Sentry Marketing is a reputable mystery shopping company headquartered in Plano, TX that is a member of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), and the International Association of Service Evaluators (IASE). Bet you didn’t know there were that many professional associations for mystery shoppers did you? 🙂
I have been mystery shopping for Sentry Marketing for two years now and have completed restaurant assignments for them. They also offer retail shops at coffee shops, children’s stores, and housewares but they don’t have any in my area. Sentry is not a big company and they don’t always have a lot of shops to choose from but there is usually something to select from in my town. One of the things that I like most about Sentry is that they have some very tasty restaurants as clients, including a delivery shop for one of my favorites. That’s the dream right there, getting paid to make a phone call to have food delivered. The good thing about their restaurant shops is usually they are pretty easy, you can order what you want, and they offer reimbursement that actually covers your meal.
I appreciate that the Sentry schedulers are pretty flexible and will reach out via email or text to ask if I am available for a shop. They sometimes let me bend the rules a bit and bring my toddler along on a shop as long as she doesn’t interfere with the requirements. I also appreciate their flexibility if something comes up and I have to reschedule.
On the downside, they are sticklers for completing and submitting shops on time and will dock your pay as a penalty fee if you submit late. They almost always send back my shops for edits and usually want a whole lot of text that duplicates what you said when answering the yes or no questions. They have a text minimum for descriptive sections and while that is understandable that they want me to describe an interaction in detail it can be frustrating to have to draw it out just to meet a character quota in the text box. Also another drawback is that they often pay $10 or less for a shop fee on top of the reimbursement. So that means that sometimes you worked for about a half hour or more to submit the shop online and only got paid $5. But hey, your meal was free and that saves me money too.
Sentry pays monthly via Dwolla, an online payment platform for paying invoices. You can link it to your bank account and withdraw the funds which takes 1-2 days to hit your account. I appreciate this system because over the past two years they have gone through two different payment processors when they moved away from mailing checks. I understand the growing pains but I did find that one of my payments never came through. Luckily I keep track of all my work and when I get paid so I could email them about it and they sent it right away. But you have to be patient with Sentry. They pay you 45 days after your shop and they pull the invoices on the 16th of every month so sometimes you are actually waiting about 2 months to get paid. This is frustrating but I usually only do one shop a month with them so I am not out a lot of money while I wait. This is why it is important to have a separate bank account for mystery shopping and to track your work.
While Sentry is not one of the biggest firms nor is it one that pays quickly, they are a legitimate mystery shopping company and I would definitely recommend signing up with them. Keep them as one of several firms you shop for. As I said, I am a fan of free food and Sentry can hook you up with that.