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

Orange County, CA
USA
1383 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2008 :  07:12:04 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TammiT

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 ).



I've been shopping since May 1996, and became Gold certified in Aug 2004.
All of the restaurant shops that I've been offered have gone from generous reimbursement and fee, to a partial reimbursement.

I should state that I do not shop banks or any other type of financial institution.

I cut back shopping last year when the price of gas went over $3 a gallon, and shortened my territory to about 20 miles round trip.

I only did 2 shops this month, and 4 last month, with nothing scheduled for November. Luckily for me that I have a doctor office job to fall back on. I also have a seasonal job at a concert venue and work from May to October.

I really believe that there are some decent Gold shops are out there.......but since I work 3-4 days a week until 2 PM, they are taken by the time I get online to request them.

Our area is over-saturated with Gold certified shoppers and the competition here is awful!
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2008 :  10:00:33 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Hey, are you calling me awful?

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

Marin County, CA
USA
426 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2008 :  3:53:23 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
The biggest single tidbit I learned from the Gold DVD certification was not to be so quick to say "thank you." I now pause and give time for the associate to say it first. I didn't realize how automatic I said thank you thus preempting the associate. It still feels strange to me but now I get a more accurate read of service.

Amy
Gold in SF Bay Area
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DeniseT
Contributor

PA
USA
89 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2008 :  4:54:44 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
The biggest single tidbit I learned from the Gold DVD certification was not to be so quick to say "thank you."


I totally agree. It is amazing how often I do not get a thank you, now that I have stopped saying it. I also found my narratives are much better after taking the certification workshop. I was skeptical but now think that it is money very well spent. My
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CherylK
Contributor

USA
98 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2008 :  4:56:03 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Amy,
I agree! I really have to catch myself to NOT say thank you and allow them the opportunity to say it. (Why are we thanking them anyways?) I just did a bunch of phone shops and had to bite my tongue not to say thank you at the end--rather wait and let them end the phone call by saying thank you... There were many calls with some awkward silences while waiting for them to say--something! One CSR actually just hung up on me without saying anything! Not good.
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Irene_L.A.
Star Contributor

Valencia, California
USA
922 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2008 :  8:48:11 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I definitly think being silver or gold is worth it...first of all, I learned a lot for myself, and I think it shows companies your serious about this. I have gotten some excellent jobs, and still get my share of the others...but, do get the higher paying ones. Some companies say they want Certified shoppers. Go for it.

Irene Eichel
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BKBerger
Valued Contributor

Porterville, CA
USA
135 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2008 :  07:58:04 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AmyK

The biggest single tidbit I learned from the Gold DVD certification was not to be so quick to say "thank you." I now pause and give time for the associate to say it first. I didn't realize how automatic I said thank you thus preempting the associate. It still feels strange to me but now I get a more accurate read of service.
I want to say Thank you to AmyK for posting this. I have started NOT saying Thank you and find it indeed is amazing the difference in the response. I am planning on the $99 DVD for Gold in 2009 as one of my business goals.

Brian
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CathyStucker
Contributor

Sugar Land, TX
USA
75 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2008 :  6:46:59 PM  Visit CathyStucker's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Funny! Saying thank you is a common mystery shopper mistake that most of us don't even think about. We are so used to thanking people that we do it automatically.

Wouldn't it be nice if saying thank you was automatic for the employees we shop?

Cathy Stucker
Author of "The Mystery Shopper's Manual"
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Sandra G.
Valued Contributor

TX
USA
239 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2008 :  4:32:57 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Has anyone heard when and where the next MSPA annual shopper meeting is? I'd like to plan ahead if I can scrape together the pennies.

Sandra G.
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  07:39:59 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Last evening I got a call from a scheduler for a large scheduling company. They are doing test shops to try to get a client to switch to them. For these they absolutely want Gold Certified shoppers. She told me that her company tracks "flake rates" very closely and finds that Gold Certified shoppers are about 3 times more likely to complete shops on time than uncertified shoppers. When you consider that there are some superb non-certified shoppers, that leaves you with a horrendous flake rate among the less consciences of the uncertified folks!

Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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JenGA
Valued Contributor

Kingsburg, CA
USA
157 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  07:57:34 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I just got the Silver Certification after 3+ years of mystery shopping. Had I known how easy it was, I would have done it a long time ago-I was just worried I wouldn't know how to do the test. However, since I've been shopping for so long now, I feel that it was easier, since I know the basics and have learned from experience. I'm not contemplating getting the Gold-but hearing how many Gold shoppers are in CA makes me wonder if I have a lot of competition

Jen
Mystery Shopping in the Central Valley of CA since 2005
Silver Certified since December 2008
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CathyStucker
Contributor

Sugar Land, TX
USA
75 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  09:25:09 AM  Visit CathyStucker's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Replies to a few messages above:

There has been some discussion of holding the shopper conference right after the member conference. If so, that would move the dates from July to Sept. or Oct. Nothing definite that I have heard yet.

The shopper "flake rate" for Gold shoppers may be as low as 1 - 2%, vs. 25% on average for all shoppers. That is one of the reasons companies like Gold shoppers.

You do not need to be an experienced shopper to get certified, especially Silver certified. The point of the certification is education, so you are taught what you need to know to pass the test. The test is just there to make sure you learned it.

A lot of shoppers say that they are will get certified when they have more experience and can pass the test. That is not a reason to wait. I recommend that brand new shoppers go through Silver certification because they will get a good introduction to the industry.


Cathy Stucker
Author of "The Mystery Shopper's Manual"
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  10:43:35 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
To second Cathy's comments.... I got my silver certification after only about 10 shops. The manual teaches you what you need to know. I got my gold after only about 4 months experience. I feel that going to a gold workshop so early improved my capabilities enormously. And, I certainly got in on a huge number of assignments from the very people whom I met at the workshop.

Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  10:51:33 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CathyStucker
You do not need to be an experienced shopper to get certified, especially Silver certified. The point of the certification is education, so you are taught what you need to know to pass the test. The test is just there to make sure you learned it.


A test does not judge a person's ability to use the knowledge though Cathy. Some people are great at taking tests, but lousy at putting the information into practice, just as there are people who are lousy at tests but are good at putting the information into practice.

I think there are many who have taken silver, who will dispute the education aspect of at least the SILVER certification, especially if you have had any mystery shopping experience before getting it.

quote:
Originally posted by CathyStucker
I recommend that brand new shoppers go through Silver certification because they will get a good introduction to the industry.


This is the only statement I would agree with. I believe Silver should only be for wet behind the ear, newbies! Any shopper who can get a referral from an MS company, or show their shop logs with ratings of 8 or above, should be exempt from having to waste their money taking the Silver. They should get an exemption from it as a prerequisite to getting gold certification.

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  1:48:23 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have to agree with Chris about the usefulness of the silver cert for any shopper who is producing high quality shops. There probably should be a way to have that waived as a prerequisite to the gold workshop for shoppers with high grades.

Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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Joan_in_DE
Member

Newark, DE
USA
48 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  2:36:16 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Anything wrong with allowing people to go for the Gold without the Silver? They could stipulate, pass on the first try for the Gold or, you have 6 months to get your Silver and have two more attempts at the Gold?

I got my Silver after conducting my first shop. It helped hammer in the terminology and it was good practice for filling out reports and online forms. I did two more shops and did the DVD for Gold. Since I was just beginning, it was a wealth of information and a tremendous help.

I went to the July MSPA Educational Conference in Pittsburgh and there was a treasure trove of inspiration and information in the seminars and people who attended.

The best part has been getting opportunities to accept shops because of the Gold Certification.

It seems as if the newer you are to the industry or the greater the competition is in your area, the more valuable the certifications.

Joan_in_DE
Gold kt5fir, Video Certified
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Sandra G.
Valued Contributor

TX
USA
239 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2008 :  7:33:52 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the information, Cathy. I hope it is during the summer. I have much more time from my regular job during the summer. I plan to get the Gold certification. I want to go to the conference because I want to talk to others. Should I get the Gold certification through the DVD and go the conference free of having to do that?

Sandra G.
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2008 :  05:36:27 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Sandra,
My advice would be to do the Gold at a workshop if you possibly can. The contacts you will make in that smaller group are worth the time!

Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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Julie_WA_Writer
Star Contributor

Western, Washington
USA
1889 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2008 :  8:48:26 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ChrisT
This is the only statement I would agree with. I believe Silver should only be for wet behind the ear, newbies! Any shopper who can get a referral from an MS company, or show their shop logs with ratings of 8 or above, should be exempt from having to waste their money taking the Silver. They should get an exemption from it as a prerequisite to getting gold certification.
Are you assuming the Silver Certification is about education?

“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” Tacitus
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2008 :  08:22:24 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Julie_WA_Writer
Are you assuming the Silver Certification is about education?

Yes, at least according to Cathy Stucker, who is very educated in this field. She said it on Page 31.
quote:
Original posted by CathyStucker
The point of the certification is education, so you are taught what you need to know to pass the test. The test is just there to make sure you learned it.
and also according to the company giving it:
The Online Silver Certification Course has been in existence since 2003 and has certified over 50,000 shoppers since that time. The MSPA has responded to the comments and suggestions from many shoppers and shopping companies to make the course more extensive and educational, and in doing so have expanded it greatly. The MSPA is proud to offer our new and educationally improved 2008 Online Silver Certification course to every shopper seeking to be the best in their chosen field.

Are you saying this is wrong, Julie?

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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