maritz gas station shops... are they that bad?

I've seen a few threads on here that caused to me to steer clear of these shops, but are they really that bad? Due to lack of available shops around me lately(and loss of arches), I may need to start regularly doing these. I don't see how it would be possible to spend an hour at a gas station taking photos like i've read others have... i've done them for other msc's and i'm at the location 10 minutes. Are the different fuel station brands all the same level of difficulty? Can I get away with asking for $50 a shop?

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I will not shop gas stations anymore for these reasons:
low pay
hazardous
too many photo requirements
and did I mention the low pay for all this ? no thanks
I love these. They are my bread and butter. Once you know the requirements, you can easily get in and out. I do not think they will give you $50 a shop unless it is near the deadline and they are offering a bonus.
In my opinion $50 per shop is ridiculous. These gas shops are absolutely no biggie and I'm in and out in a half hour or less. Another 15 minutes for the report and I'm done. I've been doing these for almost 20 years now and they are not what some people try to make them out to be.

Her Serene Majesty, Cettie - Goat Queen of Zoltar, Sublime Empress of Her Caprine Domain
It really depends on the brand of gas since the shops vary significantly in what is required. I enjoy doing the Green and White shops, but not for the starting rate. Depending upon location, I will do them as a route for a 60% or higher bonus. The Red, White, and Blue stations require a photo of every pump, but I do them (again depends on location) for a 100% bonus. I am less inclined to do the Yellow Seashore Shops, but once in awhile I will even do one of them. Once in awhile they will have ones at a different regional brand which has a rainbow on the canopy and they are pretty reasonable to do. Location is always an issue, not only in terms of distance, but safety. i only go where I feel it is safe to go, regardless of the bonus. There are areas where people just don't like anyone with a camera - so I use Google Street views for unfamiliar areas.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
For me their gas station mystery shops are well worth it as is the easiest brand of audit they have (the bluish green ones). The other audits to me are not worth it when factoring in the much longer onsite time, the long reporting time, photo size requirements, and difficulty in dealing with the company. I can make more money per hour elsewhere with less stress and still do all the work I can do.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
it is mostly all yellow seashore near me, and a few orange and white signs. not sure what the bluish green one is. i have done a few of their night time non reveal audits(green sign, maybe that's the one you mean?) which is just taking a few photos. needless to say, those were awesome.
I do lots of the seashore ones. Once you get used to them you can do a lot of them fast, just like the others. I think $50 is unreasonable for locations close to you. It is the hardest (IMO) of the Maritz gas shops but still not difficult. I route these and do 6-8 in a day when it's convenient, also I use them for filler on other days. I almost spend 30-35 minutes on site and about 15-20 reporting them. Would I like them to pay a little more? Sure. Sometimes I let them sit on the board until they add a little incentive but depending on where you are you might not have that option.
The seashore ones as well as the flying horse ones are not difficult. Even the ones where you take some unrevealed photos from across the street are no biggie.

Her Serene Majesty, Cettie - Goat Queen of Zoltar, Sublime Empress of Her Caprine Domain
I'm with those who like gas station inspections. I can make around $90 per day unbonused and more than double that when bonused. Getting a bonus is much more involved than simply asking for XX amount because that is what you would like to earn. It is a matter of timing and having two winners as opposed to a winner and a loser. There are a ton of stations within my 30 mile radius and I can leave home at 9 or 10, do 4 or 5 inspections, throw in a bank or two and be back by 2 or 3 having earned $90 or $100. As others have said, it is a matter of repetition and routine and you can get the timing down to 20 or 30 minutes plus the time it takes to do the report. I personally prefer revealed audits to strictly mystery shops and do not shop for food only so gas station inspections are one of my favorites. I keep promising myself to expand my horizons and find other categories that I might like equally well and that is in my plans.

My suggestion is to take 2 or 3 stations, and if you absolutely dislike it move in another direction. If it is the type of shop you might like take 12 or 15 and see how that works out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
In my market, the brands available include the Yellow seashore, the dinosaur, and one that I really don't know how to describe as it is a bit of a more obscure brand. (Red and white logo). There is one other brand out here, but it is generally only assigned as routes, and I have never done one. I can generally get each of them done in 30 minutes, and it takes me about 15-20 minutes to report and format/upload the photos. For me, I require a bonus of at least $20 if they are close to home, and more if it is a drive. I have done several of these shops in the last quarter for bonuses in the $50-$100 each range. I was offered a $350 bonus to do an orphaned location 200 miles away, but ultimately I just didn't feel like driving that far. If you need the money, I would not hesitate to do a few and see how you like them. Make sure to take all calls from Maritz towards the end of the deadline in order to be offered a bonus. Make your demand higher than what you will really take so you can appear to "meet them in the middle" while still getting your target bonus amount.
I see this thread has chosen the loosest possible interpretation of the posting guidelines regarding clients and MSCs. Hahaha.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
@Spotnnotfarm wrote:

I love these. They are my bread and butter. Once you know the requirements, you can easily get in and out. I do not think they will give you $50 a shop unless it is near the deadline and they are offering a bonus.

I will second this post. Once you know the requirements, they are easy and go smoothly. (Talking about the "red white and blue" primarily, although I have done blue/green, and orange/white as well)/ The patriotic colors require the most pics, but really, it is easy. If you can be patient enough, you will start to see the incentives climb. You won't go rich doing this, but what you do make will sneak up on you pleasantly. Probably best for the part time mystery shopper just looking to get the extra money then the full time shopper who look for higher fees.

They are completely safe, when you are wearing the bright orange reflective vest the is recommended though not required (for red white and blues), you can suddenly find yourself able to "direct traffic".

The toughest thing for me, as a guy, when female clerks hesitate for their neck down photo. Though I can usually work around that resistance.
It all depends on what brand and what Team you have to deal with at Maritz. They are simple shops to complete but the Maritz system has issues. It takes time to enter data and more time to upload pictures. There system checks to see if everything is completed before submission but somehow the pictures seem to be missing at least one. I check before submitting and use their checking process but still miss one. Is it worth spending an hour and half on one shop for $11 when I can do a shop that takes less than an hour and get paid $25 to $75. Easy math to figure out. They will continue low fees as long as people accept them.
so i did a few of the orange blue and white signs today for pretty nice incentive, wasn't bad at all. only thing different really between that and gas audits i've done for other companies is that you need to take more photos inside. maybe the orange blue and white signs are a lot easier compare to seashore?
I did one for a different and famous MSC for $6.00 and $5.00 reimbursement when I was new. Like an hour of photos, live and learn lol.
I am avoiding these because of the reveal requirement. One of the clients is with a different MSC that pays better. Of course with even their pic requirements any moron working there should figure out what I am doing. I also think I failed one of their pre screens anyway, it asked questions not on the guidelines.

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
Listen, everyone has their price. We complain because OMG! $11 for 1+ hour???????
How about NOT taking them at their listed fee and wait for them to go up? They WILL go up if people stop taking them at $11! And if you lose out because some fool took it at their below-minimum-wage price as "filler" or for any other reason then you're better off not having done it. I just don't understand how people can complain.

<steps off soapbox>

______________________________________________________________________
Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2016 01:33AM by Hoju.
Did you read the responses before typing this? The majority of the thread is positive. And $11 is above minimum wage btw.

@Hoju wrote:

Listen, everyone has their price. We complain because OMG! $11 for 1+ hour???????
How about NOT taking them at their listed fee and wait for them to go up? They WILL go up if people stop taking them at $11! And if you lose out because some fool took it at their below-minimum-wage price as "filler" or for any other reason then you're better off not having done it. I just don't understand how people can complain.

<steps off soapbox>

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
Perhaps you are a minimum wage worker. I am not.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
In my area the $11.00 shop also pays for $5.00 in gas and $1.00 inside purchase, so it's not $11.00. I would have to otherwise pay for my own gas so that shop is worth $16.00 to me disregarding the inside purchase which I give away. I can shoot that station in 20 to 30 minutes depending on pumps and traffic. They have another one here that pays $10 plus inside purchase. The $10 shop is super simple, in and out in about 10 to 12 minutes on that one.

I understand these don't work for many of you but if you're spending 1 1/2 hours on these shops you're not doing it right.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
@Hoju wrote:

Listen, everyone has their price. We complain because OMG! $11 for 1+ hour???????
How about NOT taking them at their listed fee and wait for them to go up? They WILL go up if people stop taking them at $11! And if you lose out because some fool took it at their below-minimum-wage price as "filler" or for any other reason then you're better off not having done it. I just don't understand how people can complain.

No offense but now you know how I feel about those who take a restaurant shop for reimbursement only. At least I end up with $11 after taking this shop. (which is 20-30 minutes shop, 15 minutes report). I'd love to do a restaurant shop and get a fee for it but people take it at reimbursement only.

Such a double standard on this forum sometimes.
IMHO, there is no double standard here. Most members are very neutral, lurking, post minimally. Those with set opinions stick to their guns, though a good number with an opinion actually are open to and respect differences.

By the way, the majority of restaurant shops pay fees. Several decent ones have recently gone to flat fees with plenty room for profit. Those thay take reimbursement only shops, if one chooses to understand there reasoning, are not hurting anybody. It is what it is.

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
I don't agree there is a double standard, at least not the way I understand a double standard. In my youth when men slept around and women supposedly didn't (and I don't know exactly how that worked) the maxim was "What's good for the gander is good for the goose". I thought that meant we should expect equal standards for behavior as the only fair way to go.

What shops any of us accept has nothing to do with standards of ethics. This is business. If a shop is offered at X dollars and a shopper wants to accept it there is no immoral or unacceptable behavior involved. Shoppers who speak out against accepting shops at lower fees are entitled to their own opinions and standards but to my way of thinking they are not entitled to disparage someone else who is willing to shop for X dollars.

And let's take a look at the motive for suggesting others do not accept shops at X dollars. They want the shop to go up. Why? Not so the shopper who accepts at X will make more dollars, but so they themselves can make more dollars when the shop fee increases. Whoa! Talk about a double standard, somehow I think that is one.

I appreciate everyone's input. That said, it's a fact that I accept what works for me and I believe everyone else does the same. It does not bother me at all if any or all of you pass up the shops at X dollars and I am unconcerned that you accept the XX and XXX shops only. I think it's great you're in a position to do so. I'm not in a position to do that.

There may not be enough money to pay me to sit through a fine dining experience including mediocre food and indifferent service to then stay up late providing a soul sucking narrative. I am not interested in purchasing a time share and will not spend the time I have left tolerating the drivel that would be thrown at me if I accepted such an assignment. I do not like deep water and would not take on a totally free cruise along with a substantial fee with no commitments involved. I no longer fly. I never minded the flying itself but the on the ground airport experience has become, in my opinon, a debacle and that includes getting into and out of the airport and into and through the line. Would I care for an overnight in a five star hotel complete with an overwhelming report? Don't think so. Obviously I am severely limited in shop choice due to my personal preferences. All of you should feel sorry for me as I obviously don't know how to do this.

But, I don't criticize anyone who wants to do the shops I don't want. I'm somewhat puzzled when other shoppers criticize my selection of shops which is primarily based on what's abundantly available, simple to execute, and located both locally and as far out as I care to go. So many of us want these same shops that the base pay will remain the same with far flung locations sometimes listed with a bonus. Why is this a mystery?

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2016 02:29AM by MDavisnowell.
@MDavisnowell

Very well said.

Based on a number of posts I have read, the typical route shopper is stacking up multiple $10 range evaluations, primarily gas and bank clients. The $2 gas reimbursements and $1 snacks help a little.

The big money is in video shopping. Though many of those clients also have audio only accommodations, the video pays better. Car shops appear to offer decent money; it does appear between the limits on how often a client can be shopped plus availability the money here is still limited annually.

I'm not interested in either video or car shopping.

Another observation. Most shoppers like restaurant shops, that is why they want them to pay more. Supply does not meet demand, in most cases.

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


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2016 08:26PM by isaiah58.
@MDavisnowell wrote:

And let's take a look at the motive for suggesting others do not accept shops at X dollars. They want the shop to go up. Why? Not so the shopper who accepts at X will make more dollars, but so they themselves can make more dollars when the shop fee increases. Whoa! Talk about a double standard, somehow I think that is one.

I appreciate everyone's input. That said, it's a fact that I accept what works for me and I believe everyone else does the same. It does not bother me at all if any or all of you pass up the shops at X dollars and I am unconcerned that you accept the XX and XXX shops only. I think it's great you're in a position to do. I'm not in a position to do that.
...
But, I don't criticize anyone who wants to do the shops I don't want. I'm somewhat puzzled when other shoppers criticize my selection of shops which is primarily based on what's abundantly available, simple to execute, and located both locally and as far out as I care to go. So many of us want these same shops that the base pay will remain the same with far flung location sometimes listed with a bonus. Why is this a mystery?

I'm not attempting to speak for others, but I think part of it is the fact that we are independent contractors - our own self-employed business. Businesses have costs. As such, we should all price ourselves as the businesses that we are.

Consider just some of the overhead of a business:
Business use of your home (assuming just a 5ftx8ft closet): $300 depreciation per year
Some health insurance deduction: hundreds of dollars, potentially thousands per year
Various other insurance (liability, vehicle policy, etc.): easily hundreds of dollars per year
Computer/phone/internet: several hundred per year minimum

Just those above categories comes to well over $1,000/year. Likely several thousand dollars. That's what a business incurs as just the bare minimum for overhead.

So even if you do 1 shop every-other day, or 180 shops per year, that means your overhead is easily $10 per shop that you have to earn just to pay the bare minimum overhead expenses. And likely it's much, much higher. Do fewer than that, and your overhead per shop is higher. Which is why MSC's get paid substantially more than that per shop - because they have bona fide business expenses - just like all of us MSers have bona fide business expenses.

And that doesn't even begin to address your transportation costs to get to a place. Oh, and much less actually getting paid for your time!

Speaking of wages - when you do short-term duration work, you should always get paid more on an hourly basis. Having a steady, 40 hr/week job is more dependable for a set wage of $x/hr. If you are only working 2 hours for someone doing something, you should be getting paid much more than the same $x/hr that you would if you worked full time. Don't believe me? Go ask what a heating company will charge you on an hourly basis for a 2 hour service call. Then go ask them what they would charge per hour if they installed all of the ductwork on your new house you're building.

MSCs want to have mystery shoppers treated as independent contractors, but most independent contractors don't act like ICs when it comes to pricing their time.

Yes, I get the argument of the widow/widower is lonely and just wants company, and will be at the mall anyway, and will do a shop in exchange for a free fast food sandwich...but your motivations don't matter in business. Is someone who is wealthy going to suddenly sell their services for nothing since they "don't need the money"? No. And is that same lonely widow/widower who will go to the mall and do a shop for no fee going, to go to McDonald's and work for free 40 hours a week flipping burgers? There is no difference. Yet, if you suggested that the widow/widower or someone else (who could be essentially paying the MSC to do the mystery shop assignment when you factor in all costs of mileage/time/etc.) go flip burgers at the golden arches for free, you would be laughed at. Yet it's the exact same thing money-wise..

You set a market price based (largely) on what the market is willing to bear. But when the market is distorted by people who don't fully stop and consider what their time and services are truly worth (partly because they don't understand the aspect of running a business and all relevant costs and what their services would be worth as a true business), it cheapens the value of the services provided.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2016 08:32PM by STL_shopper.
All this high minded debate is mystifying. They are gas stations. Some of us like them and know how to make them work for us and some don't.
I enjoy them for the most part. I go for a pretty drive and meet a bunch of people. I'm in and out quickly and don't have to write soul sucking narratives. I'll take them all day long, thank you very much.
I guess I have trouble with anyone telling another independent business owner how they should be running their business. If regular employer-employee relationship jobs were held to the same standard, then no one would ever be able to take a minimum wage job. Because, if a job was expected to allow a person to pay all of their expenses, get full medical and dental benefits and paid sick time and time off, then Walmart, McDonalds, not to mention neighborhood mom and pop cafes and hardware stores would all go out of business. Places like those rely on workers who want some discretionary income whether because they're students, retirees, or just people getting back into the workforce.
We can gripe all we want about the system and talk about how it should be changed (and I won't necessarily disagree with you), but I don't think Mystery Shopping is the place to start if you're looking to overhaul the way workers are treated in our society. And I'm positive that posting about it on a message board isn't the way to change anything even if you did want to start with Mystery Shopping. Ultimately what I'm saying is that not everyone is in the same position and if you don't want to take $10 shops, feel free to skip them. You can even tell us why we shouldn't take them on this board. But be aware that everyone is going to make their own decision, especially since we don't all have the same needs, preferences, and level of time commitment.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
I don't consider it telling someone what to do because at the end of the day they will make their own decisions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with educating others on the realities of running a business. I'm thankful for a lot of people who did just that when I was starting out. For hobby or lifestyle shoppers it will never make a big difference. Shoppers trying to make it a legitimate business or considering giving up a full time job should know what it entails.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
Let me take another shot at this. Those of us who shop the gas stations choose to shop the gas stations because we prefer those shops. It has nothing to do with not understanding the cost of doing business.

I have a background that equips me to understand the total cost of doing business including the tax advantages and to make an accurate comparison to the value of an hourly wage job. I fail to understand the continually stated argument that we shoppers who do the cheap shops don't know what we're doing. I know exactly what I'm doing. If you don't understand what I'm doing then you don't understand how to do what I do.

Although all advice is appreciated and considered, shoppers who don't do the cheap shops I do are mistaken if they believe my choices are based on ignorance. I am independent, I prefer to work alone, and I need flexible work that involves some variation rather than the rote repetition of the same thing with the same people all day long. I have found exactly what I need and I know how to make it work for me. I wish all of you the same good luck.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
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