If you’re a worker, it goes a little something like this: you could be in one of 57 different countries performing a variety of roles such as customer service, merchandising, lead generation, mystery shopping, inspections, and other tasks at companies including Google, Deloitte, Circle K, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Facebook.
You take out your mobile device, swipe around on the Shiftsmart app map, and look for available work in a given geographic region. It might be a 4-hour shift to stock the cooler at Circle K for around $50. Or, you might be invited to walk around with a light meter at Walmart and take in-store lighting readings. The tasks range in variety and scope, depending on the client’s agreement with Shiftsmart.
You can access your money after you’ve properly checked into your shift, completed your shift, and had your shift approved by Shiftsmart corporate, which usually takes a few days. Or, you can wait for the money to show up in your account every two weeks via direct deposit.
Payments, however, seem to range from easily approved on some days to rejected on others, often due to the Shiftsmart and associated Safety Culture apps malfunctioning. Many Shiftsmart partners complain little explanation or support is provided regarding no payments as well.
Shiftsmart Makes Some Big Claims, But Are They True?
Shiftsmart claims to be revolutionizing hourly work while building a new labor eco-system by connecting hourly workers in the job market with companies that may have challenges filling certain roles.
Shiftsmart’s stated goal is to become the world’s leading platform for ready access to hourly workers, which is a $2 trillion industry in the US alone. It has also attracted some big name investors like Mark Cuban.
But is Shiftsmart truly legit? Or, is it too good to be true?
Let’s take a look at Shiftsmart in our review here today, starting with my own Shiftsmart Partner story.
Shiftsmart Review: One Worker’s / Partner’s Story
I had moved back to the US after a 5-year absence traveling the globe, running an online business that was doing well enough for me to survive up until 2020, when it died, after world governments declared the seasonal flu the next biggest threat since Osama Bin Laden, in lockstep, to absolutely no surprise of my own.
The crushing blow to my online business’s fleeting chances of survival after having been a sustainable source of income for myself for years. A massive wave of package theft and fraud with PayPal, aggravated by Amazon.com’s own delivery drivers, simply leave packages on doorsteps, snap a photo for proof of delivery, and call that good enough, regardless of the actual shipping realities.
Now, before I get off on a tangent of Dick’s Sporting Goods recent 25% stock plunge in a single week which they blamed on retail theft, or PayPal’s equal stock demise, though the latter one has taken much longer to materialize since they profited incredibly from the lockdowns that closed many brick-and-mortar businesses, often under order from the government.
I remember when my sales dried up seemingly overnight. Then, the few sales for my online business I actually did make resulted in the majority being claimed to have never been delivered to their destination. And every time, PayPal took the side of the buyer.
Without any proof. Without any police report. Without anything.
Is it any surprise PayPal tanked after having an ideal situation of people locked down and ordering online, once things re-opened?
As for me, with money drying up and having no proof of vaccination, the number of countries I could still afford to reside in or even be allowed in had decreased to Armenia. I knew it was time to return to the U.S. while there was still a window of passage for an unjabbed American who’d been gone since 2017.
My Personal Experience with Shiftsmart
Fast forward to the present day. My experience with Shiftsmart starts in April 2022 in Orange County, Florida, or Orlando, as most folks would more easily recognize it.
Within 10 days of my return to the U.S., I knew I had to begin work—any work I could find. That put me in a place to take some jobs that most would see as beneath themselves, but I know that doing honest work is the only thing you can rely on if you have any morals in today’s world, even if it’s dirty.
Even if it means a college graduate and veteran who once owned his own business must now clean bathrooms at Circle K and stock their cooler, because Circle K in super-diverse Orlando cannot get its employees to do this, or additionally, because no one with a solid work ethic who could work at Circle K can realistically afford to live in Orlando or surrounding suburbs.
I remember seeing another Shiftsmart partner show up at an inner city Orlando Circle K while I was there. He was dressed in open-toe house slippers and athletic shorts, matched by a loose-fitting unkempt white t-shirt.
I found quickly that working 4-hour maximum shifts of $13/hour as a Shiftsmart partner will ensure that you cannot realistically work an 8-hour workday in a big city while riding the bus when one shift ends and your next is across town one hour later, so you’re a part-time worker with no hope for anything but enough money to buy some food and be homeless.
And so, that’s just what I did.
I still remember one of my weeks camping in the woods in western Orlando in June, the sweat pouring off of me in my tent off the beaten path of a main road that takes you a few miles down to Universal Studios.
I would wake up in my tent after being eaten alive by no-seeums, put on my clothes I’d packed in from my storage container, then catch the bus to a Circle K to do a 4-hour shift.
Or, I’d catch the bus to the Orange County Animal Shelter and volunteer my time to taking care of shelter dogs, mostly pit bulls of course, that had been abandoned by a very, very diverse Orlando community. A community and shelter so diverse, that it served mainly as a way for high-schoolers to get their volunteer credits while ignoring certain families actively looking to adopt, because those families were not diverse and did not look like them.
I was applying for other jobs at the time, but it says something about the world when one of the salaried animal shelter workers has a special note from his doctor to take a nap in the shower at work for 2 hours a day, and a disabled veteran cleaning Circl Ks and volunteering for free gets to sleep in the woods.
I eventually stopped going to those Circle K shifts. I applied for and found better jobs and started to move up in the world, but it never seemed to last very long. I always found myself within some highly diverse workflow that consisted of foreigners who did not speak English as a first-language and didn’t quite “get” American culture, or remote workflows where tons of very diverse people did sloppy work with tons of mistakes.
Just speaking up or trying to solve these mistakes often resulted in retaliation against me, lots of unprofessionalism from my supervisors, who could not stand being corrected, and eventually my termination. I was never fired for incompetence, though. I was fired for other people’s incompetence more than once, indirectly.
And within a year, I gave Shiftsmart another chance when I got a text message asking me to apply for their Walmart facilities inspector job, where I could expect to make $30/hour+.
Present Day: Inspecting Walmart Facilities for Shiftsmart
The real question: Is Shiftsmart actually empowering workers, or enslaving them even more with no benefits?
Let’s check in with another of Shiftsmart’s partners, whose review I got off Google:
“Absolutely the worst place to work. Communication is nonexistent. They refuse to answer the most basic questions when asked. Out of dozens of interactions with them, I only had 1 person that truly helped me and made sure I was happy with the outcome. They removed me from the platform after making close to $25,000 with them over 9 months with zero explanation. Still will not explain, no matter how many times I reach out.”Actual Shiftsmart Partner on Google Reviews
And the same exact thing happened to me, though I didn’t make nearly that much with them.
I never had the chance, even once I got my momentum and my hopes up, and was eventually completing two HVAC and roof inspections a day, limping around a Walmart the best I could and climbing a 3-story ladder at the end of each shift, just to limp around some more in the hot Florida or Alabama sun on the roof to see if the vent fan was still functioning.
But even more actual, real-life Shiftsmart partners have said there is no support in the event their app crashes on the job and workers lose all their work, which happens frequently and began happening to me just before they silently let me go without any notice or official communication. They also refused to explain denying pay for several instances where either a full shift or nearly completed one only to be told their work cannot be accepted, or simply kicked off the app never to be allowed on again, even if the partner/contractor followed all the instructions and any error was no fault of their own.
Because if you’re one of those rare few people still left in the world that speaks up and out against people getting their time stolen from them due to broken software or folks who don’t know how to run their operation to retain the best and hardworking talent, they will get rid of you in a heartbeat.
And it’s all run by some strange past-middle age woman named “Leona” from New Mexico. New Mexico is consistently one of the poorest stats in the USA, by the way, and having spent some time there myself, Leona’s work ethic or lack thereof is an accurate reflection of the state in my opinion, especially when it comes to building things that work, and last.
The “Fractionalization,” But in Reality, Marginalization of Labor
It is simply not possible as a partner of Shiftsmart to make a living doing any of their jobs or gigs, but even worse, it’s not possible to continue working with them for very long after you see how Shiftsmart’s vendors operate and how willing Shiftsmart is to deny and eschew responsibility in the event of an error on their part, which happens almost daily.
You’ll never see the face of your supervisor. Not even on a Zoom call. That’s right, strangely enough, Leona doesn’t want to show her face. And you’re supposed to make Zoom calls at the end of your shift to check in before leaving the job site to ensure your work will be accepted and you’ll be paid.
The issue is Zoom calls don’t even happen with any regularity, even if you’re concerned with delivering excellent work and being able to go home for the day, or in my case, drive 50 miles to the next town and hope I could get another shift doing a basic inspection a Walmart’s HVAC.
Shiftsmart’s Walmart facility inspector’s client tells you to check in, and then they ignore you. If you contact Shiftsmart and say the Walmart inspection support person is ignoring you, the Shiftsmart sub-contracted customer service rep at ZenDesk, another third-party app, will belittle you, saying “Leona has thousands of people to respond to every day.”
So in other words, the company that “Leona” represents expects thousands of its partners to check in every day for a work inspection audit, and wait for thousands ahead of them in line for Leona to become available. Clearly, you can see quickly how that is not feasible.
And eventually, Leona completely ignores you and you wait on hold indefinitely until you finally hang up. Then maybe a week later, you get a message saying your payment was denied because, when you were uploading your inspection report, one of your sections has missing images from where the app failed to upload, but it still let you complete your inspection anyway.
Because the “support team” ignored you in the Zoom waiting room for over 30 minutes and no one responded to any of your texts either, you never got cleared. But clearly, after experiencing this treatment for a week, you started to see they’re not going to be keeping up their end of the bargain. They would keep ignoring you and not respond, but still approve most of your inspections eventually.
And it certainly wasn’t. And it hasn’t been for many partners.
For employers, Shiftsmart helps to reduce turnover, improve quality, and increase fulfillment. Employers can also use Shiftsmart to fill shifts quickly and easily, even during peak times.
Shiftsmart is a rapidly growing company that has raised over $120 million in funding from top-tier investors. The company is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and has offices in San Francisco, California and London, England.
In short, Shiftsmart is a company that is revolutionizing the way hourly workers find and work shifts. The company’s platform is used by both workers and employers to create a labor ecosystem they claim is mutually beneficial. In reality, it’s anything but.
Who Knows Anything at All About Shiftsmart CEO Aakash Kumar?
I decided to look up some info on the Shiftsmart CEO. As it turns out, CEO Aakash Kumar is a very difficult person to find information on. After numerous fruitless Google searches that revealed only that Aakash worked for Google in 2015 and he attended the University of Texas. That’s not very much info, so I decided to ask Google’s AI “Bard” for some information.
And, here’s what I got.
As you can see, not even Google’s own artificial intelligence can tell us where Aakash Kumar is from, where he grew up, or much beyond the fact that he started Shiftsmart and he’s part of the Forbes Business Council.
I find that incredibly strange, don’t you?
It seems to be the new model of corporate leadership. Put some shadowy figure without a traceable past that no one has ever heard of at the forefront of an industry you’d like to disrupt and then let them take the slings and arrows of the public, if there are any, while you accomplish your agenda.
In this case, it just so happens they’re turning hourly work upside down at the expense of everyone, and in the process, diminishing the value of labor and those who perform the actual work.
Conclusion: Is Shiftsmart a Good Place to Work?
And as I sit here and type, my left thumb is still numb from 10 days ago when I attempted to lock a Walmart facility gate that was badly rusted. I suppose it goes with the scar on my foot where I cut myself on the roof of a Walmart that bled. Thank God I don’t have tetanus, but I suppose I’ll find out for sure eventually.
I didn’t bother to tell Leona those last two things before she stopped communicating with me. She had not been concerned when I reported getting locked in a freezer due to a faulty door knob in Defuniak Springs, FL Walmart location, and she just wasn’t interested.
And as a conscientious facilities inspector doing my job, I soon learned after asking around that other employees, who wished to remain anonymous, had gotten locked inside the freezer as well. She told me she had to listen to the wall for several minutes to wait until she heard someone walk by so she could get their attention and be heard.
That’s right, your cell phone doesn’t work in the freezer, so you can’t even call the police of fire department. And all in the modern world, and all in a supposedly first-world country known as the United States of America.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who cares that there was a woman who died in a freezer just picking up a shift at an Arby’s in Louisianna just this year in 2023 due to a faulty lock and the company was already aware of.
Because Leona and Shiftsmart sure don’t.
My Complaint Against Shiftsmart from the BBB
“Shiftsmart has ripped me off and denied me $480 in total payments due to:
1) Their vendors not knowing that a Shiftsmart partner would be on site even after I checked in using their procedure to the last detail, so they kicked me out of Walmart during my inspection when I was over halfway done. “Moe” from Shiftsmart inspections team said I’d be compensated. I never was. “Leona” actually tried to act like I’d done something wrong. I can’t control how corporate/district people are going to react to something they’re not even aware of.
2) Their proprietary app “Safety Culture” crashing several times during inspections, causing me to have to do and redo work several times on the same assignment the same day, only to be denied payment in the end because their inspection report app allowed me to mark it complete even though it had not accepted a few of my images. I cannot simply drive 150 miles back to the last store because of a few pictures, but that won’t stop them from stealing your day’s work and travel costs.
3) I complained that their app was bad and they were incompetent. “Leona” ended my access to the inspection checklist website as I was finishing up 80% of an ongoing inspection. Again, I lost my day’s work and no one responded to me from Shiftsmart Walmart inspections, not “Leona” or anyone. However a Shiftsmart ZenDesk sub-contracted customer service rep belittled me, saying that “She has thousands of partners to take care of” as if I was not important or expected too much. I was simply following their procedure to check in on Zoom after an inspection to get the “all clear” so I could leave the site. I went an entire week with them ignoring me and never responding for that confirmation.
I’m a disabled veteran who was also hurt on a few jobs. Since there’s no health insurance or benefit, no one cares. They also don’t care about seriously ripping thousands of people off with their totally unacceptable, lackluster work inspection app that you must use, but don’t expect to get any real support.
As such, Shiftsmart and its Walmart Inspections program are simply exploitation of America’s working poor and working homeless. I keep in contact with some of the others in this program too, and they say the same.”
How to File a Complaint Against Shiftsmart on BBB if You Have Been Wronged
Other Shiftsmart partners who have been dismissed without pay or explanation can also file a complaint at: https://www.bbb.org/us/tx/dallas/profile/job-listing-service/shiftsmart-inc-0875-91067684
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