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

@sandyf, the pizza shop in my area is the last thing to go off the board. I am not saying it is not loved, but in my area it is the least taken shop, and that is why it is bundled. I am sure without the other shops to bundle with they would have to offer bonuses to get people to take them.

@shoptastic, I have eaten at 5 guys a few times. I like the taste but there is no way double fried fries and flat top burgers are healthy. LOL At least not for me, I am pretty sure my cholesterol would spike if I ate there once a month even. I do enjoy the food, but that is just another clue to me that it can't be good for me. grinning smiley

Orlando - lightly shopping NC

Create an Account or Log In

Membership is free. Simply choose your username, type in your email address, and choose a password. You immediately get full access to the forum.

Already a member? Log In.

I rarely do reimbursement only shops for a lot of the same reasons you stated. For me though, it's really my time. If I have to study for an hour, do the shop which takes time in of itself, then take an hour to fill out the report, add in the driving time and I've spent over 4 hours just to get reimbursed. Granted, if it was a high end shop- Ruth Chris or something like that- It's worth getting my money back for having a delicious meal but a mediocre meal that I probably wouldn't go out of my way to eat anyway- No thanks- My time is worth much more.
Meg stated: What I don't like about the Roadhouse shop is that you have to pay for your own tip.

Bob's comment: Over the past 10+ years, I have completed 66 Roadhouse shops without ever needing to pay the tip form my total reimbursement. On only one assignment, though, have I exceeded the maximum amount for the job.
@cooper4550 wrote:

Getting Reimbursement isn't enought for ANY FOOD Shop.

I think the voice of experience has perhaps not been reading the whole thread...and doesn't understand the different facets to this industry. Some of us are not working for the shop fees.

I'm not going to disclose my salary, but I make over $50k in reimbursements alone more years. That's what I do this for. The lifestyle.

I have a great selection of dining assignments near me that offer healthy food and I live in a location where making under $100K cannot provide an even moderately-luxurious lifestyle, so the luxuries in my life come from MSing. Like @MickeyB states, I could care less about the $15 fee. That might cover the unreimbursed cost for the valet at most of the restaurants I shop...but sometimes it doesn't even do that.

To me, a few hours of writing is worth a $250 meal. I can still enjoy the meal when taking notes, and more importantly, my guest can enjoy the meal as much as she would if I were paying out-of-pocket for it. That's the key to the lifestyle shop for me. I read about shoppers who have spouses that don't support their shopping and I think they must be fools. I have thoroughly enjoyed the meals that other forum members have taken me on for assignments, and enjoy being able to do that for others, so the reimbursement alone is enough for me.

P.S. @Irene_L.A., yes...I still owe you brunch!
@SteveSoCal....yes, I'm waiting...doing Eurth Cafe (Beverly Hills) anytime after the 13th, want to join me, let me know. Lox and bagels the bomb.

Live consciously....


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2018 03:31PM by Irene_L.A..
I do the bar shops for Texas Roadhouse. The amount that I tip is the $25 reimbursement minus the cost of my meal. It usually works out to $6, since I never go over reimbursement.

@shopperbob wrote:

Meg stated: What I don't like about the Roadhouse shop is that you have to pay for your own tip.

Bob's comment: Over the past 10+ years, I have completed 66 Roadhouse shops without ever needing to pay the tip form my total reimbursement. On only one assignment, though, have I exceeded the maximum amount for the job.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
I understand that reimbursement only jobs can sometimes feel like a waste of time. I usually grab a restaurant on a route so I don't have to worry about meals. Also, I like to bring my 18-year-old out to eat on occasion with a shop. This is something we never did before mystery shopping because it was not something we could afford. It's very special because of that!
@Niner wrote:

Text yourself. That will save you the two hours you are using listening to recordings, shoptastic. But, if you need shops for the money, dining shops are not it, unless you get Five Guy shops with a decent bonus. The dining shops do not pay much, maybe $15 with Coyle, but you could spend hours writing that report versus fifteen minutes for Five Guys.

I do text myself, Niner. Unfortunately, for shops with lots of timings and/or observations, I still find myself having to replay the audio to get things accurately for the report for any number of reasons.

A quick one - and something's that happened a lot lately - would be the server surprising me out of nowhere (say, coming from behind me) and me not being able to check my running stopwatch covertly in front of them as they start talking to me. I have to wait until after they are done chatting before looking down and/or pressing "stop" on my stop watch and I know that I've missed the actual mark by X seconds. Instead of getting a great timing, I have to now replay my audio file at home to listen for the exact duration.

Or, let's say the server is talking to you and have a natural flowing convo. In order to "play along," I try to match the server's conversation flow (although, still letting them "lead" as many guidelines state) and we end up talking about stuff I did not anticipate and my brain is concentrating on that stuff instead of what report check-points I should be looking out for. On top of that, the server might talk very fast and I'm trying to simultaneously remember EXACTLY what he or she said (you'd be surprised how bad memory is when you have to verify what you think was said to you back to an audio recorder - our brains miss a lot!), while making mental note of check-points hit on the report (e.g., the server described my steak temperature to me and confirmed it) - all while trying to act normal (as if I'm NOT trying to remember this stuff) and have a natural flowing conversation.

Once the server leaves, I often have moments where I feel like I'm not sure exactly what was said just one minute ago. So, while I do text myself what I think was said, I sometimes get the feeling I was off and have to end up re-listening to the audio. Lo and behold, I WAS wrong and my memory was inaccurate. So, had I not used my recorder, I'd have gotten certain report details wrong.

I pretty much always have to re-listen to my shop's audio files at home and that takes lots of time. If it was a one hour shop, it can take two hours of audio listening (stopping to take notes, get timings, and listen to tone of voice, etc.). For me to NOT have to do this, I probably need:

a.) to know the shop's guidelines inside and out
b.) have prepped hard for it
c.) not have "weird" or unexpected stuff happen to throw me off during the shop - like the server coming out of nowhere (outside of my line of vision) to talk to me

A lot of these dining shops have three or four month rotations, so I never get to nail down their guidelines like I do with Five Guys. You need to do that shop a lot to have it memorized and second nature. That means I always have to study them again for long periods before the shop. And, with several quirky client-specific requirements for each shop usually (e.g., how the waiter holds your drinking glass or whether a server said a very specific phrase), it means never feeling totally at ease with it and always being on edge and looking out for those quirky things (on top of the usual stuff).

In the end, there's always something that makes it so that I can't just rely on my texts. I always have to go to the audio. That is, if I want to do the shop right and with integrity/honesty.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2018 11:25PM by shoptastic.
I also just think I'm super careful with shops and NEVER want to mark off for something an employee did or didn't do that would reflect negatively on them. So, I re-listen to things just to double-check. But, I also find that my brain misses a lot, as stated above, and that replaying the audio is safest anyways.

All that audio listening makes me feel like I should be paid like a professional private investigator and not just with a "free" meal. It's grueling and tedious work at times! ....esp., when there is loud background noise you have to filter out and have to replay the thing lots of times for multiple sections.

The frustration starts to set in and I regret ever having picked up those shops! Just thinking about it now makes me not want to do them. lol

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2018 11:32PM by shoptastic.
@oteixeira wrote:

@shoptastic, I have eaten at 5 guys a few times. I like the taste but there is no way double fried fries and flat top burgers are healthy. LOL At least not for me, I am pretty sure my cholesterol would spike if I ate there once a month even. I do enjoy the food, but that is just another clue to me that it can't be good for me. grinning smiley

Not healthy, but "healthy" for fast food. smiling smiley

Their buns are less sugary and carby, due to the use of eggs in them. They definitely taste different and better, imho, than your typical sesame seed bun. They taste "real." The meats and veggies are made/cut fresh every morning and never frozen and never have preservatives and additives. And you also get a very fresh flavor with them too. Same with the daily cut fries from fresh potatoes.

Short report! + fees (I get bonused + mileage too, so I definitely make money on FG - although, not as much as 2017)

That's the main trade-off for me.

I don't MIND doing a fine-tuning shop IF:

a.) the pay is worthwhile (i.e., fee on top of reimbursement) OR
b.) the report is short

What I personally just don't find worth it anymore is a super intense report + no fee (just reimbursement) - that's just too much work for me. I don't work for free (i.e., super complex report) and the food is just not worth it 99% of the time. smiling smiley But, to each their own!

You guys please take all those reimbursement only shops!!! I want to take all the fee + bonus shops like Five Guys. More of those for me is good now that I think of it. Please please - take all the non-fee shops you all!!! grinning smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/13/2018 02:33PM by shoptastic.
To true. Shoppers should ignore any and all shops where there are only reimbursements.
I promise to leave y'all the 5-10 dollar "easy" shops that take up to an hour to do and you can leave me these worthless no pay restaurant shops. Deal?

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
@oteixeira wrote:

I promise to leave y'all the 5-10 dollar "easy" shops that take up to an hour to do and you can leave me these worthless no pay restaurant shops. Deal?

All yours.

My anxiety level is already lower from not having any upcoming shops of this sort. smiling smiley All around win-win YAY
I'm loving all of the different points of view! It is interesting to see the reasons people do or don't do dining shops. I am a don't-do for several reasons, all have been stated by other shoppers here but those who like dining shops have helped me to understand why. Very cool.

sestrahelena
How? Quality does not equal healthy. They still have a high amount of carbs, fat, sodium and calories. That's why they taste so good.

@shoptastic wrote:

Not healthy, but "healthy" for fast food. smiling smiley

Their buns are less sugary and carby, due to the use of eggs in them. They definitely taste different and better, imho, than your typical sesame seed bun. They taste "real." The meats and veggies are made/cut fresh every morning and never frozen and never have preservatives and additives. And you also get a very fresh flavor with them too. Same with the daily cut fries from fresh potatoes.

grinning smiley

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2018 01:52AM by HonnyBrown.
It's relative to the typical stuff you get in fast food (McD's, Wendy's, BK, etc.). I think they are healthier. I load up on practically all the veggies on their burgers:

lettuce, tomato, green pepper, mushrooms, onions, and jalapenos

I get practically a salad burger!

But, I also think their base ingredients are healthier!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2018 02:04AM by shoptastic.
Five guys has so much salt in their fries, only reason they taste good, but healthy, please......had heartburn all night from that one, taste good yes, in the moment, but healthy, I think NOT. Black Angus has the best meat as they own Black Angus farms and feed the cows using no anitbiotics, as fresh as you can get. 99% of burgers would not be called healthy. I do the Carl's Jr. competitor shop monthly and like it, but always gain two pds. after that one.

Live consciously....
I did TXRH last night with my husb. Most of the time, when we do that sop, our meal + tip comes to close to $50. When that happens, we think of it as a date night with a "super coupon." Last night, we got away with $37, which was awesome. We were both full and sated when we got home, and had a nice time out together. On someone else's "dime," so to speak.

Other than that, I do many shops that are food reimbursements only. The only ones I really hate to do are the ff ones that have timings to the millisecond....and in the five minutes you interact @ the drive through or @ the counter, you have to note so many details. Just too "Crazy making" for my poor brain.

However, I have four kids. My husband and I take turns doing "special days" or one on one time with them each month. Shopping is a great way to take a kid out on a special day.

And whenever we are in different towns or have to travel for soccer games, visiting family, various trips, or any such thing, I pick up reimbursement only food shops. You have to eat. You have to feed your kids winking smiley Might as well get reimbursed for it.
This has been an interesting thread the read, with lots of different opinions. About once a year, I do a fine dining shop for reimbursement only that costs $200 to $225 with tip (not for Coyle). If something goes south, we can afford it, but my view is that it would cost me $300 in before tax dollars to pay for it. I'd rather have it reimbursed. On the other hand, there is a burrito shop always available near me that is regularly available. It reimburses up to $8 for the burrito, and requires that I sit there and eat it. My drink is not reimbursed. I did it once. Easy write up, Fast to submit. Easy editing. I decline to do it again on principle because I have to pay for my own drink. I'd rather go there and not get reimbursed at all than pay for the $3 drink to go with my "free" meal.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
Personally, I think it's smart and frugal to make a little extra money whenever you can. Everyone, no matter their annual income, can use a little extra here and there.

I do lots of shops as "lifestyle enhancements." We would not go to movies, amusements, or out to eat nearly as often if I didn't get reimbursed. I also use shops to "make my gas money" back when I have to drive all over the state for soccer games or ballet competitions. And if I can do 2-3 shops while I'm on the road and make a little cash above and beyond just "making my gas money," I'm very happy smiling smiley
@Jill_L wrote:

I also use shops to "make my gas money" back when I have to drive all over the state for soccer games or ballet competitions. And if I can do 2-3 shops while I'm on the road and make a little cash above and beyond just "making my gas money," I'm very happy smiling smiley

I use Sonic drive-thru shops for mileage money when I'm travelling across town.

I live in a drive-heavy city and whether it's church, doctor's appointment, library, etc., I often don't mind picking up a shop to reduce travel costs. Sometimes when the schedule is tight or I just need a more relaxing day, I'll skip the shop even if it's on the way somewhere.

But, this is do-able, b/c of the relatively easier reports.
Good to know, @shoptastic. I will find out who does Sonic shops. I used to do them years ago when I was a shopper. Thanks for the heads up; always good to find quick and easy reports!
Compare the nutrition of FG to a fast food burger. Do a side by side comparison of a burger with the same toppings. You will see why several of us do one shop per month.

@shoptastic wrote:

It's relative to the typical stuff you get in fast food (McD's, Wendy's, BK, etc.). I think they are healthier. I load up on practically all the veggies on their burgers:

lettuce, tomato, green pepper, mushrooms, onions, and jalapenos

I get practically a salad burger!

But, I also think their base ingredients are healthier!

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
That's a very good idea, HB, but not just with FG - we should do it with all shop foods we intake.

But, I think we should do a separate thread somewhere else like General Chat. Main reason is I don't want this one to go off track. smiling smiley I tend to think the FG burger isn't so bad - rather, it seems like the fries are the big culprit and I only eat about 5-7 and bag the rest for later (I give it to my parents actually).

As for the FG burger, it's under a Big Mac in calories (which doesn't day much) at around 500 or so. But the big thing I just realized is that the bun is a killer in that department! You shave off 260 calories from the bun by tossing it (the burger patty is only 220 calories) and also 9 grams of fat. The patty is 17 grams of total fat.

It's time to go bunless!

nutrition info. from FG's website:

[www.fiveguys.com]

eta: Also, don't look at those fries nutritional facts if you are calorie conscious. Although, I never really eat them. And take two sips of soda and toss that as well each FG trip.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2018 03:02PM by shoptastic.
Totally agree with your rant. Worse are the MSC's that offer to reimburse you for HALF your bill, up to a certain amount. Did it once, filled out the 2-hour report, and vowed to never take one of those again.
New to forum: I like doing rest shops because it gives me a good reason to get out and have a date night with my wife. I have done them with Coyle, ACL, STN. Looking for other MSCs that do rest shops in the midrange price area. Not looking for pizza or fast food (OK for eating, bad for waste and not a very good date night). Thanks
@shoptastic wrote:

@bigrj wrote:

I only do high-end restaurants. Last night I shopped Capital Grill. Had an amazing $225 meal which assuming I get reimbursed only cost me $40 out of my own pocket. I figure a $40 dinner at capital grille is a good deal!.

I've heard of Capital Grill, but don't have one near me.

We have a Ruth's Chris, but I make less than $50,000/year and cannot do that shop. I have done fine dining shops of equal caliber elsewhere, though. They take many hours to complete. I haven't found the reimbursement/lack of fee worth it for me personally, as the food has always been so-so (mainly, because they don't reimburse high enough to order the good stuff and I'm stuck with lower end meals + valet parking sometimes that is out-of-pocket). sad smiley

Glad to hear some people enjoy these! Maybe one day I'll come across one that I'm willing to try and actually enjoy. For now, they are not worthwhile and to be avoided. smiling smiley


An income of 50,000 a year is not bad. I am curious why anybody making a good living would want to bother with mystery shopping. For example, in order to conduct a high end automobile evaluation, one must own a high end automobile. Why would somebody who could afford a Porsche want to work for $25-$50 conducting an evaluation?

I think that most mystery shopping opportunities are absurd based on what they pay. It is too bad that people are willing to sell themselves so short and mess it up for everybody else as a result. As far as fine dining, I think that being reimbursed for the meal is sufficient, as long as the report does not take an eternity to fill out. I too don't do them because I would not be able to enjoy the meal trying to memorize every detail.
I complained to the scheduler once when she asked me to do a shop for $15 (no reimbursement). I told her there was no way I could get a drink and a burger there for that price, and she told me to "think of it as a $15 off coupon". I do think of it that way - and I won't use the coupon because (1) the place is too loud for comfort and (2) I have to write a report afterward! I don't like Texas Roadhouse - I haven't done one of the shops in years. I was taken there for Mother's Day this year. The service was surly and spotty and the food was just as bad. You can't pay me enough to put up with that.
Are you required to get a fountain drink? If not, get a free water cup and fill it with your fountain drink. Dude at Five Guys gave me that tip.

@myst4au wrote:

This has been an interesting thread the read, with lots of different opinions. About once a year, I do a fine dining shop for reimbursement only that costs $200 to $225 with tip (not for Coyle). If something goes south, we can afford it, but my view is that it would cost me $300 in before tax dollars to pay for it. I'd rather have it reimbursed. On the other hand, there is a burrito shop always available near me that is regularly available. It reimburses up to $8 for the burrito, and requires that I sit there and eat it. My drink is not reimbursed. I did it once. Easy write up, Fast to submit. Easy editing. I decline to do it again on principle because I have to pay for my own drink. I'd rather go there and not get reimbursed at all than pay for the $3 drink to go with my "free" meal.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
You're on the right track, but that is not a side by side comparison. A quarter pounder with cheese would be along the lines of a FG burger because it's not a double patty and has no special sauce.

@shoptastic wrote:

That's a very good idea, HB, but not just with FG - we should do it with all shop foods we intake.

But, I think we should do a separate thread somewhere else like General Chat. Main reason is I don't want this one to go off track. smiling smiley I tend to think the FG burger isn't so bad - rather, it seems like the fries are the big culprit and I only eat about 5-7 and bag the rest for later (I give it to my parents actually).

As for the FG burger, it's under a Big Mac in calories (which doesn't day much) at around 500 or so. But the big thing I just realized is that the bun is a killer in that department! You shave off 260 calories from the bun by tossing it (the burger patty is only 220 calories) and also 9 grams of fat. The patty is 17 grams of total fat.

It's time to go bunless!

nutrition info. from FG's website:

[www.fiveguys.com]

eta: Also, don't look at those fries nutritional facts if you are calorie conscious. Although, I never really eat them. And take two sips of soda and toss that as well each FG trip.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login