Language:  

FAQ

GENERAL
  1. What mystery shopping is and is not
  2. What a mystery shopper does and what mystery shopping involves
  3. Why mystery shoppers would want to work with MSPA Americas member companies
  4. How do I reset my password?
  5. How do I change my personal information?
  6. I have a new e-mail address, how can I update my account?
  7. I got an e-mail from a company. How do I know if they are affiliated with MSPA Americas?
  8. I recently received an e-mail asking me if I want to be a mystery shopper and they requested personal information. Is this legitimate?
  9. How do I get an assignment?

10. Shopping in Nevada

CERTIFICATION - GENERAL
  1. I have joined MSPA, how do I take my Intro to Mystery Shopping certification course?
  2. How do I find my certification number?
  3. What is the purpose of MSPA Americas offering certification
  4. Is it required?
  5. Am I guaranteed more opportunities or higher pay if I am certified?
  6. Who will benefit most from the programs?
  7. I have always been told, "Do not pay to shop." Why is this different?
  8. Do all companies know about certification?

  9. What if I fail?
10. Are the certification courses expenses tax deductible?
11. Once I am certified, how do I notify the companies?


CERTIFICATION - GOLD
1. What is the Gold Certification Course?
2. How much will it cost to buy?
3. Why did the MSPA create an online Gold Certification Course?
4. What value do Gold Certified shoppers bring to member companies?  What value will Gold Certification bring to me?
5. Will the online Gold Certification course be any different than the previously in-person workshops?
6. Can more than one shopper share the online Gold Certification Course videos?


GENERAL
1. What mystery shopping is and is not
Mystery shopping is the process of measuring and recording specific elements of the customer experience through the use of pre-recruited and qualified consumers (typically independent contractors) who serve as mystery shoppers.   
 
A mystery shopper is a person who visits an establishment (typically a retail store, bank, restaurant or other such places where the public does business) for the purpose of observing and measuring customer service, product quality and the environment of the establishment in general.
 
Shoppers are given details, by the mystery shopping company responsible for the shopping program, about expectations for making specific observations during their visits to or interactions with the establishment (some shops are online and/or via telephone) and the shoppers complete reports, often using an online form, after leaving the establishment.  Shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients as part of their efforts to enhance the quality of the customer experience. Many times, the information collected during mystery shopping programs is used to help mystery shopping company clients improve training programs, better articulate expectations they have of their staff and otherwise improve the ways in which the client serves its customers.
 
Contrary to what you may read on the Internet, mystery shopping is not a quick way to make a lot of money, nor is it a way to "get paid to shop."  Mystery shopping is a serious enterprise intended to gather information about the customer experience in a specific environment.  It requires time, attention, and effort.  Mystery shoppers are in business for themselves; while they get paid for the work they do while posing as shoppers, they are not paid to shop; they are paid to gather data.  Mystery shoppers know, before deciding to request or accept an assignment, what they will be paid. (Back to top)

2. What a mystery shopper does and what mystery shopping involves
Mystery shoppers go to specified stores, restaurants, banks, apartments, etc. (or visit oniline or by phone) and pose as typical customers. When they leave, they complete questionnaires or other such instruments that have been custom-designed for the mystery shopping company's clients. Shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients as part of their efforts to enhance the quality of the customer experience. Many times, the information collected during mystery shopping programs is used to help mystery shopping company clients improve training programs, better articulate expectations they have of their staff, and otherwise improve the ways in which the client serves its customers.
 
How long does it take and what does it pay?
The length of time a mystery shop takes depends on the type of assignment, but usually a shop is likely to take considerably less than an hour. The fees a mystery shopper may earn from a specific shop vary just as greatly as the time required, but often a shopper might expect anywhere between $8 and $20 for the "typical" shopping scenario. In some cases the shopper might also receive free meals, discounts and savings on merchandise, or other such benefits. However, shoppers should be wary of promises of extraordinary "freebies" that sound too good to be true. If that's the way it sounds, it is probably really too good to be true. 
 
(If you are asked to pay to become a shopper, you should be EXTREMELY leery of the offer... there are thousands of opportunities to do mystery shopping that do not require the shopper to pay anything!)
 
In some cases, the shopper may be expected to purchase an item (or a meal, theater ticket, etc.), in which cases the shopper is likely to also be reimbursed for that item, within the stipulations given by the shopping company when the shopper accepts an assignment. In every case, the shopper should strive to ensure he or she fully understands the scope of the shop, the anticipated time required,\ and the benefits, if any, that will result from doing the shop. (Back to top)
 
3. Why mystery shoppers would want to work with MSPA Americas member companies
MSPA member companies go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that they are legitimate firms.  Among the requirements for MSPA membership are: 1) a company may not charge shoppers for access to shopping opportunities and  2) members must agree to adhere to a code of ethics that includes agreeing to pay shoppers in a timely manner and not to withhold pay simply because the company has not been paid.
 
While MSPA cannot intercede on behalf of individual shoppers in disputes with a company, the Association can take and has taken action in cases when it learns a company makes a regular practice of failing to pay shoppers or paying late.  So, shoppers can be confident that companies that belong to MSPA are monitored to ensure that the reputations of MSPA member companies are maintained.
 
Another reason shoppers want to contract with MSPA member companies is the fact that MSPA member companies have taken the step of affirmatively committing to the industry by participating in their industry trade association.  Just like MSPA certified shoppers have taken the step to demonstrate that they are serious about mystery shopping, so have companies that belong to MSPA  made the same commitment. (Back to top)

4. How do I reset my password?
When you attempt to log in, click on “Forgot your password? Click Here” and then enter your login ID which is your e-mail address. A link will be sent to your e-mail to reset your password. If you don’t see it shortly, be sure to check their spam/junk folder for this e-mail. (Back to top)

5. How do I change my personal information?
Visit the “Manage your Member Profile” tab at the top of the page and you will be directed to enter your email address and password.  From there, you will have the ability to update your profile. (Back to top)
 
6. I have a new e-mail address, how can I update my account?
Visit the “Manage your Member Profile” tab at the top of the page and you will be directed to enter your email address and password. From there, you will have the ability to update your profile. (Back to top)
 
7. I got an e-mail from a company. How do I know if they are affiliated with MSPA Americas?
For a listing of all of the member companies that we are affiliated with, please visit us on the web at www.mysteryshop.org/member-companies. All of the companies listed there should have contact information and in some cases, links to their websites. If you have received correspondence from a company that does not appear on this listing, please proceed with caution as we are not affiliated with this company and do not have information concerning their business practices. (Back to top)
 
8. I recently received an e-mail asking me if I want to be a mystery shopper and they requested personal information. Is this legitimate?
A: By signing up to be a shopper member of MSPA Americas, you are not registering to be a mystery shopper. You must still register with mystery shopping provider companies to be a mystery shopper. MSPA Americas does not hire shoppers directly. We connect you with our member companies who can post assignments online and we offer certification to increase your potential as a mystery shopper.
 
If you have received checks or communication recently concerning conducting a mystery shop for which you purchase products and send them to a specified address or wire money from checks that were sent to you in the mail, it is a scam and we strongly suggest that you do not waste your own time and money carrying out the illegitimate assignment.
 
We also do not send solicitous emails to potential shoppers requesting personal information or promising payment for jobs that have not yet been completed. If you have received something similar to this, please note the above. (Back to top)
 
9.  How do I get an assignment?
A: MSPA Americas does not hire independent contractors directly. We connect you with our member companies who can post assignments online. We offer certification to increase your skills, but you do not need to be certified or an independent contractor member of MSPA Americas to get assignments. You can also search our member companies and search for assignments by visiting the Independent Contractor section of the website and click on the Search for Assignments line. By signing up to be an indpendent contractor member of MSPA Americas, you are not registering with a company. You must still register companies to get assignments. (Back to top)

10. Shopping in Nevada
ATTENTION NEVADA SHOPPERS! - Current Nevada law states that you MUST be an employee of a private investigator if you are going to perform shops in Nevada. It is illegal for you to perform mystery shops as an independent contractor. Mystery shopping companies and shoppers caught shopping illegally face fines of $2500 per instance and more. While we still encourage you to educate yourself by completing the MSPA Americas certifications, we want to make sure you are operating legally, as well. Current MSPA Americas members that are licensed to shop in Nevada are:
 
Bestmark, Inc
QSI Global Investigations
HS Brands International 
Dynamic Advantage, Inc.
A Closer Look 
 
We encourage you to contact these companies and let them know about your certification status. (Back to top)

CERTIFICATION - GENERAL
1. I have joined MSPA, how do I take my Intro to Mystery Shopping certification course?
When you sign up as an MSPA Americas Independent Contractor Plus member you are automatically sent a link for the certification course. Please check your e-mail’s spam folder, as it could have been placed there. If it has, you should flag is as “not spam” so further communication can be delivered to your inbox. If you joined as an Idependent Contractor Basic member you can purchase the Intro to Mystery Shopping course from the certification page in the Independent Contractors page on the website. From this page both IC membership categories have the ability to purchase additional certification courses. (Back to top)
 
2. How do I find my certification number?
To view your Certification code(s), simply login to your member profile using your email address as your login ID and your unique password.  Once there, please refer to the bottom right portion of the menu under the Certification Codes (Shoppers Only) heading and select, “View My Certification Code.”  From there, please carefully read and follow the instructions to view your code(s). (Back to top)
 
3. What is the purpose of MSPA offering certification?
The goal is to offer education to shoppers. We have heard from shoppers for years that they are ignored and there are no programs for them since they are Independent Contractors. The goal for the entire MSPA this year is education. These certification programs allow us to help you make personal and professional improvements for yourself and your industry. (Back to top)
 
4. Is it required?
No. The MSPA represents more than 250 mystery shopping companies worldwide. We do not know of any company who will not hire you (assuming you are qualified) if you are not certified. However, each company has the right to do as they see fit. If you are a good shopper for a good company, the MSPA does not see you losing shops because you are not certified. However, it may help you get your foot in the door with other companies and expand your business…  In that regard, you might answer “YES.” (Back to top)
 
5. Am I guaranteed more opportunities or higher pay if I am certified?
No, however the certification may give you an edge with some companies. Imagine two shoppers in the same town, with the same experience and work performance. One is certified and one is not. All other things being equal, the certification sets one shopper above the other with some companies. (Back to top)
 
If the same scheduler has a reliable shopper who has done excellent work in the past, we would expect the mystery shopping company would give that reliable shopper the job over a person who has never done any work for the company, but is certified. Again, the difference is if all candidates have the “same” qualifications, the certification may give you an edge with some companies. (Back to top)
 
6. Who will benefit most from the programs?
Anyone who wants to learn. Knowledge is priceless. The people this program will help most are shoppers who are relatively new to the industry. They have the most to learn. It is also helpful for shoppers wanting to open the doors with more companies. Again, assuming all applicants are the same and one is certified, the certified shopper has set himself or herself apart. They will of course have to prove themselves and work themselves up the ladder like everyone else, but they at least got in the door. (Back to top)
 
7. I have always been told, “Do not pay to shop.” Why is this different?
We agree with that. You are not however paying to get more shops, you are paying to learn more about an industry that is changing every day. You may learn some tricks to help you work smarter and do your work in less time. You may not have booked more shops, but you are taking less time to do your current shops. Time is money as well. (Back to top)
 
8. Do all Mystery Shopping companies know about certification?
We have discussed this program with the MSPA members since its inception and have received their input. We also sent out information to all MSPA members asking them to inform their staff. We cannot guarantee you that all companies have shared the information with every employee in their company. Did they tell the schedulers and forget to mention it to the receptionist? Maybe so. They may also have temporary personnel who do not have knowledge of the programs. (Back to top)
 
Also keep in mind that not all mystery shopping companies are MSPA members. If you called a non-MSPA member about certification, they will have no idea what you are talking about.
 
9. What if I fail the test?
Currently, a passing grade is 80% but if you fail the Intro to Mystery Shopping Certification Course, you are able to take it again in 30 days. (Back to top)
 
10. Are the certification course expenses tax deductible?
Since you are an independent contractor, any and all expenses directly related to your business including seminars should be tax deductible; always consult with your tax advisor to ensure you address deductions appropriately. Certification only strengthens the case that you are running a business. (Back to top)
 
11. Once I take the test, how do I notify the companies?
Please e-mail the companies and let them know you are certified. Do not call them! They will need your e-mail address and your certification number to verify your status. Many companies have already added a space on their shopper profile pages where you can go in and add your certification number yourself. Many systems have also added places for you to add your information. NOTE – your certification number is case sensitive and to verify your status, you need to use the same e-mail account you used to take the test. (Back to top)

CERTIFICATION - GOLD
1. What is the Online Gold Certification Course?
It is a video version of the entire Gold Certification Workshop with instructor Cathy Stucker. MSPA filmed a workshop in a theatre setting with shoppers in the audience. No content was omitted from the live workshops - it's all there. (Back to top)
 
2. How much will it cost to buy?
$75.00 plus applicable taxes, where required. (Back to top)
 
3. Why did the MSPA create the online Gold Certification Course?
The number of Gold Certified shoppers represent just a fraction of the total number of shoppers who regularly work for MSPA member companies. MSPA member companies are clamoring for more Gold Certified shoppers. There are around 6,000 MSPA Gold Certified shoppers in an industry of more than 1,000,000 shoppers. As much as mystery shopping companies want to engage Gold Certified shoppers, there is a shortage of supply. This is partly because live workshops have a limited reach. The Gold Certification Workshops are sometimes impossible for shoppers to attend due to scheduling conflicts, distance or cost, which includes travel, child care and other costs in addition to the Workshop fee. The online Gold Certification Course is a way to bring certification to all the smaller cities and rural towns throughout North America. It's affordable, convenient and efficient. (Back to top)
 
4. What value do Gold Certified shoppers bring to member companies...and what value will Gold Certification bring to me?
In recent research by MSPA members and industry vendors (including SurfMerchants and Archon), we found the following:
  1. Gold Certified shoppers have a much lower "flake" rate.
  2. Gold Certified shoppers typically have higher grades.
  3. Gold Certified shoppers often are more professional and committed to their work. (Back to top)
5. Will the Online Gold Certification Course be any different than the previously in-person workshop?
In terms of content, no. But we've added new components to both the live workshops and the Pre-recorded Workshops that will greatly enhance the value of MSPA Gold Certification. Both will, from here on, incorporate a writing test and a shopper evaluation test in addition to the Gold Certification content exam. We believe these new components will make MSPA Gold Certification even more valuable than before. (Back to top)
 
6. Can more than one shopper share the online Gold Certification Course videos?
No, when you purchase MSPA Gold Certification, you are not paying only for the video, you are paying for the development and maintenance of the training and testing program as well as the maintenance of the shopper database so that companies can verify certification status. Similarly, each person who attends an In-person Gold Certification Workshop must pay to participate. Each shopper who wishes to achieve Gold Certification must pay to participate. The Gold Certification tests are coded and the code is valid only for the shopper who purchased the Pre-recorded Gold Certification Workshop. (Back to top)


Language:  

FAQ

GENERAL
  1. What mystery shopping is and is not
  2. What a mystery shopper does and what mystery shopping involves
  3. Why mystery shoppers would want to work with MSPA Americas member companies
  4. How do I reset my password?
  5. How do I change my personal information?
  6. I have a new e-mail address, how can I update my account?
  7. I got an e-mail from a company. How do I know if they are affiliated with MSPA Americas?
  8. I recently received an e-mail asking me if I want to be a mystery shopper and they requested personal information. Is this legitimate?
  9. How do I get an assignment?

10. Shopping in Nevada

CERTIFICATION - GENERAL
  1. I have joined MSPA, how do I take my Intro to Mystery Shopping certification course?
  2. How do I find my certification number?
  3. What is the purpose of MSPA Americas offering certification
  4. Is it required?
  5. Am I guaranteed more opportunities or higher pay if I am certified?
  6. Who will benefit most from the programs?
  7. I have always been told, "Do not pay to shop." Why is this different?
  8. Do all companies know about certification?

  9. What if I fail?
10. Are the certification courses expenses tax deductible?
11. Once I am certified, how do I notify the companies?


CERTIFICATION - GOLD
1. What is the Gold Certification Course?
2. How much will it cost to buy?
3. Why did the MSPA create an online Gold Certification Course?
4. What value do Gold Certified shoppers bring to member companies?  What value will Gold Certification bring to me?
5. Will the online Gold Certification course be any different than the previously in-person workshops?
6. Can more than one shopper share the online Gold Certification Course videos?


GENERAL
1. What mystery shopping is and is not
Mystery shopping is the process of measuring and recording specific elements of the customer experience through the use of pre-recruited and qualified consumers (typically independent contractors) who serve as mystery shoppers.   
 
A mystery shopper is a person who visits an establishment (typically a retail store, bank, restaurant or other such places where the public does business) for the purpose of observing and measuring customer service, product quality and the environment of the establishment in general.
 
Shoppers are given details, by the mystery shopping company responsible for the shopping program, about expectations for making specific observations during their visits to or interactions with the establishment (some shops are online and/or via telephone) and the shoppers complete reports, often using an online form, after leaving the establishment.  Shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients as part of their efforts to enhance the quality of the customer experience. Many times, the information collected during mystery shopping programs is used to help mystery shopping company clients improve training programs, better articulate expectations they have of their staff and otherwise improve the ways in which the client serves its customers.
 
Contrary to what you may read on the Internet, mystery shopping is not a quick way to make a lot of money, nor is it a way to "get paid to shop."  Mystery shopping is a serious enterprise intended to gather information about the customer experience in a specific environment.  It requires time, attention, and effort.  Mystery shoppers are in business for themselves; while they get paid for the work they do while posing as shoppers, they are not paid to shop; they are paid to gather data.  Mystery shoppers know, before deciding to request or accept an assignment, what they will be paid. (Back to top)

2. What a mystery shopper does and what mystery shopping involves
Mystery shoppers go to specified stores, restaurants, banks, apartments, etc. (or visit oniline or by phone) and pose as typical customers. When they leave, they complete questionnaires or other such instruments that have been custom-designed for the mystery shopping company's clients. Shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients as part of their efforts to enhance the quality of the customer experience. Many times, the information collected during mystery shopping programs is used to help mystery shopping company clients improve training programs, better articulate expectations they have of their staff, and otherwise improve the ways in which the client serves its customers.
 
How long does it take and what does it pay?
The length of time a mystery shop takes depends on the type of assignment, but usually a shop is likely to take considerably less than an hour. The fees a mystery shopper may earn from a specific shop vary just as greatly as the time required, but often a shopper might expect anywhere between $8 and $20 for the "typical" shopping scenario. In some cases the shopper might also receive free meals, discounts and savings on merchandise, or other such benefits. However, shoppers should be wary of promises of extraordinary "freebies" that sound too good to be true. If that's the way it sounds, it is probably really too good to be true. 
 
(If you are asked to pay to become a shopper, you should be EXTREMELY leery of the offer... there are thousands of opportunities to do mystery shopping that do not require the shopper to pay anything!)
 
In some cases, the shopper may be expected to purchase an item (or a meal, theater ticket, etc.), in which cases the shopper is likely to also be reimbursed for that item, within the stipulations given by the shopping company when the shopper accepts an assignment. In every case, the shopper should strive to ensure he or she fully understands the scope of the shop, the anticipated time required,\ and the benefits, if any, that will result from doing the shop. (Back to top)
 
3. Why mystery shoppers would want to work with MSPA Americas member companies
MSPA member companies go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that they are legitimate firms.  Among the requirements for MSPA membership are: 1) a company may not charge shoppers for access to shopping opportunities and  2) members must agree to adhere to a code of ethics that includes agreeing to pay shoppers in a timely manner and not to withhold pay simply because the company has not been paid.
 
While MSPA cannot intercede on behalf of individual shoppers in disputes with a company, the Association can take and has taken action in cases when it learns a company makes a regular practice of failing to pay shoppers or paying late.  So, shoppers can be confident that companies that belong to MSPA are monitored to ensure that the reputations of MSPA member companies are maintained.
 
Another reason shoppers want to contract with MSPA member companies is the fact that MSPA member companies have taken the step of affirmatively committing to the industry by participating in their industry trade association.  Just like MSPA certified shoppers have taken the step to demonstrate that they are serious about mystery shopping, so have companies that belong to MSPA  made the same commitment. (Back to top)

4. How do I reset my password?
When you attempt to log in, click on “Forgot your password? Click Here” and then enter your login ID which is your e-mail address. A link will be sent to your e-mail to reset your password. If you don’t see it shortly, be sure to check their spam/junk folder for this e-mail. (Back to top)

5. How do I change my personal information?
Visit the “Manage your Member Profile” tab at the top of the page and you will be directed to enter your email address and password.  From there, you will have the ability to update your profile. (Back to top)
 
6. I have a new e-mail address, how can I update my account?
Visit the “Manage your Member Profile” tab at the top of the page and you will be directed to enter your email address and password. From there, you will have the ability to update your profile. (Back to top)
 
7. I got an e-mail from a company. How do I know if they are affiliated with MSPA Americas?
For a listing of all of the member companies that we are affiliated with, please visit us on the web at www.mysteryshop.org/member-companies. All of the companies listed there should have contact information and in some cases, links to their websites. If you have received correspondence from a company that does not appear on this listing, please proceed with caution as we are not affiliated with this company and do not have information concerning their business practices. (Back to top)
 
8. I recently received an e-mail asking me if I want to be a mystery shopper and they requested personal information. Is this legitimate?
A: By signing up to be a shopper member of MSPA Americas, you are not registering to be a mystery shopper. You must still register with mystery shopping provider companies to be a mystery shopper. MSPA Americas does not hire shoppers directly. We connect you with our member companies who can post assignments online and we offer certification to increase your potential as a mystery shopper.
 
If you have received checks or communication recently concerning conducting a mystery shop for which you purchase products and send them to a specified address or wire money from checks that were sent to you in the mail, it is a scam and we strongly suggest that you do not waste your own time and money carrying out the illegitimate assignment.
 
We also do not send solicitous emails to potential shoppers requesting personal information or promising payment for jobs that have not yet been completed. If you have received something similar to this, please note the above. (Back to top)
 
9.  How do I get an assignment?
A: MSPA Americas does not hire independent contractors directly. We connect you with our member companies who can post assignments online. We offer certification to increase your skills, but you do not need to be certified or an independent contractor member of MSPA Americas to get assignments. You can also search our member companies and search for assignments by visiting the Independent Contractor section of the website and click on the Search for Assignments line. By signing up to be an indpendent contractor member of MSPA Americas, you are not registering with a company. You must still register companies to get assignments. (Back to top)

10. Shopping in Nevada
ATTENTION NEVADA SHOPPERS! - Current Nevada law states that you MUST be an employee of a private investigator if you are going to perform shops in Nevada. It is illegal for you to perform mystery shops as an independent contractor. Mystery shopping companies and shoppers caught shopping illegally face fines of $2500 per instance and more. While we still encourage you to educate yourself by completing the MSPA Americas certifications, we want to make sure you are operating legally, as well. Current MSPA Americas members that are licensed to shop in Nevada are:
 
Bestmark, Inc
QSI Global Investigations
HS Brands International 
Dynamic Advantage, Inc.
A Closer Look 
 
We encourage you to contact these companies and let them know about your certification status. (Back to top)

CERTIFICATION - GENERAL
1. I have joined MSPA, how do I take my Intro to Mystery Shopping certification course?
When you sign up as an MSPA Americas Independent Contractor Plus member you are automatically sent a link for the certification course. Please check your e-mail’s spam folder, as it could have been placed there. If it has, you should flag is as “not spam” so further communication can be delivered to your inbox. If you joined as an Idependent Contractor Basic member you can purchase the Intro to Mystery Shopping course from the certification page in the Independent Contractors page on the website. From this page both IC membership categories have the ability to purchase additional certification courses. (Back to top)
 
2. How do I find my certification number?
To view your Certification code(s), simply login to your member profile using your email address as your login ID and your unique password.  Once there, please refer to the bottom right portion of the menu under the Certification Codes (Shoppers Only) heading and select, “View My Certification Code.”  From there, please carefully read and follow the instructions to view your code(s). (Back to top)
 
3. What is the purpose of MSPA offering certification?
The goal is to offer education to shoppers. We have heard from shoppers for years that they are ignored and there are no programs for them since they are Independent Contractors. The goal for the entire MSPA this year is education. These certification programs allow us to help you make personal and professional improvements for yourself and your industry. (Back to top)
 
4. Is it required?
No. The MSPA represents more than 250 mystery shopping companies worldwide. We do not know of any company who will not hire you (assuming you are qualified) if you are not certified. However, each company has the right to do as they see fit. If you are a good shopper for a good company, the MSPA does not see you losing shops because you are not certified. However, it may help you get your foot in the door with other companies and expand your business…  In that regard, you might answer “YES.” (Back to top)
 
5. Am I guaranteed more opportunities or higher pay if I am certified?
No, however the certification may give you an edge with some companies. Imagine two shoppers in the same town, with the same experience and work performance. One is certified and one is not. All other things being equal, the certification sets one shopper above the other with some companies. (Back to top)
 
If the same scheduler has a reliable shopper who has done excellent work in the past, we would expect the mystery shopping company would give that reliable shopper the job over a person who has never done any work for the company, but is certified. Again, the difference is if all candidates have the “same” qualifications, the certification may give you an edge with some companies. (Back to top)
 
6. Who will benefit most from the programs?
Anyone who wants to learn. Knowledge is priceless. The people this program will help most are shoppers who are relatively new to the industry. They have the most to learn. It is also helpful for shoppers wanting to open the doors with more companies. Again, assuming all applicants are the same and one is certified, the certified shopper has set himself or herself apart. They will of course have to prove themselves and work themselves up the ladder like everyone else, but they at least got in the door. (Back to top)
 
7. I have always been told, “Do not pay to shop.” Why is this different?
We agree with that. You are not however paying to get more shops, you are paying to learn more about an industry that is changing every day. You may learn some tricks to help you work smarter and do your work in less time. You may not have booked more shops, but you are taking less time to do your current shops. Time is money as well. (Back to top)
 
8. Do all Mystery Shopping companies know about certification?
We have discussed this program with the MSPA members since its inception and have received their input. We also sent out information to all MSPA members asking them to inform their staff. We cannot guarantee you that all companies have shared the information with every employee in their company. Did they tell the schedulers and forget to mention it to the receptionist? Maybe so. They may also have temporary personnel who do not have knowledge of the programs. (Back to top)
 
Also keep in mind that not all mystery shopping companies are MSPA members. If you called a non-MSPA member about certification, they will have no idea what you are talking about.
(Back to top)
 
9. What if I fail the test?
Currently, a passing grade is 80% but if you fail the Intro to Mystery Shopping Certification Course, you are able to take it again in 30 days. (Back to top)
 
10. Are the certification course expenses tax deductible?
Since you are an independent contractor, any and all expenses directly related to your business including seminars should be tax deductible; always consult with your tax advisor to ensure you address deductions appropriately. Certification only strengthens the case that you are running a business. (Back to top)
 
11. Once I take the test, how do I notify the companies?
Please e-mail the companies and let them know you are certified. Do not call them! They will need your e-mail address and your certification number to verify your status. Many companies have already added a space on their shopper profile pages where you can go in and add your certification number yourself. Many systems have also added places for you to add your information. NOTE – your certification number is case sensitive and to verify your status, you need to use the same e-mail account you used to take the test. (Back to top)

CERTIFICATION - GOLD
1. What is the Online Gold Certification Course?
It is a video version of the entire Gold Certification Workshop with instructor Cathy Stucker. MSPA filmed a workshop in a theatre setting with shoppers in the audience. No content was omitted from the live workshops - it's all there. (Back to top)
 
2. How much will it cost to buy?
$75.00 plus applicable taxes, where required. (Back to top)
 
3. Why did the MSPA create the online Gold Certification Course?
The number of Gold Certified shoppers represent just a fraction of the total number of shoppers who regularly work for MSPA member companies. MSPA member companies are clamoring for more Gold Certified shoppers. There are around 6,000 MSPA Gold Certified shoppers in an industry of more than 1,000,000 shoppers. As much as mystery shopping companies want to engage Gold Certified shoppers, there is a shortage of supply. This is partly because live workshops have a limited reach. The Gold Certification Workshops are sometimes impossible for shoppers to attend due to scheduling conflicts, distance or cost, which includes travel, child care and other costs in addition to the Workshop fee. The online Gold Certification Course is a way to bring certification to all the smaller cities and rural towns throughout North America. It's affordable, convenient and efficient. (Back to top)
 
4. What value do Gold Certified shoppers bring to member companies...and what value will Gold Certification bring to me?
In recent research by MSPA members and industry vendors (including SurfMerchants and Archon), we found the following:
  1. Gold Certified shoppers have a much lower "flake" rate.
  2. Gold Certified shoppers typically have higher grades.
  3. Gold Certified shoppers often are more professional and committed to their work. (Back to top)
5. Will the Online Gold Certification Course be any different than the previously in-person workshop?
In terms of content, no. But we've added new components to both the live workshops and the Pre-recorded Workshops that will greatly enhance the value of MSPA Gold Certification. Both will, from here on, incorporate a writing test and a shopper evaluation test in addition to the Gold Certification content exam. We believe these new components will make MSPA Gold Certification even more valuable than before. (Back to top)
 
6. Can more than one shopper share the online Gold Certification Course videos?
No, when you purchase MSPA Gold Certification, you are not paying only for the video, you are paying for the development and maintenance of the training and testing program as well as the maintenance of the shopper database so that companies can verify certification status. Similarly, each person who attends an In-person Gold Certification Workshop must pay to participate. Each shopper who wishes to achieve Gold Certification must pay to participate. The Gold Certification tests are coded and the code is valid only for the shopper who purchased the Pre-recorded Gold Certification Workshop. (Back to top)
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