $1000 with of shops my way in the next 8 months.

During the workshop, the input from other shoppers was as helpful as that from the panel members. for this reason alone, I would always think of the in-person workshop being better than the CD.

Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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Madge Shawver
Star Contributor

PA
USA
299 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2008 :  06:57:16 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MsJudi

Shhhh...I have completed several of the "You must be Gold Certified or have loss prevention experience" shops and they do pay well for what is involved. I'm Silver, but I was assigned them anyway. Apply and see what happens.
I'm not even silver certified and have done them too....

Madge
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