Full Service Gas Station: How to do it best?

I just started mystery shopping because someone mentioned to me I could make money doing tobacco and alcohol compliance shops. Today I decided to venture out into another world: real mystery shopping that doesn't entail seeing if I get carded or not. (Btw, it's scary how often I don't since I am only 21).

I signed up for two gas station mystery shops that were going for high amounts on the last day of the month. The first one went fine, but the second one was just weird. It's a full service station only, I didn't realize that before I signed up for it so right away I start panicking! I pull out of the parking lot without doing anything and try to formulate my game plan.

I go back, tell the attendant to put $10 in (because $2 would be silly and I'd need the gas anyway). I knew in advance the station would not have a bathroom from the guidelines so I get out of my car to go to the convenience store. The guy shouts at me to stay in my car and that there is no where for me to go. I say I just want to buy a water and he tells me there is nothing there but a service center and there is nothing to buy unless I need a repair.

I get back in my car, he gives me my receipt and I am wonder how the heck I am going to do everything else. I drive away, pull into the store across the street, take my exterior shot of the station then decide wth I am going over there anyway to get that pump picture. I walked across the street, but not directly across, trying to sneak up on it and when I saw the guy go back inside, I made a dash for my pump picture, and snapped a couple other non-compliant pictures, then rushed right out of there. He might of saw me, but he never approached me. In the end, I have everything I need for the report.

But there has to be a better way to do this type of station. What do other people do?

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Oh by the way I did my customer service evaluation on the guy who pumped the gas, and told the MSC that, since there was no store.
This must have been one of those stupid "unrevealed audits" from Alta. Those guys ALL know the deal. At full-service stations, I just tell them after they pump that I have to "do my pictures for XX brand." There's absolutely no point in trying to be covert at a full service station.

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
Don't they give you the certificate of authorization to print out before you go just in case people are wondering what you're up to? I usually give the certificate to an employee before I have to take my photos. It's better to take the awkward sketchy feeling away from the get go. That way you'll be able to take better photos too as you won't be in as much of a rush to get it done.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/31/2015 11:51PM by jay225.
I did print out the letter of authorization and had it with me. But they say it should only be shown as a last resort so I was trying not too! So I take it, that its better just to show it from the start? I'm sure I could do a better audit that way anyway. It was for Stericycle.
That's what I do. I've had gas attendants at full serve stations looking at me crazy before. I don't need anyone thinking i'm up to no good. I don't want even a 1% chance of making myself a suspicious target they could call the police on or any of that nonsense, so I let them know the deal off the bat.
Oops. Sorry, wrong thread.

Serving as liaison between Servimer and the larger mystery shopping community. (Servimer.shopmetrics.com)


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/2016 12:28PM by ScottAMA.
NJ and Oregon both mandate full-service only, so for any gas company which has shops in those states always covers what to do when you encounter full service only. I have also encountered some full service only in PA and DE, and I agree that you can't ask for $2 of gas. I figure $5 if paid with cash or $10 if paid with a card are the minimums that I can reasonably ask for.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
I'm in NJ and do gas stations all the time. I have asked for $2 of gas several times. The attendant might look at me in a strange way, but when I have too much gas in my car and more stations to do, I swallow my pride and ask. I detest when they make me get $10 for using a card. I do gas station audits for several brands and some pay for more gas, which I don't want to leave on the table. Most of the time they figure out what you're doing anyway. They should know the routine since they're done every month. BTW, at full service stations for Stericycle, the pump photo is NOT required, so you went to all that trouble when you didn't really need to. You need to replace the pump photo with another photo of something like the ID sign or building exterior etc. I usually try to get one anyway either from across the street, if feasible, of I lean over to the open passenger side window and take a picture of the top half if that's all I can get. Remember, the full pump photo is not required for full service stations. If there is no store, the shop is easier. You report there is no store and upload an overall photo in the receipt place. Even if the info sheet says there is no restroom, you are still supposed to check it out and take the photos if there is one. At least, that's my understanding.

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The more I learn about people...the more I like my dog..

Mark Twain
Thank you for the information! I actually did take one of the ID sign at this location because it was non-complaint with one of the numbers missing. Next time I end up at one of these stations I know what to do. I would have checked for the bathroom anyway if the guy let me in the store!

Based on what you all say about these guys knowing the deal, I imagine that they did see me and were laughing their heads off inside! lol
I never work for Steri but I'm signed up. Is this one of the gas shops that pays $4??

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
Interesting. I guess I'm not tough skinned enough yet. Even Maritz has told me that they know that it isn't practical to buy less than $5 of gas at a full service location in NJ (one of their clients reimburses for only $2 and a card must be used, rather than $5 or $6 or more). Another issue I have had in NJ is that the only thing that is often sold in the store is oil or windshield washer fluid. Increasingly the service bays seem to rented out and the "office" is the kiosk and the $2 client wants a photo of the sales counter and the sales aisles after the reveal.
@MsJudi wrote:

I'm in NJ and do gas stations all the time. I have asked for $2 of gas several times. The attendant might look at me in a strange way, but when I have too much gas in my car and more stations to do, I swallow my pride and ask. I detest when they make me get $10 for using a card.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
To do these fuel shops, a particular MSC wants a camera able to time/date stamp on the photo.
My Cannon cannot do this, what do shoppers in this case use for pictures?

thanks for any guidance.
@eileen fitzpatrick wrote:

To do these fuel shops, a particular MSC wants a camera able to time/date stamp on the photo.
My Cannon cannot do this, what do shoppers in this case use for pictures?

thanks for any guidance.

I use the free DateStamper app on my phone when working for this MSC.
I've been doing these gas station shops in NJ for 10 years - it does get easier. Unrevealed does not require photo of pump for that MSC as suggested already. Revealed obviously it doesn't matter. I've never had to use the "letter" so that would be unusual. I figure many will know what you are doing. For restroom, if you have no access don't worry about it. Report as such. If it is revealed shop I'll ask if they have a public restroom. If not we are not really supposed to evaluate.
That $10 rule some stations use can be a problem. They are not supposed to, especially by AMEX rules. I do include it on report. When I know I may not get to the 10, I just tell them fill it. It always works.
Oh yes, I've said, "Fill it," and only got about $2.30 worth. Ha ha. Usually I do that on my last one for the day. The ones without a store can be a bit tricky, but I don't buy anything if they only have auto products and report it as such. I've never been questioned by any of the companies, thus far. There is one MSC that wants you to buy something if they only have automobile products and they increase the reimbursement to about $3, I think. I don't do them too often. As for the Maritz yellow shops with the kiosk, I take a photo of the inside counter and the kiosk counter, always. They have come back to me about those being required. You also have to evaluate both the gas attendant and the store cashier with full serve stations. I take two photos, one of each of them. After doing them for many years, I've come to determine that the ones with photos of each pump are the easiest for me and the ones I prefer. The yellows are a PITA to me. The Stericycle ones are also a piece of cake, but I only do them when the fees go up and I can make a route. The Market Force mystery shops are also easy peasy, as long as there is no store, which most here don't have.

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The more I learn about people...the more I like my dog..

Mark Twain
@MsJudi wrote:

Oh yes, I've said, "Fill it," and only got about $2.30 worth. Ha ha. Usually I do that on my last one for the day. The ones without a store can be a bit tricky, but I don't buy anything if they only have auto products and report it as such. I've never been questioned by any of the companies, thus far. There is one MSC that wants you to buy something if they only have automobile products and they increase the reimbursement to about $3, I think. I don't do them too often. As for the Maritz yellow shops with the kiosk, I take a photo of the inside counter and the kiosk counter, always. They have come back to me about those being required. You also have to evaluate both the gas attendant and the store cashier with full serve stations. I take two photos, one of each of them. After doing them for many years, I've come to determine that the ones with photos of each pump are the easiest for me and the ones I prefer. The yellows are a PITA to me. The Stericycle ones are also a piece of cake, but I only do them when the fees go up and I can make a route. The Market Force mystery shops are also easy peasy, as long as there is no store, which most here don't have.

really? this is good to know. so you don't even bother purchasing gas? i'm gonna start doing that for now on then. save a few bucks each shop. almost all the fenway park signs by my house don't have a store.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2016 06:11PM by jay225.
No, I buy gas if it is required, but if there's no store, there is nothing to buy. I don't buy the automotive supplies as a purchase. No store, $0 purchase inside. But, if gas is required, you still need to buy gas and get the receipt. I hope that clears it up.

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The more I learn about people...the more I like my dog..

Mark Twain
Yes, you must buy gas!! Now of course, if there is no store, there can be no purchase. I've never been challenged on that. No store means no store. If the store reimbursement is $1 or $2, then buying oil and such would not be practical or required.
I also recall an MSC stating to buy windshield wash or something, and would reimburse, but I have not se that in awhile.
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