Some shops are just not worth doing

@SoCalMama wrote:

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 wanna grow up to be like you! :-)

Sounds like I definitely need to sign up with more companies and as you and BGriffin have said, get a good sense of which companies offer what assignments and on what kind of schedule.

I strongly suspect route planning and analysis takes me too much time. Will that be just like some of the regular assignments I perform in that after a while, it becomes a routine I know and can execute quickly? I love self-assign because it helps me put together and plan routes so much.

@SoCalMama wrote:

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.

I do have questions about the gas station audits and whether they are worth it because I was talked into taking one this week. After reading the 121 pages of requirements and taking the test, I wasn't so sure, but I complete what I commit to do. The report was a pain because fields and radio buttons would randomly unpopulate and photos had to be loaded over and over, making the report take a long time. It will end up being work for $1.50/hr. uggh. Is this another one of those things where the investment is on the front-end, but gets smoother and faster as more and more are completed?

@SoCalMama wrote:

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.

I definitely want to get to that point because I sometimes hesitate to take a new assignment while "on the go" since I don't really know the time needed, requirements or reporting yet.

I don't live in a big city, so have to drive a good distance to do almost every assignment. Unfortunately, the next closest town seems to be full of people who love to snap up $5, $7 and $9 assignments, even when it's a flat rate and they have to spend $4 minimum. The dinner shops that are reimbursement only (and we all know it doesn't really cover the whole cost if you take anyone else with you.) are always quickly taken for everything in a 90 mile radius of me, and the more casual and deli ones don't seem to be offered in this area even though the stores are in these surrounding towns.

I do like travel, so that's good, as long as I am getting appropriately paid.

Thank you for the friendly and helpful feedback.

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@MFJohnston wrote:

@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.


Thanks for the note.

I have been reading here that video shops pay well. I don't have any equipment (my spy pen probably would not be adequate), so sounds like an investment in equipment and some practice is warranted. I was asked to do one for a theater once and they were going to send me the equipment but they still required a long report on top of the video. That's not super appealing. But if there are assignments that reduce or eliminate the report for the video, I am all for it.

I don't mind long reports if the pay is right. I don't like being paid $10 or $15 for a 30-45 minute bank shop followed by a report that then requires over an hour to write up (With all expense considered that's a negative or very low profit). I just registered with Cirrus recently and I think they have apartment shops.

I live in a rural area. As a Texan that grew up on the middle of nowhere, I am accustomed to driving to get to anything. :-) So I have offered to do the shops that have been sitting on the boards a while if I can put together a route that nets a decent profit after all the driving and time are considered.

I initially starting shopping in 2014, but I only shopped for a couple of companies and not on a regular basis. Then I got a new job in Austin that consumed most of my waking hours between the job and the commute. Loved it, but unfortunately, their financial resources didn't really allow them to keep the management team they wanted. So after a few years out, I starting performing IC work again. I really ramped up with MS last year after signing up with more MSCs, and have been able to remain so busy that I don't sub any longer. But I suspect I am not doing it the best way because the work to pay ratio isn't great, some activities seem to take too long, and the business is not producing the kind of profit needed for the hours invested. Here's to hoping some good ones find me too!
It sure helped me today to know that @TroyHawkin's opinion is of "If you don't like it, don't do it and stop talking about it" that he/she was in the position with a MSC as a "Support Person" answering email inquiries. That opinion makes sense now.

To think that, when I'm writing support, that the person I am writing to has the opinion of if you don't like it, don't do it and don't say anything makes me wish I knew the company that would allow this sort of bias so that I would neither write to them nor even work for them. It's really very dirty.
@spicy1 Your reading comprehension seems a bit off. Go back and read what I posted. Perhaps you’ll figure out your error.
I live in a rural area and most jobs are 30 min to an hour from my home. By the time I add up the time it takes to get to the shop and back, add in my gas and then the time it takes to do the actual shop and fill out the paperwork, a $24 shop is not making me more than a few dollars an hour. Nothing is near anything- So many shops are an hour from each other that there is no way to set up a route to bunch a few together. I love where I live but it makes it real hard to make a lot of money.
If you’re able to travel overnight to a larger city where there are more shops, you might find some good deals on AirBnB. Sometimes cheaper than a hotel and often just as good.
In response to : jlovesnyc 100 1y
Just looking at part of your post " Taxes are part of the game and that can be managed also. Remember taxes are a suggested law and they can be manipulated with loopholes"

Your thinking appears flawed... "Remember taxes are a suggested law" , taxes are a responsibility and you either comply or you dont. Tax cheats are cheating everyone. I like to live with a clear conscious, if I earned the money then I owe the taxes. I am not better or different than anyone else and will pay what I owe even though I would like to keep it all.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2018 02:36PM by Cricut157.
Barnes and not worth it. $5 Cafe reimbursement to evaluate a few departments, take a few photos and to purchase something. Not worth cranking up the car or getting off the couch for...
Not having read the other 11 pages of comments, I am sure someone has mentioned the grocery stores that require the evaluator talk to a person in each of five departments, get names and descriptions, get the names of the manager, clerk and bagger etc. all for $5 plus a small reimbursement. (There are just so many ways one can come up with a question each for the seafood counter and the meat counter - must be two different employees.) I have done two different stores for two different MSCs. Never again. It took forever to find that many employees on the floor. I was in the second store nearly two hours just wandering the aisles looking for assistance from five people. I think I got paid about $1 an hour including the time it took to write the report. I could get more outside the store carrying a "Help Me - I am Homeless" sign winking smiley

Shopping SoCal and Maui.
I did 3 of those that didnt have employees who spoke any english. Yeah enough of those for me too.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2018 10:15PM by Want985.
Twice I have done a grocery shop at a smaller specialty grocery shop with much higher prices that my usual stores. At some point I became self conscious wandering the small store trying to engage the employees in conversations without having to buy too much. The last time I did it my fee plus reimbursement was $25 and I ended up spending $40 there. Not the most cost effective way to spend my time!
I have had to estimate because my timing device failed on me. But first of all, I disclosed this to them upfront, and secondly, I was able to use some other times to get within a few seconds. If you notice, the guidelines say you should be within a few seconds (or wording to that effect).

Also, I have been questioned at least once when they didn't think my numbers were right (they didn't say their problem, just asked for me to go through them again). I may have subtracted wrong or something. I provided all the times again and got paid.

@SoCalMama wrote:

@johnb974 wrote:

This is the ONLY shop I've seen that requires 2 sets of timing for each step. It's not really necessary and just gives them an opportunity to deny the shop. I'm sure they will correct any of your mistakes, turn in the report and get paid themselves. You do all the work and get nothing.

You could also make up your own time. Just start an estimate of when you got in line and estimate your time through the process. It's not like they're going to spend all day timing videos of all the shops.

I've done the shop 36 times and been paid 36 times.

Some people just aren't good shoppers. If you are making up times, you are a liar and a fraud.

Yes, they will check video if they want to verify it. Managers' bonuses are based on the timings.
Very well said, Sosh....I quit posting on here months ago for that very same reason....its not what a Forum of this type should be...its mostly about who can insult another shopper better and name SHOULD be about working together to make the MSC's better for US!....Its certainly no fun being berated by an auditor/editor, and is even less fun in here...every one of us has had one or several negative experiences doing this....but for the most part, I find it fun and a good way to earn a little extra pocket change....when thinking about it, you often learn very quickly when you are berated by an editor...(I had to laugh at myself when one company's editors on the weekend were nit-picking every little detail, when I learned from a scheduler that those 'editors' are not humans on the weekends)....made me giggle that I had been had by a robot....wasn't funny at the time, but looking back, it is....
I just hope after reading some of these snarky, berating comments from fellow shoppers, that they don't treat those employees they 'shop' as ugly as they treat each other in here. There's far too much meanness and violence out in this old world...we don't need to attack each other in here....
@Pro Evals-Audits wrote:

I do have questions about the gas station audits and whether they are worth it because I was talked into taking one this week. After reading the 121 pages of requirements and taking the test, I wasn't so sure, but I complete what I commit to do. The report was a pain because fields and radio buttons would randomly unpopulate and photos had to be loaded over and over, making the report take a long time. It will end up being work for $1.50/hr. uggh. Is this another one of those things where the investment is on the front-end, but gets smoother and faster as more and more are completed?

I can't speak about others, as I have only done two gas station audits: shell and valero.

The fee for Shell hasn't changed in over 15 years. I finally quit doing them in 2013. It wasn't worth it anymore. I did all of them in my area for years. The store would call ahead to the next location and say, "The Mexicana is coming." Pretty funny, as I am of Eastern European heritage. I just speak Spanish. The photos used to be far fewer. It still took too damn long to upload everything. The website is new, so maybe it's faster now?

Valero was so dirty, I refused to walk anywhere near the restroom. I did the shops that were scheduled and never did another one. I think that this one was not revealed.
I've done that audit before. I definitely waited for a $10 bonus on it.

@spicy1 wrote:

Its the AT&T, same ss Cricket, 15-25 in store and do audit on tablet while you're there. Let the price go up.
With higher gasoline prices ($3.89 here), better economy, higher salaries, higher minimum wages, lots of job openings, why don't I see higher pay for shop assignments? It feels like it is stuck in 1970's.
@BetteL wrote:

With higher gasoline prices ($3.89 here), better economy, higher salaries, higher minimum wages, lots of job openings, why don't I see higher pay for shop assignments? It feels like it is stuck in 1970's.

I would say your post has answered the question it posed. With higher gas prices and other rising costs, more people feel the need to supplement their income. The economy is steadily improving but is not at a wonderful level. Unemployment has declined but I'm not sure there are lots of job openings. Higher minimum wages have resulted in many minimum-wage earners having the number of hours they work lowered, because many companies stressed by the higher wage costs are now paying workers more per hour but allowing them to work fewer hours. So the workers make more money per hour and have more time to do additional things like mystery shop? And what about required medical insurance? If not paid by an employer, do workers need to work more to pay for it themselves?

Lots more people are mystery shopping. And, with internet access at an all-time high, it has become much, much easier to find mystery shopping companies, sign up, search job boards, perform and report shops, and get PayPal or direct deposit. Far less time-consuming and easier. And, we have a great mystery shopping forum here that is very easy to find, lists 200 legitimate mystery shopping companies, and has experienced mystery shoppers who literally train their competition. Expect the competition to increase. Due to supply and demand, expect pay to stay the same or deteriorate.
@SoCalMama wrote:

I can't speak about others, as I have only done two gas station audits: shell and valero.

The fee for Shell hasn't changed in over 15 years. I finally quit doing them in 2013.

Oh, but now they get bonused near deadline time. You can hold out for a $1.23 incentive!!!


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2018 01:05AM by sestrahelena.
With the price of gas soaring, once again I find I need to be more selective. Even though I have a hybrid, it still becomes difficult to justify driving 40 miles round trip to do a $25 lunch shop that will really only be a $17 reimbursement (no fee). Yes, I like the food and I agreed to do it and I will, but as luck would have it, I was not able to pick up other shops nearby. In the 16 years I've been shopping, this has happened before, then when prices come down I increase the radius I will go (I am in AZ and everything is spread out!) And hoping gas comes down, not continuing to spiral up!
ok, first let me say that you only have to do ONE gas station audit for base pay close to home so you can learn the requirements. I don't do shell most of the time for two reasons.-1. Why do I need to use my tablet? what the heck is the difference anyway? and 2) when I applied they wanted me to do one thirty minutes away for 12.50 I refused.
Now every location on a route is different and you have to figure out exactly what you can get out of a location. Sometimes you have to refuse if they say the job is only worth 20 bucks and it's two hours from your house. Sometimes you have to wait for the incentives to go higher (get closer to the deadline). And please do not think all Valero's are only worth 10 bucks. I got the most more than blue and white and blue and red from a last-minute Valero that she called me about. She needed it done ASAP, and it was one hour away, misting outside and I was off. I asked for my incentive and fee and she gave me both, yes both for the incentive alone. I went on the board and added 2 easy blue and red's that had incentives posted for a three-hour run made well over a hundred bucks. I knocked all three out drove the back roads home in the rain with no crazy drivers (desolate rural hwy's)(It had stopped raining while I was taking pics). The key to planning a good route is patience. Don't ask too early in the period for distance shops and use easy blue and reds as fillers.*Make sure the blue and red's have incentives added.
Another thing you don't have to eat out every day to make a route. you can easily do a set of jobs grab what you want to eat on your way home. If the route pays 240, and you spend 40 on gas and 10 on food, you still made 190 that day. Or better yet bring your own ice tea from home and some snacks like dollar Lunchables or whatever you prefer.
I don't mind when you take some jobs cheaper than I because that leaves more room in the budget for me to get better bonuses at the end of the period. But please stop taking the insults of MF's hypercheap shops. Stop taking cell phone shops for 7.50 and drive the prices up. and God forbid you do the bookstore for a cup of TEA!
I have read and enjoyed this entire thread. Especially the reasoned and reasonable responses and questions.

To the shopper who figures they are making $1.50 an hour -- ask for, and don't settle for less than, what you are worth. If that means turning down a route, turn it down.

I recently submitted a route to a MSC to pick up all their outstanding gas stations for $90 each. The distances involved were astronomical, but I figured I could pick up other shops to make it worth my while. The scheduler was kind enough to let me know that "last round", they found a shopper that did them all at less than $20 each. They are all on the job board now, at over $20.
There are market research companies near me that solicit people for focus groups, the pay is usually $200-$400 for 2-3 hours of your time (not including the time to get there). I don't go as often as I like since my day job comes first. I can only assume that it's more lucrative to own that kind of market research business than this kind of market research business as an MSC. Says a lot about the value of certain kinds of research....and you don't have to prove yourself as a focus group participant, you just show up.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2018 12:44PM by BarefootBliss.
I'm not sure the difference in pay for shoppers and focus groups means the shops have less value. It does mean the companies place less value on the shopper than the focus group.

A focus group expects you to devote time to work on their project, either in the office during specific hours, or online from home. In turn, they value the time and input of everyone on the project.

MSCs think it is fun for the average person going to a mall to get paid $5 or $10 to spend an extra hour or more buying and returning merchandise and writing reports just because they were there. MSCs think we consider it entertaining to pop into a car dealership for a fun, exciting test drive and sales pitch taking an hour, spend another hour on a report then track follow up for an additional two days. It is so much fun the $20 pay is hardly necessary.

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.
Georgia requires that the entire sales tax be paid when initially purchasing a vehicle. This results in leases being worded as "preferred options". I did a negotiation shop had to go several times not just 2, to finally get the lease offer the way they wanted it. I still did not get paid the $75, even after I was asked, "are you going to finish this job" I said yes and finally got the paper back the way they wanted it. The job and continuous communication with a hard-working salesman at the dealership, several hours worth of work for nothing.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2018 08:03PM by F and L TeleComm.
I have done BMW and Mercedes Shops that were fairly straight forward and easy. Some writing component but whole survey could be done in 20 minutes, plus some follow up emails/calls. I really like the auto ones, pay well and straight forward (at least here in Canada).

I had a $15 shoe store try on in the mall near my house, which I couldn't get through. It was 10 essay type questions after the easier parts. I finished, wrote in to the recruiter and told her that if you want good results make a better survey. No one will spend any time on this. Got an email back saying this is what client wants and she even thought it was over kill. I will never do that one again. Everything was under $100 bucks what are you trying to accomplish with these? Years ago I did a high end shoe store that had $250- $500 shoes and that survey was easier and the store substantially higher end.
I don't think that "popping" into malls or car dealerships is fun at all, so that may explain my point of view on many of the verylow paying shop assignments. I think "popping" into banks to make deposits is much more fun lol.
There are the icky shops that it would take a really insane fee for me to do but then there are the usual “shops just not worth doing”. Mostly because the fee is too low for the work or the shop requires odd/embarrassing behavior.

I know MSC’s tend to be willing to do anything to get a client — but do they really make money if they let the client set up a really unpleasant shop (too long/poorly designed/etc) and then end up having to pay outrageous bonuses at the end of the month to get them done?

Any MSC’s reading this — exert some client control. Just like a reputable lawyer will advise a client not to pursue an unwinnable lawsuit, you need to set your client’s expectations to something resembling a reasonable level.

Want a long detailed report? Entirely doable — but you need to pay a larger fee. Insist on shoppers getting names/asking questions when no normal customer would behave that way? Assume that many shoppers won’t take the job — at least until you add a very sizeable bonus.

I had a back and forth recently with a scheduler who insisted she just couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t do a $15 leather goods shop at my local outlet mall. Hmmm.... let’s see... I just did a shoe shop there for $35 with a report that’s less than half the length of your report. In fact, almost all the shops at that mall go for $25 and up — and the only one as long as yours usually doesn’t get taken until it hits $50.

And yet the scheduler still pushes. I understand if your company doesn’t have the bonus money, but don’t get mad at me. This is business and if you can’t pay the going rate then your shop isn’t worth doing.
In answer to roffle waffle, at least in my city of Los Angeles I have seen fees go up. Well not fees as such but we now have some bonuses. Granted they are usually just a few dollars but on a shop that pays only $8 to begin with that is a large increase. Personally I think shoppers here have been a mix of people getting work elsewhere and giving up mystery shopping or severely cutting back so that they are finally having trouble filling their jobs. Not all the jobs but certain ones now I can see these small bonuses.
As for the argument of just raise the fees and they will not have to pay such big bonuses...I would venture to guess that these national chains can fill a majority of their shops at or near the fee they pay as the majority of their outlets are in heavily populated places with enough shoppers willing to take the jobs at the posted fee. I see last minute cancellation shops offered with a bid to help out all the time and they only pay the original fee. If I do not respond until a few hours later most are taken at the original fee. Those bonuses might be going only to a small percentage of the shops they offer. If they raised the fee a few dollars they would still have to bonus the boonies so for them it sounds like a win win to keep the fees low as long as most shops are filled.
ACL? They seldom pay any fee. The reimbursements are often not enough to cover the required items to order. For a $65 restaurant, they expect you to pay out of pocket $10-15 to cover all the required items, tax and tip. That and the loooong reports and terrible editors, not worth my time.
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