Rates have dropped by half--is this my imagination?

I don't know if what I'm seeing is a pattern for all, something unique to me, or I am imagining something--the jobs I see are offering $5-$10. Though these jobs may be quick, the time to find, sign up, wait, accept, get to the location and back, write the report, wait, and respond to questions means each job takes 2-3 hours. Some jobs require reaching a certain person on the phone, first, tours of an apartment complex that can take over an hour, or a second visit to return something.

Out of this, subtract 15% or more in taxes, provide an interest-free loan to the MSC and pay or gas, parking an toll, and pay for parking, gas, or public transportation. Of course, some jobs may give the shopper a free meal, as long as one happens to want a meal that exactly meets the requirement of the job. I have found some jobs with a perk that made it worth my time, but these are few and far between.

I will leave out other issues and just talk about hours and pay.

A year and a half ago, I could have taken four or more jobs a day. Now, a job paying more than $20 is a rare event, and they are for apartment shops.

I believe my work has been good. I've been asked to revise a few answers using full sentences such as one asking, "Was the employee wearing a belt?" and I have been a few hours late (assigned to me at 5pm PST, completed at 8pm, and still finished before opening hours the next morning.) I was also chastised for not getting a business card from an employee on her first day at a bank branch (though I had receipts and other proof of completion.) I have done multiple jobs as a favor to different schedulers that weren't worth my time thinking that would help.

So a reality check? I am now logging onto platforms t once a week, but I'm getting a dozen emails each day, almost all $10 and under. I would think if they were having trouble filling certain jobs, they would be offering more.

Has this been a trend for all? If not, is it my imagination or have I somehow been singled out? Did everyone move to a different platform I missed? Is there a scarlet letter on my permanent record? Are there so many people out there willing to work for $3/hour and some which one will lose money? Something unique in the Pacific Northwest? Are there that many people who are happy with a $5 job, or who think rates will improve? Is the competition between the MSCs so high, they have engaged in a price war for clients and cutting expenses to survive?

What am I missing?

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I don't think you're missing anything. You've described it quite well, and it's quite real.

I think that technology trends have a great deal to do with it. If you can do a Field Agent job for $14 and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete and submit on site, and you get the money for it tomorrow, why would you do basically the same shop on a traditional MS platform and wait 6 weeks to 90 days for payment?

Competition, competition, competition.
Yup. The biz is changing, and some fees are lower now.

The only thing missing is that some people want to work but have limitations on earnings. If they earn too much as per benefits guidelines, they will lose money, benefits, etc. For these people, the low pay allows them to work and receive benefits. It provides a safety net for some earners. If they cannot consistently earn enough to make up for the lost benefits, they will enter a downward financial spiral. They are better off financially with low pay, some work, and ongoing benefits.

I know that some shoppers have been able to surpass this and I applaud them. This is absolutely wonderful!!!!!! Others will not be able to achieve such earnings consistently, and they should not be chastised for this.. They should be applauded for doing what they can do. Everyone is unique!

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica
I have a friend, a stay at home mom, and her situation is exactly as you describe. She would love to work, wants to work, but currently she receives free health insurance. The same coverage would cost her well over $1500 a MONTH as a wage earner in a job that does not provide coverage.

Living in a rural area, I don't think she could even GET a job that would net her $l500 a month. Minimum wage here is roughly $1600 a month IF you can find a full-time job. After taxes, if she pays for insurance, she'd go further in the hole every month. A downward spiral, indeed.

A system is broken -- or at least very badly bent -- when people are financially better off for NOT WORKING.

I think it should be reversed, but don't have a clue how to do that. Subsidies for the "underemployed" -- so that they CAN work? I don't know.

sad smiley
I'm sort of seeing the opposite in my area. Base fees have been about the same ever since I started shopping, around 5 or 6 years ago. Some went down, but seem to have at least reverted to their previous base fees. But what I'm seeing here is many more shops bonused and for more. I finally got a Five Guys' shop at the bonused fees I was seeing in 2016. That all ended awhile ago, but slowly and surely, I'm seeing a return to close to those numbers. The bank shops I do are having bonuses raised from $6 above base to $10 above, and I've taken some nicely bonused cable and cellphone shops.

I finally concluded that base rates are never going to go up unless people can and will refuse them. But I realize not all shoppers have, or want, that option. I have other sources of self-employment income, so I mainly shop when those are slow. I've become much pickier about the jobs I do and at what fees, so maybe I'm not seeing the whole picture. I think my area is short of shoppers, anyway, so maybe the MSCs have had to up their games a little around here. The old $12 cell shops are now $14 (big deal, I know, but still....), and I won't do them at that, either! They're a PITA, and I don't even know why I continue to do them for any amount -- LOL. A glutton for punishment, I guess.

The only shops I'll do at base are restaurant shops, except Five Guys (need to have a bonus on those) or sometimes post office shops, when I need to ship something anyway.

I still scratch my head at the low fees offered for some shops....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
Any apartment or dealership shops I see start at around $30, upwards of $60 for video capture shops. Many sit down restaurant shops pay a fee from $15 to $25 plus reimbursement. I'd consider those high risk to reward shops, not for someone that can't afford to lose the reimbursement.

The majority of base shops are reimbursement only type shops, or low fees, or combination. A few have dropped or lowered the fees. Many new opportunities are definitely targeting getting us to do more work for lower fees. Like the Harris Teeter signage check at gas stations or some of these drive thru restaurant shops.

Job listing sites; [www.msjobboard.com] - Shopmetrics; [www.mystshopsol.com]; [www.jobslinger.com] - Sassie; [www.volition.com] - Various links; [www.mspa-na.org] -MSPA Members; link at bottom of forum page to their extensive list of companies
Until there are no longer any shoppers willing to work for very little cash, little is what will be paid. The only exception I have experienced was one where the client required a report with proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax and novella length. In those situations, the MSC has no choice but to pay an amount exceeding a pittance. I am a 100% advocate of the free market concept, but that does not mean I am willing to toil for less than I require. I am only a "go-to shopper," IF a MSC is willing to pay me to go.
I am more-and-more convinced that this really depends on the type of shops you pursue. Currently, I am getting apartments visits for well more than I have in the past. Of course, they are narrative-heavy, require chasing targets, etc.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
There are good shops and bad shops. It's been my experience that the good shops stay the same or go up and the bad shops get cheaper and cheaper.

I'll never understand why people will take $10 cell phone shops that take 45 minutes and will continue to take them as they go down to *looks at post above* $4 but won't take a 5 minute retail shop that pays $15. But oh well. More for me.

I pick and choose. If you pick and choose wisely you won't have the problem.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Rick you need to sign up with more companies I think, unless you live in such a rural area that there isn't anything around. That, or start doing video. I am very choosy. I hold out for more money. A lot. Today I did 4 nicely bonused gas station audits ($20 each) that took me less than 30 minutes each, and they were in between 4-17 miles from home. Last month I did some audits that took a bit longer and were 20 miles or more from home, but paid $42 each and I also did 4 per day. Additionally, I do projects that never hit the job boards. I have been noticing that the electronics and cell phone shops that normally go for around $11 have been bonused as high as $25, and I take them when they get to that price or higher (only those within 15-20 miles). It's pretty much because the people who have been shopping them have done them often enough that the store associates are onto them, not to mention they can't do them more than once every 90 days. Same thing with those bank shops. So, if you hold out you can do fewer shops but for a lot more money. I still think you need to sign up with more companies, though.

@rickgrossman wrote:

They can still keep under the limit and be paid more per hour....then work fewer hours.
Love this! smiling smiley Some can. Each shopper does not have the same shopping opportunities. Location is important. Transportation matters. Rotations make a difference. Age is critical. Traveling might make a difference. Other employment might be a factor.

Recently, I looked for one MSC's available shops in four random US cities, in the middle of June (eoq). This is not necessarily typical or representative. It was just a thing to do. My little town had 2 shops. Somewhere medium-sized in Texas had about a hundred shops. Somewhere in Ohio had more than two hundred shops. Phoenix had about a hundred shops.How would any shopper fare in any of those situations? I surmise that some shoppers might have to string together low-paying shops which, even with bonuses, do not provide the same money or efficiency as other shops in other areas.


@rickgrossman wrote:

They can still keep under the limit and be paid more per hour....then work fewer hours.

Praying is work. - Mother Angelica
Niner just posted that the shops paid $4. She didn't say she takes them.

@bgriffin wrote:

There are good shops and bad shops. It's been my experience that the good shops stay the same or go up and the bad shops get cheaper and cheaper.

I'll never understand why people will take $10 cell phone shops that take 45 minutes and will continue to take them as they go down to *looks at post above* $4 but won't take a 5 minute retail shop that pays $15. But oh well. More for me.

I pick and choose. If you pick and choose wisely you won't have the problem.
I hate apartment shops so much I would rather stay home. I mean they would really, really have to pay a lot for me to leave the house. I am thinking pajamas and Reese's sticks, lying around in bed with my phone and my remote control. On those days I will take a shower and put a fresh pair of pajamas on, LOL. OMG have you tried those Reese's sticks?

@MFJohnston wrote:

I am more-and-more convinced that this really depends on the type of shops you pursue. Currently, I am getting apartments visits for well more than I have in the past. Of course, they are narrative-heavy, require chasing targets, etc.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

Niner just posted that the shops paid $4. She didn't say she takes them.

I didn't say she takes them either, but apparently someone does!

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
I do think this is a transition period of sorts in this industry. With many different types of technology platforms and apps available as well as a much wider acceptance of "gig type" jobs, I think MSC's and other players are throwing a lot against the wall to see what sticks.
I have seen the same cell phone shop in the same location offered within 2 days by two different MSCs. One was at $6 and the other at $20. So, yes, it makes sense to sign up to multiple companies, learn your local market and figure out how much you will and won't work for, given the assignment, as well as which companies you will and won't work for.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

I hate apartment shops so much I would rather stay home.
My thoughts exactly about apartment shops. Did one....once....non targeted....narrative heavy report....not my thing...y'all can have them out there! Just not my cup of tea!
@Shop-et-al I do the same thing. I'm in shore town at the tippy bottom of NJ that is very sparse in the off season and we don't have a lot of chains. The closest big area is Atlantic City and it's about an hour a day but I can do 5-12 shops there once a week or so all within walking distance. I look at where my boyfriend lives, which is very close to NYC and my sister outside of Philly. I switch zipcodes and look and go from having 3 available shops in 30 miles to sometimes over 100 shops withing 5 miles. I love doing this and I wouldn't do it if I didn't make enough money to survive, but I'd sure like to transport myself to those areas where I can pick and choose from a lot more opportunities.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
Yes, rotate fav MSC's. If the shops aren't appealing, or the fee's don't blow your hair back, cycle in newer companies. I rarely even open emails from the 90 second pizza place anymore, or the source of where I used to pick up my quick casual steak shops. Lately, I've been favoring others.
@ceasesmith Thank you, I have signed up for over 100 companies and I keep signing up with another few a week and keep checking. I have a part time job, so this isn't my only work, but it is my favorite.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
Is that where the famous elephant is?

@rickgrossman wrote:

Love the architecture in Cape May.
@rickgrossman Me too! It's one of the things that drew me here.

@ceasesmith That is Lucy, the Margate Elephant, which is right outside of Atlantic City. There's nothing quite like looking out the window of an elephant's butt =D

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
We may be moving to an area that's a bit more rural, but much closer to metropolitan Philly and other busy cities. There seems to be more shopping opportunities, especially for high-end retail shops. Now if only I don't age out of some of those before we get up there!

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
@BirdyC I used to live outside Philly, it's a great area and so nice to be close to bigger cities on the NJ/PA border.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
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