Mystery Shopping Providers Associations Supports FTC’s Charges Against Fraudulent Mystery Shopping S
DALLAS, TX The Mystery Shopping Providers Association, the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources, supports the Federal Trade Commission’s recent action against Mystery Shop Link and the Tangent Group.
Mystery Shop Link is not and has never been affiliated with the MSPA, and the MSPA does not support the company’s practices.
The FTC filed deceptive practices and contempt charges against Mystery Shop Link on March 22, which promised consumers hundreds of dollars in income for conducting mystery shopping exercises. According to the FTC, consumers were charged a $99.95 fee for training and to obtain mystery shopping job opportunities. In reality, those who paid the fee had no advantage over others interested in the same opportunities who accessed the information for free, according to the FTC.
The MSPA has cooperated with the FTC in its investigation of Mystery Shop Link and encourages the FTC to continue investigating all mystery shopping-related scams.
The MSPA believes mystery shoppers should not have to pay to find mystery shopping work. The association’s 200 member companies around the globe are required to follow a strict code of ethics that prohibits them from charging mystery shoppers a fee or misleading applicants on actual mystery shopping job opportunities.
The MSPA has taken steps to warn consumers about this and other mystery shopping scams.
“The MSPA is committed to maintaining the integrity of the mystery shopping industry and will continue to denounce the practices of fraudulent and deceptive companies that use mystery shopping as a cover to take advantage of people,” said John Swinburn, Executive Director, MSPA. “The MSPA is also taking action to combat other mystery shopping scams, particularly scams involving an unsolicited cashier’s check.”
Mystery shopping is a growing field servicing nearly every consumer industry, including restaurants, retail stores, hotels and resorts, travel and tourism, banks and financial service providers, convenience stores, grocery stores and other consumer locations. Legitimate mystery shopping is the practice of using educated, experienced shoppers to anonymously evaluate the customer experience. Businesses use the information to monitor and improve the customer service it provides.
For more information about the MSPA and its stance on mystery shopping scams, visit http://www.mysteryshop.org/news/searchresults_pr.php. More information about the FTC’s charges can be found at http://ftc.gov/opa/2007/03/mysteryshop.htm.
About the MSPA
With more than 200 member companies worldwide, the MSPA (www.mysteryshop.org) has a diverse membership, including marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations and companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services. Its goals are to establish professional standards and ethics for the industry, educate providers, clients and shoppers to improve quality of service, improve the image of the industry and promote the membership to other industry associations and prospect clients.
IntelliShop joins ICSA
Perrysburg, OH IntelliShop announced today that it has joined the International Customer Service Association (ICSA, www.icsa.com). Ron Welty, CEO of IntelliShop, said in an announcement, "IntelliShop has been an intensively customer-focused company since our founding in 1999, and our team members are always looking for creative and better ways to deliver a great experience to our own clients. We believe our membership in ICSA will not only help us to continue our mission of providing our clients the best experience possible, but will also help us when consulting with our clients to develop measurement programs that help to make their customers' experiences memorable."
IntelliShop Owner comments on Shopping Scams
From The Wall Street Journal
Kelly Spors answers questions from readers about entrepreneurship
Q: How can I find legitimate mystery-shopping jobs without fear of being scammed?
A: It's wise to be leery. As mystery shopping becomes an increasingly popular way to earn extra income, online scams and questionable practices have emerged, targeting consumers hungry for such work.
Mystery shoppers are hired by independent "mystery-shop" firms to do undercover evaluations of customer-service-oriented businesses such as stores, restaurants and banks, and sometimes to evaluate Web sites and telephone-customer service. The firms that hire mystery shoppers keep databases of shoppers available nationwide, and when an assignment arises they contact interested shoppers in that region. The enlisted mystery shoppers survey the businesses and fill out detailed questionnaires about everything from the cleanliness of the floor to the helpfulness of the store clerk. Most assignments pay $10 to $30, though some pay more.
Unfortunately, it's gotten harder to scout out legitimate jobs amid the numerous shady practices. Several Web sites and spam emails, for instance, claim to put your name in databases used by mystery-shop firms for a one-time fee, usually ranging between $20 and $100.
In truth, you needn't pay a dime to sign up with mystery-shop firms and it's generally not the lucrative career these services suggest, says Ron Welty, chief executive of IntelliShop, a Perrysburg, Ohio, firm that hires people to mystery shop for 115 clients across the U.S. and Canada. "I've yet to get any kinds of lists from those kinds of companies," Mr. Welty adds.
Some mystery shoppers can earn $25,000 a year or more, though such shoppers usually sign up with several firms and do dozens of assignments a week. "It becomes a matter of submitting good-quality work and being very reliable," Mr. Welty says. Most mystery shoppers make less than a few hundred dollars a week.
Thankfully, there's an easy place to get on legitimate mystery-shopping firms' lists. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association carefully vets its 200 or so member mystery-shop firms. Members cannot charge any fees and must be in business at least two years to join. To find member firms and potential assignments in your area, go to www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers1 and click on "Search For Assignments Here."
IntelliShop Offers New Phone Service to Clients
Perrysburg, OH IntelliShop announced today that it has enhanced its IntelliCallsTM service by providing clients with the capability of using locally-based evaluators with complete digital recording capabilities for their telephone evaluation programs.
"We want to assure that we're always the industry leader in telephone-based customer experience evaluations and measurement. This new service will allow us to further emulate very real customer experience simulations for our clients", according to Ron Welty, CEO of IntelliShop. "By using experienced, locally-based evaluators equipped with complete digital recording capabilities, we can now offer clients the ability to capture things like callbacks from our clients' call centers and/or locations to evaluators with local identities and phone numbers; a pre-visit call that's digitally recorded and then coupled with an onsite visit by the same customer who placed the call, and other such customer experiences, from virtually any geographical area."
"Our current telephone evaluation programs will still be executed by our in-house call center teams. The new service is for clients with unique needs that require a local presence and local telephone identification in their programs. And, our clients know that with either service, they can continue to expect exceptional quality and integrity from our partnership with them."
IntelliShop Team Members Donate to Katrina Relief
Perrysburg, OH IntelliShop announced today that its Team Members' Hurricane Katrina Relief fundraising drive had raised $1,500 in donations. The donations were split equally and sent to The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.
Ron Welty, CEO of IntelliShop, stated, We were all deeply affected by Hurricane Katrina, whether it was having friends or family in the disaster area, clients who told us horror stories of their experiences, or just seeing the horrific news footage of the past few days; we wanted to help. Our Team Members really came through with personal cash donations to help provide both immediate and longer-term assistance to those in the Gulf Coast area. Our Team Members truly embody the best that the human spirit has to offer in times of need.