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    MSPA Grants 20,000 Shopper Certification

    DALLAS - The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the biggest professional trade association devoted to improving service quality using anonymous consumers, has granted its 20,000th certification.

    DALLAS - The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the biggest professional trade association devoted to improving service quality using anonymous consumers, has granted its 20,000th certification.

    The MSPA began its certification program in November 2002, at the request of its members, mystery shopping providers, who wanted to better serve their clients by instituting industry-standard education, practices, and qualifications for mystery shoppers.

    "We are very excited and amazed at the number of shoppers who have already become certified in such a short amount of time," said MSPA executive director John Swinburn in a statement. "The certification program is a way for mystery shoppers to become better trained in the essentials of being a good mystery shopper. This is a testimony that the caliber of mystery shoppers is continuing to rise to new heights."

    The association offers two levels of certification, Silver and Gold. A shopper can become Silver-certified by taking a short online course at the MSPA Web site, http://www.mysteryshop.org/certification.php.

    After obtaining Silver certification, mystery shoppers can be Gold-certified by attending a Gold Certification Workshop, a one-day seminar held in 25 cities throughout the United States annually. At the end of the seminar, a test is given, and those shoppers who pass are awarded Gold certification.

    The MSPA estimates there are about 1 million mystery shoppers in the United States, and 250,000 in other countries. There are currently 18,304 Silver-certified shoppers and 1,696 Gold-certified shoppers. Certification is not a requirement to be a mystery shopper.

    With more than 150 member companies worldwide, the MSPA has a diverse membership, including marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations, and companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services. Its goals are to establish professional standards and ethics for the industry; educate providers, clients and shoppers to improve quality of service; improve the image of the industry; and promote the membership to other industry associations and prospective clients.

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