Refer your friends or not?

I live in a pretty small town and regularly travel to complete shops because few are available in my area. Therefore, the few that are available, I always try to do to make life a little easier. So, on the topic of referring friends, I am always hesitant... I don’t want to compete this a bunch of other shoppers in my area! Do any of you feel this way? Or is it the more, the merrier? I’m not trying to open a can of worms - just asking how everyone else feels about it!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2019 04:28PM by nicole.tabora.

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I have mentored a couple of locals.

Based on my personal experience, I would say absolutely DO NOT DO THIS.

I made it very clear to the shoppers exactly the dollars I get for each shop, explained how doing it for less would more or less permanently lower the dollar value of each shop.

Shopper #1 took a route of gas stations at $25 each that I had been getting $125 each for (800 mile route).

Shopper #2 took a gas station 100 miles away from her, for a reveal audit, for $35. I no longer get my $100 fee for this shop.

They both came back to me, crying that they weren't making any money.

No matter how well you know someone, you don't know if they are naive, non- business oriented, or just plain idiots.

No, No, and NO.
I am not rural by any stretch of the imagination but a friend was keen to find out all she could about mystery shopping. I explained all the pitfalls to her and cautioned her about scams. I told her where to find decent mystery shop companies and to call me and consult before taking her first mystery shops and to by no means take a shop with too big to be true pay. The next time I saw her she told me she had taken her first mystery shop. When she got to the bank with the huge check she had gotten and was supposed to cash fortunately for her the bank caught the scam. She had not listened to a word I had said!
Many mystery shops want you to recommend family and friends. Many will pay you for it. I tell my friends all the time what I do. Some are interested, especially for eating out.
I have told family members, who are aware of the work entailed for the relatively small reward. Four have tried it. One quit after one shop, one quit after about a year, one does fairly regular shops to deduct mileage to nearby locations of personal interest as well and one joins me in the late fall/early winter doing seminar shops. Locations and rotations make this work but all have come to understand that this is not exciting espionage such as the name might imply. I would not tell friends/associates mostly because it would appear that screw ups want to make it somehow your responsibility rather than taking personal responsibility for screwing up.
Yes, flash, you are so right! It's totally MY fault my friends accepted unprofitable shops.

And it's definitely my fault the pay for those shops have been lowered.

sad smiley
I did invite one of my dear friends who has been cash strapped since 2008 recession to do parking lot jobs that are lucrative and fairly easy. The only downside is the stay of 75 minutes. Another friend and I get together with her and go to some of the fancy hotel valet shops with her. We spend a nice 75 minutes enjoying the well appointed lobbies with live music, a fireplace and comfy chairs and a view of the Pacific Ocean together.
It's a win win for us...girl talk in nice surroundings while she earns some $$. And we run into some interesting peeps in those lobbies and also sometimes interesting conventions...many from the entertainment industry. It is not competition for me as I only do parking shops near places I have to be for an appt or other shop and I do not have those on the ocean.
She once tried one of the fancy restaurant shops I had taken her to so we could do them more often together but after all the timings and careful listening to statements she ended up with a migraine and I ended up piecing together the report for her. That was the end of her mystery shopping restaurants and me thinking I would have a free and easy meal that way.
I say NO, won't work...you are responsible for recommending a friend, if it doesn't work, your the bad guy, beside
bringing in more competition for yourself, why would you? Schedulers have social media and advertise here, enough's enough!

Live consciously....


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2019 07:30PM by Irene_L.A..
Depends on the friend...Mine is very responsible. Others of my friends I think would probably mess up in some way. And no competition for the jobs she wants to do.
I have a niece who would make a great shopper. When I've accomplished what I need to with shopping and stop, I'll tip her off that it's not a scam or an urban legend. In the meantime I'm keeping it to myself. Anything more just invites competition, and I have enough already.
In my market bonus shops are few, small and far between. It would take a long time to work up to the better shops and there are so many of the low end shops available unless my friend/relative lived on or near my block I would not feel they were competition at all. If they wanted they could do all the fast food they could handle and it would not bother me one bit. I would probably not tell them about the lucrative shops that come by once in a great while that I find but, for instance , the high pay one I did the other day I can only do once so I would not mind letting a good friend take advantage.
Of course I am not a full time shopper depending on the income to pay my mortgage so it is a different situation. But still about 90% of the shops I see here pay the same low pay they pay in a less expensive city without the chance of a bonus. The end result is usually less or about minimum wage ($13 or so an hour this year). Those are not attractive to me. Take for instance the brow shop. I can only do my brows once in a while and there must be 40 or more of them within 8 miles of my house at the low fee. If a friend finds one at the company I suggest to them I am happy for them. And if I forego the $10 referral fee the msc does not need to know I have any connection with my friend if they end up screwing up some shops.
Fundamentally, this is research. For many shops, the research is better because of a broad cross-section of respondents, or mystery shoppers. This influences how I think about mystery shopping: I do not care about competition because I know that the variety of viewpoints is good and I am not territorial because I cannot possible cover my 'region' adequately in my limited time and short time frames for performing mystery shops. In addition, I am too old and/or out of rotation for many available shops.

One of my fave shops desperately needs more shoppers. I know people who would be great at this, but they do not share my view of growing the shopper pool.

So it is not the more the merrier, but the broader the views when possible and needed, the better.

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. - Stanley Horowitz
I say it depends on the variables of location and the capacities of those recommended/mentored. Last year, at the age of 75, I was mentored by a long-time shopper who visited me from HI (I am in SoCal, so no competition) My friend did not fill me in on the intricacies, however, she did pass along MSC recommendations and I signed up with them all.

Now, less than a year later, I have completed 117 shops for 25 companies (not much for you pros out there, but remember, I am 76 next week, lol) and I have learned soooo much along the way. Oh, and, btw, my MIT MBA friend says my efforts have been financially worthwhile, whatever that means.

1. I love the required interactions with people.
2. Timing is often everything for the higher fees. And it doesn't hurt to tell the scheduler that you are capable to do a job that you've not done before for that company.
3. My niece took up the MS idea and went right to it on her own, she lives 2500 miles away and just finished her MBA at Northwestern University, fluent in four languages, no slouch.
4. I live in a rural, remote area and shops are limited. I initially was inspired to turn on friends in the area to this work but I quickly realized that most people do not have the skills, nor the patience for mystery shopping and reporting. Also, I decided to not recommend others because of the limited work in my area. I do happen to know of another shopper in my area because of the communication breach of a scheduler.

Thanks, forum members for all the helpful information and experiences that you pass on!
Recommending a friend living miles away is one thing. I wanted my daughter to do a good restaurant two blocks from her place and sent her info., she tried and said Mom, for a dinner and 8$, I can't spend the amount of time needed. I'd rather use that time finding another business to counsel making $90.00 an hour....LOL My friend is jealous about the "freebies" I get and wants them, but not willing to work for it and asked if she could say "everything was fine" on the report.....geez. People have to understand, this is work and a freebie is earned.

Live consciously....
My sister in law. But she lives in another state then I do. Where she lives is a small town and there are only her and one other person that do ms shopping.
If I see a recruitment ad for an MSC, I'll encourage someone to apply who I know is going to flake, so the assignment goes back up on the board and I get it with a bonus.
People I have spoken to want the names of the companies and clients. They want it handed to them. Even with MSC recommendations, I don't know one person who has pursued this. I tried to get a family member to shop. This person and his wife are hours away from us, near a major city. He is retired and his wife does not work, and they won't do the most basic of shops to help them financially (they don't have lots). The shops near them could offset many expenses. We will be going through their area and I scheduled some shops. I don't need the money. They do, but they can't be bothered. Makes no sense.
@Niner wrote:

People I have spoken to want the names of the companies and clients. They want it handed to them. Even with MSC recommendations, I don't know one person who has pursued this. I tried to get a family member to shop. This person and his wife are hours away from us, near a major city. He is retired and his wife does not work, and they won't do the most basic of shops to help them financially (they don't have lots). The shops near them could offset many expenses. We will be going through their area and I scheduled some shops. I don't need the money. They do, but they can't be bothered. Makes no sense.

I can totally relate to this! I don’t really want any local competition so have only mentioned it to one person locally and she never followed through. I did really encourage one friend who was really struggling and she and her husband were close to losing their house. I even took her on a shop when I went out to visit them as they live a couple states away for me. She said it was too much work and it was a simple restaurant shop! I told my husband when we got back to their house that it’s hopeless regarding her doing MS. I felt bad for them but what can you do? Can lead a horse to water but can t make them drink... since that I’m no longer putting energy into trying to get anyone to do this...
I have tried. I’ll refer to ACL or Ath with no hesitation. There’s no competition there. There are probably other companies good for the most casual shoppers.

To be honest though, most people have no attention span and no capacity to wait for the reward. If they do, they’re probably already too busy to mystery shop.

Maybe that’s just my social circle.
Interesting about why people would not want to do this... hmm... well, what is this, exactly?

Why would anyone, poor or otherwise, ever want to do anything that could jeopardize another person's livelihood? After all, some reported information is linked to other people's raises, promotions, and ongoing employment. This is not only about figuring out the system of living largely or totally on other people's money. It is at least a two-way road. Why would someone risk money that they do not have to pay for transportation to a mystery shop location, let alone risk precious funds for purchases and deferred reimbursements which may be denied due to shopper error (or rarely, to client whim or MSC error)? Is this a good investment? Is money safer unspent, banked, or invested in traditional systems?

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. - Stanley Horowitz
I'm going to refer my daughter when she is 18. She would be great at it and she goes with me on many shops. She knows what all goes into it and I will coach her on the different MSC's and platforms, etc.

She will be my competition, for sure. But....I'd rather her pick up the shops around here than whichever other MSers are picking them up.... winking smiley
It's a weird situation.

On the one hand, when I've needed a job in the past, friends have gotten me hired by vouching for me. I've done the same for a friend as well. I never felt conflicted about those situations. They are normal things that friends do for each other.

But, MS-ing is weird. We're our own bosses and compete directly with other ms-ers. If you view yourself as a small business owner, then it's like asking:

I own a pizza shop. Should I help my friends open their own pizza shops in the same city as me and compete with me? Should I also teach them my "secrets" of how to succeed in the pizza business?

I guess that's sometimes how it feels to me. I still cannot get used to the idea of being a business owner, instead of an employee. But, that's what everyone always reminds me of. In this scenario, I feel like it would be like putting myself out of business. grinning smiley

Any thoughts everyone?

eta: Also, why do MSCs want us to refer our friends? Doesn't that mean more competition and less wage bargaining power for the shopper?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/03/2019 10:40AM by shoptastic.
Sinister: birds of a feather flock together. Who are you, really?

Straightforward: birds of a feather flock together. If you are good at this, they might be good at this.

Neutral: Inviting strangers might be awkward or illegal. And, they need a larger shopper pool.

Cynical: this was not ibtended to be a substantial revenue stream for individuals. Spread the money around already! And, dilute the power of any person or person group to influence via what should be an objective program.

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. - Stanley Horowitz
Like they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I tried to refer a bestie who lives 600 miles away, for plum shops, online paid forums & focus groups, but it was too much effort for her and then not only did she continue to lament over being in a bind, but she whined about all the junk mail she was getting. No more, ever again.
When my Mom was alive, I was begging her to do mystery shopping because she remembers everything, writes like a pro (well, she was an AP English teacher, so..lol) and knew that after a few perfect shops on her end, that I would get to be the tag along on some prime shops. She said she'd rather just help me out and didn't want to get a computer.
I don't really know many people in my area that I think would spend 5 minutes trying to mystery shop. That being said, there's barely anything in my area and I'd be crazy to encourage anyone here to start mystery shopping unless all they were interested in were FF shops. I have a few online friends or people that live nowhere near me that I've helped out with a couple of companies and this board to get them started. I just don't see many follow through.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
I only mention it or "help" friends who live in a different area. Either way, everyone I've referred has quit after a short amount of time.
I have suggested to two people that they start mystery shopping. One said it was too much work and the other wanted me to fill out her shopping applications!
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