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 Have the Califonia Pizza Kitchen Shops Been Assigned Yet?
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LaurieHI
Member

Oahu, HI
USA
46 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2004 :  8:07:36 PM  Visit LaurieHI's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I emailed the scheduler, but have not received a reply back.

MSPA SILVER Certified #mmlf6w, Hawaiian Islands Shopper

JordanT
Valued Contributor

Orlando, Florida
USA
155 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2004 :  8:17:46 PM  Send JordanT an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Did you get the email that the pay rate will be lowered?
They were out bid so they lowered the fees to keep the account.
Will you still shop them with lower fees?
Doesn't show much respect for us shoppers in my opinion.
Do all the same work, but get paid less!

JordanT
Shopping Orlando, Winter Park, Oviedo and Waterford Lakes.
MSPA Gold Certified
#k9ecag
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MrsKenna
Star Contributor

Oxnard, CA
USA
1641 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2004 :  8:21:08 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Hey Jordan, I just emailed Laurie to tell her that. I can believe that this happened but I hate that the fact that companies are really getting low with the "lowballing"!!!

True enough! I have to admit I was a bit peeved and wanted to call corporate! Of course I would never do that but I was surely tempted!!

CALIFORNIA- Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura, Port Hueneme and neighboring cities
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BMesa
Contributor

NJ
USA
54 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2004 :  8:29:47 PM  Send BMesa an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I guess I feel differently. 1) A lot of restaurant shops don't have a fee on top of the reimbursement, so it was nice while they had it. 2) It is a reasonably healthy reimbursement for the shop -- I never have to put extra $$ out-of-pocket to cover our meal and 3) I thought it was refreshingly honest that the company told their shoppers upfront about the situation. So, yes, I will continue to shop for them. Just my 2 cents...

MSPA Silver Certified
Merchandising and Mystery Shopping NJ (emergency and last minute jobs OK!)
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MrsKenna
Star Contributor

Oxnard, CA
USA
1641 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2004 :  8:38:41 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I always max out my reimbursement here simply because I like the place and don't mind ordering over the reimbursement limit. The extra audit fee would cover my extra expenses. I guess I won't order the pricey pasta anymore!

CALIFORNIA- Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura, Port Hueneme and neighboring cities
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AvaKe
Apprentice

Honolulu, HI
USA
2 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2004 :  8:49:42 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I was wondering about that too. I have not received any HI CPK either even though I had some last month.
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Jules in Boston
Star Contributor

Boston, MA
USA
1492 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  06:20:37 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
LauriHI,
I got my assignments Dec 31st. This first one was due Jan 2nd!
They also do have a 3 month rotation requirement set in place and maybe that is why you did not get the assignments as of now. The also did not load all of their assignments.

JordanT you said “Will you still shop them with lower fees?
Doesn't show much respect for us shoppers in my opinion.
Do all the same work, but get paid less!”

They almost lost their account because as always some company tried to get another juicy account and low balled their rate. I will continue to do shops with this company because simply stated, they area good company to work for.

The ms company did show respect by letting us know what was going on rather than just saying “we are eliminating this and that”. It could be said that is the restaurant ownership who did not show respect by forcing a company that they have been using for years to cut their pay to the independent contractors for their work.
Do you really think that this is the first time a company has had to do this to keep an account? If you do mystery shopping for a living and do these particular shops to earn $ and not just to enjoy a meal out, then don’t continue to do these shops.

It is very unfortunate that this happened but to the Pizza chain who hired the ms company, this is just another vendor to them and that is the way business works.



GOLD CERTIFIED
Shopping Boston, MA and metro area.
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MaryLou
Inactive

East County / San Diego, CA
USA
915 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  08:50:02 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Gosh Jules. This may be the most intelligent response that I have read in months. I could not agree with you more. It's nice to see somebody else getting the "big picture".
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MrsKenna
Star Contributor

Oxnard, CA
USA
1641 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  10:38:10 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I got the "big picture" and guess what else I got...less money in my pocket. Why do the companies always win? Why is it right when we let them win? Why should we be the ones stuck with the short stick at the end? And why do some of us make generalizations that this behavior is acceptable and we should continue to let this cycle repeat itself over again?

Call me a fool or whatever but who is really gaining here? Certainly not us. Well, I have gained an extra inner tube around my stomach but hey, I guess it was really at my expense now....

What's next? Shopping for free...or maybe we are already there.

CALIFORNIA- Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura, Port Hueneme and neighboring cities
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Jules in Boston
Star Contributor

Boston, MA
USA
1492 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  11:23:36 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Yes less money it is and it stinks…but it is what is happening not to just this company but to all global companies. Why do you think factories are closing in the U.S. and going abroad? Because they can get the same job done for 75% less with a staff who is non union and are used to getting $2 an hour!

These mystery shopping companies do not always win. They lose an account and then they must lose their staff since they do not need them to do non existent jobs. They lose staff and jobs thus resulting in no mystery shopping jobs for us. There is so much competition for mystery shop accounts out there that I really do believe that some must do what it takes to stay afloat.

The stores, restaurants, auto dealers …whoever we end up shopping cut costs everyday, be it using a different packaging company or cleaning supply distributor, marketing and advertising agency or mystery shopping company.
Do you complain when they raise prices of dishes to the restaurant where you eat at? What about the box of cereal which now has 2 ounces less of cereal in it but the box stays the same size? Do you call the company and complain?

In a perfect world we would be getting a lot more money for the jobs we do because after driving there, performing the jobs, going home entering the reports, faxing, mailing blah blah blah.it does add up. Yes there are clearly people who are delighted in taking a $6 job because it’s a job to them. Some people will not start their car up for less then $12 per shop.

I respect the mystery shopping companies such Kern for example who stand firm and support the shoppers. They might not take an account from a company because that company simply does want to pay a fair wage to the independent contractors.

The California Pizza Kitchen mystery shopping company did what it had to do simply to keep its major account from going to another company. If that job did go to another company some one would be back here immediately on this forum bitching about the smaller food reimbursement and how back in the day you got a shop fee and the report is now different.

I want more money and better reimbursements but there are still people who justify a $6 shop with narratives. That is the cycle. People take crappy paying shops and then complain about them later on. If it is too low of pay for the work…..DO NOT take the job. I do not take crappy paying jobs. Those who do and justify them bring everyone down in the long run.



GOLD CERTIFIED
Shopping Boston, MA and metro area.
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Arlene_HI
Star Contributor

Lawai, HI
USA
676 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  11:44:50 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
One thing I haven't seen, is that we don't know what kind of "hit" the ms company took here. They probably had to tighten their belts just like the shoppers. Another aspect we don't see is that the client could be facing higher product costs, labor costs, insurance, unemployment costs, increased competition, etc.
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LydiaF
Valued Contributor

CA
USA
127 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  12:43:15 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have a question about the company that shops CPK. I used to have to go and set my availability for the following month on their website. Do they still do this? Last time I checked their website I was not able to. Lately I have just been receiving e-mails of a few shops, not all that they offer. Anyone know? Also, I shopped CPK two months in a row so I don't know what their rotation is. Thanks. As for less pay for same amount of work, it's a fact of life... thank God we have free will and can make choices. I don't like it and don't know what the solution is. I haven't heard any great solutions from anyone on this or any other board either.

Shop Shop - MSPA Silver: drkxkv
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JordanT
Valued Contributor

Orlando, Florida
USA
155 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  12:50:14 PM  Send JordanT an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Jules,

I got the "big picture" too.
And by the way, when my favorite chinese restaurant raised the prices and made the portions smaller, I went to a different chinese restaurant. So they did lose my business. My husband and I have gone to them once or twice a week for years and they lost our business.
I am not picking on you. Please don't get me wrong. I just offered my opinion of the situation.
As MrsKenna mentioned: We do not know what the cut was for the MS Company. Could be pennies or could be dollars. We will never know.
The only thing I do know is that when I worked at a large corporation, if they dare told me they were cutting my pay but I had to do the same work, I would cut them lose and look for a new job.
We all need to do what we have to, to make money and survive.

JordanT
Shopping Orlando, Winter Park, Oviedo and Waterford Lakes.
MSPA Gold Certified
#k9ecag
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Jackie Co
Valued Contributor

West Hartford, CT
USA
106 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  1:32:10 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I did receive an email on Dec 31 for an assignment for Jan 3rd or 4th. I then received an email that they could not pay a fee anymore only a reimbursement. I went ahead and did the shop as I enjoy CPK and would go there anyways for a good dinner. The form has not yet showed up on my home page but I am confident tomorrow it will be there. I trust this company and appreciate their honesty. It must have been a real blow for them to have to fight to keep their big account. It was my choice to keep working for the company because they were honest and truthful upfront. I am still steaming over the company who took a $15 administrative fee out of my restaurant charges without letting me know ahead of time. We all have choices that is what is good about this profession. As for the scheduling, the availablity is on the homepage each month and the company follows through with sending out personal emails.

Jackie in CT
MPSA Gold Certfied
MSPA Shopper Panelist Washington, D.C.
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Billie
Member

Tampa, FL
USA
47 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  6:15:24 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Jules, great post.
I have not done this shop, but I do respect the ms company for being honest with the shoppers. I wish client name had not been posted so I could inquire which ms company was so refreshingly candid. I would continue to shop for them. Based on my limited knowledge (info from this post)the new fee does not seem to be insulting or not worth doing the shop. As for the lower fees my two cents: If the pay is not worth it to you, then don't take the assignment. Someone else will.
Re: Losing jobs to overseas and lower wages, What to do?
My family is boycotting a few companies. Please note as a consumer(not as an mystery shopper) I do not shop at a very large retailer. Many of their products are made overseas and they pay very low wages. They claim "Made in America", but they have been caught lying about it several times. A recent PBS show said the average wage of all employees including the managers/CEO was something in the neighbohood of $8.00. Only 25% of work force has benefits. Please note I am estimating based on my memory. Also a friend who worked at this retailer was denied the ability to get benefits. Many other large companies have been following these practices to save money. This hurts our economy. If my phone company starts outsourcing customer service overseas, I send a protest letter to corporate and consider changing my service provider. The few investment dollars that I have are being carefully put into companies who pay a fair wage and have integrity.
Time to put the soap box away.

Billie
Gold certified. Able to shop Ellenton, Ruskin, Sun City Center, Riverview, Brandon, Orlando, Plant City
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BMesa
Contributor

NJ
USA
54 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  6:47:33 PM  Send BMesa an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Adding to my previous reply -- for all the squawking about the dissolution of the fee, the fee (such that it was) was really not that large to begin with. Unfortunately, it's the way of the world. I'm happy the ms company was able to retain the client, so now I don't have to go searching for who the new company was. And for those that won't shop CPK anymore, less competition for the rest of us.

MSPA Silver Certified
Merchandising and Mystery Shopping NJ (emergency and last minute jobs OK!)
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Terri-MI
Contributor

Ann Arbor, MI
USA
90 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2004 :  9:17:17 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I really love CPK! They have stated a 3 month rotation for as long as I can remember, but they still call me asking me to pick up last minute gigs! They were the only MS company that I had worked with that paid above and beyond a reimbursement for a resturant. I'm bummed, but as long as they cover the meal I will still go!

MSPA GOLD Certified #rh5jqm. Happy to serve Ann Arbor Michigan and surrounding areas!
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LindaCulp
Star Contributor

Portland, Oregon
USA
2339 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2004 :  12:06:25 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Let me share my experience from behind the scenes. A previous job of mine was to place people on temporary job assignments. This was quite a few years ago (about 20). Here are the real numbers I was working with then:

My company REQUIRED a minimum 29% markup just to cover overhead costs (which had a 2% profit built in), or we would be losing money. That meant that if we paid the temp $10.00 an hour, we had to charge the client a minimum of $12.90 an hour.

Very rarely did we charge a company a rate that low. Only companies that had contracts with us were awarded rates close to that amount. A contract meant they were required to come to us when they needed somebody, and we were required to fill the job whenever we had someone qualified to fill it. They were not allowed to call our competition to get their jobs filled elsewhere unless we were unable to fill the job.

The above scenario was the exception, not the norm. Very few companies actually had contracts. Most called whoever they wanted, and they paid premium prices for that freedom. Premium price back then was a 50-60% markup ($10 to the temp; $15-$16 charge to the client). When a new client contacted us for the first time and we wanted that account, my instructions were to tell them our bill rate was 60%. If they balked at that, I had the freedom to lower it to 55% or even as far down as 45% if necessary to undercut our competitors and get the job. I was not allowed to go lower than 45% without special permission from my boss, and there had to be a really good reason for it. Anything higher than a 60% markup was considered a rip-off, but lots of other agencies were charging up to 80% and getting away with it. My company's whole reputation was based on lower prices than all of our competition.

I personally was paid a flat salary and a commission based on how many hours of work my temps had completed each week for me, regardless of how much profit each temp was making us. If I started undercutting prices a bit too much in order to get more jobs, I'd hear from my boss about it, so it was always a double-edged sword. My boss's personal commission was based on the bottom line profit of our office, NOT the number of hours worked, so our two jobs were essentially always at loggerheads.

Remember, this was 20 years ago. Temporary employment agencies today are now charging FAR more than a 50-60% markup. I've seen enough invoices, I know how much most are paying their temps and what they are charging clients. Typical markups today are anywhere around 65% (the lowest I've seen) to 300%.

My point? There is a lot of leeway within that markup for playing around with the worker's income when push comes to shove. Basically what I've seen happening is the companies are simply becoming more greedy about their portion of the pot, while the workers are still kept at essentially the same income level.

Obviously I have no idea how these proportions and percents play out in the MSing industry, but I DO know that on one particular shop I do, the client is paying the MS company at least 5 times the amount of money I am being paid for that shop. I only found this out by accident. Keep in mind, however, that out of that money, a scheduler and an editor are getting paid.

When I was placing temps, often I would have a temp call me and tell me that their boss now wanted them to do additional tasks they were not originally hired to do. This made their time spent there worth more money. They wanted me to pay them more, or they might not stay and complete that assignment. Many times I adjusted that person's income without charging the client a penny more per hour, because I had the leeway to do it. Sometimes I did charge the client more; it all depended on the situation and what everyone could bear. Often I would have a temp working at $11 an hour after a raise in pay, but the client would still be paying us $15 an hour, and sometimes without even knowing that the temp was being paid more. When there wasn't room in the markup to make those kinds of adjustments, I had to ask the client to pay more to keep that temp there. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. Sometimes I had to tell the temp I couldn't afford to pay them any more, and the client wouldn't pay us any more. The temp was then forced to decide if it was worth it to them to stay and continue doing the job.

When push comes to shove, the temp (or the MSer as the case may be) is GOING to be the person who gets the short end of the stick, no matter what. We shoppers have no real say in the matter, except to walk away and refuse to do it, but nobody else cares, because there are too many other people who are willing to work for that amount of money.

Happily shopping the Portland, Oregon metro area!
~MSPA *Gold* Certified, 2003~
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MrsKenna
Star Contributor

Oxnard, CA
USA
1641 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2004 :  06:18:45 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Linda, this is so true! When I was in college, I got a temp job as a receptionist. I would have to open and date all the incoming mail. One day there was a bill that came from the agency I was working. It rated me at $16/hour and I was only making $9 at the time! This is done in other sectors as well. I'm an engineer and I used to work for a company that billed out their engineers at $125-200/hour and Lord knows I wasn't making anywhere near that!!!

CALIFORNIA- Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura, Port Hueneme and neighboring cities
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LindaCulp
Star Contributor

Portland, Oregon
USA
2339 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2004 :  10:02:15 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
MrsKenna,

You just made me think of another example. When I worked at Nextel back in 1996, it was part of my job to have access to all the personnel files of all the IT employees. I processed most of those people into and out of the department as they were hired and terminated. I oversaw their raises and bonuses, and coordinated everything with the HR department. Over 60% of the IT department was made up of contractors; less than 40% were actual employees. We had contractors sitting right next to employees doing the exact same job, but the contractors were literally making 4 times as much money, and sometimes more (I'm being conservative).

Before someone throws the "yeah, but" at me, yes, I know the employees were given full benefits in addition to their hourly/salaried rate, and contractors are always paid more because they have to pay for their own benefits. The big difference is that once you break down actual dollars and compare apples to apples, the contractor still has more disposable income to spend. The cost of hiring any employee today costs roughly 60% of their salary. That means a person making $50,000 actually costs the company roughly $80,000 in salary and benefits. Twenty years ago the rule was you had to add generally 40% on top of the employee's salary to get their actual cost to the company. Rising health care costs have changed that dramatically.

Life insurance, worker's compensation insurance, health, dental and vision coverage, 401(k) plans, paid time off, and other standard benefits cost a LOT more money than you can imagine. Until you've worked in Human Resources, it's easy to assume that all these things are relatively cheap. I guarantee you, they are not. I've paid the bills for these benefits and also gone on a quest looking for better benefits at a lower cost to the company. The picture is not pretty, and it's incredibly disheartening and frustrating.

Happily shopping the Portland, Oregon metro area!
~MSPA *Gold* Certified, 2003~
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Janice-NoVA
Star Contributor

Reston, Virginia
USA
300 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  10:30:23 AM  Send Janice-NoVA an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
They used to be. I have not seen them for a while. I think the company that did them lost the contract but they might have just discontinued having the shops.
Janice Porter

Janice Porter
Shops Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC
Gold Certified June 2003
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