Two month interest-free loans

Any idea why it takes two months to get paid? If you complete a shop on November 1st, you will get paid on December 31st, for example.

This month was my real first month foray into fine dining. I had a credit card bill with around 1k of dining costs. I pay my bill in full every month, and one credit card bill was huge.

I have a full-time job. How can MSC companies expect you to lay out this much?
It has not hit me until now.

We went to an aquarium, that was about $120, then $200 at a museum.

Or, we just do not take these kind of jobs!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2018 05:53PM by Niner.

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The MSC isn't holding your money. It's not a loan for them.

The internet doesn't make you smart. It makes you good at regurgitation.
I tried to start a discussion here quite some time ago (years) about the "opportunity cost of money" -- that is, if I'm waiting 8 weeks for my payment, how many times could I have turned over that money in shopping opportunities?

I will take a job for Field Agent for $13 paid within 48 hours over the same job paying $50 that I have to wait 2 months for the funds.

Because I can use the $13 from Field Agent day after tomorrow to do another shop..and another....and another. The possibility of making much, much more than $50 in 8 weeks.

Unfortunately, other shoppers failed to get the point.
@HonnyBrown wrote:

The MSC isn't holding your money. It's not a loan for them.

My job pays me every two weeks. If they could hold that money for an additional six weeks at a few percent, for every employee, that is some nice return for them.
@ceasesmith wrote:

I tried to start a discussion here quite some time ago (years) about the "opportunity cost of money" -- that is, if I'm waiting 8 weeks for my payment, how many times could I have turned over that money in shopping opportunities?

I will take a job for Field Agent for $13 paid within 48 hours over the same job paying $50 that I have to wait 2 months for the funds.

Because I can use the $13 from Field Agent day after tomorrow to do another shop..and another....and another. The possibility of making much, much more than $50 in 8 weeks.

Unfortunately, other shoppers failed to get the point.

I paid $1000 that I wll not get back for at least another month. That is money that I am taking from an interest bearing account/investment account.

I may rethink these higher cost dining shops. I could not imagine waiting two months for an 8k cruise, or whatever people lay out for the high end experiences.

Yesterday I completed a shop for $50. I did not have to buy anything. Tomorrow, I will complete one for $75, without buying anything. That I can wait on, though I still feel that two months is ridiculous.

So far, I have not been paid for an IKEA shop I did the end of September.
This is why I am such an advocate of a "shop kitty". As a beginning shopper you need to dig into your personal pocket each time for money to be reimbursed later. If you can put part of your receipts from shopping into a savings account 'kitty' that can be readily transferred into or out of your bank account to pay bills you can use the kitty to cover the amounts you will be reimbursed and then refund the kitty when the reimbursement is received. I generally have the equivalent of 2 to 3 months of average reimbursements in the kitty. I generally get one free month of use of the money by putting it on the credit card and then I have to cough up from the kitty. $1000 worth of reimbursable items is no big deal--the kitty will cover. It does not prevent me from taking attractive paying fee only shops that pay quicker, but the quicker paying companies generally pay less in fees BECAUSE they pay quicker. If I aspired to $8k reimbursement shops I would certainly build up the kitty with shopping money before performing them.

I began my kitty because any time I take a shop with a reimbursement I am at risk for the amount I spend because there is a chance my shop will be rejected. For me a bigger reality has become the possibility that the MSP goes out of business leaving me holding the bag--how much can I afford to lose? The kitty money is shopping money. It would hurt to lose it but it wouldn't prevent my paying my bills.
I did a SunTrust credit card shop recently. I didn’t even have to activate the card, but it has an $8500 limit and no interest for 18 months. So for now I am using that if I need to lay out a large amount of money that I might not get back for a while.
Niner,
You are now a business owner. 60-90 day payment terms are standard in the business world. Don't think like an employee about doing MS.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Four years ago, I was working 2 W-2 jobs, and had several thousand dollars in savings. I also had 4 credit cards (paying the balance in full each month), and a 780 credit rating.

Then I got hurt at work (a fellow employee assaulted me with a knife; I tore the meniscus in my left knee trying to escape the assault). That was May 19, 2015.

Savings lasted until September, then I started borrowing. And borrowing. And borrowing. I really didn't worry about it, as my attorney assured me I would receive $486 a week for 3 years from workmen's comp.

In April 2017 -- almost two full years later, when I was still in agony from the injury -- the workmen's comp declined my claim. They even came after ME to pay the doctor's bills from the assessments, tests, etc.

I returned to work in August, 2017, and have worked ever since. I worked the counter in fast food, delivered pizza, and continued to mystery shop.

I was just getting on my feet when my car broke down June 1 this year. For five months, I missed most work; I ended up spending over $2,000 to get my car fixed. Then last week, the alternator failed, and I lost a route of 27 gas stations. And another $400 in car repairs.

I am deeply in debt, have no credit cards, and my FICO is 511.

Some of us CANNOT wait 8 weeks for payment.

Some of us don't have a "shop kitty" (I did; but it all went to fixing my car!).

So, yes, I'll take that $13 job that pays in 48 hours, and use that $13 to do many, many more shops in the next 8 weeks.

Or I could use it for a week's worth of groceries (yes, that's right; my grocery budget is $13 a week, and I haven't had even that much the last 3 months!).
Oranges and tricycles The two aren't related. As an independent contractor, you choose your assignments knowing when and how you will be paid. If you are doing the shops to have reimbursed costs for your activities, you got it. If you're working for cash, that is not the way to do it.

@Niner wrote:

@HonnyBrown wrote:

The MSC isn't holding your money. It's not a loan for them.

My job pays me every two weeks. If they could hold that money for an additional six weeks at a few percent, for every employee, that is some nice return for them.

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

My job pays me every two weeks. If they could hold that money for an additional six weeks at a few percent, for every employee, that is some nice return for them.

It's not the same thing. You're not an employee and when you do a shop that pays you $50 it's not like the MSC goes and puts $50 in a savings account to make interest on it and pulls it out 2 months later and pays you.

I believe you have mentioned before that you are a lawyer? If your firm does some legal work for Big Company Inc when do they expect to get paid from Big Company Inc? I would guess after the work is done they would send out a bill. It would probably take a week or two to send it out and your firm most likely has net 30 or net 60 billing. Meaning they expect to be paid in either 30 or 60 days. That's how business transactions work. This ain't a paycheck.

As for high output reimbursement shops, most full time shoppers either don't do them at all or do them as a lifestyle shop, usually thought of separately from their business. Much like you do them separately from legal work.

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


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2018 11:22PM by bgriffin.
This opinion will not be popular, but here goes.

Clients prefer shoppers who fit their typical demographic. If you cannot normally afford to go out a $300 dinner, a $2000 hotel weekend or a week long cruise, then you are not their typical consumer.
So, if you can't float the money for 2 months, you need to be doing different shops. We already know in advance how long we'll be waiting for payment and reimbursement.

One client currently is late at paying the MSC. It's a huge client (think Marriott, etc). I am waiting on $1500 from September, $2000 from October and $1500 from November. I spent $3800 in August, but they (the client) paid the hotel bill ($2200) in 3 days. Not sure why, but it was nice.
@walesmaven wrote:

Niner,
You are now a business owner. 60-90 day payment terms are standard in the business world. Don't think like an employee about doing MS.

I had no idea. Really.
@SoCalMama wrote:

This opinion will not be popular, but here goes.

Clients prefer shoppers who fit their typical demographic. If you cannot normally afford to go out a $300 dinner, a $2000 hotel weekend or a week long cruise, then you are not their typical consumer.
So, if you can't float the money for 2 months, you need to be doing different shops. We already know in advance how long we'll be waiting for payment and reimbursement.

One client currently is late at paying the MSC. It's a huge client (think Marriott, etc). I am waiting on $1500 from September, $2000 from October and $1500 from November. I spent $3800 in August, but they (the client) paid the hotel bill ($2200) in 3 days. Not sure why, but it was nice.

I see where you are coming from. I could afford to lay out the money. I had no idea why they took so long to pay, but this makes sense now. Even though I could get by, I do not think I would want to lay out that much.

How many people mystery shop who spend $300 for dinner and take 10k vacations? I definitely don't. They apparently are somewhere.
@Niner wrote:

How many people mystery shop who spend $300 for dinner and take 10k vacations? I definitely don't. They apparently are somewhere.

They are here on this forum. I know of a few at least.
Niner, there are a few who shop mostly for "lifestyle enhancement." The sorts of skills and the amount of capital that they have developed in order to do that are not something most shoppers have accumulated, or at least not early in their MS work.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Others have covered it well in posts above. The MSCs generally pay shoppers after they have been paid by the client.
I do a lot of reimbursement, but only those that pay within a month for a large amount. The Source has a few restaurants I enjoy, casual (not FF) and pay twice a month, I do only those food shops as the reimbursement is quick. Hotels usually repay quickly as well. Waiting more than a month for a large reimbursement doesn't float my boat anymore, so, I rarely do them...always our choice.

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.....
Dr. Judith Wright
When i shopped full time, i rarely did shops where I had to lay out cash.

The internet doesn't make you smart. It makes you good at regurgitation.
Several years ago, I completed a job for a company I think was named Corporate Risk Solutions, I merely used the letters CRS in my log; I have not heard of those folks in some time. The reason, though, the shop is ingrained in my mind, is I was paid. through PayPal, in approx. 25 minutes. The fee was $50+ a reimbursement of $121.24. That time period is, by far, the fastest I have encountered. My point is that if they could pay me so quickly, others do not need to take three months UNLESS they are either cash strapped or desire an interest free loan. As Wales so correctly stated, in business net 60 is not that unusual, but net 90 is not for me.
I put all my expenses on a rewards credit card and get 1.5% back for my reimbursed expenses. That 1.5% more then covers the opportunity cost of waiting two months to get your money. At 1.5% return every two months you won't find a better (practically risk free) investment anywhere.

Have you looked at interest rates lately? Savings accounts are paying 2% annually. I have absolutely no problem with the MSC holding my money for two or even three months.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/04/2018 12:52AM by Jbrz123.
Citi double cash rewards is 2% on everything. The Uber card is 4% dining and hotels with no annual fee.
The jobs you list below all sound like lifestyle jobs and I would guess these are not jobs that someone who is mystery shopping because they need the money would be doing as often as you seem to be doing them. They may do them once in a while but probably not to the tune of $1,000 in dining and $320 in amusement expenses in one month. Instead they are hustling the higher fee jobs. Evidently this is something you feel you can afford so you do a lot of lifestyle shops. And that is why mystery shopping is great due to it being so varied that there are shops that appeal to everyone.
I myself prefer to do the reimbursement type shops you have been doing but on a slower scale. One high end once in a while is plenty for me. But I would have this take on making that choice. If I do a restaurant for $150 and have to lay out the money for 2 months before being reimbursed I will get to eat a $150 meal that I otherwise would probably not pony up to with my money. My interest loss if I could instead have had that money in the bank for 2 months at a relatively high rate these days of say 2% is an interest loss of 50 cents. My credit card (Costco Visa) gives me 3% back on restaurants so at the end of the month billed I will get $4.50 from my Visa Card. Net gain to me from collecting a reward and not collecting interest for 2 months is $4.00 while they hold my reimbursement for 2 months.
And also you might consider that when you make a flight reservation in advance or book travel you are giving the airlines and/or travel company a heck of a lot more money of yours to hold onto while you forgo interest you could have collected until the way in the future date of your travel finally comes.
Add these thoughts to the idea that you do not have to choose these types of jobs if you disagree with the payment schedule.
As I read my own above calculations I have just convinced myself that in this low interest rate environment my available money is better invested at a mystery shop company for a job where my credit card gives me 3% (travel and restaurants) then tucked away in a CD. I better start doing more of these jobs!


@Niner wrote:

Any idea why it takes two months to get paid? If you complete a shop on November 1st, you will get paid on December 31st, for example.

This month was my real first month foray into fine dining. I had a credit card bill with around 1k of dining costs. I pay my bill in full every month, and one credit card bill was huge.

I have a full-time job. How can MSC companies expect you to lay out this much?
It has not hit me until now.

We went to an aquarium, that was about $120, then $200 at a museum.

Or, we just do not take these kind of jobs!
I think I am not used to seeing credit card bills this high and it's unsettling. I am not one to spend a lot of money on things, so there is some shock involved.

You are correct. I shop lifestyle shops mostly. I will take higher paying fee jobs, like the $50 phone shop last weekend or $75 car shop yesterday. Today it's $45 at another dealer. I throw this money into the market- currently BMW, Darden, and Ferrari, as a result of the mystery shops. These companies have their acts together.
@Niner wrote:

I think I am not used to seeing credit card bills this high and it's unsettling. I am not one to spend a lot of money on things, so there is some shock involved.

You are correct. I shop lifestyle shops mostly. I will take higher paying fee jobs, like the $50 phone shop last weekend or $75 car shop yesterday. Today it's $45 at another dealer. I throw this money into the market- currently BMW, Darden, and Ferrari, as a result of the mystery shops. These companies have their acts together.

When my Mint app told me how many THOUSANDS I have spent in the last 6 months, I almost popped my eyeballs out. It's definitely something that I had to make a mental adjustment as I have never had large income/spending. For me, it helps me feel more comfortable when I work with companies I trust, keep track of my payments/reimbursements, and pay my credit card down 2x per month.
Same. Even if I get the money back, it's the outlay after outlay and mind blowing bills.
@ceasesmith wrote:

I am deeply in debt, have no credit cards, and my FICO is 511.

Some of us CANNOT wait 8 weeks for payment.

Some of us don't have a "shop kitty" (I did; but it all went to fixing my car!).

So, yes, I'll take that $13 job that pays in 48 hours, and use that $13 to do many, many more shops in the next 8 weeks.

Or I could use it for a week's worth of groceries (yes, that's right; my grocery budget is $13 a week, and I haven't had even that much the last 3 months!).
@Niner wrote:

@SoCalMama wrote:

This opinion will not be popular, but here goes.

Clients prefer shoppers who fit their typical demographic. If you cannot normally afford to go out a $300 dinner, a $2000 hotel weekend or a week long cruise, then you are not their typical consumer.
So, if you can't float the money for 2 months, you need to be doing different shops. We already know in advance how long we'll be waiting for payment and reimbursement.

One client currently is late at paying the MSC. It's a huge client (think Marriott, etc). I am waiting on $1500 from September, $2000 from October and $1500 from November. I spent $3800 in August, but they (the client) paid the hotel bill ($2200) in 3 days. Not sure why, but it was nice.

I see where you are coming from. I could afford to lay out the money. I had no idea why they took so long to pay, but this makes sense now. Even though I could get by, I do not think I would want to lay out that much.

How many people mystery shop who spend $300 for dinner and take 10k vacations? I definitely don't. They apparently are somewhere.

Just a little update on all that $$$$ that I am owed.

The MSC owner, who I adore, went to my bank and put the money in directly for me, so I wouldn't have to keep waiting. We use the same bank. Then, the hotel reversed one charge (so random), and he told me just to keep it towards the November work that I am owed. He apologized over and over for the slow payment. So, all in all, it was a good day. smiling smiley
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