The “Big Seven” video MSCs that founded the Video Shopping Network(VSN) have had their ranks reduced by one. The problems that shoppers have had in getting paid by Instant Replays for the past year or so have finally caught up with them and they are no longer a member of the VSN.
It is unclear whether they voluntarily dropped out of the VSN or were dropped by the VSN. Additionally, due to Instant Replays’ record of late payments to shoppers, IMSC has declared Instant Replays ineligible to sponsor or display at IMSC conferences. IR’s website hasn’t been updated although Kathy Hart has left and it’s rumored that another employee listed on their website has also left. I must admit that I hadn’t experienced the payment problems that other shoppers experienced, but I attribute that to writing for Mystery Shopper Magazine. Additionally, video shoppers do need to be aware that there are video scheduling companies and it wouldn’t hurt to ask if the MSC is Instant Replays before committing to do the shop.
The only significant update that I’ve come across is involving The Shadow Agency. Recent posts on Mystery Shop Forum show that payments have slipped from 45-55 days to 60+ days. Of greater concern to the poster is the fact that fees have dropped 45% in a year and distance pay has virtually disappeared [200+ miles trips].
I have done video shops for all the above companies and find all of them to be great to work for, as well as being great when it comes to communicating. As has been stated may times on Mystery Shop Forum, communication with the scheduler is one of the key factors that sets video shopping apart from conventional mystery shopping.
Video shopping is becoming even more important as MSCs who don’t have their own video programs will subcontract with other MSCs to provide video shoppers for certain projects. As an example, in the summer of 2014, I did a series of video shops at automobile dealers for Intellishop. They paid $75 each and all I had to do was fill out the name and address of the dealership and the salesperson’s name. Intellishop took care of the rest. It was much easier than their typical $17-25 report.
There are also scheduling companies that are specializing in scheduling video mystery shops. While some of them are quite knowledgeable about video shopping, many are not. As a result, it would be advisable for the shopper to ask all the usual questions and, if the shop is in a two-party consent state, verify that the client has the proper consent forms for recording their employees at work.