Shop Guidelines that Place Shopper at Risk

I'm seeing more and more shops in which the reimbursement amounts are under
$5 when a mandatory purchase is required. This may be ok at a fast food joint, but, If I'm shopping a specialty retailer or a shoe store, it is dumb to have the shopper purchase a bag of candy so as to remain under the reimbursement amount. If I'm doing a shoe store shop and spend $3 on a sock after spending 20 minutes in the store, I am asking to be outed as a mystery shopper. MSC's raise your ridiculous reimbursement amounts when it makes common sense. I recently shopped eddie bauer and the checkout lady even said "wow so your just buying an air freshener?" I won't mention names but another MSC had a $3 reimbursement for a grocery store and "encouraged" the shopper to make a large grocery purchase (not reimbursed) in order to not stand out -- are they stupid?

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As for the grocery store example.... that is easy to do, since most of us need enough groceries on a regular basis to "mask" that required purchase. In that case, I interpret "large" to mean "larger" purchase. Shoe store? Time to hone your "ordinary shopper" portrayal. It is very easy to claim that one pair of shoes was too (wide/narrow, short/long) and the other was the opposite, or not quite the color that you had needed to go with an outfit. BUT that pair of sox is exactly what you keep forgetting to put on your shopping list, so you will take that. Remember, the "part" that you are enacting needs some interpretation, by you, to fit the setting and context. The guidelines aren't going to give you everything you need to excel. That bag of candy from the retail store? Gee, your daughter/son niece/nephew, grandchild will be glad that you remembered to bring a treat when you meet later today!

One year, early in my MS career, I shopped Radio shack at 8-10 different locations. At each I exclaimed how the little flashlight on a key chain would make a great stocking stuffer and that I like to accumulate such things year 'round for friends and family. As I recall, I was net out-of-pocket about 8 cents apiece and really did give them away as parts of Christmas stockings.

So let your imagination work for you, tell the cashier your "story" with verve, and smile as you exit stage right.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/19/2017 02:52PM by walesmaven.
@jlovesnyc wrote:

I'm seeing more and more shops in which the reimbursement amounts are under
$5 when a mandatory purchase is required. This may be ok at a fast food joint, but, If I'm shopping a specialty retailer or a shoe store, it is dumb to have the shopper purchase a bag of candy so as to remain under the reimbursement amount. If I'm doing a shoe store shop and spend $3 on a sock after spending 20 minutes in the store, I am asking to be outed as a mystery shopper. MSC's raise your ridiculous reimbursement amounts when it makes common sense. I recently shopped eddie bauer and the checkout lady even said "wow so your just buying an air freshener?" I won't mention names but another MSC had a $3 reimbursement for a grocery store and "encouraged" the shopper to make a large grocery purchase (not reimbursed) in order to not stand out -- are they stupid?

Not stupid at all. The companies are putting shops out there that they want done. If a shopper believes the shop is stupid, then the shopper would be stupid to take the shop and perform it. There are shoppers who believe these are reasonable shops, because these shops have been around for a long time and somehow they are consistently taken and reported. Some are bonused, but the majority are performed for the posted amount. The Eddie Bauer shop, for example, has been around since at least 2010. The reimbursement has been the same since then. Supply and demand. If there are shoppers willing to take the shops as they are posted, why would the MSC and the client consider increasing the pay or the reimbursement amount?

Now, one might argue that by increasing the pay and the reimbursement amount, the MSC could attract a higher quality shopper. But that really does not seem to be what most MSCs want. The application to mystery shop (for most companies) is short, must shorter than a job application, and no resume is required. There is no interview or determination if an applicant is suitable to mystery shopping or business in general. There is no checking of references or verification of education. The companies take anybody who applies. When you don't care who does the work and you have no quality standards for education/experience, why would you pay more?
I get your position that its up to the shopper to "play the part" but, if your asking a shopper to enact a financial transaction that goes against what most people would do with their time and money, your asking to stand out and not blend in - as a mystery shopper, you don't want to stand out.
Your title made this sound like a serious shop with danger, not a "churner" which is what these shops are. Knock them out quick for little cash. Anyone with a pulse can do these. That's why the fee remains unchanged for a decade.
@SoCalMama You're right! I opened the thread thinking someone was being asked to do something physically dangerous (well, maybe a Taco Bell shop? lol). Has everybody heard that story where a shopper lets the manager know the server didn't ask for ID (alcohol), he fired the server on the spot, and she went out and vandalised the shopper's car? Now that deserves a bonus!
Does it matter though? I don't flinch when I ask the gas station attendant for a receipt for my $0.20 Tootsie Roll to maximize my profits smiling smiley

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. Badged for Denver International Airport. Can travel within ~100 miles of these areas and can create long weekend routes! Also willing to travel and can make reasonable arrangements!
While I would love the higher reimbursement, as long as shoppers pick these up with the small amounts already in place, there may not be any reason for the MSC or company to want to offer more money. The struggle is real!

Doing what I can to enhance the life of my family! I LOVE what I do smiling smiley
I stopped doing the shoe stores because even a pair of socks is not within the reimbursement and often took 20 minutes to find. In a larger store it really isn't that difficult. Instead of having my interaction then looking around for something costing $2 or $4, I pick out my purchase first. That small purchase often serves as my "out" after the interaction. "Oh yes, this computer would be perfect. I just stopped in for batteries so let me think about it and get back to you."

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
@ShopWhisperer wrote:

she went out and vandalised the shopper's car? Now that deserves a bonus!
No, that requires having my car repaired.

A Dad shopping the Ark-LA-Tex and beyond.
@walesmaven wrote:

As for the grocery store example.... that is easy to do, since most of us need enough groceries on a regular basis to "mask" that required purchase. In that case, I interpret "large" to mean "larger" purchase. Shoe store? Time to hone your "ordinary shopper" portrayal. It is very easy to claim that one pair of shoes was too (wide/narrow, short/long) and the other was the opposite, or not quite the color that you had needed to go with an outfit. BUT that pair of sox is exactly what you keep forgetting to put on your shopping list, so you will take that. Remember, the "part" that you are enacting needs some interpretation, by you, to fit the setting and context. The guidelines aren't going to give you everything you need to excel. That bag of candy from the retail store? Gee, your daughter/son niece/nephew, grandchild will be glad that you remembered to bring a treat when you meet later today!

One year, early in my MS career, I shopped Radio shack at 8-10 different locations. At each I exclaimed how the little flashlight on a key chain would make a great stocking stuffer and that I like to accumulate such things year 'round for friends and family. As I recall, I was net out-of-pocket about 8 cents apiece and really did give them away as parts of Christmas stockings.

So let your imagination work for you, tell the cashier your "story" with verve, and smile as you exit stage right.

That little flashlight was a great stocking stuffer. All of my teen/college age nieces and nephews got those that year.

Liz
I agree with the sentiment and the shopper should have taken civil action against the perpetrator. I recall the story, but it has been too long to remember the outcome.

This was in response to ShopperDad. TravelLiz snuck in a post betweentongue sticking out smiley

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2017 03:09AM by LisaSTL.
jlove, you can comment that the clothing did not worked out at Eddie Bauer but liked their socks. You can always make some related comments about the reimbursement purchase. The $10 flashlight? This will come in handy to keep in my car for emergencies.
For me "at risk" is when an irate gas station manager threatened to blast me with his shotgun because the gas pump card reader didn't work.

Her Serene Majesty, Cettie - Goat Queen of Zoltar, Sublime Empress of Her Caprine Domain
@Tarantado wrote:

Does it matter though? I don't flinch when I ask the gas station attendant for a receipt for my $0.20 Tootsie Roll to maximize my profits smiling smiley

so do you still put $6.00 on your invoice even though you only spent .20? i'm not knocking you if that's what you didm i just don't see how you're maximizing your profits otherwise.
During shops, I have purchased things which are useful only in unexpected contexts. Just now, two containers of 'whatever' are taped together and serving 'behind the scenes' as props for displayed items. The whatevers were fully reimbursed. I did not have to spend time and money for traditional decorative props. All is well.

“Free time is a terrible thing to waste. Read a book.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri
(and, shop-et-al scurries away to select the next book... smiling smiley)
Depends on the requirements. If it is a flat reimbursement, yes. If it is an up to, you enter in $0.20.
Most retail employees have so many customers coming in and out I doubt they would even remember that you asked for a receipt for a $0.20 purchase.

Red Lobster and Olive Garden are NOT fine dining!
@jlovesnyc wrote:

I'm seeing more and more shops in which the reimbursement amounts are under
$5 when a mandatory purchase is required. This may be ok at a fast food joint, but, If I'm shopping a specialty retailer or a shoe store, it is dumb to have the shopper purchase a bag of candy so as to remain under the reimbursement amount. If I'm doing a shoe store shop and spend $3 on a sock after spending 20 minutes in the store, I am asking to be outed as a mystery shopper. MSC's raise your ridiculous reimbursement amounts when it makes common sense. I recently shopped eddie bauer and the checkout lady even said "wow so your just buying an air freshener?" I won't mention names but another MSC had a $3 reimbursement for a grocery store and "encouraged" the shopper to make a large grocery purchase (not reimbursed) in order to not stand out -- are they stupid?

This is a question for everyone.

I've read about (not sure if urban legend, forum jokes, or real) Five Guys break rooms with mystery shoppers' faces posted like criminals on police board. smiling smiley I heard someone talk about computer screens with our customer account data having stars next to our names saying mystery shopper.

If you encounter this stuff, do you report it to the mystery shopping company and put it in your shop report? Doing so would obviously potentially have you barred from shopping there.

But, at the same time, if a store's staff already knows who you are, then that defeats the purpose of a lot of mystery shopping. We're there to find flaws and strengths and report on them so that the manager/client can improve their business. If we're being treated superficially, because they know we're shoppers then this defeats the purpose. Shouldn't the client know?

And what's up with store managers who allow this? Seriously, how is that a good idea? Do they get bonus points from corporate if their stores rate high on reports? Is it worth it, though? Because if you do it just for bonus points or a good corporate reputation, but you interfere with the mystery shopping process that would normally improve your business, then you could be losing out big time overall. You could have poor performing workers that you don't hear about and who hurt your business. That's the main thing I don't understand.

If a break room with our faces really existed, then presumably the manager has to know about this. He'd be the one to show them footage of our faces right? Or, even if the the pics were taken by suspicious staff themselves, the manager would have to approve of this "break room line-up" right? If he/she knowingly lets it happen, then the manager seems guilty here of sabotaging shoppers if the staff know who we are and don't out/report us.

I guess if the use those pics to out/report us, then that's one thing. But if they're using those pics to sort of "game" us for good reports, then that's bad for the company.

Hypothetically, if this situation occurred, what should the proper shopper response be? Tell the mystery shopping company - even at the risk of not being allowed to shop them anymore? Keep quite?

In case anyone was wondering again, no, I'm not writing a book. smiling smiley
It really doesn't matter much if they do know I"m the shopper when I go in there. By the time I get to the counter I've already noticed if the entrance was clean, the sidewalk outside, the trash can outside and if the dining room is clean. When I get to the counter I'll look at the cooking area while I'm placing my order, and while I"m standing around waiting for my order I"m going to notice just about everything else there is to notice. I don't know how anyone would game that. About the only thing they could do is send the manager out to be friendly with me but that is a very small part of the report.
I would not tell the MSC, not because I might not be able to shop them again, but because it's mostly not an issue, for the reasons I stated above.


@shoptastic wrote:

@jlovesnyc wrote:

I'm seeing more and more shops in which the reimbursement amounts are under
$5 when a mandatory purchase is required. This may be ok at a fast food joint, but, If I'm shopping a specialty retailer or a shoe store, it is dumb to have the shopper purchase a bag of candy so as to remain under the reimbursement amount. If I'm doing a shoe store shop and spend $3 on a sock after spending 20 minutes in the store, I am asking to be outed as a mystery shopper. MSC's raise your ridiculous reimbursement amounts when it makes common sense. I recently shopped eddie bauer and the checkout lady even said "wow so your just buying an air freshener?" I won't mention names but another MSC had a $3 reimbursement for a grocery store and "encouraged" the shopper to make a large grocery purchase (not reimbursed) in order to not stand out -- are they stupid?

This is a question for everyone.

I've read about (not sure if urban legend, forum jokes, or real) Five Guys break rooms with mystery shoppers' faces posted like criminals on police board. smiling smiley I heard someone talk about computer screens with our customer account data having stars next to our names saying mystery shopper.

If you encounter this stuff, do you report it to the mystery shopping company and put it in your shop report? Doing so would obviously potentially have you barred from shopping there.

But, at the same time, if a store's staff already knows who you are, then that defeats the purpose of a lot of mystery shopping. We're there to find flaws and strengths and report on them so that the manager/client can improve their business. If we're being treated superficially, because they know we're shoppers then this defeats the purpose. Shouldn't the client know?

And what's up with store managers who allow this? Seriously, how is that a good idea? Do they get bonus points from corporate if their stores rate high on reports? Is it worth it, though? Because if you do it just for bonus points or a good corporate reputation, but you interfere with the mystery shopping process that would normally improve your business, then you could be losing out big time overall. You could have poor performing workers that you don't hear about and who hurt your business. That's the main thing I don't understand.

If a break room with our faces really existed, then presumably the manager has to know about this. He'd be the one to show them footage of our faces right? Or, even if the the pics were taken by suspicious staff themselves, the manager would have to approve of this "break room line-up" right? If he/she knowingly lets it happen, then the manager seems guilty here of sabotaging shoppers if the staff know who we are and don't out/report us.

I guess if the use those pics to out/report us, then that's one thing. But if they're using those pics to sort of "game" us for good reports, then that's bad for the company.

Hypothetically, if this situation occurred, what should the proper shopper response be? Tell the mystery shopping company - even at the risk of not being allowed to shop them anymore? Keep quite?

In case anyone was wondering again, no, I'm not writing a book. smiling smiley
I stay away from those shops because they are usually not worth the effort for me.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2017 10:18PM by reginahare.
I just had to do some merchadiing work and when I went in and told to the manger , he sut out at me to get the hell out of hbis story and never come back. So I did what I was asked to do. I had done nothing up to that point about the signs in his station.
I was nearly robbed on a mystery shop. iPhones are hot here in CA and while attempting to photograph the outside of the store, a very high individual ran at me to try and grab my phone. I ran to my car and locked myself inside. The MSC said I needed the picture now or they would invalidate my shop. I had put in the comments why I had no pictures and they said too bad that is the shop requirement. I contacted the police to report it, but the MSC said I should have gone back at a later time. Forget it, don't pay me. My safety comes 1st.
I normally purchase from my favourite retailer even if the reimbursement is only $5, if I like an item. Many times I did like them and it cost much. However, I did not find anything I really wanted. The stuff I tried on could easily cost me more than a hundred. Then, suddenly it started raining. It was really pouring. I chose something small for travel. I did not realize it was 30% off. I ended up purchasing less than the reimbursement amount and I told the cashier I would be back when the rain has stopped. I did not like my purchase to get wet as I was taking the bus.
This MSC has certainly shown that they really really care about the safety and well being of there shoppers. LOL.
Can't you purchase something more expensive and return it? I have a shop coming up that I really didn't want to do because it's an hour away from my location but the scheduler gave a large bonus and wouldn't stop texting me. I'm sure I'll be able to find something for the meager reimbursement amount but if I purchased something more expensive, could I return it? I'm new at this so I'm not sure of all the rules.
Putting shoppers at risk pertaining to 'I KNOW YOUR A SHOPPER'...here's one; today i'm doing a shop and the instructions are to give my correct phone, however, for my email, it is to say.....elephantshoes1212@gmail
SCRATCHING HEAD AND WONDERING ....WHAT!!!!

When you know better you do better....

Oprah
@edawn wrote:

Can't you purchase something more expensive and return it? I have a shop coming up that I really didn't want to do because it's an hour away from my location but the scheduler gave a large bonus and wouldn't stop texting me. I'm sure I'll be able to find something for the meager reimbursement amount but if I purchased something more expensive, could I return it? I'm new at this so I'm not sure of all the rules.

If it is that far away, why would you purchase something that needs to be returned later? Check the guidelines. Most will have the answer for you.
Well not if it's far away. I didn't mean for my shop. But I could have returned it to a local store since one is available.

Edited because I changed my mind.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/26/2017 11:40AM by edawn.
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