"As a relatively new mystery shopper, I worked hard to become the best shopper I could be. But, I had the uneasy feeling that I was progressing too slowly and not getting the big picture. So, I was thrilled when I learned of the Silver and Gold certification programs from the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association and I have now earned both levels.

The Gold certification educates shoppers on both ethics and tools of the trade, provides a networking opportunity, reinforces the concept that mystery shopping is a business (not just a hobby), and enables in-person communication between shoppers and MS companies. The best part of the all-day workshop was the Q&A session with schedulers, editors and owners when we found out directly what they valued in shoppers.

Although certification offers no guarantee for increased or better assignments, many MS companies have enthusiastically supported the programs by giving preference to certified shoppers (all else being equal). From personal experience, and from schedulers and company owners telling me directly, I know I have been given many assignments because I am Gold certified. In fact, I have already recouped all the costs (direct and incidental) of both my Silver and Gold certifications.

I hope that clients will appreciate the value certified shoppers add to mystery shopping programs, thereby decreasing the tendency of certain companies to compete by price-cutting - a practice that benefits no one in the long run."

Barbara S


"Honestly when I first encountered the Silver and Gold Certification proposition, I thought it was just another scam to make money at the expense of unsuspecting shoppers. I was surprised that the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association was involved because they had always implied "never pay to shop.” I decided that the small investment for the online Silver certificate procedure was a tiny amount and might increase my marketability as an evaluator, promoting the professionalism of my fledgling business venture. I wanted to alert schedulers and coordinators that I was not just another casual shopper, I meant business, and I needed the business.

When a Gold certificate seminar was scheduled, I plucked down more than $100 in registration, booked my airline flight and hotel. I also printed my business cards, in advance! The experience was awesome. To be able to meet with colleagues face-to-face was just mind-boggling, not just to read and communicate through bulletin boards. The founders of some of the very largest scheduling and mystery shopping companies presented revealing information and provided written resources to be devoured later, it was an honor and a privilege to meet them. I feel that all this will most definitely enhance my capabilities as a professional shopper. This Gold seminar drew too quickly to conclusion. I am hoping that in the future, shoppers will be able to meet regularly, in a Convention type format.

Already, I am enjoying the privilege of being Gold certified."

Cassandra C


"I want you to know how much we all appreciate all of the hard work and effort that you, Cathy and everyone involved, put into ensuring that the MSPA Gold Certification Workshop in Houston on June 21, 2003, was a success. It was especially nice to be able to talk to and visit with some of the MSPA companies that attended the seminar. It makes a big difference when you can put faces with names. I know everyone at the seminar left enthused and motivated. It was a great investment and worth every penny of the cost.

I would highly recommend everyone possible attending the workshop and getting their MSPA Gold Certification. We are all hoping it will make a difference in the number and quality of our assignments."

Darlene Wilcox


"I just wanted to drop you a note and thank you for your support of this program. I traveled several hours from Kentucky to the workshop on Saturday, and I don't regret going in the least. I especially found it very valuable to hear a view of things from the company side.

Was I a great shopper before the workshop? I think so. Am I better now? You bet."

Judith Gill


"It was a pleasure meeting you at the Toledo MSPA Gold Certification Seminar last Saturday. It was a great experience. Thanks to MSPA for your forward-thinking and all of the time and effort put in by each and every one of you to bring such an important professionalism to the mystery shopping marketplace.

I will be celebrating my 10th year in business this Fall doing mystery shopping and merchandising. It's nice to see that it's being taken seriously."

Geri Thueme


"I picked up a number of tips at the Gold Workshop. I enjoyed visiting with the other shoppers and being able to meet with some select mystery shopping company representatives. I did have a company respond to me by phone that I had been trying to get some mystery shops from for about four months. They offered me an assignment and told me to start requesting off of their web-site and to complete my paper work. I had given up on them a few months before. I used a tip I learned from the Gold Workshop to get them to call me. I think in the long run I will MORE than earn back my initial investment of $99.00."

Paula Kutka


"Hi, I just would like to thank you for creating this opportunity (Gold Seminar) for all the shoppers. It was a great opportunity to do some networking and to learn more about mystery shopping. The seminar was wonderful, and I really enjoyed learning all the valuable information and tips. Thank you!"

Penny Sun  


"I want to thank you for the great day of learning and comraderie at the Orlando Gold workshop. The setting was beautiful, and Cathy is a talented speaker. Mike Green, thanks for everything. I even got an email from your company for the first time today - I guess that gold really works! I will recommend the workshop to anyone who asks whether it is "worth it". Of course it is; it's never wrong to improve professionalism."

Vicki Thibodeau


"The workshop in Orlando was beyond my expectations. I learned so much and really enjoyed meeting you and the other company representatives. Cathy was great-what an asset to the whole experience! It made my travel from St.Louis very worth while."

Denise Rees


"It was nice to see you in Washington, D.C. It was a great experience and aside from giving me a well deserved mommy break, rejuvenated me as a shopper as well. I have been more enthusiastic these past two weeks about my shops and my narratives have been outstanding (so I am told). I guess I needed the validation of the DC experience to give me an extra boost.

It's because of the MSPA and certification process that my business has boomed. THANKS and have a very happy Thanksgiving!"

Anne Ciacciarella


"Great Workshop! I'm somewhat new to the business so it gave me a real boost. So glad I went! Thanks for you and the people who organized and presented."

Barbara Lefforge


"I just wanted to thank you for putting together a great continuing education opportunity for all who attended the MSPA Gold Conference in St. Louis. I have received a lot of positive feedback from the schedulers and Mystery Shopping Companies I have contacted regarding my new Gold Certification status."

Mickey Thomas


"The Gold Workshop in San Jose yesterday was great. It was wonderful to place faces with names and email addresses of people I have been working with for several years. I felt that Cathy Stucker did an amazing job with the workshop. She made it fun, informative and interactive. I walked away feeling as though it was definitely worth my time and efforts. I think the workshop really helps to rejuvenate the experienced shopper and reviews things that we may not think about as often as we should. As for the new shoppers, it gives them great insight as to what this profession is all about. They offer wonderful tips and organizational ideas that will help shoppers optimize our valuable time. By the way, thanks to Kern Scheduling, Infotel, SG Marketing Group and Ray Sola for all of your contributions to helping to make this seminar a great success!"

Diane Griffin


"The workshop was definitely worth the investment. I attended the one held on Sat. 6/28 in San Jose. Cathy was an outstanding speaker and very informative. It was fun too, exchanging shopping experiences and getting to put a face with some of the usernames who have posted on various message boards. I was a little disappointed that Mike Green wasn't there, I wanted to thank him personally for answering my E-Mails when I had trouble printing my Silver Cert. I got real lucky at lunch. Sat next to a scheduler from a MS company that I hadn't applied with yet. We exchanged cards and she encouraged me to apply right away and said she would personally call me to give me shops! She also wanted my opinions from a shoppers point of view. All of the Reps were professional and offered insight & tips that were invaluable. (I feel like I'm writing a narrative report.)

I believe these types of programs are going to raise the standard for shoppers that have a serious commitment to this profession. I had no idea of the severe consequences that occur when shoppers submit substandard reports or abandon assignments. Thanks, MSPA and its sponsors for giving shopper's the opportunity to participate in this worthwhile program."

Lindy, San Jose, CA


"I just wanted to take a minute to say thanks for everything you and your associates did on a personal level to make last Saturday such a wonderful event to attend. The snacks and sandwiches were great and I really enjoyed myself. I learned so many little tips that I will take along on my journey as an "MSPA Certified Gold Mystery Shopper". I love the sound of that! I've already referred to my notes on a shop I did and I was rated with Sassie on my first assignment as a "9"."

Dianne J. Tedesco


"I just wanted to thank you and your company for giving us this opportunity to educate ourselves to become better shoppers. I had a wonderful time at the workshop on Aug. 9th in Seattle. It was great meeting other shoppers in my area along with some company reps.

Thank you again for your participation in promoting this benefit for shoppers."

Wendy Doman


"I have found that since I have notified over 200 different companies of my new Gold certification status, my assignments have jumped over 300%. I have even had to turn down numerous assignments. I have found even non MSPA companies still recognize it to be the best authority for mystery shopping. Also I have found that schedulers, once notified and after receiving my reports are so impressed with my narrative writings that they are giving me more jobs than I can handle. Not to mention sending me e-mails thanking me for saving the editors from working so hard. Thanks a million Mike. I knew that if I could get to Houston, my status as a mystery shopper would be elevated 50 fold."

Randy R. Thomas


Mystery Shopping Company Quotes

Hi Mike,
I attended the Workshop in Seattle, and was very pleased with the content and shopper reaction. There was a lot of very frank talk about the realities of mystery shopping. Shoppers were able to voice questions both to Cathy, and the MS company reps. I must say that there was not a topic or recommendation made that I didn't agree with."



"We were glad to see such a large group at the seminar. That large of a group says something about the acceptance of the Gold Certification Program. Several of the attendees I spoke to mentioned that they would like to see another level of certification, possibly a Platinum Level, that could raise the bar and separate them from some of the part timers.

The presentation included many of the concepts that we frequently discuss with our shoppers and essentially promotes the professionalism of the mystery shopping industry. We thought that Cathy did an excellent job presenting the program.

Overrall, the comments we did hear during the breaks and pre/post seminar discussions were positive and we some of the shopper's questions and comments constructive. We thank you again for giving us the opportunity to participate in the program."

Michael D. Somach, Shoppers' Critique International, L.L.C.


"I recently attended the MSPA Gold Certification workshop in Seattle as an interested observer. I have been increasingly aware recently of the need for shoppers who are professional and adhere to standards that companies who hire shoppers can count on. I was extremely impressed with the training. I was especially impressed and grateful to see that the training emphasizes the perspective of mystery shopping companies and their needs. In addition to providing the shoppers with tips on how to develop their business, the training emphasized that the number of shops available to them will increase as they prove themselves to be dependable and professional. Special attention was given to writing narratives, objective observation skills, dealing with problems and emergencies and preparing for the shop. As a mystery shop company owner, I enthusiastically support the MSPA shopper training program and feel that we will all benefit from this effort.

Kathy Harper, Owner and Partner, Kinesis CEM


"I have to tell you, I was very impressed with the seminar. It was not what I expected. There is really nothing I would add or subtract regarding content. My fear that the content would be too broad to have an impact was unfounded.

We really have to find a way to get the word out. This seminar is not only a way to motivate and "reach" shoppers, but it is an important bridge between shoppers and the companies. I will do my part to spread the word in the upcoming months."

Clay, ACRA, Inc.


"I have attended about 18 of the MSPA Gold Certification Workshops. I have seen the program grow and develop over this year and I am very excited about the results. My company has been trying to use MSPA certified shoppers whenever possible this year and have seen amazing differences in our completion rates. Where we used to have a 25 to 30% fallout rate on first time shoppers, we are seeing that in using MSPA certified shoppers, those rates have dropped to less than 10%.

I have also noticed that MSPA Gold shoppers tend to score much higher on reports by independent editors. These editors cannot see certification status, yet I am noticing that the shoppers are scoring 1 to 2 letter grades higher than the "average" uncertified shopper. This has resulted in increased income for my company, as we are spending less time re-scheduling and editing and more time pursuing new business and satisfying our customers!

Thanks MSPA!"

Lorri Kern, President, Kern Scheduling Services


"A Closer Look was proud to sponsor the Atlanta MSPA Gold Certification seminar in 2003 and will do so again in 2004. We feel that the Gold certification is a win for both the shopper AND for our industry. A better informed shopper certainly builds credibility and confidence in our ability to provide quality feedback to our clients."

Chuck Paul, President


"My only regret about the shopper certification workshops is that we did not think of this program five years ago. Being lucky enough to attend seven of the workshops in 2003, I got a chance to hear what the shoppers were learning and the see the excitement in their faces at the end of the class. In the day and age of computers and e-mail, it was also great to be able to meet some of our veteran shoppers face to face and actually have time to talk with them about issues that affect us all. We also picked up many new quality shoppers as a result of the program."

Mike Green, Vice President, Speedmark


"Attending the Gold Certification in Boston and sponsoring one in Chicago has provided Beyond Hello first hand experience that the ongoing workshops are invaluable in contributing to the professionalism of mystery shopping as an industry. It provides an upbeat and cooperative forum for shoppers and mystery shopping companies to learn from one another. It provides Beyond Hello staff an opportunity to meet potential shoppers for large, ongoing projects. Our system has been programmed to default to the "GOLD" shoppers whenever possible. The workshops are clearly "win, win" for all involved."

Gary Godding, Beyond Hello


"Second To None enthusiastically supports both the MSPA Silver and Gold Shopper Certification Programs. In just the first year of shopper certification, our firm has seen firsthand a significant improvement in the level of shopper quality, and we now give priority to those shoppers who have taken the time to become MSPA certified. At a time when our industry continues to become more diversified and more competitive, for both companies and shoppers, the use of certified shoppers becomes an important differentiator. The certification programs are also critical to showing our clients the commitment made as an industry toward enhancing the level of professionalism, ethics and quality standards."

Jeff Hall, Founder & CEO, Second To None, Inc.