Some shops are just not worth doing

I always download a copy of the report questions. Then I can see in advance the number of questions, how many are open ended that require narratives. Doing that has saved me a lot of grief!

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@spicy1 wrote:

What great advice.

Yes, it is. Thank you for recognizing that. Because no one is being forced to shop. No one is being forced to work with certain MSC's. No one is being forced to accept shops they aren't comfortable doing. No one is being forced to accept shops that pay less than what they want.
I understand your problem, I have had some bad shops also. Recently I did a Fitness center for Sights on Service. The payment check was returned by the bank and I was charged a returned item fee. The shopping company has not answered my request for payment as of this time.
I totally agree and know the shops and company you're referring to. Good pizza, but not worth the details! I'm burnt out on them, even when decent bonuses are offered...

Snoopy
I check things out the best I can before accepting. Some shops that may only pay 10 dollars are ok for me if they dont have a lot of pictures to take or essays. I am signed up with a company that starts out paying 5 dollars and if nobody accepts they raise fee gradually. Many companies do this and I have waited. Sometimes however if I wait too long someone else takes it. I am still working and am doing mystery shopping for extra money. Have really enjoyed it
Me too. I'm working part-time again, after solely shopping for three years. I still receive several shop offers daily via email/texts/telephone and am super particular now about which shops I take. It's a luxury that I'm happy with.

Snoopy
Low ball shops only in my town since we have free parking everywhere...going into the city, parking isn't worth it, meter's end up costing and not worth the time.

Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken.....
Hehe...I think I know that pizza mystery shop. I’ve done several same pizza shops with them and everytime I submit reports the annoying editors would always nit pick on small details. The last one asked me to re time everything from the start and asked me how the hell I managed to time the shop. Good for me I keep covert recordings of these pizza shops bec theres no way you can use a timer then interact with the one making ur pizza. I told her my shop is 99.9% accurate and asked if she wanted proof I can send it to her. She still asked me to re time but did not make a comment after.
@mathemend2 wrote:

Hehe...I think I know that pizza mystery shop. I’ve done several same pizza shops with them and everytime I submit reports the annoying editors would always nit pick on small details. The last one asked me to re time everything from the start and asked me how the hell I managed to time the shop. Good for me I keep covert recordings of these pizza shops bec theres no way you can use a timer then interact with the one making ur pizza. I told her my shop is 99.9% accurate and asked if she wanted proof I can send it to her. She still asked me to re time but did not make a comment after.


I did several pizza shops for them and every time they asked me to do the timing again. This time I just got fed up with them and told them I wouldn't do another shop for them. I deactivated my account.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2018 10:06PM by johnb974.
Thanks for this, and I realize many here consider us competitors, but would you be willing to say how you got to this point? I have signed up with more than a few companies (and add ones I see mentioned here or on Facebook), and I have focused on doing great work, at no small expense to me.

I've spent many hours doing ridiculously lengthy and repetitive reports, sometimes staying up all night to meet the very tight deadlines. I've taken on 700 mi round trip routes that ended up netting me less than a $1 an hour for my time (after mileage and other expenses considered) to help out schedulers who were in a bind. I've taken low-paying assignments with some MSCs in an attempt to "get my foot in the door" after getting days of no response by schedulers to multiple very fast applications for higher-paying shops. I've taken the difficult yet low-paying shops someone begs me to take in an effort to earn my way to this supposed better work that exists, though not sure if it really matters to the folks that decide. And, I work diligently to maintain an average "10" score on my reports, despite the high amount of time required and the capriciousness of editors. (No joke. This happened with an MSC for which I had only received 10s on numerous assignments. Then on the same day I got feedback on two reports from different editors. One said the report was well done with "...excellent detail and so thorough - we love shoppers like you!" and awarded me a 10. The other editor made snotty remarks which made it clear s/he was aggravated saying "There is no need for so much detail." And despite everything being correct and the shop instructions saying to provide detailed narrative, s/he gave me the only score below 9 I have ever received.)

While I do all these things, I've tried to develop and work a list of "regular" assignments on routes such that I can bring in at least $140 top-line daily with 160 miles of driving or less. Of course, these assignments that I've spent the time studying, testing and getting a routine for aren't available every day, and others want them too. (Who really wants the $15 mattress shop you can only do once in your lifetime and requires reading 50 pages of material and taking a test before going?)

I've tried to see it as "paying my dues," but I am still not getting to the secret inner circle that seems to allow for these better paying assignments. I really like this work, but can't logically keep investing so much for so little in return.

Lately I find myself trying to explain to schedulers why it doesn't make sense for me to spend 12 hours on the road, traveling 400+ miles to complete six $12 assignments for them. Or for another why I really can't drive 600+ miles to complete ten $10 assignments that all have to be done between 9 am - 4 pm, especially since I have to call before I go and make sure they will all be open/there and then when I get home, I have to complete narrative heavy reports that take 2 hours each and are due within 12 hours of completing the shop. I do appreciate them reaching out to me before these hit the board (been working hard to try to get to that point), but not sure why it makes sense to the MSC or the client to pay so little for such random and far apart assignments.



@SoCalMama wrote:

@MFJohnston wrote:

* Sign up for more companies. If you are not seeing shops advertised for more than $20, you are missing some good MSC's.

This.

Also, do a great job on every report. Most of the best jobs never hit the job boards. When they need shoppers, they just directly contact those who have done great work. Some of the worst paying companies are hiding their best shops.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2018 10:24PM by Pro Evals-Audits.
This is a great idea, and I want to do this before I even sign up for an assignment. However, there are many assignments for which you can't see whether the report is ridiculous or not until after you've agreed to perform.

@KaliAri wrote:

I always download a copy of the report questions. Then I can see in advance the number of questions, how many are open ended that require narratives. Doing that has saved me a lot of grief!
And that is how they like it. The promise of better if you just shovel the horse manuer, maybe we will allow you a room instead if sleeping in the barn. lol When, in fact, there are no rooms. They are all filled with family and friends The opposite is true. Do not take the crumbs and you will be offered the cake.
@KaliAri wrote:

I always download a copy of the report questions. Then I can see in advance the number of questions, how many are open ended that require narratives. Doing that has saved me a lot of grief!

With many shops you cannot see the questions until you accept the shop. Than you have to cancel if you don't like the report.
Phone shops aren’t a regular thing. IntelliShop has them occasionally, as does Cirrus. Ellis has some, but requires 50 on site shops completed first.
I find companies who use Sassie to be easiest, because you can filter for the type of shop and search 999 miles from a zip code.
If you search the forum, you’ll find threads about a few companies that offer call center shops. But those are also project based and havevery limited offerings.
@TroyHawkins wrote:

Phone shops aren’t a regular thing. IntelliShop has them occasionally, as does Cirrus. Ellis has some, but requires 50 on site shops completed first.
I find companies who use Sassie to be easiest, because you can filter for the type of shop and search 999 miles from a zip code.
If you search the forum, you’ll find threads about a few companies that offer call center shops. But those are also project based and havevery limited offerings.

iSecertShop has cell phones shops from time to time.
@Pro Evals-Audits wrote:

I've tried to see it as "paying my dues," but I am still not getting to the secret inner circle that seems to allow for these better paying assignments. I really like this work, but can't logically keep investing so much for so little in return.

From your post it sounds to me like there are a few things you've done wrong.

Not every company has better shops. Not every company values great shoppers. Your job, as a shopper, is to evaluate which companies are which. Otherwise you keep spinning you wheels doing crap jobs for crap pay. It sounds like you've done a poor job of that. Don't feel bad, most shoppers do.

Secondly, it sounds like instead of being a go to shopper you've become a "this shopper will do anything for practically nothing" shopper. That's not the way to do it. How to flip that script is up to you to figure out.

About once a year I go off on a tirade about this subject and I guess today is when I do another round. Be proactive. That's the number 1 way to be successful in this business. And honestly most businesses.


I'm going to give an example. A few months ago I was planning a route. I noticed a shop on a company's board that I found interesting. This was a pretty decent sized MSC that I have never worked for. I also knew from other job boards that this particular location was hard to schedule because other companies had shops in this location with bonuses. So I proactively emailed the scheduler, told her I was going to be on a route and that I was interested in the shop but wasn't able to do it at that fee. I gave her a strong reason why. I also told her that fairly often I was in places with these shops and would be interested in taking a larger amount of them when available. She gave me the bonus I was interested in. She emailed me with a question, I can't remember what, when I was literally at the shop. So I replied with a laugh, told her I was there, answered her question. Then I told her I had a long drive after that shop as I had car trouble on the route and had to return the loaner car and pick up my car. She immediately replied and said not to stress over the report that she would just push the due date out a day for me. I didn't ask about the report, it was something that came up naturally in the conversation. The next month the shops for that client came late, but had they appeared the beginning of the month like usual she would have given me half a dozen of them.

1 shop. Not only have I established myself as a shopper she wants to work with, but I have identified a scheduler who values shoppers.

Sometimes it takes 20 interactions for something like this to happen. Which reminds me of something someone told me one time. If you ask 100 women to go home with you, 1 of them will.

They can kick dirt in your face, dress you down and tell you that your place is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine.
@johnb974 wrote:

@KaliAri wrote:

I always download a copy of the report questions. Then I can see in advance the number of questions, how many are open ended that require narratives. Doing that has saved me a lot of grief!

With many shops you cannot see the questions until you accept the shop. Than you have to cancel if you don't like the report.

Or you could be proactive and ask to see the report before accepting the shop........

They can kick dirt in your face, dress you down and tell you that your place is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine.
BGriifin - I have actually done just that. Sadly, the first time I did that the scheduler just ignored the question and instead sent back an email asking me another question. I asked again and it was ignored again.

The next time I asked a scheduler to see a report before doing a last minute after-dark shop for her (because I didn't want to be up all night doing a heavy narrative report), she instructed me "the best way to see the report is to take the assignment."
womp...womp

I started to get the idea that there was some unwritten code that it wasn't acceptable to ask. But going off your earlier advice, maybe I just ran into not-so-good schedulers, and I should just keep asking :-)

Thank you!


@bgriffin wrote:

@johnb974 wrote:

@KaliAri wrote:

I always download a copy of the report questions. Then I can see in advance the number of questions, how many are open ended that require narratives. Doing that has saved me a lot of grief!

With many shops you cannot see the questions until you accept the shop. Than you have to cancel if you don't like the report.

Or you could be proactive and ask to see the report before accepting the shop........
BGriffin,

Thanks for the feedback. It seems pretty clear that I must be doing something wrong if I am doing 150+ assignments per month with good scores but not making the kind of $$ I see you and SoCal talking about. And I am willing to travel, not afraid of the work and 99.9% seem to be appreciated by editors, so was wondering what the special sauce was that I was missing.

Interestingly, I've done some of what you are suggesting. For example, I planned a three-day route to West Texas and New Mexico and reached out to a few schedulers in advance suggesting I could help and take some of the assignments I had seen lingering. But I said I would need a bonus because they were pretty spread out. A couple of them took so long responding that it didn't work out. Another insisted there was no bonus money, but yet another pulled together some nice pay for me to travel out of my way for a small handful. (I have found this scheduler to be friendly and helpful, and have tried to pick up some of her lower-paying stuff she needed help with in the past.) Another had to be asked several times to finally get the assignments worked in.

But I've also tried to put together some other routes for a company that is always begging for help and proactively sent them a list of two different long-distance routes I could do, with the pay I would need. No response. Two days later, I got another email begging for help and saying they could pay a route bonus. I sent my proposal again. No response. Then, three days later a direct email asking me why it was "so hard to get the shops done in X area." So I responded honestly that I would have to start driving at 3 am, work all day because none of them were close to each other, fill out reports in my motel that night, just to get up early and do it all over again the next day, not getting home until midnight and still having reports to do. I gave her an honest analysis of the time, expense and mileage required. She said she appreciated the feedback but didn't come up with the pay to make it work. So I still get emails all the time about these shops, but I haven't wasted my time trying to build a route again. I had pretty much the same thing happen with another scheduler who is constantly begging for help, except she was more responsive. Twice I spent time planning a route and asked for the pay I needed. She insisted they would blow their budget. Of course at the end of their period, they just ended up paying people high amounts individually for those.

I was starting to think maybe I was being too pushy and breaking some sort of code in the business by trying to push for what I needed and building and proposing routes. Thanks for giving me the insight to know I just haven't found the companies and schedulers that value us yet and I need to keep signing up for other MSCs, searching and pushing.

I am a helpful person, so I'll try to be more careful. Some schedulers are so bad about responding that when I find one that will actually respond to a message in a timely manner or be willing to talk on the phone, I find myself sometimes accepting things I probably shouldn't (was going to start a post about something that just happened with gas station audit) and feel badly when I turn them down for assignments that just don't work because I can't pull together a route or the work to pay ratio is too low.

Bottom line: I need to be more diligent to find the good MSCs and schedulers who appreciate my hard work, be confident (and stick to my guns) about asking for/proposing what I need, and find a way to gracefully refuse work that just doesn't make sense so that hopefully they will listen to proposals that do make sense.

Happy Sunday!

@bgriffin wrote:

@Pro Evals-Audits wrote:

I've tried to see it as "paying my dues," but I am still not getting to the secret inner circle that seems to allow for these better paying assignments. I really like this work, but can't logically keep investing so much for so little in return.

From your post it sounds to me like there are a few things you've done wrong.

Not every company has better shops. Not every company values great shoppers. Your job, as a shopper, is to evaluate which companies are which. Otherwise you keep spinning you wheels doing crap jobs for crap pay. It sounds like you've done a poor job of that. Don't feel bad, most shoppers do.

Secondly, it sounds like instead of being a go to shopper you've become a "this shopper will do anything for practically nothing" shopper. That's not the way to do it. How to flip that script is up to you to figure out.

About once a year I go off on a tirade about this subject and I guess today is when I do another round. Be proactive. That's the number 1 way to be successful in this business. And honestly most businesses.


I'm going to give an example. A few months ago I was planning a route. I noticed a shop on a company's board that I found interesting. This was a pretty decent sized MSC that I have never worked for. I also knew from other job boards that this particular location was hard to schedule because other companies had shops in this location with bonuses. So I proactively emailed the scheduler, told her I was going to be on a route and that I was interested in the shop but wasn't able to do it at that fee. I gave her a strong reason why. I also told her that fairly often I was in places with these shops and would be interested in taking a larger amount of them when available. She gave me the bonus I was interested in. She emailed me with a question, I can't remember what, when I was literally at the shop. So I replied with a laugh, told her I was there, answered her question. Then I told her I had a long drive after that shop as I had car trouble on the route and had to return the loaner car and pick up my car. She immediately replied and said not to stress over the report that she would just push the due date out a day for me. I didn't ask about the report, it was something that came up naturally in the conversation. The next month the shops for that client came late, but had they appeared the beginning of the month like usual she would have given me half a dozen of them.

1 shop. Not only have I established myself as a shopper she wants to work with, but I have identified a scheduler who values shoppers.

Sometimes it takes 20 interactions for something like this to happen. Which reminds me of something someone told me one time. If you ask 100 women to go home with you, 1 of them will.
I'm not sure what the problem is, but it should be quite easy to make a W TX/NM route work out. I'm guessing you're either having route planning issues or hitting the wrong companies. Depending on where you are though, 3 days on a W TX/NM route seems like a lot of travel and less work. You should be able to do 3 days just in oily smelling cow poop town.

They can kick dirt in your face, dress you down and tell you that your place is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine.
Sometimes, I will plan ahead to visit another area if I see a lot of shops popping up for a city. I just write the MSC and the shop on a notepad or put it in my phone.

It helps to be signed up with EVERYONE.

Example: Tonight, I had a job that I thought might take 30 minutes. Boss man said 15 minutes. Literally took 6 minutes (plus one minute to flirt with the bouncer who carded me hahaha). $50 fast.

I did a quick check on MarketForce's board last night and made two big offers. I got one. I had already cleared out every gas station in a 50 mile radius. I know where I can self-assign quickly. I do jobs for them unbonused though. I eat every day, so if I can get paid to eat lunch, I will. I have a full-time job now in addition to shops on the side.

It's a running joke with all of my friends, since I can pick up a quick job just about anywhere. You just have to be organized or have a Rainman-type memory of who has shops where.

If you live near any big city of over a million people, you really don't have to travel far. Of course, I do love to travel and won't turn down a trip usually.
@Pro Evals-Audits wrote:

Lately I find myself trying to explain to schedulers why it doesn't make sense for me to spend 12 hours on the road, traveling 400+ miles to complete six $12 assignments for them. Or for another why I really can't drive 600+ miles to complete ten $10 assignments that all have to be done between 9 am - 4 pm, especially since I have to call before I go and make sure they will all be open/there and then when I get home, I have to complete narrative heavy reports that take 2 hours each and are due within 12 hours of completing the shop.

Emails to schedulers should be short and to-the-point. All that matters is "I can do this shop on this date for $$$." Preferably, that's also the subject line. No need to explain why you want a higher fee, all the difficulties you see with the location or how long the report will take you. Schedulers receive hundreds if not thousands of emails every day. Make it as easy as possible for them to quickly read and understand your email. Otherwise, it will be archived and they will look at the next one.

Something like this:

TO: MSC Scheduler
FROM: Shopper
SUBJECT: I can shop Bob's Burgers in Middleofnowhere, TX on 4/15 for $500.

Hello Scheduler,
I can shop Bob's Burgers in Middleofnowhere, TX on 4/15 for $500. If that works, please assign it to me.

Thank you,

Shopper
(123) 555-1212


When I did email customer support, I could handle 6 emails an hour, including time to research and respond. That's only 48 a day. Imagine how many hundreds of emails a single scheduler receives that they don't have time to respond to. Make it easy to pick out understand your email.

Try not to think of schedulers in terms of "good" and "not-so-good" based on how responsive they are to your emails. Think of you emails in terms of how effective they are at getting a response.

@Pro Evals-Audits wrote:

I do appreciate them reaching out to me before these hit the board (been working hard to try to get to that point), but not sure why it makes sense to the MSC or the client to pay so little for such random and far apart assignments.

Shop pay depends on the scope of work agreed to between the MSC and their client. What we can see on job boards is not enough to determine why fees are set they way they are. But here's an example:

A client has 10 stores in a region. They contract an MSC to complete 100 shops throughout the region with a minimum of 5 an maximum of 20 per store. That location off in the distance that's still on your job board for a low fee? It's already been shopped at least 5 times. Any additional shops at that location just add to the total needed for the entire district. They don't need to offer a bonus for that location. But it will remain visible on the job board until they get 20 shops completed there or they reach 100 total for the district. In this example, there could a location in a more populated area that might not have 5 shops yet. If they're close enough to reaching 100 overall, the MSC would add a bonus to attract a few more shoppers to that location and meet the quota without going over the 100 shop total.

Pretty much any shop you see that's a chain store/restaurant is set up like this. When you see those out of the way locations start getting bonuses, that's when you make an offer. Otherwise, they are getting enough shops done that they have no reason to pay extra.

Most of the scheduler emails we get asking for shoppers are not because they can't find anyone. They are because MSC's want to get shop projects completed well before their deadline so they don't have to offer huge bonuses on the last day. Just like you want to do with your emails, they are trying to get your attention. They know we all get dozens and hundreds of scheduler emails. They are competing for your attention with schedulers from every other MSC. They are also blasting those emails out to hundreds of shoppers at a time. Try not to think of it as "begging". It's marketing.
@Pro Evals-Audits
* Do you video shop? Good video shoppers are in high demand. The pay is generally pretty good and reports can be a lot shorter. (I just picked up two EPMS video shops this week with NO report at $60 each....)
* I don't mind long reports and find apartments to be very profitable.
* Look to do your routes into very rural areas towards the end of a month, when schedulers are feeling desperate. This gives you a lot more leverage with bonuses.
* How long have you been shopping? It takes time to really establish yourself. I have been doing this for about two years and only just found some of my best paying companies in the last three or four months. My favorite two found me.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
The reason I do these shops is because I love pizza and this makes it free! But I do admit it is a LOT of detail for not a great return.
@TroyHawkins wrote:

@Pro Evals-Audits wrote:

Lately I find myself trying to explain to schedulers why it doesn't make sense for me to spend 12 hours on the road, traveling 400+ miles to complete six $12 assignments for them. Or for another why I really can't drive 600+ miles to complete ten $10 assignments that all have to be done between 9 am - 4 pm, especially since I have to call before I go and make sure they will all be open/there and then when I get home, I have to complete narrative heavy reports that take 2 hours each and are due within 12 hours of completing the shop.

Emails to schedulers should be short and to-the-point. All that matters is "I can do this shop on this date for $$$." Preferably, that's also the subject line. No need to explain why you want a higher fee, all the difficulties you see with the location or how long the report will take you. Schedulers receive hundreds if not thousands of emails every day. Make it as easy as possible for them to quickly read and understand your email. Otherwise, it will be archived and they will look at the next one.

I apologize for not being clear. When I mentioned explaining, that is after they have reached out to me for a list of assignments and I've succintly said I couldn't make it work for the rate, then the scheduler asks for the reasoning. It's not when I send a proposal. Nonetheless, I appreciate your suggestions.

@TroyHawkins wrote:

Try not to think of schedulers in terms of "good" and "not-so-good" based on how responsive they are to your emails. Think of you emails in terms of how effective they are at getting a response.

I will try, but combining BGriffin's feedback about MSCs/schedulers who value your work, along with my own sense of fair play and results orientation makes this harder. I have worked in a busy environments with many demands for attention, so am not without empathy. But I have also spent a good portion of my career in sales & marketing management, and the scheduler role seems very like sales, mixed with volunteer management. If so, then responsiveness would seem to net greater positive results. That read is based on the conversations I have had with a few schedulers, so perhaps that is not accurate.

@TroyHawkins wrote:

@Pro Evals-Audits wrote:

I do appreciate them reaching out to me before these hit the board (been working hard to try to get to that point), but not sure why it makes sense to the MSC or the client to pay so little for such random and far apart assignments.

Shop pay depends on the scope of work agreed to between the MSC and their client. What we can see on job boards is not enough to determine why fees are set they way they are. But here's an example:

A client has 10 stores in a region. They contract an MSC to complete 100 shops throughout the region with a minimum of 5 an maximum of 20 per store. That location off in the distance that's still on your job board for a low fee? It's already been shopped at least 5 times. Any additional shops at that location just add to the total needed for the entire district. They don't need to offer a bonus for that location. But it will remain visible on the job board until they get 20 shops completed there or they reach 100 total for the district. In this example, there could a location in a more populated area that might not have 5 shops yet. If they're close enough to reaching 100 overall, the MSC would add a bonus to attract a few more shoppers to that location and meet the quota without going over the 100 shop total.

Pretty much any shop you see that's a chain store/restaurant is set up like this. When you see those out of the way locations start getting bonuses, that's when you make an offer. Otherwise, they are getting enough shops done that they have no reason to pay extra.

Thank you, Troy, for this additional perspective.

When I was writing it I was thinking of the repeat monthly assignments for which I am contacted (They really want the same person to do them regularly, but they don't leave the locations on a similar schedule. So a route that worked one month won't work in another month because the assignments are so far away from each other and there is only one location in each town rather than the three in each town the previous month.) So it seems logical to me that they are more likely to get the same person to repeat at the pay they want to offer if they have the same number of shops in a smaller radius than if they reduce the number and increase the radius.

However, I have seen rural shops sitting on boards for a long time and wondered why they don't increase the fee to encourage someone like me who will do these random routes to take it. So it's good to have the additional insight you've shared here.


@TroyHawkins wrote:

Most of the scheduler emails we get asking for shoppers are not because they can't find anyone. They are because MSC's want to get shop projects completed well before their deadline so they don't have to offer huge bonuses on the last day. Just like you want to do with your emails, they are trying to get your attention. They know we all get dozens and hundreds of scheduler emails. They are competing for your attention with schedulers from every other MSC. They are also blasting those emails out to hundreds of shoppers at a time. Try not to think of it as "begging". It's marketing.

I hope my word usage didn't come across poorly. I was simply repeating the schedulers' own phrasing - specifically using the word "begging." And when they use phrasing like that, it triggers a response to request a bonus route. And this is effective marketing if they are indeed trying to generate bonus requests.

I do realize most of the messages I get each day are mass emails, however, some emails are direct conversation with me based on the content of the email.
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