In last week’s issue of Mystery Shopper Magazine, I related a situation that I was told by a fellow shopper. It was a rather unique set of conditions that came together and presented an opportunity for him. I did encourage shoppers to keep an eye out for “similar situations”.
I received a phone call from the president of a company who I greatly admire, and enjoy the assignments they give me. She was concerned that I was encouraging shoppers to “go around” the MSC, contact clients directly, and pocket larger shop fees. I assured her that was not my intent. I reread the article and I do see how that conclusion could be made. Let me state again that it was a unique situation for this shopper, and I do not condone or encourage shoppers to try to undercut MSC’s prices.
As shoppers, we exist in a symbiotic relationship with MSC’s. We need them, and they need us. Those of us who shop full-time, or even a significant amount of part-time hours each week, know that without the MSC’s and their job boards, we would not be able to find the quantity of jobs that we need to allow our businesses to survive and grow. Likewise, MSC’s are able to grow their businesses by having a pool of independent contractors to draw upon to complete their assignments.
There is beauty in the independent contractor system of this industry. In essence we are a microcosm of the free market at work. We are free to accept or reject jobs as we see fit. If I don’t feel the fees associated with a job are worth it, I’m not forced to take it. As an example: Trendsource asked me to take a job 75 miles [one way] from home. They offered me $15 and said I could request distance pay. I figured out what I would need for the distance pay and requested it. I did not get the job. There aren’t any hard feelings and the next request I get from Trendsource will be viewed as a unique request…the history of our relationship won’t affect on how I bid the job.
Another aspect, the rotation schedule we are under. If we can only shop “Business A” once every three months, by having a pool of MSC’s with other assignments, we are able to shop “Businesses B and C” on our off months and have a constant income stream. It would be much harder for us to achieve this if we had to find our own clients.
As long as we work with MSCs, this industry will continue to grow and prosper. If we start working at cross purposes, then we all will suffer. Or perhaps Ben Franklin said it better at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
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