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

Tallahassee, FL
USA
918 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2011 :  9:54:03 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Occasionally I have signed up for shops only have the app sit there for over a week and then I eventually get a notice that the shop has been filled. In those cases I always end up wondering if the schedulers are waiting for a gold certified shopper to apply.

There's one company that I used to do a ton of work for. They would even contact me directly to see if I could pick up shops. About 7-8 months ago, that stopped. Every single assignment I've applied for since has been given to someone else. I still have a good rating, I'm not aware of any issues with anything, I've never bad-mouthed them, I just never get any work. The latest one was listed on jobslinger. I applied for it not 5 minutes after the post, it was 6 AM so how many shoppers would really have been applying just then, and it took 3 days to be told the job was closed. If you're only going to assign it to gold certified people, why bother even posting it to everyone? or at least state the Gold Certification requirement when posting the job so I don't waste my time. (For this particular company, I've pretty much given up. I only applied for this one because it was one I really wanted to do. The "sure, I could do that" ones I don't even bother any more. I'm tempted to apply for something once I get my gold just to see if I'm suddenly considered viable again, but they've irritated me enough over this that I'm not going to go out of my way for them ever again.)

--Sandi
traditional & video shopping FL and GA
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2011 :  05:20:30 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Sandi, that has happened to me as well and I have been Gold Certified since 2003. I do not think it is a Gold issue, I believe it is a scheduler issue. Like you, I just stopped applying because it became apparent that this scheduler was not going to give me the jobs.

PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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Sandra G.
Valued Contributor

TX
USA
239 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2011 :  08:06:24 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
That has happened to me on one of my favorite assignments. I have noticed a competitor around. I think that, although my reports always got a 10, they want someone with different observation skills and different references to things that happened, so I am on some kind of rotation. I quit looking at the scheduler's emails because of this. Maybe next year they will start scheduling me again, but this competitor must have moved here and has been shopping for a while, because he/she has all the best companies for the area so I doubt this MS'er will grow tired of the business any time soon. That makes me think I'll be fighting for the assignments for a while. Never mind, I will just move on to the nearby big city and take neighborhood routes in the meantime.

Sandra G.
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SandiA
Star Contributor

USA
495 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2011 :  08:58:16 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
There's one company that I used to do a ton of work for. They would even contact me directly to see if I could pick up shops. About 7-8 months ago, that stopped. Every single assignment I've applied for since has been given to someone else. I still have a good rating, I'm not aware of any issues with anything, I've never bad-mouthed them, I just never get any work.

Have you talked to them about it? Maybe there's a new scheduler who doesn't know how awesome you are?!

SandiA
Celebrating 14 Years in the Biz!
MSPA Gold Certified since 2003
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Sandi G
Star Contributor

Tallahassee, FL
USA
918 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2011 :  11:26:44 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Actually, after Pam's comments and a review of my account that showed it to be an entire year since I got a shop from them, I decided to be bold and ask the scheduler. As I suspected, it's a gold issue. Someone else around here has the certification, so they have preference.

--Sandi
traditional & video shopping FL and GA
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RichC
Contributor

(Northern), VA
USA
64 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2011 :  1:02:13 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Personally, I've chosen not to get certified.

I don't think this means that the certification has no value. I just don't think that it has a lot of value to me. I rarely do more than 5 shops a month because I have a job that often involves 10+ hour days. But it's variable, and that means I regularly have several days off during the week, but with little to no notice as to when that will start or end . It makes planning a real challenge.

I have a couple companies that I can call and say "I am free tomorrow, do you need X done?" Since X is a regular client that is done every month (and some are tough to fill) they are usually happy to get someone who's been a "shopping" for 20 years, and not the usual shopper profile. I'd bet that >80% of shoppers are female.

If this were my main income source I would definitely get certified. As it is, I don't see the reason for me to get certified. I get more emails for shops than I even have time to read. If I know Company X wants me to do a dinner, but if all they offer is reimbursement - I don't care how fine the dining is, the answer is no.
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PeninaD
Valued Contributor

Stroudsburg, PA
USA
216 Posts

Posted - 11/10/2011 :  04:03:43 AM  Send PeninaD an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
When I first got it, I did notice that I got offered some higher pay assignments, but lately I don't know that it has helped or not. Perhaps it is a transparent thing at this point?

Penina
MSPA Gold
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John MrBeth
Valued Contributor

Mount Laurel, NJ
USA
184 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2012 :  08:08:17 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
On occasion schedulers will give you a higher priority over other shoppers. In once recent case I was given three shops; the scheduler was gold certified shopper too.

John
Southern NJ
Professional Couple
Both Gold Certified
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Cilla
Star Contributor

MD
USA
1433 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2012 :  08:03:33 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
It is my understanding that the new MSPA board of directors (or someone in power) have determined that they must restructure and greatly improve the shopper training program. Although I am Gold Certified, and was certified in my first few months of starting to shop, I tend to agree that it is most helpful for brand new shoppers. It did help me a lot, mainly because of the networking with MSC reps and the give-and-take of ideas in workshops. Neither of those is available in the video training now on offer.

I would welcome an opportunity to have some input to the redesign deliberations.

Cilla
MSPA Gold Certified 2005
IMSC Certified 2009
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NinaNY
Contributor

Westchester County, NY
USA
87 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2012 :  2:05:50 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Since becoming Gold certified I haven't seen any increase in the amount of jobs I'm assigned or offered. However, I'm very glad that I chose to complete the certification. I found the program to be very informative and while seasoned shoppers may look at parts of the video and say "I know all of this" I did learn from it (in spite of my thinking that I knew all of it ). Plus I found the videos and examination interesting. Additionally the program provided a good way to double check myself & make sure that I wasn't unconsciously slipping into bad habits.

Granted I'm still hoping to score one of those mythical jobs that get offered to Gold certified shoppers but, well, nothing yet.

Nina
Silver & Gold certified. Shopping the Tri-State & wherever else my two wheels take me...
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Zeke
Member

NC
USA
22 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2012 :  11:48:56 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have found that certification has definitely been a plus in my area, as there are so few certified or even GOLD certified shoppers. Consider what they say on the MSPA website about over a million shoppers, and only aroudn 5000 GOLD certified shoppers nationally. Interesting statistics if true. The MSPA member companies typically give GOLD certified peeps some juicy shops from my personal experience. Shops I normally never received, started popping up, companies I didn't even know my regular Mystery Shopping companies had contracts for, so I have found the certification worth while and have definitely completed enough shops after certification to pay for the course.

I also found the information very rewarding, seeing as I have a small business and do other IC type of work (ghost writing, merchandising, audits, etc as well as MS under my umbrella company). I find the NARMS and MSPA certifications as credentials showcasing my professionalism with my business. I do think that in some regards certification is not for everyone. You have to base that on whether or not you plan to devote a certain amount of time to MS.

Zeke
MSPA GOLD CERTIFIED SHOPPER
NARMS Certified Merchandiser
Shopping NC
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JenniferML
Valued Contributor

USA
106 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2012 :  4:50:56 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Seems they've suspended the Gold DVD program. Just when I decided it was worth the money. Any idea what they have planned?
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Joan_in_DE
Member

Newark, DE
USA
48 Posts

Posted - 06/15/2012 :  7:09:23 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Jennifer, it looks as if you have to subscribe to the MSPA Listening Post and be Silver Certified to log into the MSPA Shopper section.

http://www.mysteryshop.org/ SHOPPERS Certified Shoppers

There you can pay $75.00 plus tax to take the pre-recorded Gold Certification. It will also be offered, live, in November at the IMSC Conference in Las Vegas. They also say that they will post updates on the MSPA Facebook page.

If it is not available online now, I can only imagine they discovered a couple bugs and will make it available as soon as it is fixed and ready for prime time.

Joan_in_DE
Gold kt5fir, Video Certified
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TJ Monty
Trainee

Kasson, MN
USA
6 Posts

Posted - 12/31/2012 :  8:03:04 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I paid my 75.00 last Spring, but took my time going through the online course. I've been trying to take it for months now, but of course it's not available. I hope they let me know when it's ready, and improve the sound on those real life observations.

TJ Monty
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Wendi
Member

BC
Canada
15 Posts

Posted - 06/28/2013 :  10:04:14 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I got my Gold Certification about two years after I started mystery shopping. I won't say I was full time but did average about 20-30 shops a month. This was a fairly expensive investment because I had to travel to another community, stay overnight, eat and pay for the seminar. Initially, I tried to justify the expense and see how quickly I earned back the cost.

However, what I came to realize was that maybe the investment was not actually repaid as such - but I learned so much about what made a good shop that some of them became easier to do. I was later a scheduler for a short time and personally went more by shopper's experience than certification, unless there were a lot of applicants and then tended to tie in the certification and the gradings with that company to make the choices the first month.

Later as an editor, I found that although the customer (who is actually the one who is paying the shopper) appreciates getting a variety of viewpoints and reports. I think all these things need to be taken into consideration when shoppers are being assigned. I do know that many companies have rotations for their shoppers so unless there are many certified shoppers in an area, the less qualified ones should get their chance every once in a while.
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