Reimbursement Only Shops

I will gladly take $150 or $200 fine dining steak house shops for reimbursement only. Otherwise I am sitting home and eating chicken or hamburger that I paid for and cooked.

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@BirdyC wrote:

@Rousseau wrote:

IMO, reimbursement shops are not for professional shoppers.

I totally disagree with you there. Many professional shoppers do reimbursement-only or reimbursement-plus-small-fee shops. People's reasons are different, but that doesn't diminish their professionalism or their competence. There are some shoppers on this forum who are consummate professionals (far more experienced than many of us and whose skills are evident) and who do reimbursement shops. (I am not placing myself in that company, but I do consider myself a professional, if not full-time, shopper, and I do restaurant reimbursement shops, but those with an accompanying small fee.) Your opinion seems somewhat condescending.

He/she was not condescending at all. By definition, a professional is someone who gets paid for his/her services. A professional shopper would not work for free.

Professional: (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

condescending: having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2018 06:41PM by AZwolfman.
@AZwolfman wrote:

He/she was not condescending at all. By definition, a professional is someone who gets paid for his/her services. A professional shopper would not work for free.

Professional: (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

condescending: having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority.

A professional can also be defined as trading his/her services in exchange of some sort of compensation, whether it be cash, goods, etc. In most of our cases, some of our goods, services and other expenses we are exchanging our work for are work reimbursements rather than gifts; hence, why we aren't taxed for these items.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 28 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
@AZwolfman wrote:

He/she was not condescending at all. By definition, a professional is someone who gets paid for his/her services. A professional shopper would not work for free.

I sometimes give some of my time on a freelance job as an "in-kind" donation of services to the charitable organizations that are clients of mine. Are you saying I'm not a professional because I don't get paid in cash for this time?

Also, we're not working for free on reimbursement shops. We are working for something that has a value attached to it. That value can be considered what that item would otherwise cost, or what its value is to us personally.

Attorneys are usually asked to work some "pro-bono" cases. That is really "working for free." Are they not being professionals when they work for free?

Just because some shoppers may primarily do reimbursement shops does not make them non-professionals. (BTW, I do mostly fee shops, but I do a lot of reimbursement-plus-small-fee dining shops. I consider myself a professional, even though I do not shop full time. However, I am a marketing communications professional who gets paid, and paid well, for writing. And shopping does require good writing skills, does it not?)

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2018 09:51PM by BirdyC.
Of course, any professional can donate some of his time, money, and labor to charity and still be considered a professional. Working for free as a course of habit or on a regular basis is not a professional or profitable way to run a business, unless of course you are donating your time, labor, and money to drum up new business (such as a salesman gives away free product).
@AZwolfman wrote:

Working for free as a course of habit or on a regular basis is not a professional or profitable way to run a business, unless of course you are donating your time, labor, and money to drum up new business (such as a salesman gives away free product).

I don't think anyone here is talking about taking reimbursement-only shops as a way of shopping life. If one is not attempting to make a profit on a business, then, no, I'd say they're not necessarily a professional. But your statement, "A professional shopper would not work for free," seemed to indicate you look down on anyone who shops for reimbursement. And, I repeat: It's not "for free." The product for which reimbursement is given has value to the shopper, or the shopper wouldn't do the shop. If someone, for example, gets a particular product for a reimbursement that covers, or nearly so, an item that the shopper then turns around and sells for double or triple the amount reimbursed or paid, I'd say that shopper has found a way to make a profit on those shops.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2018 11:38AM by BirdyC.
So if an electrician does electrical work for a farmer and in return is paid with a side of beef, he is no longer a professional?

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@Tarantado wrote:

@bgriffin wrote:

I do not consider it unethical at all and don't understand why someone would.

Do you report your the double-dipped reimbursements as taxable income?

Actually yes because it is no longer reimbursement for something I spent. Per diem however, is not taxable and is paid regardless of how I spend it. I'm not submitting two receipts, one to the client and one for mystery shopping as I have only ever been on per diem that does not have receipts. I don't consider it unethical, just like the client didn't view it as unethical to lower the reimbursement by over a third of the IRS guidelines for that area. I was stretching what they gave me and they were lowering what they wanted to pay. I could have packed food to eat and had the same outcome, but since I worked an 80 hour week that week for no extra pay since I'm an exempt FTE, I was not feeling super motivated.
@tlin wrote:

Actually yes because it is no longer reimbursement for something I spent. Per diem however, is not taxable and is paid regardless of how I spend it. I'm not submitting two receipts, one to the client and one for mystery shopping as I have only ever been on per diem that does not have receipts. I don't consider it unethical, just like the client didn't view it as unethical to lower the reimbursement by over a third of the IRS guidelines for that area. I was stretching what they gave me and they were lowering what they wanted to pay. I could have packed food to eat and had the same outcome, but since I worked an 80 hour week that week for no extra pay since I'm an exempt FTE, I was not feeling super motivated.

Per diem isn’t always paid like that, so what you said isn’t always true. A project I had in San Francisco paid a per diem of up to $100 per day for the 3 weeks I was relocated there. But the per diem agreement paid for by the client was a ‘use it or lose it’ with the client. In other words, I had to submit receipts for my meals and got reimbursed exact amounts rather than being paid a lump sum $100 per day.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 28 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
I just picked up a Reimbursement shop only. I did so because I knew the report was short and easy. I did it because I can use a coupon and I have a BOGO for this place and I have wanted to try this place for some time. So now I go there, I can try it out and because I have a BOGO I can bring a family member and they, too, can get something. Now, after I do it this one time will I go back? Probably not but to try a place once, get a BOGO and have a 5-10 minute report to do (Meaning we here should all know who the MSC is) - why not!?
I'll do reimbursement only shops, but the problem I run into is that sometimes I go over and spend money I would not have otherwise. It's usually under $5, but it's still money I didn't want to spend, so I'm very selective about my shops.
I do a couple, just because it makes sense.

1: Gas Stations. The ones I do here in Canada are super easy to do the reports and submit. About 10 minutes to do survey if that, they want pictures of the advertising of the signage above the pump and a picture of the entire gas station. To me its worth it.

2: Grocery. Order Online, pickup in store, Order $50, get it credited back to you (must use a certain credit card). Do it monthly. Sometimes they tell me what to order (Ie get 4 fresh fruit, 3 veggies, 1 Ice cream, 2 meat) Fairly easy report (15 minutes).

3. Some Food. There is some fast food stuff (IE a burrito, pizza and Shawarma place) that do reimbursements only, reports are super easy (5 minutes) and want picture of food. I will do those few times a month. Higher end restaurants I ask for payment. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. Typically I won't do them unless I get paid something for my time. Reports can take an hour and usually get sent back for some questions.

I have done 1 hotel stay, which was reimbursement. Total credit was over $600 (Food, room, spa, Parking,other services, one night). Honestly, not sure if its worth it. Had zero time to relax. 80 Pictures. Took me hours to get the report done. They did not come back with any follow up questions how ever.
I will chime in as another who likes these shops. In terms of resturants, if you like them, and you are going to bring your SO to a resturant anyway, it seems like getting the meal comped is good payment for a little bit of paperwork to me. I also do the pizza take out with pictures shops sometimes, but mostly because I would buy that pizza about once a month anyway, so why not have a MSC pay for it if I plan to bring pizza to my family. Lately the pizza shop even comes with a small fee, so...bonus. smiling smiley

I agree with those on here who say you are getting paid. It's just in goods and services. With hard items (non food) you are welcome to turn around and sell them, and recoup 70-80% of your money. No company would complain if you did. Sometimes you have to think outside the box to maximize earning potential. I hope you all enjoy the shops you do, and be open to new ones!

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
@oteixeira wrote:

With hard items (non food) you are welcome to turn around and sell them, and recoup 70-80% of your money. No company would complain if you did.

There is a hair-care product shop out there where the MSC won't let you re-sell the product. You have to destroy the packaging and maybe deface the labels or something (I don't do these, so I'm not sure), and submit a photo showing you have done so.

So a person really has to need the product in order to do the shop, because the $10 fee doesn't make the shop worthwhile otherwise.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
@BirdyC I have not heard of that one, but I would personally not do something that asked me to destroy a product unless it was a recall assignment (I have done a few of those over the years).

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
I am a professional even if I work at mystery shopping one hour a week. It has nothing to do with how many hours you work. Many people have two professions. As of now I am retired from my other job so mystery shopping is my only job but still I am very part time. My next door neighbor is a dentist but he also teaches at the university. So which one is he a professional at based on the definition above? Or since he does not work a full 40 hours a week as a dentist does that preclude him from being a professional dentist?....If he is trained for the job he is a professional. He may not consider himself a professional teacher since dentistry is his main job but it is definitely a profession he had to train and be an expert in.

Below is a series of definitions from Miriam Webster. Not all the definitions have money as the end point. But generally there is some money somewhere involved. Professionals do a lot of non earning things to hone their skills and practice. They even sometimes give talks for free. As for the learned part, I did my first mystery shop job after reading one paragraph of information. I did have prior learning such as to read and reasoning skills and how to work professionally but I would not say that specific learning in this profession is absolutely necessary. It certainly helps to make us better though but most of us learned on the job and through forums like this one I would say.

Definition of professional
1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession
b : engaged in one of the learned professions
c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
(2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs

a professional golfer

b : having a particular profession as a permanent career

a professional soldier

c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return

professional football

3 : following a line of conduct as though it were a profession

a professional patriot
^^ Where is the heart icon? smiling smiley

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
I'm in the position right now, where saving time and money is equally important as earning money, so reimbursement only shops, particularly those very close to home, are worth it to me. After I leave my current career, I may be willing to stretch a little further, but for right now, many shops just don't pay enough and I am not a route shopper. Who knows however, what the future may bring...life presents changes.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/2018 12:02PM by BarefootBliss.
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