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 Is being MSPA Silver or Gold Certified Worth It?
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PeaBob
Member

Denver, CO
USA
13 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2005 :  12:16:20 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
My experience is similar to what others have posted. While I haven't specifically tracked my success rate with getting shops before & after certification, I do see to get the ones that I want now. I performed several shops for one company and got a 10 each time, but each month I would apply for a few fine dining shops with them and get a "shop closed" message shortly after. After I went to the Gold workshop, I applied for the same shops and have thankfully received them several times. And I also get occasional emails for shops that are available to Gold shoppers only.

So, yes, I do think it helps but it's not the entire picture of how well a shopper may perform a job. I think where it really comes in to help is when many people have applied for the same shop and all have a similar track record with a company. Many of the schedulers have said that they'd use the certification as the tie-breaker or in some cases even as an initial filter of applicants.

Bob
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Paula Kutka
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1671 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2005 :  3:14:31 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
A press release with some numbers.......

http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20051017006023&newsLang=en

Paula
Gold Certified shopping the Houston/Galveston area and IAH Airport since 2002
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Elizabeth36
Star Contributor

Greenville, NC
USA
566 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2005 :  5:03:10 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Cool article... Looks like only 3000 Gold members so it must not be as widespread as I thought...

Elizabeth
Shopping Greenville NC and surrounding areas!
I WANT MORE MERCHANDISING WORK! Call me, ok?
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Lori CA
Valued Contributor

Los Angeles, CA
USA
105 Posts

Posted - 10/17/2005 :  7:18:15 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
At the end of last week, I applied for one out of three party store shops in my area. The scheduler wrote back to me and asked if I would take all three, stating that "I'd love to assign them all to you because you're gold certified." One of the shops was a bit of a drive, but I requested (and received) a gas allowance. I took all three of the shops and had a profitable day.

I have already recouped the cost of the workshop in the two weeks since I took it. I received assignments from three more companies last week, all of which are well-thought of by the members of this forum. I was put on self-assign status at Trendsource this week, which has already resulted in additional work.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion about their own situation. I do not think that beoming certified is a prerequisite to being a successful shopper. I would never suggest that anyone travel a long distance, spend a lot of money, miss work, etc. to do it. However, the workshop was local for me, and it has paid off.

I would also add that the process is not unpleasant or difficult at all. I will deduct all costs next year.

MSPA Gold Certified
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Mary Elizabeth
Valued Contributor

USA
117 Posts

Posted - 10/18/2005 :  12:04:24 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I've had my Gold for 3 months and I can't say that I'm getting better shops now. I think I get more emails notifying me of jobs, but they are often for shops with fees lower than I will accept, or they are jobs that I don't do....lots of offers for restaurants and I don't do restaurants.

The companies I work for that pay the best do not ask about certification.

Mary Elizabeth
MSPA Gold Certified
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FergusonKka
Valued Contributor

NY
USA
140 Posts

Posted - 10/18/2005 :  09:55:11 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I don't see much of a difference. I turn down a lot of work (that I was already offered before) due to current fees and gas prices. I get notified when some company will post on its board and very occasionally get something sent only to Gold shoppers. I found the Gold workshop to primarily be the presenter asking the audience for what they found works in their own experience. I'm still doing very few shops since I've calculated how much time and money I lose doing them.

Karen
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2005 :  3:42:28 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FergusonKka

I found the Gold workshop to primarily be the presenter asking the audience for what they found works in their own experience.
Hmmm...so you pay $99 to give YOUR opinion?
Sounds more like a group therapy session than a workshop

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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Lori CA
Valued Contributor

Los Angeles, CA
USA
105 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2005 :  7:01:12 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I'm doing a spa evaluation next weekend. I was not offered this type of assignment before I was certified. Every shopper's experience is different and it is an individual decision, but it has paid off quite well for me.

As far as Trendsource goes, I found the timing an interesting coincidence.



MSPA Gold Certified
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CathyKS
Valued Contributor

Lenexa, Kansas
USA
117 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2005 :  8:07:29 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
As soon as I became gold certified, I got the self assign e-mails for the sassie companies sooner and quickier and was able to get more jobs from them. The other sassie companies gave me jobs when they were selecting shoppers. I have seen a vast difference but only with the sassie companies. I was surprised how many other major companies either told me it didn't make any difference to them because they went on their experience with their shoppers or that didn't have a place to put your certification in your profile.

My certification was paid for itself; however, it didn't teach me anything I didn't know and sometimes I even disagreed with the instructor. Basically, I paid $99 to get more jobs from certain companies only.
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 11/08/2005 :  9:47:06 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CathyKS
Basically, I paid $99 to get more jobs from certain companies only.
Hmmm....but I thought we weren't supposed to 'pay' to shop, even the MSPA says that

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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DonnaShops
Star Contributor

Murfreesboro, TN
USA
380 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2005 :  05:46:18 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Being certified will definitely help get your foot in the door with a company you haven't worked with before. Some companies really look at certifications and some don't, it just depends on your area, what types of shops are available, how many shops are available and how many shoppers there are who want those shops. It just tells the MS companies you're serious about this business. Only about 1% of Gold Certified shoppers flake on jobs, as opposed to a much higher percentage of those who have no certification, gold or silver. And a company with a high stakes shop...trying to win a new account, high paying, etc...will choose a shopper they know is good and reliable or a certified shopper to do it. So, as others have said, it just depends on your circumstances. Everyone has to decide for themself.

MSPA Gold Certified
Shopping Middle TN & Beyond
Someday my Spa Shop will come!
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GLabow464
Valued Contributor

Springfield, PA
USA
112 Posts

Posted - 11/09/2005 :  5:49:25 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am not certified at all, but have been thinking about studying for Silver. I am semi-retured with lots of time, and I get about as much work as I can handle. My major problem (at this time) is one particular shop where I just can't seem to get it right. I have misunderstood a couple of the requirements, even after "warnings" from the QA folks!
Will certification process clear up some of the problems I am having? I guess I can only find out one way.

Gary - Silver gjs9lz
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KaySFbay
Star Contributor

Redwood City, California
USA
316 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2005 :  10:52:59 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GLabow464

Will certification process clear up some of the problems I am having?
Probably not. The test covers very basic material; you could pass it in your sleep.

Save the $15 and treat yourself to a nice lunch instead.

Kay
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6557 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2005 :  12:23:26 PM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I say spend the 15.00 and look for a company to reimburse a 60.00 lunch. Then you get a lot more for your 15.00. I can't get a good lunch around here for 15.00.

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

WA
USA
163 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2005 :  10:24:12 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I actually saw a shop just now that requires you be at least Silver certified to apply. It sounds like a great shop, but unfortunately it also requires bringing someone else along and my wife is out of town this week.
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ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2005 :  10:31:31 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Yes, and I'm sure it's a company that is a member of the MSPA!

Conflict of interest

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
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GVargas
Valued Contributor

WA
USA
163 Posts

Posted - 11/15/2005 :  10:39:39 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I'm not sure who requested it, but this was a shop from a company that I'd never before seen require silver certification (e.g. this company has many shops that don't require certification). The shop also required submitting a writing sample before they would assign the shop. Maybe this is a new client for this MS company and they want to ensure it's done right, and they figure an MSPA certified member is more likely to do a good job?
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KimG
Star Contributor

Orlando, FL
USA
628 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  3:33:30 PM  Send KimG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have a question-has anyone taken the gold test and failed? That would be awful, to put in all that work, and not to pass. There were a gold certification seminar in Ft Lauderdale sometime next year. I have a long time to think about it, but I'd hate to spend $99 and screw up. I'm a pretty bright person, but you never know.

I silver certified a week or so after I started shopping, so I don't know how it's affected me. I do think it has helped me get some dining shops and upscale retail.

Kim
silver certified njtwnf
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JanB27
Star Contributor

OH
USA
4831 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  3:38:20 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
And, just to play devil's advocate, I think it would be telling if no one ever failed. I don't know enough about the certification to remark on the amount of work involved; in fact, I didn't know there was anything beyond attending the workshop. But if you give a test that everyone can pass, what kind of a test is that? Or, looking at it another way, if everyone is that qualified, what is the purpose of the certification?

Jan
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ElizabethG
Valued Contributor

Chicago, IL
USA
166 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  4:13:08 PM  Send ElizabethG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by JanB27

And, just to play devil's advocate, I think it would be telling if no one ever failed. I don't know enough about the certification to remark on the amount of work involved; in fact, I didn't know there was anything beyond attending the workshop. But if you give a test that everyone can pass, what kind of a test is that? Or, looking at it another way, if everyone is that qualified, what is the purpose of the certification?



Here's the way I saw it when I was there. Being at the certification workshop meant being in the same room(s) with other shoppers, schedulers, and MS company heads. It was a way of networking and seeing people in person that we normally never see. That in itself is valuable. Then there was the perspectives of all the different shoppers and schedulers that were there, along with tips and ideas from the person running the workshop. The test was designed in such a way that it could be passed as long as you were really aware of what was discussed in the session. You couldn't just pay your money, fall asleep in the room, and pass the test. So it's just a safeguard to make sure you were fully present at the workshop.

Gold Certified yysqi1
Shopping Chicago and surrounding areas
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