Volition.com Forums

Username:
Password:
Save PasswordRegister
Forgot Password / Username?
Home | Search | Chat | FAQ | Posting Rules

 All Forums
 Mystery Shopping, Merchandising & Demo
 Mystery Shopping
 Is being MSPA Silver or Gold Certified Worth It?
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly

Previous Page | Next Page

Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 36

HeatherN
Valued Contributor

New York
USA
142 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  4:54:14 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LindJorg

Okay...but again how do we know it is the MS company requiring the MSPA silver or gold certification vs. the client requesting that? I don't know but if the client is requesting it then I don't see the conflict.
Linda, when I was an editor, the clients didn't have a clue about MSPA certification and what it meant, even though I worked for MSPA companies. The clients didn't have access to the shopper information (just a number on the report) and the certification was only listed in the profile, not on the report. So how would a client verify if the shopper was certified or not? The shoppers' personal information is supposed to be that, personal. The clients' concern is getting a report that is completed within the guidelines, is well-written, and is submitted by the deadline.
quote:
Requesting a writing sample seems to be a much more practical and telling screening tool; certification status tells little about one's abilities.
AGREED!

Kim, I heard a rumor that one shopper failed but was allowed to retake the test and passed the second time. I believe a shopper has three attempts to pass. At a Gold conference I attended, I was told that no one had ever failed the test.
quote:
You couldn't just pay your money, fall asleep in the room, and pass the test.
Actually, you could. Besides the fact that the test was common sense type questions and only slightly more difficult than taking the Silver, all the answers were in the workbook they handed out. Cathy Stucker made sure to inform the shoppers of that fact.
Go to Top of Page

MSPA
Mystery Shopping Providers Association

Dallas, Texas
USA
54 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  5:02:39 PM  Visit MSPA's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
There have been about 20 failures this year on the Gold test. There have been (yes, this is unbelievable!) more than 100 Silver failures this year. Silver shoppers are allowed 3 attempts to pass, Gold shoppers are only allowed 2 attempts.

The test changes every single year. Every year we make the program more detailed, and we make the test more challenging. It is not set up that everyone can pass, but it is set up so that there are no "trick questions". If you are at the workshop for 7 hours and paying attention, you can pass.

And, yes, the client cannot generally tell with most systems which shoppers are certified and which are not, however, when most MSPA member companies sell an account they advertise the fact that they are an MSPA member and utilize MSPA certified shoppers whenever possible. No, there is no way for the client to check that, but MSPA member companies are honest and ethical and wouldn't sell something that they aren't ready to deliver.

Mystery Shopping Providers Association
Go to Top of Page

CathyStucker
Contributor

Sugar Land, TX
USA
75 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  5:57:44 PM  Visit CathyStucker's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
As the person who has presented every MSPA Gold workshop (65 of them, give or take)I want to clarify a few points that have been raised here.

First of all, yes, shoppers have failed the Gold test. They were allowed to retake the test. Only a couple of shoppers have not been able to pass when they took the test again.

The test questions are not designed to try to trick or trap you. However, it is not as simple as reading a question and looking up the answer in the workbook. Some are true/false, many are multiple choice, and some are sentence pairs (where you choose the better sentence of two). Many of the questions test your ability to discern the answer. We discuss these issues in the workshop, and paying attention through the workshop will help when taking the test.

Whatever your level of experience, my goal in each workshop is to help you become a better shopper. I believe that all of us can improve, and I include myself in that. I continually work to improve my observation and reporting skills. The tips and techniques offered in the workshop, along with suggestions from the other shoppers in the workshop, can help you be a better, more valuable shopper.

The workshop also presents the opportunity to better understand not only how things work in the industry, but why. Having the opportunity to network with others in the industry is an ancillary benefit of attending a workshop.

MSPA member companies know that the shoppers who are Gold Certified received solid information that can help them to better serve clients. The fact that these shoppers were willing to invest the time and money to become Gold Certified demonstrates that they take mystery shopping seriously and treat it as a business. One of the biggest problems mystery shopping companies have is that many shoppers fail to complete the assignments they take. Gold shoppers seldom flake because they are professionals.

We do continue to change the workshop content and make it more advanced based on comments from shoppers and MSPA companies. If you have any suggestions on improving the content, email them to me.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at future workshops.


Cathy Stucker
Author of "The Mystery Shopper's Manual"
Go to Top of Page

Mary Elizabeth
Valued Contributor

USA
117 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  8:22:44 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mary Elizabeth

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.
I wrote the above a month ago and have been following the thread since. I've also been paying more attention to the emails I get offering jobs. What I realize now is that I no longer spend time going to the MSP Websites looking for jobs. If I get an email about a job that looks interesting to me, I check it out. And more often than not, I get the job. I always include the info that I am Gold Certified when I email a scheduler. I can't know for sure how often my certification has an impact...but I now think that it may be a factor.

Networking was not important to me. I didn't see any advantage to having people from my area know I'm a shopper. I did enjoy the small amount of time I spent with other shoppers during lunch and breaks, but I don't think it provided me with any advantage as a shopper.

A lot of what was covered I already knew, or was already doing...but I did get some good information and a few helpful tips, which makes me a better shopper for the companies that don't use the MSPA certifcation as well as those that do.

Mary Elizabeth
MSPA Gold Certified
Go to Top of Page

ElizabethG
Valued Contributor

Chicago, IL
USA
166 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  8:29:45 PM  Send ElizabethG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Not all networking has to do with having an advantage, as far as better shops or somesuch is concerned. I felt that the networking I did at the Gold workshop helped me just to gain new perspectives from others doing the same work I'm doing. In most jobs you see the people you work with daily, or at least often. In this job, it's a rare time you're able to see others who do what you do.

Gold Certified yysqi1
Shopping Chicago and surrounding areas
Go to Top of Page

Mary Elizabeth
Valued Contributor

USA
117 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2005 :  9:41:10 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Elizabeth, your point is well taken. I've read posts about shoppers taking business cards to Workshops and handing them out to other shoppers as well as reps. Some recommended that we make up stickers to stick to the other shopper's work books. Only my family and one friend knows what I do.

I did enjoy the time I spent with other shoppers and being able to talk freely.

Mary Elizabeth
MSPA Gold Certified
Go to Top of Page

KimG
Star Contributor

Orlando, FL
USA
628 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  09:19:50 AM  Send KimG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Maybe the question isn't, will being Gold certified get me more shops, but will being Gold certified get me higher paying shops?

Kim
silver certified njtwnf
Go to Top of Page

ElizabethG
Valued Contributor

Chicago, IL
USA
166 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  11:17:49 AM  Send ElizabethG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Another simple way to look at it: Attending a Gold workshop and passing the test shows MS companies succinctly that you take this business seriously. The fee for the workshop is tax deductible as a business expense, just like your mileage, computer, printer, etc.

Gold Certified yysqi1
Shopping Chicago and surrounding areas
Go to Top of Page

KimG
Star Contributor

Orlando, FL
USA
628 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  11:53:30 AM  Send KimG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Many types of jobs and careers require ongoing education or certification, which may or may not be paid for by your employer. Teachers, lawyers, doctors, etc. There are educational conferences for all sorts of businesses. My chiropractor goes to a conference every year. I'm sure it's a tax write-off for him, but the money comes out of his own pocket. Why do you think there are so many conventions?

Kim
silver certified njtwnf
Go to Top of Page

ElizabethG
Valued Contributor

Chicago, IL
USA
166 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  12:14:37 PM  Send ElizabethG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by NatalieH

Yes, I do recognize that people may be content to look at it in that way; but why on earth should I have to fork over my money simply to show someone I take my job seriously? What kind of legitimate business system plays into that mentality?
I remember that this business relies on online applications from people unknown to the MS company. We don't walk in for an interview, nor usually do we send in reachable references or a resume. That's why it makes sense to me to show myself to be serious in this way.

Gold Certified yysqi1
Shopping Chicago and surrounding areas
Go to Top of Page

JanB27
Star Contributor

OH
USA
4831 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  2:31:06 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I also don't think you can equate mystery shopping and gold certification with a professional career. You can't put in an application for a teaching position without a teaching degree. You can't take the bar without taking years of courses in law. These companies have someone fill out an on-line application containing a few questions and then schedule them to shop. I would assume, based only on this criteria, that the possibility for shops to be dropped would be high. Why not put the onus on the companies? They are the employers, and they are the ones who give the jobs to shoppers.

Jan
Go to Top of Page

Andi
Star Contributor

FL
USA
740 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2005 :  5:26:24 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mimi
I cannot imagine why a Secret Shopper needs continuing education. If a shopper is unable to perform the simple tasks that are required, perhaps Secret Shopping is not a viable option for their career path.
I think that there is always room for improvement and an opportunity to learn new things - whether it's brain surgery OR gardening - regarding any subject, vocation, etc that one chooses to indulge in.
Sure, most of the general information in the workshop was stuff I
already knew, but alot of it was expanded on and I did learn new ways
to look at things, better ideas on writing, etc. If one knows everything there is to know about mystery shopping and does not feel the need to take the workshop, fine. I, for one, enjoyed it and I did learn.

Andi
MSPA Gold Certified
Shopping Central Eastern Florida
Go to Top of Page

ElizabethG
Valued Contributor

Chicago, IL
USA
166 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2005 :  09:06:08 AM  Send ElizabethG an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by NatalieH

I respect that some shoppers truly want to put their best foot forward, but I cannot recall the last time I was made to pay a potential employer for a job interview.
I think this might be the part that's making you so apparently angry. I wouldn't pay to do a job either. But paying for a workshop isn't paying for a job. It's paying the presenter for presenting, it's paying for the written materials you bring home, and it's paying for the venue and the food served. This is typical of any workshop/conference/convention. The fact that certification comes with doing the workshop means that companies see that you cared enough about the job to do the workshop. What's wrong with that?

Companies also see that you're serious when they see you do the job well, as others have stated. It's not like certification is the only way to show your seriousness. It is a way that I chose to do it, and others have as well.

Gold Certified yysqi1
Shopping Chicago and surrounding areas
Go to Top of Page

CathyKS
Valued Contributor

Lenexa, Kansas
USA
117 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2005 :  10:02:05 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
My biggest disappointment was the major companies I do the most work for didn't care at all about my gold certification. Most didn't even have a place for me to put it in my profile. It is the sassie companies where I saw the most increase in job offers.

I have been shopping for a while and I would be willing to bet I could have passed the gold test without ever going to the gold seminar.
Go to Top of Page

Nora
Star Contributor

PA
USA
6341 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2005 :  10:02:56 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I don't see that it has anything to do with anger; rather, with respect for the value of one's dollar. Attending a workshop for personal enrichment is certainly admirable; few, I think, would disagree with that. However, when ominous innuendo ,some of which is none too subtle, is attached to the certification process, then we should expect the need and right to probe.

I think some people get upset because they infer,incorrectly, that those who look at the certification with a wary eye are in some way casting aspersion on the judgement of the attendees of the certification workshops. I don't fault anyone who attends, believing that this process will give them a step up in the field. I do however, fault the powers-that-be in the mystery shopping industry who would, from all their rhetoric, discard experience in favor of a paper of largely dubious academic worth. I am acquainted with a number of shoppers who attended and were dismayed that entirely inexperienced individuals could magically become part of an "elite" group of shoppers. We also know that shoppers who "fail" are given the opportunity to take the test again, and again, if necessary...with assistance. When experience and a concrete curriculum takes precedence over networking and lunch, then certification will be a demonstrable asset and a well-earned credential.
Go to Top of Page

WilliamJ
Contributor

Dunmore, PA
USA
80 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2005 :  11:27:21 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I teach college engineering and mathematics (and more programming than I like to think about)...so I know all about continuing education and paying exorbitant sums for certifications.

Given my choice between two individuals, one of whom has put forth the initiative (and the negligible amount of money...some of my credentials are in the thousands of dollars, pass or fail!) to pursue a certification...therefore demonstrating a commitment to the field...which shopper do you think I'd choose?

The certification simply shows a level of commitment...if you are simply a hobby shopper, fine. If you want to put a bit more into it, get certified. It's cheap, you MIGHT learn something, or at the very least get a chance to network with scedulers and fellow shoppers...

Also, there are some VERY COMPLEX shops (more often, audits) out there, that you will rarely see on a website...if your 'foot in the door' to those companies is a certification, so be it.

Does it make sense to drop a few hundred dollars on a certification to get the same $10 shops? Probably not. But if the money that you INVEST in a certification (hell, it is a business expense, right it off!) leads to a few $250-$500 jobs, where is the harm?

Off my soapbox now...
Bill

Shopping The Poconos and Northeastern Pennsylvania
MSPA Silver
Go to Top of Page

ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 11/22/2005 :  1:57:53 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Your certifications are really worth something Will, unlike the Gold. Even people who've gotten it admit that it was mainly a MIXER and that they knew most, if not all, of the info presented. If you're main goal is to network and think a $99 tab is worth it, then more power to you. But don't put some pretense about it being a workshop where you're really learning something like you do when you take a computer or legal or other type workshop. I've taken the certs at Brainbench and those REQUIRE extensive training/knowledge, not just paying attention at one 'workshop' as even the workshop leader here has admitted. All the gold cert verifies is some knowledge it doesn't have a TIME requirement(e.g. Private investigator). That means someone who has NO MSing experience but a GREAT memory can easily pass it.

It's a personal choice, but don't try to make it out to more than what it is.

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
Go to Top of Page

WilliamJ
Contributor

Dunmore, PA
USA
80 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2005 :  07:50:15 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Chris!

I agree...there is no comparison to any of the engineering or software certs that I have.

I simply look at gold as an exercise in networking, and I'm within driving distance of one of the golds, so there is no great expense associated with it for me...heck, I'll probably shop on the way down or back to pay for it!

I don't currently have a gold, by the way, but have still done QA audits and compliance audits that pay several hundred dollars, so obviously, gold certification is not needed to get those gigs (of course, FDA and Serv-Safe are!)

Also please excuse my spelling in the earlier post. I'm using speech-recognition software, and it seems that it doesn't always type what I'm saying (right versus write).

Shopping The Poconos and Northeastern Pennsylvania
MSPA Silver
Go to Top of Page

.Xavier
inactive

Stamford, CT
USA
36 Posts

Posted - 11/23/2005 :  09:18:50 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Chris you are right about the Gold not being any comparison to many of William's other certificates. However, I do believe it does compare with other types of certification such as the CPS and CAP certifications by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, among other types of certification.

Not all employers recognize these certifications either. Neither do professionals in these fields but there are many companies and individuals that do recognize them as another level of commitment, dedication, and competence in the field. My employer did not reimburse me for getting certified even though it did make me a better employee.

I view Gold as another thing I can offer my clients. Gold is much like being able to type or use MS Office products or owning a digital camera. I believe that it shows that I care about doing a good job for them. As soon as the 2006 calendar is posted I will be registering for the conference.

Gold certified. Willing to travel up to 60 miles for the right shop.
Go to Top of Page

ChrisT
Star Contributor

USA
1513 Posts

Posted - 12/21/2005 :  10:36:10 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Xavier

However, I do believe it does compare with other types of certification such as the CPS and CAP certifications by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, among other types of certification.


I'll have to disagree with you on that. While I don't know how extensive the MSPA test is as I've never taken it(but get PLENTY of jobs still), I looked up the CPS and CAP. In the review materials it says, "must pass certain educational and work experience requirements". The Silver and Gold of MSPA have no such requirements. A green MS'er can pass both and not have done 1 shop

In addition it says that they are, "3 part one day and 4 part one and half day exams, respectively." I don't believe the Silver is anywhere near that extensive and even the speaker for the Gold said you can pass it by just being attentive at the workshop.

In addition, many jobs are snatched up by people doing MSing as a hobby at basement level prices. Admin. professionals don't have to worry about that, so certification for that makes more sense.

I see the MSPA as certs being pushed by the members of the MSPA for their own goals. Many people who have attended have said that and agree it's mostly a networking event, which is fine as long as GOLD isn't represented as something it's not.

Also, I don't believe there are any sample questions you can look at before you sign up and pay for it. It would be nice to know if it's really worth it to you before you shell out your hard earned money.

ChrisT
Deliriously Happy Shopping Uncertifiable
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 36 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Previous Page | Next Page
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Volition Copyright All rights reserved. Volition is a registered trademark of Volition.com LLC. Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.33 seconds. Software © Snitz Forums