FAQ

Here are some questions that have come up about the Mystery Shopping Jobs Tracker

 

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So – is it a spreadsheet?  But Online?

The Tracker is an application built on top of a database. A database has features similar to a spreadsheet. A database is made up of tables (similar to separate worksheets in a spreadsheet) that relate to each other (closest thing in a spreadsheet would be a LOOKUP() function).

Spreadsheets are very powerful and with power, it is easy to break something (ever accidentally delete a formula or whole column?). The front-end of a database application acts as a kind of shield to prevent you from accidentally breaking things. Its hard to reduce the risk to 0% but the risk is lower.

Spreadsheets are also harder to maintain. Every time you add a new record, you have to copy formats and formulas. If something changes like a Mystery Shopping Company renaming itself, you can use a ‘Find-and-Replace’ to change all the names but you still have to update all the records. A database automatically adds formats and formulas. And because of the relationships, you can update the MSC name once and it is reflected in all of your records.

A database application is designed to allow you to work with your data more efficiently. A spreadsheet, you have to scroll up, down and sideways a lot to get to where you want to be. A database application uses a front-end that hopefully makes this a little more zippier so you can get in and out and get on with your day.

Spreadsheets let you sort, filter and build charts and graphs. A database application lets you do that and often lets you do a bit more.

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Is my data secure?

Standards Compliant

The application is a ‘Cloud-Based’ application. The application runs on Amazon Web Services, the same technology that Amazon uses.  Learn more about Amazon AWS here.  Amazon AWS is considered a very secure and robust environment.  Using Amazon AWS, the application is automatically SOC 3 and ISO 27001 Certified.

Secure Communication

Communication between you and the application happens over the Internet.  This is not the most secure medium which is why we enforce SSL communication.  This ensures data is encrypted between you and the website you are using.  Look up at the URL in the browser and you should see ‘https://’ and NOT ‘http://’ – https uses ‘Secure Socket Layer’ technology to ensure communication over the internet is secure while http does not – you should not share any information over ANY network connection that does not have the ‘https://’ in the URL.  Click here to learn more about SSL and here to learn about https

Two layers of password protection

Access to the application is password protected.  We actually have two layers of passwords you have to go through.  You first have to register with the Mystery Shoppery just to get access to the Tracker application.  This makes it more difficult for hackers and ‘bots’ to access the data.  Registering with the Mystery Shoppery allows you to ‘see’ the tracker.  Once you can ‘see’ the tracker, you have to register again with a separate user ID and password – it is up to you to use the same ID and password or not.  No other user can see or access your data without your user ID and password.

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Yes, but is it secure from you?

Trust in the application is important to it actually being used.  People don’t trust us, they won’t use the application.  We violate that trust, people stop using it.

The application is maintained and updated on a regular basis.  As part of this maintenance, we need to access the back end of the application where the data lies.  If we can’t access the back end, then we can’t maintain the application if something goes wrong or to add features in the future.

When you sign up with the Mystery Shoppery, you agree to a Terms and Conditions statement.  Part of that statement states that you are the owner of the data you enter and that we make no claim to the data or derivatives of that data nor will we make any derivatives without your permission.  Who you work with and what bonuses you are able to negotiate is your proprietary information.  We will not share or otherwise disclose your data or anything derived from your data without your permission.  The Terms and Conditions also states this carries over to any successor owners of the Mystery Shoppery.  Click here to review our Terms and Conditions.

Anyone working for the Mystery Shoppery must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before getting access to the back end.

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Is my personal information secure?

Your personal information is protected by the same technology and features as your job data.  We do not expose your information to other users without your permission.  We will not sell or otherwise expose your data to any non-user of the Mystery Shoppery.

You should review our Privacy Policy but to summarize, we collect the following information:

User Name – this is a user name you choose.  This is exposed to other users if you opt-in to the Postal Buddies program.  We strongly advise against using your email address or full name as your user name with the Mystery Shoppery or any other forum.

Your email address – something that we can use to verify your identity.  If you participate in the Postal Buddies program, this is the email used to get into contact with other shoppers.  We won’t spam you or sell your email address.  If you opt-in to the ‘Postal Buddies’ program, you are giving us permission to forward your email address and zipcode to another shopper you wish to contact but we do not otherwise expose your email address to anyone.  If you opt-in to the Postal Buddies program, we do expose the first three digits of your zip code to other users.

[su_box title=”Tip – email + trick” style=”soft” box_color=”#1fbaf7″]Do you know about the + trick?  When registering with someone, you can do something like add mysteryshoppery+user@example.com.  You will still get emails delivered to your user@example.com account but in the ‘To’ field you see ‘mysteryshoppery+’ in the To field so you know whoever got your email address, they got it from mysteryshoppery.  Google ’email + trick’ [/su_box]

Zipcoderequired only if you wish to participate in the Postal Buddies program.  We don’t give you the opportunity to tell us your zipcode even if you wanted to until you opt-in to the program.

Profiling questions about your shopping experience –  These are optional questions.  When you register, we ask some questions about how long you’ve been shopping and other shopping related questions. This helps us understand our users and their needs better.  We do NOT ask about your age, gender, marital status or anything personal like that since it should have absolutely nothing to do with your shopping experience.  It might have something to do with WHY you shop but that is none of our business.

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Who owns this data?

You own the data you enter into the application.  We here are the Mystery Shoppery own the infrastructure but make no claim to ownership of the data you enter.  We will not derive data based on what you have entered without your express approval.  Who you work with and what bonuses you are able to negotiate is your proprietary information.

You are free to download all of your data at any time and delete your data from the application.  The Tracker has both ‘Download’ and ‘Delete’ buttons you can use at anytime.

An example of derived data  is determining how long it takes an MSC to pay you after you complete a shop – in the tracker this is called ‘Days to Pay.’  You might have access to a report that averages ‘Days to Pay’ so you know MSC A takes 2 months on average to pay you while MSC B takes 2 weeks on average – this is an example of aggregating data.   By using the Tracker, you give us permission to create ‘Days to Pay’ (a derived value) and ‘Average Days to Pay’ (an aggregated value) on your behalf but this is still your data.

The following functionality does not currently exist but is discussed here as an example.  In theory, we at the Mystery Shoppery could create a report across all shoppers to get these averages which in turn could be put on a dashboard visible to all users.  This would allow shoppers who do not work for a particular MSC to decide if they might want to join that MSC or not based on when they pay on average.   You would be given the option to have your data included in this report or not.  Only shoppers who opt-in to share their data would have their data included in such reports.  However, such reports would only be generated as a service to other shoppers and available only to other shoppers as a means of increasing the value of the Tracker to shoppers.

Opt-ins are on a per-case basis and are not blanket-wide.  In the prior example, in your profile you would have the option “Include my data in the ‘Global MSC Average Days to Pay’ report” which would be ‘No’ by default.

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Is putting my data on in the Tracker violating anything in my ICA?

Every mystery shopping company seems to have a unique set of requirements in their ICA.  We haven’t looked at every single one but of the ones we have read, potential issues tend to fall into the following categories:

Revealing Client shopped by the MSC

The tracker does not expose a ‘Client’ or ‘Customer’ field.  If you absolutely must keep track of the customer, there is a ‘Notes’ section where you can use your own secret code to note the client like ‘Gold Arch’ or ‘MCD’.  An MSC’s client list is considered proprietary information which is why it is explicitly stated in the ICA to not reveal client names.

Note to those who reveal anywhere which company is shopped by which MSC – it is not just a violation of the ICA, it is a potential lawsuit to reveal proprietary information.

Revealing Proprietary information

Proprietary information, also known as trade secrets, is information not typically available to the public that is owned by a particular party.  This information provides the owner with economic benefits specifically because the information is not publicly known.  In your role as a mystery shopper, you might have access to a company’s proprietary information.  Read more about trade secrets here.

Revealing Client proprietary information

Unless you put something in the Notes, there is nothing that can be considered proprietary to the client being tracked.  This would include things like a client’s marketing plans or how they make their secret sauce.

Revealing MSC Proprietary information

MSC related details tracked include the amount you agreed to do a particular job, the ID of the job and when you got paid.  All other information relates to how you executed the job.  How you executed the job is your information.

Proprietary information can only be owned by a single party and an attempt must be made to keep it secret.  Proprietary information that belongs to an MSC covers things like the questions in an evaluation that you need to ask as part of the shopping job and who the MSC’s clients are.

A job ID is not a trade secret as it provides no economic advantage to the MSC by being kept a secret and therefore is not proprietary information.

A mutual agreement between two parties is not owned by one party or the other.  The fact that you agreed to perform a job for a particular rate is not proprietary to the MSC.   Shoppers regularly discuss how much they make on shops in open forums such as mysteryshopforums.com without repercussions.

Many MSCs regularly advertise how much they are offering jobs via emails that can easily be forwarded, in tools such as Presto Insta-Shops which does not require a sign-in and on social media platforms such as Facebook.  It is difficult to consider job pay rates well protected information.  As there is little to no attempt to keep this information a secret, it is not proprietary information.

The date your payment was deposited in your bank account is not proprietary to the MSC.  Many MSC’s openly post their pay policy including the dates payments are made in easily accessible locations such as web pages that do not require a sign in to access.

The fact that you did a job for MSC A for $10 is not proprietary.  The fact that you did a job for MSC A for $10 to evaluate Customer X is proprietary because of the “you did a job for MSC A…to evaluate Customer X” part

We Signed the Same Independent Contractor Agreements

Not really addressing any concerns on your part, but keep in mind that we are signed up with all of the MS Companies listed in the Tracker meaning we have signed an ICA agreement with all of these companies also.  We are prevented from divulging information covered by an ICA just like you are.  As pointed out, we do not track information that would be covered by an ICA but as an example, it doesn’t matter that we may have never done a shop for MSC A to evaluate Company X, we still cannot reveal that Company X is a client of MSC A no matter how we learned this information (and remember, we don’t track clients).

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