FAQs

New Applicants/General Information

What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery Shopping is the practice of using research participants to anonymously evaluate customer service, operations, employee integrity, merchandising, and product quality.

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What is the difference between a Mystery Shopper and a SEC Brand Agent?
Research Participants also known as “mystery shoppers” are engaged by specialized market research organizations. As a Research Participant, your name is entered into SEC’s proprietary database; however, a research participant is not certified; therefore, cannot navigate through the SEC website and is denied entry to the BA Gallery, a self-serve environment. A research participant will only be used if an SEC Project Liaison chooses to contact them for a particular assignment/evaluation.
A SEC Brand Agent (BA) is Certified and thus has access to the inner workings of the SEC Website via the BA Gallery. BA’s are tested and certified to ensure they have a complete understanding of SEC policies and procedures and market research methodologies. A BA has access to a personal cyber briefcase and portfolio, in a self-serve, web enabled, environment. Only a BA has the ability to become a SEC Certified Brand Agent (CBA), the highest standard in the industry.

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How do I become a SEC Research Participant?
You must complete a registration form and an Independent Contractor Agreement. Both of these documents are located in the “Become a Brand Agent” link. Once you have properly completed and submitted both documents, you will automatically be added to our electronic notification schema.

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How do I become a SEC Brand Agent?
You must register, submit an Independent Contractor Agreement, read a BA Certification Program and take a BA Certification Exam. The exam will examine your knowledge of SEC’s policies and procedures, and market research methodologies. Upon successful completion of the exam, you will automatically be registered as a SEC BA and will have the ability to freely navigate through the BA Gallery. You can then take the necessary steps to become a CBA, the highest standard in the industry. The entire process is fast, easy and rewarding.

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How secure is my personal information?
Your personal information is very secure. SEC will never disclose your personal identifiable information to our clients or to any other interested parties, as per the “SEC Privacy Policy”. Our clients will only be able to identify you by your Brand Agent ID number (BA ID). Clients do not have the ability to contact you without first going through SEC and without the presence and participation of an SEC Project Liaison. SEC has also implemented Secured Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology on our website, which prevents outside sources from intercepting your confidential information.

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Why do I need to give my Social Security Number?
In order to pay you as an Independent Contractor, we must have your Social Security Number on file. In the event that you make over $600 with SEC during the course of a fiscal year, we will send you and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a 1099 statement of your earnings for income tax purposes. Further information can be found in the Independent Contractor Agreement, which must be agreed to in order to register with SEC. Your Social Security Number is used for no other purpose than the aforementioned.

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How much and when does SEC pay for completed assignments/evaluations?
You are paid an Independent Contractor at a specific invoice per assignment/evaluation on or around the 20th of each month for assignments/evaluations completed in the previous month. For example, assignments/evaluations completed in June will be paid in July and assignments/evaluations completed in July will be paid in August. Payment for each assignment/evaluation depends on the specifications involved in completing the assignment/evaluation. Payments may range from $10 to $50 or more per assignment/evaluation. When you take into account the free products and services that are available on many assignments/evaluations, the personal benefits rise substantially. Examples of free products and services include restoration of fees for groceries, meals, retail products, and much more.

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Selecting/Availability Of Evaluations

What is the BA Gallery?
On the home page click the orange “LOGIN” in the upper right hand area of the page. The BA Gallery is a complete self-serve environment that a Brand Agent is brought to after logging in. You will only have access to this portal if you have taken and passed the SEC BA Certification Exam to become a Brand Agent.

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What is a Certified Brand Agent (CBA) and why do I need to become one?
A Certified Brand Agent is a research participant who is tested and certified to ensure they have a complete understanding of a specific client engagement. CBA status, the highest standard in mystery shopping, is achieved by reading client work order specifications and taking a certification exam for a particular client. Without CBA status, a BA cannot assign himself/herself to any SEC engagement. Our website is designed specifically for professionally Certified SEC BA’s.

In order to become a CBA, you must read client engagement guidelines, and then pass a certification exam for that particular client engagement. You must get all answers correct in order to pass the exam. All information on the exams is in the guidelines. If you fail the exam on your first attempt, you will have two more opportunities to re-take the exam. Once passing the exam, you will be CBA for that particular engagement, until the specifications change. As a first time CBA, you are only able to assign yourself one assignment/evaluation. After the initial assignment/evaluation is successfully completed, you will be able to self-assign additional work via our website.

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What does Add Yourself to Notification List mean?
The option to Add Yourself to Notification List is functionality that allows a CBA’s to be on “notification” for an assignment/evaluation that is already assigned to another Certified Brand Agent. In the event that the CBA who has the assignment/evaluation cannot complete it, the CBA’s on the notification list will automatically receive an email that the assignment/evaluation is available and will be offered the opportunity to accept the assignment/evaluation. In case a CBA has to cancel/reject an assignment/evaluation for a particular reason, being on the notification list ensures that there is more than enough coverage for a particular assignment/evaluation.

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How do I become a CBA?
Please follow the steps that follow to become a SEC CBA:
Step 1: Go to www.serviceevaluation.com
Step 2: In the upper right hand area of the homepage click the orange “LOGIN”, enter your Username and Password.
Step 3: After entering this information, hit the “login” button.
Step 4: Select a state by clicking on the appropriate image on the map or from the pull down menu below the map.
Step 5: The cities and number of assignments/evaluations available within each city will be displayed.
Step 6: To view the assignments/evaluations within a given city or cities you must click on the box listed next to the city. All available assignments/evaluations for that city or cities will appear.
Step 7: Click on the assignment/evaluation ID you wish to become client certified for.
Step 8: The assignment/evaluation details will appear for the assignment/evaluation. You will be prompted to print out and read the client guidelines, and then take the CBA exam.
Step 9: After passing the exam, depending on the assignment/evaluation status, you will be able to either self-assign or place yourself in the Notification List for the assignment/evaluation.

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How do I self-assign work or add myself to the Notification List for an assignment/evaluation?
Please follow the steps that follow in order to self-assign or be placed on the Notification List for an assignment/evaluation:
Step 1: Go to www.serviceevaluation.com
Step 2: In the upper right hand area of the homepage click the orange “LOGIN”, enter your Username and Password.
Step 3: After entering this information, hit the “login” button.
Step 4: Select a state by clicking on the appropriate image on the map or from the pull down menu below the map.
Step 5: The cities and number of assignments/evaluations available within each city will be displayed.
Step 6: To view the assignments/evaluations within a given city or cities you must click on the box listed next to the city. All available assignments/evaluations for that city or cities will appear.
Step 7: Next to the assignment/evaluation ID you will see the text “Available” or “Add to Notification List”.
Step 8: Depending on the assignment/evaluation status, you may choose to be assigned or placed on the notification list for the assignment/evaluation.
Step9: Click on the “Add to Notification List” link. Another window will open. Click on “Click Here” to be placed on the Notification List.
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How many assignments/evaluations can I receive a month?
In order to take on any assignments/evaluations you first must be certified for that specific client. As a first time CBA, you can only receive one assignment/evaluation. Until the first assignment/evaluation is successfully completed, no other assignments/evaluations can be taken. After you successfully complete an assignment/evaluation, you can assign more work. The number of assignments/evaluations you can receive depends upon the amount of work available in your area, and your CBA rating. The higher your CBA rating, the more assignments/evaluations you will be able to receive. Generally, you will be allowed to have 8 assignments/evaluations open at a time.

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Completing/Submitting Evaluations

 

Do assignments/evaluations have to be completed at a specific time?
Assignment/Evaluations can be completed at your convenience, as long as they are completed within the “When to Shop” times and/or dates listed on your Assignment/Evaluation Sheet and on the Assignment/Evaluation Details page of our website.

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How are evaluation results submitted?
All SEC assignments/evaluations are submitted online, unless otherwise noted in the client engagement guidelines. You must submit the evaluation within 24 hours of the assignment/evaluation’s completion. The 24 hour deadline to submit the completed assignment/evaluation does not apply if you complete the assignment/evaluation on the due date, as the assignment/evaluation must be submitted by 12:00 PM, EST of the following morning. If the assignment/evaluation is not submitted by this time or if you have not contacted SEC regarding its completion, it will automatically go into rejection status. If you have a problem with submission, but have completed the assignment/evaluation, please be sure to contact SEC during business hours to notify SEC of the assignments/evaluations completion.

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How do I know if an assignment/evaluation I submitted went through successfully?
After submitting your assignment/evaluation, it will be removed from your Assignment/Evaluations in Progress immediately and placed in Assignments/Evaluations Submitted. If it was completed accurately, it will appear in your Assignments/Evaluations Completed within 72 business hours. It takes this amount of time to go into Complete status because SEC needs to verify/review your evaluation. If it does not appear in your Assignments/Evaluations Completed after 72 business hours of submission, you need to email your SEC contact or feedback@serviceevaluation.com to ensure there are no issues with your report.

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How do I retrieve my Assignment/Evaluation Sheet and all other documentation necessary to complete an assignment/evaluation successfully?
All documentation needed to complete this assignment/evaluation successfully can be obtained from your Cyber Briefcase and Assignment/Evaluation Sheet, which are located in the BA Gallery.


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What happens if I cannot complete an Assignment/Evaluation after accepting it?
It is understood that occasional circumstances arise that may prevent you from completing an assignment/evaluation. If a problem arises that prevents you from completing an assignment/evaluation you have, you must reject (cancel) the assignment/evaluation online or contact SEC regarding the assignment/evaluation. If you accept an assignment/evaluation and reject it, your CBA rating will be negatively affected. You should not take on any assignment/evaluation(s) if you are not positive that you will be able to successfully complete them during the specified dates and/or times.

Steps for Online Rejection of an assignment/evaluation:
Step 1: Go to www.serviceevaluation.com
Step 2: In the upper right hand area of the homepage click the orange “LOGIN”, enter your Username and Password.
Step 3: After entering this information, hit the “login” button.
Step 4: Select the link “Assignment/Evaluations in Progress”, located under your Assignment/Evaluation Portfolio.
Step 5: Select and click on the Assignment/Evaluation ID for the assignment/evaluation you wish to reject.
Step 6: Click on the “Reject Assignment/Evaluation” icon.
Step 7: Submit a reason for canceling the assignment/evaluation. After entering the reason, hit the “Submit” icon to continue with the rejection of the assignment/evaluation.

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Problems Using the Website

What should I do if I receive an error when I try to submit an evaluation?
If you encounter an error when submitting your evaluation, please email feedback@serviceevaluation.com, with your BA ID, the Assignment/Evaluation ID, and the EXACT error message you received. We receive thousands of evaluations each month and the site does work, but we want your feedback on any error message you may encounter.

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Why is the site not working properly with my computer?
This site is designed to work with Microsoft Internet Explorer. You can check what version you have by clicking ‘Help’ on the top line of the program, then ‘About’. Older versions of Internet Explorer or other browser programs may give unpredictable results because they do not include up-to-date features and cannot correctly utilize the features of this site. Internet Explorer is a free program. You can download the most up-to-date version for Windows or Macintosh from Microsoft.

Due to the many varied computers, browsers and internet connections, we cannot provide technical assistance with other computer issues. Check with your computer vendor or your internet service provider for problems related to their products.

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Can I use a smart device such as an Andriod or Apple to access my work?
Although SEC engages in fieldwork that specifically requires the use of a Smart Device through its Smart Agent application, unfortunately, only those specific assignments/evaluations are designed to work on a Android or Apple platform. Although you may be able to log in and access some of our site features while using a Smart device, you may not be able to access all of the interactive features on our site or Submit your reports successfully.

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Why can’t I view or print any documentation?
You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If you do not, please go to www.adobe.com. This is a program used by many web sites for viewing and printing information, and is free of charge.

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Additional

How do I contact SEC?
If you have additional questions or concerns, please email feedback@serviceevaluation.com or call SEC at 516-714-0323 and a Representative will be happy to assist you. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, EST.

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