A "Free" Meal is NOT Enough for Hours of Work on Dining Shops

My one rule for dining shops is that the food has to be healthy and the report has to be super short and easy. That brings me down to one shop in maybe a week or two. I have tried a few food shops but didn't do them again since the food was either bad for my waistline or the report was too long. So far, I am only repeating my Mediterranean food shop every Tuesday. I love that I can choose what I put in it and the report takes me less than 10 minutes. All the reimbursement and fees in the world won't be enough to cover the healthcare costs. But that's just my humble opinion.

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Again, I am sure you are correct about places like California and New York. The cost of housing in Los Angeles is 469% more expensive than in St. Louis. There is a big difference between the lifestyle of someone making $50,000 here versus $50,000 in Los Angeles.

@SoCalMama wrote:

Lisa, most people who make $50,000 a year, don't go out for a lot of $200 dinners. They also don't go to a lot of Ritz Carlton resorts and spend $3000 on a weekend. They are looking for their typical demographic.

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.
@HonnyBrown wrote:

Why wrosie? Not everyone does it for the money. I first started doing it to learn my way around a new city.

I said "a lot" not all.

People I have tried to get interested in MS that make over $50K couldn't be bothered.
@wrosie wrote:

@HonnyBrown wrote:

Why wrosie? Not everyone does it for the money. I first started doing it to learn my way around a new city.

I said "a lot" not all.

People I have tried to get interested in MS that make over $50K couldn't be bothered.

There are people who make under $50K who won't shop too!

It really depends on the person and how they value their time and how they view ms-ing. Some might see it as a good way to save money or make a little extra. Others see it as a rip-off and hassle that is not worth it. My guess is there are probably SOME shops that anyone would do.

Five Guys, for example, gets you decent food for a fee and easy report. Remington Evaluations shops would maybe be an example of shops few people would want to do.
I'm disgusted that you used slave twice in your attempt of comparison. Not only were you completely off base with your analogy it was offensive and inconsiderate.
@eyelove2shop wrote:

I'm disgusted that you used slave twice in your attempt of comparison. Not only were you completely off base with your analogy it was offensive and inconsiderate.

I wasn't aware there was anything offensive about saying that it felt like slave-work (i.e., as in "slave wages" and/or being underpaid for something), eyelove2shop.

Imho, the gig economy in the U.S. is frequently a form of modern industrialized-nation slavery. It has no benefits, no stability/predictability of scheduling, and workers frequently earn less than minimum wage for their hourly work. This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of academics who see it as exploitation of workers. (You can Google: "economists" + "gig economy" + "exploitation/slavery".)

That does not mean every job you take on is like that. And I can definitely understand that one person's junk may be a another person's treasure when it comes to shops! I've been in that camp, too, when it comes to grocery shops, for example. But, as a whole, I can definitely understand how people (including myself when it comes to certain shops) might view ms-sing as exploitation work - and hence slave-work. I haven't calculated it to the penny, but I definitely don't think I make minimum wage mystery shopping. It's probably $5.50/hour or so.

edit: Although, I'm learning to avoid those rip-off shops better now, so my hourly is improving!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/2018 07:37PM by shoptastic.
@Threemom wrote:

Why would you take one that requires $5-$10 in gas?

I don't always. But, I live in a suburban area that is spread out and requires lots of driving to get to and fro.

Few restaurants shops are within five miles of me. Most are around 7 miles round-trip and some are much more. sad smiley Using the government mileage deduction calculator, I just round it to 50 cents a mile for my car for mileage value. It could be closer to .35-.40, given it's an older car.

For the further away shops, I try to route them with other shops. I take them on the EXPECTATION of being able to pick up another shop nearby. Sometimes that sowrks out and sometimes it doesn't, as someone else will take the ones I need for a route. But, in these cases, the restaurant is usually one the piques my interest and looks worthwhile. Sadly, in many instances, it's not been that way after eating there and I regretted taking it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/2018 07:45PM by shoptastic.
If a shopper shops specifically to make cash money, restaurant shops are not the way to go. That’s all there is to it.

The vast majority of restaurant shops appeal to people who value the meal itself, and are not looking to cash in on the experience. If I already wanted to visit a steakhouse for a nice dinner, a shop with $200 reimbursement would be great. Yeah, maybe I order a “choice” entree and end up spending $30 out of pocket, but in the end I’m saving $200.
@Megs7521 wrote:

If a shopper shops specifically to make cash money, restaurant shops are not the way to go. That’s all there is to it.

The vast majority of restaurant shops appeal to people who value the meal itself, and are not looking to cash in on the experience. If I already wanted to visit a steakhouse for a nice dinner, a shop with $200 reimbursement would be great. Yeah, maybe I order a “choice” entree and end up spending $30 out of pocket, but in the end I’m saving $200.

Yeah. That might just be the diff., Megs7521.

For me, I DO try to make money. And I am guessing a lot of shoppers here are too. So, restaurants aren't a good way to go sadly. Although, I did love BWW in the past, because that MSC would bonus shops on top of the fee. I made money on those shops.

But, I guess one thing that does disappoint me is that even when I willingly take on a dining shop (maybe not to make money, but to just have an enjoyable meal with family), the reimbursement often makes it so you can't get "good items" or what the restaurant is known for. Instead, I have to order the "economy" item or lower grade meal to get under the reimbursement. In those cases, it stinks. I personally am not willing to pay out-of-pocket for the upgrade. I can see how that might be worth it to others, though. For me, I can't/won't do it.

If I remember correctly, Tupelo Honey, for example, was a shop where you had to bring a guest and the reimbursement didn't cover the cost of the meal (they wanted you to order appetizer, dessert, entree and alcoholic beverage). The work for that shop was horrendous and very tedious. My guest and I didn't get to order food we wanted. Their mac-n-cheese was delicious, though!!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/2018 08:36PM by shoptastic.
I love some of the food shops and am willing to do them for the reimbursement; however, I would not do one that had a long, detailed report. I love the Tx. Rd, Bubba's, Mimi's, BJ's Brewhouse shops and take them as often as I am allowed. I usually end up spending more than the reimbursement at Mimi's but it's worth it to me as I like to eat there and the report is easy.
My pet peeve is when the dining shops require 2 people. I don't like depending on anyone to go with me. I would have loved to do Chang's but they wanted 2 people. The other pet peeve are the dining shops where one must wait for a scheduler to make the decision as to whether you get the shop or not. Sometimes that can take several days of waiting.
@eyelove2shop wrote:

I'm disgusted that you used slave twice in your attempt of comparison. Not only were you completely off base with your analogy it was offensive and inconsiderate.
Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Thanks, Hoju)

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
"Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended."

I do. Using "slave" to describe an unpleasant experience that you created yourself is shortsighted and insensitive.
@Dudester wrote:

"Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended."

I do. Using "slave" to describe an unpleasant experience that you created yourself is shortsighted and insensitive.

I guess my question is insensitive for what reason? If I grant you that I "created a bad experience for myself," (for the sake of discussion) why/how did I offend someone by saying I felt the work/pay was like slave wages? It's been said before on this forum (search "slave wages" ) and many of us continue to complain about the low-ball pay MSCs offer (e.g., $2/phone shops...$5 reimbursement only ice cream shops, etc.).

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2018 03:51AM by shoptastic.
It's freaking verrrrry politically incorrect to use that term. You could call yourself other things that people would find offensive due to the negative connotations associated with the words. It doesn't matter that you were referring to yourself when using it, other people find it hurtful. Think about it.
Feel free to PM you all if it makes it easier. I don't want to derail the original intent of the thread. If I did say something offensive, I would want to know and for what reason. I'd definitely apologize and try not to do it again. It's something my pastor would affirm, as we are not to be stumbling blocks for others and to honor and respect one another. I honestly do not see how I said anything offensive in my remarks, however. But, I'm willing to hear you guys out.

edited to add: I have on toggle a lot of posters, so I don't always see people's messages to me that aren't quoted.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2018 04:01AM by shoptastic.
Just to chime in..I do make under 50,000 a year and I agree. I can't recall a time I've ever dined at a restuarant where It cost 200 dollars to dine. I really don't think I could mystery shop that as I would be extremely nervous I wouldn't get reimbursed.

I also do this to make money..trying to get credit cards paid off and save enough money to move next year

So far I've done the Applebee shops..I don't mind reimbursement on that because the food lasts 3 to 5 days

I've done one sit in dining shop where you order at the counter and I didn't mind that one being reimbursement only because atmosphere and the ordering experience was so unique

Now that I'm thinking about it I much prefer the places that offer a to go option..so in my case in agreement with the op..really dont think I would be happy with reimbursement only for dine in..might budge on that if the report is relatively short

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2018 04:12AM by dawnhu.
dawnhu, you are worried about getting reimbursed. My comments were in general about friends and acquaintances who dine out a lot. They regularly visit places comparable in price to Ruth's Chris. Ironically, Ruth's Chris is not high on the list of places they dine, but price is not the issue so much as it is a chain. My circle of friends, many of whom are or have been in the restaurant business, tend to gravitate toward locally owned restaurants.

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.
One quick thing guys, before I head off to sleep.

If there was offense taken to me using the word "slave," due to our country's history of slavery, I can understand that. I had really, really hoped in my heart that no one would have ever made that connection (because it goes against all that I stand for and was absolutely not anything that had even occurred to me). Please do PM me if this was the case. I'd want to address that in a post when I'm better able to. That was the main thing that came to my mind when thinking of how my words may have offended others.

Maybe I'm in a position of privilege and those sorts of things don't come to my mind. Still, I wouldn't want to be insensitive and say something stupidly (and ignorantly) offensive. If there are things I don't know or understand, I'd like to learn.

No matter the cause of the issue, I apologize for being possibly ignorant and insensitive with my words. I may not experience things in life that others have to go through. But, I wouldn't want to make light of others' struggles or hurts. And if my words were hurtful in any way, please forgive me, as I am sorry and realize I cannot know another person's experience and pain at times. But, using my own hurts in life, I can empathize in life (even if the pain/hurts aren't exactly the same) with others and see how it might have affected someone else.

I'd want people to know that I didn't mean anything hurtful in my heart of hearts with what I said. I was speaking probably stupidly and ignorantly without thinking of how my words might come out. And I hope to avoid that in the future and apologize for any pain I might have unnecessarily caused others.
@dawnhu wrote:

Just to chime in..I do make under 50,000 a year and I agree. I can't recall a time I've ever dined at a restuarant where It cost 200 dollars to dine. I really don't think I could mystery shop that as I would be extremely nervous I wouldn't get reimbursed.

I also do this to make money..trying to get credit cards paid off and save enough money to move next year

So far I've done the Applebee shops..I don't mind reimbursement on that because the food lasts 3 to 5 days

Just a quick suggestion for those of us who shop for money: Perhaps we can set up our "own" thread on this topic? As in, how best can we make money from ms-ing and things/pitfalls to avoid. I feel like restaurants are a major temptation, as they sound very nice (who wouldn't want to enjoy a nice steak or seafood dinner?) and even have "impressive" reimbursements (e.g., $100...$75) - until you realize it's just a reimbursed meal/food, but they also can hurt our long-term income goals.

I still feel that grocery shops are a must-do for those shopping for money. They provide a basic necessity for life and are always available. You don't lose much in time/mileage, because you'd have to shop for them anyways (and spend that same time/money/mileage). Whereas, not everyone has to eat out for a meal - you can eat at home.

Grocery shops
Apartment shops
Bank shops
and easy dining shops that preferably pay (Sonic, Five Guys, Panda Express, Papa John's, etc.)

would be my list of income staples for ms-ing.

edited to add - Also, I'll do phone shops earlier in the month when bonuses are not available for traditional shops and I don't have a good route. That saves me mileage on my car.

I also do a lot of my grocery shops earlier in the month. They never get bonused, so I don't see any advantage to holding out until the 3rd/4th weeks of the month (when other types of shops get bonused). And, they pay quick and I need them for food. I do a lot of phone shops earlier in the month too...much for the same reason. No bonuses to wait for and with a lack of good routes, I prefer to stay home to save on mileage costs.

Then, during weeks 3 and 4, I'll pick up more routes with bonused shops.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2018 04:58AM by shoptastic.
@LisaSTL wrote:

dawnhu, you are worried about getting reimbursed. My comments were in general about friends and acquaintances who dine out a lot. They regularly visit places comparable in price to Ruth's Chris. Ironically, Ruth's Chris is not high on the list of places they dine, but price is not the issue so much as it is a chain. My circle of friends, many of whom are or have been in the restaurant business, tend to gravitate toward locally owned restaurants.

So true! They'd rather eat at a new, hip place or an old established place than Ruth's Chris, but I think that Ruth's Chris is universally known.
Bob typed: As such the slaving over a report for three hours ............

Bob's reply: My usage of slave was as a verb, but even had it been as a noun, it is my opinion it would not have been inappropriate. The sensitivity of this country has become absurdly ridiculous. Our country's slavery of blacks was as evil as humanly possible, but that does not mean I will dance around verbiage not meant to denigrate anyone in the off chance someone will feel offended. I have zero recollection of ever having read of any other race's concern for Caucasian's feelings.
Doing restaurants is a very personal thing, depending on lifestyle, example: I am alone and a senior (which you should all know by now) LOL. I did a lunch in a casual upscale (expensive) place yesterday where portions were large. My friend and I had a sizable reimbursement with the typical fee, anyway, we enjoyed our time together, I was able to bring half my salad home for dinner. Sociability, good food, paid for gives me my enjoyment. I do a restaurant twice a week, and feel good, a report for being able to bring a friend and not cook works, too many reasons to mention, so don't put people down for their choices in accepting different jobs, MSing is a very personal thing, and Kudo's for that.....you don't like it, don't do it. Personally, my preference in dining is small individually owned restaurants which are not shopped, except for one I do.

Feeling like a :slave" is entirely your problem, I never have or could use that word, perhaps not the best choice given with what's going on in this country.
Afterthought, prices are high in L.A. gas the highest, travel horrific on a couple freeways, parking oy vey......for these reasons I'm thrilled to be able to go out in my town, staying within 3/5 miles and enjoy myself. I do have to like the food, that's a given. Slave, really...deva may be a better word for the way I do things.....(only kidding).

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.....
Dr. Judith Wright
Removed
Moderator Note:

Please do not make unfounded generalizations. Add a positive contribution to the community. No personal insults.

Roflwofl, I agree mostly with what you say below but I am offended to my core by the fact that you keep calling slaves he. There were many, many she slaves who often had to make additional horrible sacrifices in their lives.
But the above comment is just an example about how any one of us can be offended by almost anything these days. ...I have been around for a long time and have seen words come and go and then be alright again suddenly..
Shoptastic came forward and apologized for her error in assuming others do not see the word slave as having only one meaning. I truly hope she slept well after that. I grew up with the term slave labor and never once in my life did I actually connect the term with the issues of real slavery. I grew up with a lot of terms that are thankfully gone now but some of them had grown into having meanings beyond the original intent of the word. I think it is difficult for some of us to stop and think about each and every term we use that might have a different context for people different than ourselves. We just need a jolt awake from those who are offended to explain why. But it does not discount the entire post. I am totally in agreement with roflwofl about the fact that mystery shopping is not the same as slave labor in that we have choices.
And I am fishing in my mind for a replacement term for the term "slave labor" when someone actually means their boss acts towards them like a slave boss in some respects.
Any coined new terms for that? Of course any bosses out there will probably be offended.


@roflwofl wrote:

I agree with bob that we are getting a little too over-sensitive. I don't think the offended feelings were expressed in response to Bob's "slaving for over a report" comment. I think the offense taken was in response to the OP's first post in which she states " I always feel like a SLAVE afterwards. " I was not offended by her comment. I simply thought she is young and probably not well educated or socially adept. That others have expressed feeling offended and she still doesn't see how anyone could possibly be offended confirms my initial thought.

Aside from politically incorrect, any mystery shopper saying she feels "like a SLAVE" is a poor comparison and bad choice of words. A slave is a slave because he has no choices. He does as he is told, when he is told, how he is told. He works without benefit to himself and is completely under the control and direction of someone else. A mystery shopper chooses the work he performs and chooses the reimbursements/fees that she believes are fair compensation for her efforts. Any mystery shopper who performs shops when she feels "like a SLAVE" is either stupid or is being over-dramatic. Anyone who would state that she repeatedly performs shops that make her feel that way is ridiculous. I mean, once, yes, twice, maybe...... but what's wrong with you that you continue to do it? OP, if certain shops do not appeal to you, don't do them. If a shop makes you feel bad, why would you continue to do them?
One thing I have learned— don’t troll the job boards when you are hungry!

A week later I’ll be sitting down to some meal; “What on earth was I thinking?!” *face palm*
Why hasn't anyone mentioned indentured servitude in this thread yet. I don't believe it can be used as a verb.
@Mum wrote:

My one rule for dining shops is that the food has to be healthy and the report has to be super short and easy. That brings me down to one shop in maybe a week or two. I have tried a few food shops but didn't do them again since the food was either bad for my waistline or the report was too long.

I too do the healthy ones (I have been able to lose 70 lbs while mystery shopping). I prefer El Pollo Loco shops. I do Five Guys once a year. I like Applebees and BJ's as they have a full menu I can pick from and I can get items modified. There are a lot of fast food places I don't take since they are not healthy.
My word to answer SandyF would be, "minimum pay", and yes, words used to be words, but common sense must now be present, as many of us are sensitive. The word really assumes a "slave" is black, and that is racist.
We have to be aware and NOT model ourselves after the head of the country, and to the OP, I think it was meant as an expression, so, no harm done.Re-reading the 1st page, salary beside MSing doesn't matter, don't you know wealthy people that are smart when it comes to money. Read about the professional members on this forum, and jobs they have had, and continue to MS.....my house is paid for, no car pymts, still a couple hundred + monthly adds up, so getting a dinner for a report, no biggie....I don't know why some think it's for the poor, it's not for everyone, but it is for many!!!! You only make 12.00 for some big box stores with reports, and 6.00 considering you have to buy something for a dollar, which doesn't exsist (TrendSource). I'd rather have a nice lunch/dinner reimbursed, then a fee whatever it be.....not doing it for the fee, but I have to eat.

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.....
Dr. Judith Wright


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2018 07:44PM by Irene_L.A..
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