Gas station shops -- what a horror!

Good grief. Each report taking over an hour, as I wait....and wait...and wait for photos to download one % at a time.....so glad only did 4 of these yesterday! Left at noon, back by 6 PM....but I've put in over 3 hours on the reports....and I'm just on the 3rd report...ugh, ugh, ugh. I cannot BELIEVE anybody does this for $10, no gas reimbursement, up to $1 for convenience store purchase. And then wait 8 weeks for payment!!!!

One manager said, "Oh, you're new -- usually it's a young man, he's in and out of here in 5 minutes flat!" That station took 40 minutes!!!

I did get more efficient, got the 4th one done in less than 20 minutes.

IMHO, if they won't reimburse gas, $25 is my absolute minimum for these!!! And I think that's not nearly enough, actually.

Do you think $25 is enough? Discounting travel time, because I was route shopping, and had other shops that were paying more, that made it worthwhile.

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What size are your pictures and what is required? Usually, resizing them down makes the upload much faster.
I have no idea how to resize photos. I use a digital camera, and download to this laptop -- which is probably over 10 years old, and definitely on its last legs.
The easiest way going forward is to change the size on the camera menu. ExpertSolutions has a free image resizer that can be downloaded from their site and is really easy to use. It is on the shopper home page.

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.
You can resize pictures with Paint, which has been per-installed on PC's for 20 years. Select details view in your pictures folder to see what size they currently are. Check with the MSC about what size and resolution they need first. It might say in the guidelines. Unless you're still on dial-up, uploading all the pictures should take less than a minute per report.
Like @LisaSTL said, you can lower the resolution on your camera to save yourself extra steps in the future and save space on your SD card.
LOL! You guys are way, way over my head! Don't know what an SD card is (my camera is even older than my laptop); guidelines only say don't submit thumbnails. I don't know what Paint is, or have a clue how to use it (or get it; it does not seem to be on this laptop). Each photo has to be downloaded separately, into its "slot", so I don't see HOW you could download all of them in one minute!

And my camera is so old....I have no idea what "resolution" is or how to change it.

Um.....technically challenged, here.


smiling smiley
Unfortunately, the type and level of technical support you need would likely be extremely frustrating through a discussion board. Fortunately, there are a few ways to quickly get in-person help.

Take your camera to any electronics retail store. Walk up to customer service and tell them you can't figure out how to change the resolution. They will show you how.

Do you have a smartphone with a camera? If so, go into one of your carrier's stores tell them you can't figure out how to change the resolution on the camera. They will show you how. Then ask them how you can get Dropbox on your phone. They will tell you it is an app you can download, and probably, they will download, install and get it set up for you AND show you how to use it. Dropbox allows your pictures to automatically sync with your laptop as long as you have an internet connections, which saves another step of transferring files to your computer.

With either of these solutions, they will try to sell you something. You don't have to buy. But they will also (more than likely) give you information about free classes that are available for you that will help you learn how to get the most out of your camera, smartphone, laptop, etc.

If you have a Windows laptop, it came with Paint installed. To open Paint, type paint in the search box on the taskbar, and then select it from the list of results. So click the little Windows symbol in the lower left corner and you should see either a magnifying glass or a search bar. If Paint was somehow removed, you probably won't find an old enough version to run on your laptop. But you won't need it if you find out how to change your camera resolution.

P.S. Memorial Day sales are three weeks away.
Great discussions, lots of tips and ideas.

Nearest store is an hour away.

Hard for me to learn anything new re: tech. Not unwilling -- just terribly, terribly difficult.

No money for buying stuff, even on sale. Just social security retirement and mystery shopping! I have to be extremely frugal just to have enough funds for gas for long routes when the bonuses finally hit!

I did get $25 each for these stations, but won't get paid until (gulp!) July.

Need to do some shops that will pay during May and June!!!

Thanks, all.
The camera shouldn't be all that difficult regardless of your tech aptitude because there are probably not many options. Just keep looking around until you find the menu.

AFAIK, Paint won't resize in a batch and to me it is more the more difficult option if you aren't accustomed. The pic resizer on the ExpertSolutions website is incredibly easy to use. Just download and install it on your computer. It will take care of all the pictures at one time.

I know people older than you and people who are not at all tech savvy who have managed to learn much of this because it is only hard if you think it is hard. There are tutorials for everything under the sun on YouTube. I am entirely self taught. Between a YouTube video and bgriffin, I just installed a new hard drive on my laptop. Something I never thought I could do in a million years. All you need is the proper motivation. For me the most compelling is always money. My new hard drive cost about $65. It would have been that plus fees starting at $150 to have it done by a pro.

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.
The MSC I use for gas station shops no longer requires resizing, saving a little time. When I did resize I used an ap called PIXresizer. It's free and easy to use and will resize batches of photos to whatever size you need. . I was having problems resizing several years ago and a couple of forum members suggested this ap. Try it and if you need help shout out. Be happy to pass along the info.
You could also use YouTube tutorials...they usually go step by step and you can pause and restart.
Your digital camera should have a setting in the Menu referred to as E-mail size (640 X 480). Set it to that.

If your digital camera is really old, you can go online to Ebay or go to your local thrift shop for a newer one. With the advent of good camera phones, many owners of digital cameras have discarded them in favor of their smart phones. Meaning there are plenty of them on the market at very reasonable prices. I have bought several in price ranges between $5 to $26.

I'm not trying to be an a$$, but really, if your intention is to be even that smallest bit of serious about mystery shopping, you need to upgrade not only your equipment to be used but also your tech knowledge. Otherwise, you shall continue to experience what you have talked about.
I need a better solution for resizing, and yours sounds like it would be great. However, I cant find it on the website (it must be because it's Monday). Mind giving the URL-either here on in a PM?
@LisaSTL wrote:

ExpertSolutions has a free image resizer that can be downloaded from their site and is really easy to use. It is on the shopper home page.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. Eleanor Roosevelt
"I'm not trying to be an a$$, but really, if your intention is to be even that smallest bit of serious about mystery shopping, you need to upgrade not only your equipment to be used but also your tech knowledge. Otherwise, you shall continue to experience what you have talked about."

Oh, I didn't take your comments that way at all. I've been mystery shopping about 10 years, and am quite serious about it -- it's my survival. It's difficult. I am totally disabled, and have severe RA which affects mostly my hands, so that using a cell phone is very, very difficult (loss of fine motor skills means I can't TOUCH the little icons for the apps!). Fortunately, I can still type (or, as youngsters call it, "keyboard" ), but not on the phone, as loss of said fine motor skills makes it impossible to hit the correct letters on that tiny keyboard. That being said, I did get a cellphone (iPhone); I'm just unable to use most of the apps; but I did succeed in using Geoverify for the very first time just last week. So, I can and do LEARN, but the physical limitations are real.

That being said, parts of MSing are easy for me -- I write well and easily, and narrative isn't a problem for me. I normally get stellar reviews on narrative. I am considered a "seasoned shopper", and schedulers call me with unusual, difficult assignments (it helps that I live in a rural area with no other shoppers available, LOL!).

My desktop died; it was much, much faster with photos and such. This laptop is really old and "clunky", but I don't have the resources right now for an update. I'm quite comfortable with my digital camera, and have recently succeeded in taking some photos with my cell phone (which I just got last August) and downloaded them to this laptop. And, of course, I don't have the funds for a new desktop.

I generally only do about 20-25 shops a month; that's all I'm physically able to complete.
This was my first gas station route for this company, and I was just astounded at how long each report was taking -- made my pay-per-hour drop noticeably. The shops themselves were simple, and all the people were nice.

As for the age thing, believe me, I know lots of people my age who never learned to send an e-mail or use a cell phone, other than a basic "flip phone" type of thing that only makes and receives calls.

I just can't believe there are shoppers who take these at base rate of $10 plus $1 reimbursement for a "small purchase".

I would love to be able to use "apps" on my cell phone. I could pick up so many quick "filler" shops on routes. I would love to be able to complete reports "on the road", but I actually have to be at home to complete my reports.

Thanks for all the tips and discussion.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2018 09:53AM by ceasesmith.
I use either Picasa or FastStone Image Resizer to reduce the size of my image files all at once when I get home. I cuts down on the upload times considerably. Other programs exist. I don't think there is a "best" program. Just pick one and learn it. I prefer this over changing my camera settings, because I like to have to full-size images to double-check things. And in the rare case when I miss a photo, I can often crop it from another using the full-size image.

As for the apps on a cell phone, I promise you are not missing much, unless you like sneaking around a store to take 12 photos for $4.

I agree about those $10 gas station audits. I would not take them even if they were lined up in a row down my street. But to each their own. Some people probably see advantages in the ability to fill their schedule weeks in advance, and despite what we hear on the news, even getting a minimum wage job can be tough in some areas. $25 each is about right for me if they don't require a lot of extra driving, and I don't have anything better at the time.

Edited to add the word "not."

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2018 05:32PM by mystery2me.
@ceasesmith wrote:

I've been mystery shopping about 10 years, and am quite serious about it -- it's my survival. It's difficult. I am totally disabled, and have severe RA which affects mostly my hands, so that using a cell phone is very, very difficult (loss of fine motor skills means I can't TOUCH the little icons for the apps!). Fortunately, I can still type (or, as youngsters call it, "keyboard" ), but not on the phone, as loss of said fine motor skills makes it impossible to hit the correct letters on that tiny keyboard.
Cease, I think you are a trooper!! Hang in there!!
@ceasesmith wrote:

I am totally disabled, and have severe RA which affects mostly my hands, so that using a cell phone is very, very difficult (loss of fine motor skills means I can't TOUCH the little icons for the apps!).

Thank you for sharing this. I am sure there are many people with disabilities who would love to mystery shop, but are concerned about their physical limitations. Which is why I still encourage you to plan a trip to a Cell Phone store, or better yet, an Apple Store. You might not think you can use a smartphone, but you would be surprised what a virtual assistant like Siri or Google Assistant can do. You can open those pesky apps without touching an icon, take pictures and search the web. All with your voice. Accessibility settings can make it easier to use a smartphone. No, voice assistants aren't perfect yet, but they are getting better and better all the time.

Likewise, newer computers also have virtual assistants. Voice dictation software learns as you use it and can reduce 90% of the keystrokes when writing a report. Apps like Dropbox an Google Drive eliminate having to physically connect your camera. Every computer manufacturer produces input products specifically designed for customers with disabilities. You won't usually find them on store shelves, but a decent sales associate can show you how you can get more out of a computer with just your voice than you can from your 10-year old laptop.

It would definitely be worth the time to visit some stores to ask questions and see how new products can benefit your shopping. Being able to find and get paid for more shops by learning how to use the feature available in newer technologies could easily offset the cost of a new computer and smartphone.
You can take pictures on a smart phone using the volume button on a pair of ear buds. If your hands are sore, you might find it easier to wrap the cord around your hand and use leverage to snap photos.
@Megs7521 wrote:

You can take pictures on a smart phone using the volume button on a pair of ear buds. If your hands are sore, you might find it easier to wrap the cord around your hand and use leverage to snap photos.

Wow. Didn't know that. Anyway, I'm more comfortable with the digital camera, as outmoded as it is. I have taken some photos with my phone, but am dissatisfied with them -- evidently, when my hands hurt, they also have a tiny tremor, and I have yet to take a photo with my cell that is not blurry. I don't have that problem with my digital camera.

As for more successful shops, I really don't see increasing the number of shops I do. After a day of shopping, I'm so wiped out that I take the next 24 hours to focus on reports (and lining up more shops for later), and then 24 hours to physically recover. I would LOVE to be able to use apps for "filler shops" when I'm on routes, shops that I could COMPLETE on my iPhone and not be facing even more reports when I do get home. That would actually enable me to complete more shops, without exhausting me even more.

And I have signed up, over and over again, for the free classes offered by my cell provider. The nearest one is an hour away. Every time I have gone, they have cancelled because not enough people signed up. So I haven't actually succeeded in taking any of the classes.

As for the on-line tutorials, unless it's for the specific phone I own -- well, I can't translate. If I could find tutorials with the exact same phone, I could learn, but the ones I have found, the phones don't look like mine.

As for more shops "offsetting" the cost of updating my tech, I do NOT have the funds to update. I'm conversant with the tax advantages, too, and wish I could and write off the expense. But you have to have the money to spend, and I just do not have it.
@ceasesmith wrote:

@Megs7521 wrote:

You can take pictures on a smart phone using the volume button on a pair of ear buds. If your hands are sore, you might find it easier to wrap the cord around your hand and use leverage to snap photos.

Wow. Didn't know that. Anyway, I'm more comfortable with the digital camera, as outmoded as it is. I have taken some photos with my phone, but am dissatisfied with them -- evidently, when my hands hurt, they also have a tiny tremor, and I have yet to take a photo with my cell that is not blurry. I don't have that problem with my digital camera.

As for more successful shops, I really don't see increasing the number of shops I do. After a day of shopping, I'm so wiped out that I take the next 24 hours to focus on reports (and lining up more shops for later), and then 24 hours to physically recover. I would LOVE to be able to use apps for "filler shops" when I'm on routes, shops that I could COMPLETE on my iPhone and not be facing even more reports when I do get home. That would actually enable me to complete more shops, without exhausting me even more.

And I have signed up, over and over again, for the free classes offered by my cell provider. The nearest one is an hour away. Every time I have gone, they have cancelled because not enough people signed up. So I haven't actually succeeded in taking any of the classes.

As for the on-line tutorials, unless it's for the specific phone I own -- well, I can't translate. If I could find tutorials with the exact same phone, I could learn, but the ones I have found, the phones don't look like mine.

As for more shops "offsetting" the cost of updating my tech, I do NOT have the funds to update. I'm conversant with the tax advantages, too, and wish I could and write off the expense. But you have to have the money to spend, and I just do not have it.

One thing to consider, your local school district/community ed/senior center/library might have some tech classes. I live in a pretty small town but each of those resources have had courses over the years, many of them free. You might also want to contact your local school district to see if there are students looking for service hours that could help you out since you have some physical limitations.
Actually, I have proposed just that to the senior center and Chamber of Commerce.

High school students here do a great deal to help the seniors.

Great ideas, thanks.
I think I know the MSC that you are talking about if it is Cenex stations you are right they are a pain. I took one for the base because it was a new one to me. Luckily I will not be doing any more of them. Just like the jack in a box I had to say at least that I tried one.
ceasesmith

Please try

IMAGE RESIZER FOR WINDOWS

Its a small and easy little app/program. User can select all the photos and resize them all at once. It's been around for a long time.
Ceasesmith, I can see why the companies like you...what a good writer. Are you connected at all with an independent living center serving people with disabilities? They vary enormously from state to state, and within states, but some of them have expertise and resources in accessible technology. Not only might you benefit from the services of an independent living center, you would be a great resource to a center with your writing skills and your expertise in mystery shopping.
I am disabled and work from home doing phone shops. You could search the job boards and use the phone shops as fillers. They do not pay as much but once you get more established you can get better paying shops. If you have good narratives that is a plus.
Thank you all.

How very kind and supportive you are.

To answer one question, never heard of independent living centers with resources for disabled folks. Two towns that MIGHT have those are one and a half hours away.

I hate phone shops. Not sure why. I did try it once. Call was supposed to take 3 minutes, report even less, but it took me 45 minutes! I just don't know what to say when the person who answers the phone gives me an unexpected response (like asking me if I have an account with them -- say what? I'm just calling for pricing info, LOL!!!). I did 5 calls, and it was an absolutely miserable experience. Boy, I hand it to anybody who can do phone shops! Left me stressed out and crying, because I had hoped phone shopping would let me work from home.

I did my first Field Agent "assignment", but now I can't figure out how to get paid for it, LOL!!!

Thanks, all.
ceasesmith..you warm my heart. Keep on going, Sista!

*****************************************************************************
A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

Zen Shin Talks
Hi, independent living centers may be able to give you information over the phone about accessible technology or other resources. The disability accessibility of technology has improved greatly and continues to improve. Your state may also have a department which provides equipment or other resources. To find an independent living center, just google. Please send me a private message if you'd like. I'm in California, the birthplace of the independent living movement, and we are lucky to have a robust network of independent living centers, but there are centers in every state. Their trade group has a low-interest fund so Californians with disabilities can obtain needed technology. Also, and forgive me if this is not appropriate, but many of the telecom providers have reduced price services for people with disabilities.
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