Dining Shops

How do you feel about the pay on dining shops? I feel that the ones that only pay for reimbursement of food are not really being fair to us. One in particular has so many questions and so much detail for no payment. Even though I write a novel and it takes me more than an hour, one editor still asks for more details. Some pay $5, which isn't much, but at least they acknowledge that I am not just getting a free meal.

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It depends on the restaurant and the report. If you are talking about a restaurant that has a good meal and good service then it may be worth it for the reimbursement only. I did many that had a BOGO meal so it was like having two dinners paid for. For a one hour report it was worth it to me.

If you are talking about the MSC that is notorious for their detailed reports for very small pay, then to me it isn't worth it for a $25 meal, especially when you know they are going to want to know timings, detailed descriptions of people, what happened, etc.
But, you are not getting a free meal. If, for instance, you get a $100 reimbursement, the MSC/client expects $100 worth of reporting.

Of course, you get a $100 meal in exchange and do not have to pay any taxes on that $100, so it is actually worth more money. So, if you love the food, the experience and the location, take the shop. If not, do not bother. But others will value it differently than you do. Neither of you is "wrong."

I have not paid for 4 oil changes a year (and several tire rotations) since 2005. I figure that is $50 of taxable income not spent each oil change an average $10 fee, and the short report and time on site are short, so I take them, with pleasure.

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.
Personally I don't look at "eating out" and making money in the same breath. I wouldn't do all my restaurants if I expected to make money, although I have a company that pay's 8.00 for report + reimbursement.
Getting a meal is a treat for me, I wouldn't go to half these places on my own, so, pick what you like, many jobs out there that pay such as, Banks, Dealerships, etc., something for everyone. Usually reports on casual dining are simple....Coyle is another story, I won't do them, therefore don't work for Coyle, although they have fabulous hotels (my choice). I love the ability to pick and choose, don't you?
Edited to add: Due to my shopping restaurants, I have joined all their rewards programs, and get buy one, get one, and always a free B-day dinner, and have been introduced to a couple places I wouldn't have known about.

HAPPINESS true happiness is an inner thing.....


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2019 03:28PM by Irene_L.A..
Depends on the MSC and the restaurant.

I've been working with one niche MSC for over ten years. They rarely offer a payment, unless it's a restaurant they're trying to fill and the reimbursement isn't as compelling. However, my guest and I have had two amazing tomahawk ribeye steaks, one at $190.00 and the other, just yesterday, at $120.00 in the last 30 days. Both offered budgets that allowed us to enjoy drinks, appetizers and dessert as well. Didn't get "paid", but I'll do them anytime they ask, and I'm definitely not insulted that they don't offer a payment. Same can be said of Coyle or any number of other MSCs that offer these types of experiences.
I love to cook, and my friends and family tell me the meals are better than most restaurants. When I go out to eat the last thing I want to do is be "on the clock". I do mystery shopping part time to reduce my debt so reimbursements are not that attractive. Oil changes are not a problem with my son and friends. Dollar Tree and the GW Boutique are my favorite stores. All of us have our own reasons for mystery shopping and like wales said - none of them are wrong reasons.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away
Personally if I get paid $5 or so to do a report that takes me several hours including reading the rules and loading receipts and pics and whatever else I really do not consider that pay. If I spend 2 hours of my time doing all that the pay amounts to $2.50 per hour. And if you are looking at the fancy restaurant assignments with a tiny fee as a paid assignment then you might want to consider all the other hours and expenses you have to get there, time everything etc. Your hourly pay then amounts to $1 or less. The reimbursement of a very nice dinner is worth so much more that $5 pales in comparison. I used to do one that had a $3 reimbursement. I always went over the budget by about $3 no matter how hard I tried not to and considered that part of my reimbursement. I would be happy to take any pay they offer me for a high end restaurant. A minimum of $50 might attract me to see it as a paying assignment. As Irene said, these types of assignments are more for enjoyment of something you otherwise might not choose to pay out of pocket for.
I'm with Irene and the others. I have a full time career and I mystery shop only part time. I work for food. I actually prefer reimbursement shops to shops that pay because I can hold on to my after-tax dollars and still eat at great restaurants. I only take shops at restaurants I either love or those where I would eat anyway. I don't consider the meal "free." I consider it payment for the mystery shopping work I do and the report I write.
@sandyf wrote:

Personally if I get paid $5 or so to do a report that takes me several hours including reading the rules and loading receipts and pics and whatever else I really do not consider that pay. If I spend 2 hours of my time doing all that the pay amounts to $2.50 per hour. And if you are looking at the fancy restaurant assignments with a tiny fee as a paid assignment then you might want to consider all the other hours and expenses you have to get there, time everything etc. Your hourly pay then amounts to $1 or less. The reimbursement of a very nice dinner is worth so much more that $5 pales in comparison. I used to do one that had a $3 reimbursement. I always went over the budget by about $3 no matter how hard I tried not to and considered that part of my reimbursement. I would be happy to take any pay they offer me for a high end restaurant. A minimum of $50 might attract me to see it as a paying assignment. As Irene said, these types of assignments are more for enjoyment of something you otherwise might not choose to pay out of pocket for.

When I hear this argument, I find it interesting that people are taking things like time, and gas into account, but people are not taking into account the cost of the ingredients in the two meals they eat. Or how about the cost of a beer/wine (good beer is not cheap from a grocery store). Then there is the time to prepare it, and the cost to do your dishes...I am not saying this is you specifically, as you say you do these shops.

Again, it works either way you want to read it, you have your reasons not to do them, and others have reasons to do them. That is why there is room for all of use in this business.

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
Some of these mystery shopping companies are ruthless and greedy and its as simple as that. As long as they can find fools willing to work for free they don't mind taking advantage of those fools. These mystery shopping companies are making deals with their clients where they get reimbursed for the food and they get paid. Then being greedy typical human beings they want all the profits for themselves so they find gullible broke people like us to do the work for the free meal and then they get all the money. What a great country this is when I can find people who will work for me for nothing the mystery shop owner says to them selves. Free employees you got to love it......NOT!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2019 08:16PM by Sobrokeigot2dothis.
@Sobrokeigot2dothis wrote:

Some of these mystery shopping companies are ruthless and greedy and its as simple as that. As long as they can find fools willing to work for free they don't mind taking advantage of those fools. These mystery shopping companies are making deals with their clients where they get reimbursed for the food and they get paid. Then being greedy typical human beings they want all the profits for themselves so they find gullible broke people like us to do the work for the free meal and then they get all the money. What a great country this is when I can find people who will work for me for nothing the mystery shop owner says to them selves. Free employees you got to love it......NOT!

You really don't get it. Can you go in and eat for free any other day of the week without a report? No? That is what you are being paid. It's called a barter system, and I for one love it. Thank you for not taking restaurant shops from me.

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
Some get it, and others, well......shouldn't be in our business.

HAPPINESS true happiness is an inner thing.....
Before I respond to sobroke......., a bit of my background. I departed my last job in Oct. of 1963, upon my discharge from the U.S. Navy. To date, I have been self-employed for 55+ years. I mention to admit my process of thought is business minded.

Sobroke.........states: Some of these mystery shopping companies are ruthless and greedy and its as simple as that.

Bob's comment: As contractors, opposed to being employees, shoppers receive what the market will bear. An officer of a corporation electing to pay beyond a sum necessary is tempting his company's shareholders to remove him or her from his/her position. That's BUSINESS!
I am not sure what part of what I said led you to seem to me to believe I do not take restaurant jobs. That is not me. I do them for the food, the wine yes, the experience, the preparation, and all of that. I totally agree that some only look at time spent and I have heard some say they could cook at home. But for a home cooked meal in the time spent shopping, planning, cooking and clean up I can probably write one of those long reports. Not to mention , as you say, the cost of the ingredients.

@oteixeira wrote:

@sandyf wrote:

Personally if I get paid $5 or so to do a report that takes me several hours including reading the rules and loading receipts and pics and whatever else I really do not consider that pay. If I spend 2 hours of my time doing all that the pay amounts to $2.50 per hour. And if you are looking at the fancy restaurant assignments with a tiny fee as a paid assignment then you might want to consider all the other hours and expenses you have to get there, time everything etc. Your hourly pay then amounts to $1 or less. The reimbursement of a very nice dinner is worth so much more that $5 pales in comparison. I used to do one that had a $3 reimbursement. I always went over the budget by about $3 no matter how hard I tried not to and considered that part of my reimbursement. I would be happy to take any pay they offer me for a high end restaurant. A minimum of $50 might attract me to see it as a paying assignment. As Irene said, these types of assignments are more for enjoyment of something you otherwise might not choose to pay out of pocket for.

When I hear this argument, I find it interesting that people are taking things like time, and gas into account, but people are not taking into account the cost of the ingredients in the two meals they eat. Or how about the cost of a beer/wine (good beer is not cheap from a grocery store). Then there is the time to prepare it, and the cost to do your dishes...I am not saying this is you specifically, as you say you do these shops.

Again, it works either way you want to read it, you have your reasons not to do them, and others have reasons to do them. That is why there is room for all of use in this business.
@sandyf to be clear, I said that I was not saying it was you, but I quoted your post because you so perfectly captured the arguments I do hear from people who say we are not getting paid. Sorry if I was not more clear!

I see it now, the second paragraph was directed at sobroke, I should have made that more clear.

Orlando - lightly shopping NC


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2019 10:15PM by oteixeira.
I love a particular restaurant that one MSC offers. The shop offers a reimbursement of $35 only. I say it's worth it not having to prepare coffee, two entrees, appetizers and pie on a lovely Saturday morning at home.
@Sobrokeigot2dothis wrote:

...they find gullible broke people like us to do the work for the free meal

Whoa! That's a pretty large assumption right there. I am specifically NOT broke because I mystery shop fine dining restaurants instead of shelling out a portion of my paycheck to go to them.

I know that I'm not the only one here who sees the value of being able to have the cost of a meal negated, but for me the value of the experience is greater than the sum of the food costs. Being able to treat a friend to a restaurant visit that they generally could not afford has a social benefit to it as well.
The restaurant shops are... what people think they are. I am not a snob, and I do not need expensive food or expensive restaurants. Before shopping, I went to them. It is not necessary to have them as a constant lifestyle thing. My life is complete.

These days, I can fit in the occasional casual or fast meal. The shop tasks are easy and good for the old brain cell. Someone else incurs a kitchen mess. I eat, I report, and I sleep. This is good in my world.

I talked to the players and tried to make them aware of what was good and bad, but I didn't try to run their lives. - John Wooden
@sandyf wrote:

Personally if I get paid $5 or so to do a report that takes me several hours including reading the rules and loading receipts and pics and whatever else I really do not consider that pay. If I spend 2 hours of my time doing all that the pay amounts to $2.50 per hour. And if you are looking at the fancy restaurant assignments with a tiny fee as a paid assignment then you might want to consider all the other hours and expenses you have to get there, time everything etc. Your hourly pay then amounts to $1 or less. The reimbursement of a very nice dinner is worth so much more that $5 pales in comparison. I used to do one that had a $3 reimbursement. I always went over the budget by about $3 no matter how hard I tried not to and considered that part of my reimbursement. I would be happy to take any pay they offer me for a high end restaurant. A minimum of $50 might attract me to see it as a paying assignment. As Irene said, these types of assignments are more for enjoyment of something you otherwise might not choose to pay out of pocket for.

$200 for the restaurant
$350 before tax real money, maybe more
(I pay a lot in federal and state taxes)
=
A great deal, even for a few hours of work, writing about food, on my own terms, in my pajamas, on my couch.
I have a full-time job now that is my primary source of income. I will take dining shops as a chance to be reimbursed for a meal at a place I may not go to on my own dime which, in turn, saves me money. The only ones I have done that were reimbursement only did not have a report that was overly complicated. However, if it was, I probably wouldn't take it because there are so many other options.

Kim
I like what Steve So Cal and Niner have to say. It fits my life. I used to do the high end restaurants as my husband enjoyed getting a fabulous seafood meal especially scallops if they had them. Now that he is gone I can take my daughter as she enjoys this type of thing and definitely cannot afford it herself. I take my friends to the more mid level places and for me too it is to treat them for all the wonderful things they have done for me. For myself a great salad bar is all I need even if it is in a cheapo place.
I too am in a high tax bracket in a high tax state and a state where federal taxes are getting higher. There seem to be quite a few on this forum who are not doing this for economic survival.
What do we usually assume about folks who post ONLY to ridicule us and accuse MSCs of duping us all ?
"Tea, a drink with jam and bread," next, "a word that rhymes with bowl."

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.
I wonder what @Sobrokeigot2dothis thinks of grocery store shops. Most of them pay about 5-10 with a very small reimburse, but I would think a lot of us spend to the pay+reimburse limit in groceries. In that case, you are literally working for groceries. Is that any different then working for a meal? Working for an oil change? They all do the same thing, they remove costs from your monthly budget. Removing an item from my monthly budget allows me to have more money to pay another bill, which is identical to what happens if I get paid money to do a shop. Both have the same end result as I have more money in my budget (either by not paying for something I want/need, or by earning more). I am so lost as to how people don't see this. All shops are good for someone out there, or they would stay on the boards forever.....Even a route of 20+ jack in the boxes in one day (God bless her cholesterol levels). smiling smiley

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
Depends. I will take as many BJs as possible -- great food and the report takes (far) less than 30 mins. Those lengthy, drawn-out, to-the-second, get names of 20 people, otoh, are not worth my time. I'd rather eat at home.

otei, the difference is that a grocery store report takes very little time. In those aforementioned shops, what you're paying for is the atmosphere rather than simply a meal.

But I get that one size does not fit all.

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
@iShop123 wrote:

Depends. I will take as many BJs as possible -- great food and the report takes (far) less than 30 mins. Those lengthy, drawn-out, to-the-second, get names of 20 people, otoh, are not worth my time. I'd rather eat at home.

otei, the difference is that a grocery store report takes very little time. In those aforementioned shops, what you're paying for is the atmosphere rather than simply a meal.

But I get that one size does not fit all.

BJs?????

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/2019 02:32AM by Whatfun14LF.
When I'm on a route, I will pick them up. Unfortunately can only do one a day. [www.bjsrestaurants.com]

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
postmuffin I totally agree. When all they do is reimburse, it just makes me feel like my time is worth nothing when all I did is get reimbursed for my meal. I enjoy being paid for my meal (free food), but if you have to explain a lot for each item, the timing when you receive your drink, what the crew member says, it does kind of say that your time is not valuable. I think that should change.
@fcolando wrote:

postmuffin I totally agree. When all they do is reimburse, it just makes me feel like my time is worth nothing when all I did is get reimbursed for my meal. I enjoy being paid for my meal (free food), but if you have to explain a lot for each item, the timing when you receive your drink, what the crew member says, it does kind of say that your time is not valuable. I think that should change.

Unless the meal is close to $250?
I was going back and forth on this in my head today. Sometimes a meal can feel like pay until the work needs to be done. It's always work. Then there's also the risk that the experience could be awful. A normal customer can get comped and walk away, but we have to do the work regardless. I had two meals this week that were that bad except they paid enough for my effort.

It's hard to write an objective report when you're feeling cheated out of your compensation (the meal out).
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