Company Overview: One of the great things about the community on the Mystery Shop Forum is getting the heads up about issues with MSCs. In some cases, this has alerted shoppers to problems of non-payment and other business practices that are unethical.
However, sometimes warnings go up that must be taken in context. This is another reason to be a member of the forum and a subscriber to the Mystery Shopper Magazine. It’s important to get the full story, or a shopper can make hasty and uninformed judgments.
This is the case with National Shopping Service. This company has been around for a long time, starting as a small private investigation firm in 1972. This home-based business continued to grow rapidly. It was placed on the market in 1990, and a decade later its revenue had increased 20 fold.
National Shopping Service is now headquartered in Los Angeles, California. It claims a database of over 100,000 shoppers in the U.S. Types of assignments offered include: financial, jewelry, fast food, convenience stores, specialty retailers, and service businesses.
Payment is made by checks, which are mailed out on the last day of the month following the month that assignments are completed.
To sign up, visit their website at www.nationalshoppingservice.com. National Shopping Service does not use any of the standard software platforms. Some shoppers have expressed that they find the NSS system to be awkward, odd to navigate, and sometimes glitchy.
Click on “Apply To Become A Mystery Shopper”, then “Begin Mystery Shopper Registration”. After completing the general information, an activation email will be sent. Click on the link to activate your account.
To get awarded assignments, you can either call the schedulers at National Shopping Service, respond to email announcements, or search for open assignments on what is termed as the “Shopper Intranet”. As stated before, this is not the most user friendly website. It is not intuitive. It is difficult to find information about the fees for specific assignments.
Many times it is simply easier to contact a scheduler. NSS states that many clients change locations throughout the country on a monthly basis, so the schedulers will be able to tell you what is in your area.
Questions and concerns were posted on www.mysteryshopforum.com in March/April 2013 regarding checks issued by NSS that shoppers were unable to cash or deposit. Shoppers incurred NSF or returned check fees due to this issue. As forum members shared their experiences, many feared that NSS was a business on its way out.
Fortunately, this turned out to not be the case, and National Shopping Service remains a company in good standing with a majority of shoppers that are posting about it on the forum.
What happened is that some checks were forged. Wells Fargo issued a fraud alert and closed the account. To rectify the problem with its shoppers, NSS offered to reissue checks or to pay via PayPal. It also recompensed shoppers for any fees they incurred. NSS was responsive on the forum in explaining to shoppers what had happened and what they were doing about it.
Aside from that issue, shoppers report that all payments have been timely. The NSS staff is described as friendly, supportive, and easy to work with. Reports are easy, and guidelines straightforward. This company is a favorite of many shoppers.
However, lately shoppers have stated that they are seeing lowered fees and fewer clients.
Personal Experience: All of my experiences with NSS have been pleasant. Bonuses have been easily granted for rush assignments. Pay has been accurate and on time.