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

The waistline isn't the only thing affected. Blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin are all affected. That's a high price to pay for a free meal.

@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. 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.

The internet doesn't make you smart. It makes you good at regurgitation.

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Happy to be in CA where we are healthy eaters with many choices and calories and ingredients on the menu,
I also watch what I get except for a burger, don't eat but a few fries. I'm a big salad person getting it tossed light or olive oil/lemon. Salmon always a good choice with veggies. Twice a week I go all out, but no dessert, if I to , I'll get a scoop of vanilla ice cream, they just want the timings. I am always aware, so, yes eating out (now days in CA) allows you to enjoy and not overdue, all about will power.
MUM I agree, not worth health issues, I'm on a strict eating regime and still have plenty of healthy food, 99% use the good oil and fat, education about food really helps. While eating out and in, I was able to get my #'s down and lose 9 pds.

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


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2018 09:15PM by Irene_L.A..
@HonnyBrown. I meant the same thing when I said that all the fees and reimbursements won't cover the healthcare costs. All that free food comes with a high price.
I get all the "it is not good for your health" posts, but keep in mind a lot of us eat out every once in a while, and this is the type of food we eat when we go (chain restaurants). If we are talking about daily hitting the fast food, then that I understand (if you didn't normally do it). If you did normally do the fast food, well, your health bills will be what they will be, with or without shopping.

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
I agree, so many I know 30 years younger than I and never shopped, go out, eat poorly at home and have major health issues...not really fair to blame shopping, it's up to us....that's why I posted, that it works for me.
Eating in and buying prepared foods which have perservatives and mucho salt, is really the enemy.

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 09:23PM by Irene_L.A..
Hmm ,just got back from a mystery food shop at a place called Bulletproof....no pay but reimbursement up to $25. It was an interesting shop. The company sells all sorts of nutritional supplements ($95 or more per bottle) and has a cafe in Santa Monica. Never in the world would I have gone there on my own but for the cost of an hour or so reporting, why not? So I had "no coffee latte" which was made with coconut milk and had a boost of their brain power supplement in it in addition to other healthy stuff....the tacos were made with no flours so a corn less corn taco and the best and largest amt of fabulous guacamole and a side of grilled veggies on the taco meals. I must say I would go back for those wonderful tacos at a reasonable price for lunch around here. I have found and eaten at so many wonderful meal places since mystery shopping took me there. My income is well over $50,000 and I do it for the reimbursements as much as possible and not feeling bad about spending my own dime to try some of the fabulous things I have tried. Sometimes not worth it food or drink so then I am happy I did not pay cash.
And do not forget in a high tax state for a $100 meal out of pocket I would need to earn over $130 in order to pay for it with after tax money. I have not figured out my tax rate but with soc sec, medicare, disability and the state and fed tax we pay a lot out of our paychecks.
I can write such a scintillating post right now only because I just had my daily brain boost supplement in my mystery shop drink!!!
@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.

I live in a very high cost of living area. Making a few times that per year does not allow much in the way of frivolous spending. I would not eat out more than once a week otherwise, and that would be at a place that is under $40 for dinner. The mystery shopping has been sending us to all kinds of places. My credit card bill for a few restaurant shops this month will be hitting close to a grand. I would not dream of that otherwise.
To Shoptastic,

Three weeks ago, after my existing power supply died I purchased a new computer. The transition from XP has been a nightmare for me that I do not recall when I upgraded from Windows 95 in 2003. I was not able to respond to your PM, due to my inability to figure out how to take that action. It seems as though the engineers, decided to change what did not need changing. An example: In XP, I could attach my camera, the wizard would appear and guide me. Now, though, the wizard is gone and I have not, as yet, found the camera file delete option.
@shoptastic I've never done the Texas Roadhouse one because I dreaded the report after doing other $100-ish entertainment/restauratnts for that company. For that particular company usually $100 in free stuff is a 3 hour report and I have found that to not be worth my time. Especially since you don't get to completely enjoy it. The only one I currently do for them is Chilis since its ridiculously easy. About how long does the Texas Roadhouse one take?
@bunnychild

Do one and I think you'll like it. I haven't done a Chili's shop for the MSC but have done multiple Texas Roadhouse shops and they are one of my favorites.

I think I get through the report in about a half hour or less. There is a call required to start the shop so it does add about 5 minutes to the report. Also, the food is good enough that I would frequent the place even if I'm not shopping it.
@bunnychild, the Texas Roadhouse report is much easier than a fine dining report. Like wrosie said, it takes about half an hour. The reimbursement is $35, and although it is possible to stay under it, it takes careful planning. Talk on this forum persuaded me to try a bar shop, and I would recommend trying one of those. The reimbursement is $25 and when I've done them alone I have always been under reimbursement.
Yes you can't order the loaded bone in ribeye and stay within the reimbursement amount. But if you do order it, I feel you got a deal for $10 or so out of pocket for two meals!

Try a dinner at the bar and you can order the loaded bone in ribeye and stay under the reimbursement amount.
I am offended that people are offended so easily!!! For goodness sakes, folks get over yourselves!
Some MSC allow you to use Gift Cards for a shop. Those that do sometimes have cards at Costco where you can spend, say, $70/$80 and get $100 in Cards. I did that for one place where I could spend up to $180. I spent $140 on Cards at Costco. The bill came to about $140. Tax was not covered in the Cards so I paid that in cash. I now have $60 in Gift Cards for that place to go back and enjoy a nice meal - FOR FREE! So I did not get paid, directly, but now I can go back to that place and enjoy a nice meal for FREE.
I don't think the super cheapo food shops (can you say Jack In The Box?) are worth it.

But I regularly enjoy a variety of restaurant shops.

I certainly agree with the OP re: TX Roadhouse. Not only is it a place I would eat if I weren't shopping, the GF really enjoys it, so I can take her for a dinner shop (I only do lunch shops).

Others that I will gladly sign up for whenever available are Freddy's (probably my favorite quick serve burgers) and The Habit (also a great burger). I wind up pocketing a few bucks for the former. Habit has two different pay structures, but I like the food enough I will do either.

Out west there is a soup/salad chain called Cafe Zupas which I probably shop more than the other restaurants combined. They reimburse up to $15 and pay $8. The food is good, and while the report is a bit involved, I've done so many of them I've got it down pat as far as recording information during the shop.

And I've recently gotten into MOD Pizza. I really like the food, and it's a pretty easy shop, so well worth a lunch out and a few bucks in my pocket.

I've yet to do a Ruth's Chris, but I have done our local Fleming's a couple of times. I love eating there, so I wind up going well over the reimbursements, and treat it as getting a massive discount in exchange for time.

And I've done the whole shebang at our Hotel Monaco, with the two night stay, room service and restaurant meals and bar observations. Made for a nice romantic (albeit it a working) weekend.
I am VERY curious where the figure of $40 comes into play at the Capital Grill? You needed to pay up-front, not sure you can get a hamburger at CG for $40 and what is the $225 figure for the meal?

Lainerz
10 Year Veteran Shopper
What MSC offers shops for Sonic, Panda Express, Five guys and Golden Coral? Any pointers?


@shoptastic wrote:

@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.
I’ve not seen these high-end restaurant mystery shops in the two years I’ve been doing this. Would someone be willing to tell me the companies that assign these? Thus far I’ve worked for A Closer Look and Customer Impact and have done some average (only reimbursement) shops. Thanks in advance.
I prefer to do reimbursement only shops. I have been (very part-time) MSing for 4 years and have never had to give the one company I work for my SS#. I did a couple fee retail shops before I moved as there was a mall within walking distance of my old apartment. I didn't find those to be enjoyable and spent so much time at the store and writing the report for $9-$12. I won't do those again.

About every 4 months, I do one restaurant shop at a location that's about a 25 minute walk from my new apartment. No issue with spending gas $ and I get a little exercise. My spouse and I eat very differently (keto and vegetarian) and this restaurant has options for both of us. There are a couple of restaurants that have $90-$150 brunch & dinner shops (that is much more than I'd be willing to spend if not MSing) a 10 minute drive from my in-laws. We will do a shop and then go see family. I would not go very far out of my way for one of these shops.

Doing reimbursement only, with maybe a $5 phone shop every so often, means I don't even have to claim anything on my taxes. The max I've made through fee shops for a year is around $120 which is below the amount that triggers the company's website to require my SS#.

I have a credit card that gets pretty good cash back for dining, so I always use that. Every little bit helps.

Also, I make well over 50k (I saw some other comments), but I am fairly cautious about money. I was homeless for a period as a teenager and that time greatly influences much of my behavior now, even though that was almost 17 years ago. I don't mind writing the reports...I'm home in my jammies and my wife helps me remember little details, so I've never had a report rejected.

Though I only work for one MSC, I am tempted to try to find out which one does PF Changs after reading some other comments. I have a $100 gift card to that restaurant (got it last Christmas) and that was where my wife and I had our first date 12 years ago smiling smiley If I do a shop and use a gift card, I assume I could still get reimbursed?? That would be pretty neat. We have been meaning to go there and start using up that card. I think we could eat there 3x on $100.
I make $195k a year at my FT job. I regularly do dining shops for reimbursement only or reimbursement plus $15. The $15 means absolutely NOTHING to me. The reimbursement on a $200 meal is what I am going for.

For me it’s about the challenge and the game. Yes, I can afford a trip or two in first class without MSing, but I cannot afford 20 trips a year in first class at five star hotels... not with my car payment and my mortgage.

I seriously don’t get why this is so controversial people. I don’t need to shop but I like it. I think I’m good at it. I think clients get a service from me. Sometimes I go to Ruth Chris and I pay, sometimes I shop it. What’s the issue with MY choices.
This is referring to the folks who do multiple food shops per day.

@oteixeira wrote:

I get all the "it is not good for your health" posts, but keep in mind a lot of us eat out every once in a while.

The internet doesn't make you smart. It makes you good at regurgitation.
MickyB, it's not about your choice, per se, but why OP and others choose not to do shops or spend that kind of time on reports.

The internet doesn't make you smart. It makes you good at regurgitation.
@MickeyB wrote:

I make $195k a year at my FT job. I regularly do dining shops for reimbursement only or reimbursement plus $15. The $15 means absolutely NOTHING to me. The reimbursement on a $200 meal is what I am going for.

For me it’s about the challenge and the game. Yes, I can afford a trip or two in first class without MSing, but I cannot afford 20 trips a year in first class at five star hotels... not with my car payment and my mortgage.

I seriously don’t get why this is so controversial people. I don’t need to shop but I like it. I think I’m good at it. I think clients get a service from me. Sometimes I go to Ruth Chris and I pay, sometimes I shop it. What’s the issue with MY choices.

We are in the same situation. I do not know why people think we don't exist. In NY, where we are, making 200k per year doesn't mean much if your property taxes are 15k/yr and your mortgage is 5k/month, and everything else is expensive.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2018 02:07PM by Niner.
@Niner wrote:

@MickeyB wrote:

I make $195k a year at my FT job. I regularly do dining shops for reimbursement only or reimbursement plus $15. The $15 means absolutely NOTHING to me. The reimbursement on a $200 meal is what I am going for.

For me it’s about the challenge and the game. Yes, I can afford a trip or two in first class without MSing, but I cannot afford 20 trips a year in first class at five star hotels... not with my car payment and my mortgage.

I seriously don’t get why this is so controversial people. I don’t need to shop but I like it. I think I’m good at it. I think clients get a service from me. Sometimes I go to Ruth Chris and I pay, sometimes I shop it. What’s the issue with MY choices.

We are in the same situation. I do not know why people think we don't exist. In NY, where we are, making 200k per year doesn't mean much if your property taxes are 15k/yr and your mortgage is 5k/month, and everything else is expensive.
Same situation here, except we now surpass NY in taxation overall.
Food shops are tasty stress for me. I do a few of them because they involve multiple shopping skills. I relax and digest food more completely when money is not at stake.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. - Eleanor Roosevelt
Sorry if I misunderstood, it came across to me more as a "Restaurant food in general is not healthy", which is true, but anything without moderation in my mind is bad. Shoot, drink enough water in a period of time and you can die from that. Go figure.

Again, apologies for not understanding your very appropriate post (for multiple food shops in a day).


@HonnyBrown wrote:

This is referring to the folks who do multiple food shops per day.

@oteixeira wrote:

I get all the "it is not good for your health" posts, but keep in mind a lot of us eat out every once in a while.

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
FF is a killer, nothing wrong with salads/light dressing. Bread and carbs need control, but h__, everyone goes out, don't blame restaurants, people cook unhealthy when at home...bacon lovers, I'm talking to you..
50% of weight gain is genetic, my Dad ate whatever he wanted and stayed thin all his life. lol

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.....
Dr. Judith Wright
You ares so right? I once had a scheduler asked me to please do a food shop they needed filled. I responded that I needed more than the food for the hours of time I'd need to put into the job!
The thing I worry about with ACL is that some of their shops are very high dollar 85 to 100 that you have to pay upfront, and if your shop isn't accepted, (which has happened) you are out the cash. I don't have that kind of cash lying around unfortunately. I think if they want people to do those shops they need to accept them..any good faith effort should be accepted!
Nope, they have people lined up for these shops with a history of good reports. To the point where good shoppers go months sometimes without getting one from them. Also, I have TOTALLY flubbed a shop with them (forgot to take a picture of one plate before touching it) and they STILL accepted it and paid me.
They are super lenient, but....if you can't afford the meal before the shop, you probably should not take it if you are worried that much about it being rejected.

@snowy22315 wrote:

The thing I worry about with ACL is that some of their shops are very high dollar 85 to 100 that you have to pay upfront, and if your shop isn't accepted, (which has happened) you are out the cash. I don't have that kind of cash lying around unfortunately. I think if they want people to do those shops they need to accept them..any good faith effort should be accepted!

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
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