Restaurant Reimbursement does not cover cost

Recently received an email for a nice Italian restaurant from JS There is no Shop Fee, Reimbursement is only $80 for bar and restaurant. Upon checking the menu, appetizers and salads are $7 to $15, main entrees are $21 to $25. It requires 2 guests for dinner with a drink at the bar. How does $80 cover bar drinks, appetizer, 2 main entrees, dessert, wine, tax and tip? It will cost at least $110 to $140, not to mention gas and time. Not worth it. Do they expect shoppers to pay over cost? I heard that schedulers tell shoppers to just look at it as having a nice dinner with a discount, i.e. paying $50 instead of $130.

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I look at it like this.
2 hour dinner. 1 hour report. 30 minutes travel. What's my hourly wage? In this case it might be 80/3.5 = 23$ / hour. That's fair compensation in my mind - as long as I wanted to eat there.

Don't know about other shoppers but I would tKe that one with a smile on my face.

To me, there's no need for full reimbursement as long as I get my hourly rate.

.
Mike T
Looking for shops in Western Canada

"Life is good because the alternative is forever "
The restaruant shops I get, always cost me out of pocket. So, I don't do them unless my husband and I want to eat there, and are alread in town. I don't go out of my way to do them.

I do better as far as money in my pocket at a bonused McDonalds.
Yes, schedulers are hoping that shoppers take the shops. I have heard many shoppers say that they will take those shops and that they look at it as having a nice dinner with a discount, i.e. paying $50 instead of $130. I have heard schedulers repeat that logic, hoping that all shoppers are willing to do it.

Some are and some are not. Because of the law of supply and demand, as long as there are enough shoppers who will perform these shops for the reimbursement offered, that is the reimbursement that will be offered.

That's the great thing about being Independent Contractors - we are not forced to take the shops that we do not believe are profitable for us.
I used to do fine dining shops all the time but I am just as happy to buy a Living Social or Groupon deal at a restaurant we like or want to try. Yes, we pay some money but usually without restrictions or requirements and no reports to write at midnight after two glasses of wine and food coma.
one company doesn't pay a shop fee or cover tip. Add the extra trip to the bar, what sounded like a good deal costs you $40, a 2 month wait for the reimbursement portion, and 3 hours writing a report while your guest is upstairs snoring, content. No thanks.

~~*~~*~~*~~ kal ~~*~~*~~*~~
Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just forget to load the film.
I start by scoring Gift cards for 15-18% off for the franchise owner from an online gift card reseller like:

[www.cardpool.com] (16.5% off) - Can be used at all Darden properties!
[www.cardpool.com] (15% off California Pizza Kitchen)

They don't charge shipping and the cards show up in 3-4 days in the mail. Your tip is now covered.

I then go to the website and ask about happy hour food and drink specials when I make my pre-call. If I am not told about them when I visit, this is good filler for the report. I will order something on special.

My dining companion does not drink. I park in the back of the restaurant and let them read for 15-20 minutes while I go to the bar and order a well drink and soda in a short glass and don't accept the up-charge to a premium spirit or a double.

This gives the bartender plenty of chances to shine as I am a cheapskate and drink the well rum and short soda.

Ok, the bar is out of the way with tip for under $5.

My guest arrives and we are seated. Time to order iced tea's that are refilled for free. You don't have to order the $12 appetizer. You can split that $7 one. Wine IS optional.

One of us will order the special of the day and the other will order something that is not lobster tails. Keep it middle of the menu. Always add a salad to the dinner as its usually only a couple of bucks more. If they are a bit more upscale, order the soup and pay the extra couple bucks to turn it into a bowl. There is one place that you can end up with a bowl of lobster bisque at lunch that is worth the report by itself.

Make certain your entrees are good re-heatable types of food. Something with a sauce over pasta for example.

You can order an ice cream Sunday and tell them to split it and if they do a good job, you will end up with a big scoop in two separate cups/small bowls with whip cream and a cherry on both.

You can manage to pull a bar visit, entree, refillable drinks at the table, appetizer, soup or salad, and desert and tip out at 18% and squeak in around $80 with my method. I went over a whole $3 last shop like this and there was enough food for both of us to eat dinner the next day.
I'm with Linda. The way to avoid shops with no fee and/or low rimbursement is simply not to take them....
These shops are for people that would other wise want to eat at this location....and get a big discount...they are not people that will just eat there because it is a job..

If I liked that restaurant and wanted to eat there...I would take the shop....

and I would be going dutch with my dinner partner and split the out of pocket cost.....so it would only cost me about $25...

basically getting a free drink with dinner, free app, free dessert

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2015 04:28AM by jmitw.
I am with the consensus so far, some of these are just set up to take advantage of certain shoppers that will see a value in them. In your example, the difference is much more than I have yet to experience. My wife and I want to chck out a local restaurant, the total will end up being $100 (tip included). I saw a flat of $84 offered for the location, so figured better to take that than pay the entire bill. I will go with the flow, order what we want and not worry about it. I did see it was possible to maybe spend less, but then we would not order what we know we want to order.

The report does not look to bad, might take an hour since it would be my first time. I've taken flats or even reimbursement only offers for less expensive places, just to try them out.

Most of my mid-level to fine dining shops are for a fee, plus a clear maximum reimbursement that I know would be impossible to even get to. I even try to find lunch shops, the fee might be a little less but they do not require the extra bar visit so IMHO are the best option to go with for me and my spouse.

My posts are solely based on my opinions and for my entertainment, contact a professional if you need real advice.

When you get in debt you become a slave. - Andrew Jackson
Okay, here is the breakdown: ($80)

1 appetizer $7 (you share)
1 salad $7 (you share)

2 dinners @ $21 each = $42

2 drinks @ $7 each = $14

(no wine, you ordered 2 drinks already)

Total = $70.00
Tax 10% = $7.00

Tip= 15% of $77.00 = $12.00 Tip (guess-ti-mate) Please forgive any math errors...these are close guesses....

You are out of pocket: a grand total of $9 bucks as part of your tip.

Think positive smiling smiley and order the lowest priced things. The client won't pay in full to order the "highest price" menu items.
@Canuck wrote:

I never tip on top of the tax. I always tip before the tax.

Okay, true. I have heard it both ways. If my bill comes to $28.50 then I tip on the total bill. Some tip on the pre-tax portion of the bill smiling smiley
@SunnyDays2 wrote:

Total = $70.00
Tax 10% = $7.00

Tip= 15% of $77.00 = $12.00 Tip (guess-ti-mate)

You are not supposed to tip on the tax. You tip on the subtotal BEFORE tax.
@scanman1 wrote:

I start by scoring Gift cards for 15-18% off for the franchise owner from an online gift card reseller like:

[www.cardpool.com] (16.5% off) - Can be used at all Darden properties!
[www.cardpool.com] (15% off California Pizza Kitchen)

They don't charge shipping and the cards show up in 3-4 days in the mail. Your tip is now covered.

I then go to the website and ask about happy hour food and drink specials when I make my pre-call. If I am not told about them when I visit, this is good filler for the report. I will order something on special.

ext day.

You took the words right out of my mouth. I always make it within the amt they reimburse by doing happy hour drink, water for me and alcohol for my husband which they allow you to carry into the dining room so you can have 2 galsses with your dinner if you sip the first one slowly. I have convinced him to order the designer beers which he likes as they fill him up and they are generally cheaper than the wine. But look at the menu and decide. If I ask they generally say I can order soup and that by the cup is a relatively inexpensive appetizer choice. Then he gets a mid range entree and I eat something cheap on the menu. I don't really care that much and do these upscale places as a treat for him. If I am lucky it is a place with gift cards at Costco...$79.99 for $100 worth. I find some of the upscale menus do not tell you about all the desserts but only the pricey special dessert but if you ask they often have a low priced dessert. With a $20 bonus with my gift card that pays for the travel time! and perhaps a glass of wine for me.
Some restaurants require you to arrive at 6:00 PM.... that makes it hard to make it during the happy hour.

@sandyf wrote:

@scanman1 wrote:

I start by scoring Gift cards for 15-18% off for the franchise owner from an online gift card reseller like:

[www.cardpool.com] (16.5% off) - Can be used at all Darden properties!
[www.cardpool.com] (15% off California Pizza Kitchen)

They don't charge shipping and the cards show up in 3-4 days in the mail. Your tip is now covered.

I then go to the website and ask about happy hour food and drink specials when I make my pre-call. If I am not told about them when I visit, this is good filler for the report. I will order something on special.

ext day.

You took the words right out of my mouth. I always make it within the amt they reimburse by doing happy hour drink, water for me and alcohol for my husband which they allow you to carry into the dining room so you can have 2 galsses with your dinner if you sip the first one slowly. I have convinced him to order the designer beers which he likes as they fill him up and they are generally cheaper than the wine. But look at the menu and decide. If I ask they generally say I can order soup and that by the cup is a relatively inexpensive appetizer choice. Then he gets a mid range entree and I eat something cheap on the menu. I don't really care that much and do these upscale places as a treat for him. If I am lucky it is a place with gift cards at Costco...$79.99 for $100 worth. I find some of the upscale menus do not tell you about all the desserts but only the pricey special dessert but if you ask they often have a low priced dessert. With a $20 bonus with my gift card that pays for the travel time! and perhaps a glass of wine for me.
Yes you do need to look at menu prices and happy hour times carefully if you want to do the upscale shops with no out of pocket. Back in the day when I did the Chart House they had double rewards points on Mondays so I always scheduled my shops for Monday. That got me a nice meal on my bday for free each year with the rewards points plus the generous rewards member bday gift. I am hoping that restaurant will resume shopping in my area soon.
There are no hard and fast rules on tipping except that if you're cheap, tip less; if you're generous, tip more.
@SunnyDays2 wrote:

@Canuck wrote:

I never tip on top of the tax. I always tip before the tax.

Okay, true. I have heard it both ways. If my bill comes to $28.50 then I tip on the total bill. Some tip on the pre-tax portion of the bill smiling smiley

I learned to calculate my tip using the pre-tax total when I realized that A Closer Look was reimbursing me short due to calculating it post-tax.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
@SunnyDays2 wrote:

Okay, here is the breakdown: ($80)

1 appetizer $7 (you share)
1 salad $7 (you share)

2 dinners @ $21 each = $42

2 drinks @ $7 each = $14

(no wine, you ordered 2 drinks already)

Total = $70.00
Tax 10% = $7.00

Tip= 15% of $77.00 = $12.00 Tip (guess-ti-mate) Please forgive any math errors...these are close guesses....

You are out of pocket: a grand total of $9 bucks as part of your tip.

Think positive smiling smiley and order the lowest priced things. The client won't pay in full to order the "highest price" menu items.

And no shop fee? Count me out!
@Tarantado wrote:

I learned to calculate my tip using the pre-tax total when I realized that A Closer Look was reimbursing me short due to calculating it post-tax.

I scratched my head for a few minutes as well. If the max tip is 18%, it is not 18% of the bottom line, it is 18% before the tax. I too have adjusted my max tip to be pre-tax. I received such shoddy service from a recent visit that I took the tip down lower than that. If it was not a shop, I would have left even less.
OK, I'd really love to understand something here. This is not directed at the OP because it looks like the OP did homework before accepting and decided not to accept the shop - good for you, BTW.

However, at least one post in this thread has claimed that MSC "takes advantage" of shoppers by allowing a reimbursement that is not enough to fully cover a meal for two.

How is this taking advantage of shoppers? I really don't get this.

If you receive what is essentially a free meal (at least a severely discounted meal) at a nice restaurant in exchange for an hour or two of work, and you accept willingly, how is this taking advantage?

By accepting such work and then complaining about it, it is not the MSC in the wrong, it is the shopper.

No one forces work upon us. No one prevents us from doing homework before a shop to see if we'll walk away with cash in our pocket,. like the OP did.

I willingly accept discounted meals in exchange for some work. I'm happy with that.

.
Mike T
Looking for shops in Western Canada

"Life is good because the alternative is forever "
I do a few of these types of shops with A-Closer-Look every month. It is possible to stay under budget in most cases, but you can only order the cheapest menu items. I often end up going over by 10-20 dollars, but the food is excellent at these upscale restaurants. These are purely for the experience. However, because I am not making any money off of these and the reports are longish, I limit these to 2-3 per month.
I've done several restaurant shops at places I would happily eat at anyway and don't mind going over the reimbursement amount by a few dollars.

The ones that really bother me are the ones at a particular steakhouse where they want you to order two entrees, two drinks, and an appetizer, and they give you a generous $25 reimbursement with no shop fee. Since it's impossible to meet the requirements and stay anywhere near even a third of the reimbursement, they're literally asking you to pay them so you can work for them.

That client may not be "taking advantage" of anyone, but they are clearly, blatantly insulting shoppers because they apparently think we're stupid and/or desperate. If I wanted a Groupon, I would buy one and not have to go home and fill out a survey. It makes me not want to eat at that restaurant anymore, which is too bad because I actually have eaten there and enjoyed it.
@af517 wrote:

The ones that really bother me are the ones at a particular steakhouse where they want you to order two entrees, two drinks, and an appetizer, and they give you a generous $25 reimbursement with no shop fee. Since it's impossible to meet the requirements and stay anywhere near even a third of the reimbursement, they're literally asking you to pay them so you can work for them

This reimbursement amount is comical. The reimbursement-only shops I do at restaurants at least reimburse enough to cover everything if you are careful when ordering. I would never do one with this pathetic of a reimbursement amount.
Wow! I usually tip 20% so I guess they have always gotten a little more from me, since I tip based on the total bill smiling smiley [and I should mention the service, if awful... maybe a tad bit less]

But now I will rethink this, and see how I feel just tipping pre-tax price.

I remember an old boyfriend who said, "How much should I tip?" I asked him how much the bill was? He said, "About $90 bucks." I based the tip on the total bill... I guess the servers loved him smiling smiley
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