Do MSCs Know that $5, $6, $7, etc. Shops Don't Even Cover Mileage? Do Clients Know Our Pay?

Let alone hourly work time (prep/study time, shop time, and report time)?

Also, do clients know that MSCs offer shops at $5, $6, etc. and how that doesn't cover expenses and/or encourages cheating and falsifying reports possibly (I could imagine a desperate person not even studying the guidelines or preparing and just filling in whatever to quickly do a report.....I'm usually wondering who on Earth is taking these $5, $6, ...shops??)?

eta:****If you rely on MSC work for your survival, DO NOT POST ANYTHING HERE NEGATIVE. I don't want anyone blacklisted.

eta2: Just saw one too many ridiculous low-ball fees the past day or so. That's the reason for the call-out anger. Seriously, some jobs offers on these boards are flat out offensive. Less than $7.25 (federal minimum wage) to drive on-site and perform a task and report on it.

Edited 9 time(s). Last edit at 08/06/2019 02:04PM by shoptastic.

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.

Pay has dropped since I started in 2006. I continue to schedule according to my needs. I look at it like this, tax writeoff means I get tax refund and not have to pay.
@GACryptic wrote:

Pay has dropped since I started in 2006. I continue to schedule according to my needs. I look at it like this, tax writeoff means I get tax refund and not have to pay.

How do you get a tax write-off, GAC? Is that by posting a loss?

If so, does the IRS not eventually ask people to stop working as a small business owner? I think I vaguely recall some ppl saying this in another thread. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity. smiling smiley
Well, they don't EXACTLY ask you to stop working as a small business owner. What they do is disallow the deductions, and tax you on the gross. With, of course, severe penalties, and risking an audit for fraud -- and if they audit you for fraud, they are NOT limited to 7 years, but can audit every single year you've ever filed.

You do NOT want to get on the bad side of the IRS!!!
If you evaluate each individual shop on its own even many high paying shops don't make sense. You need to learn how to evaluate groups of shops.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
As long as you can show a decent reason for a loss you can claim a loss as many years as you want. Most real estate investments show a loss every year of existence. Our building showed a $15,000 loss last year and will continue to, most likely for the next 5-6.

I am not advocating doing that for mystery shopping, just pointing out that the "you can't show a loss for 3 (?) years in a tow" mentality is incorrect.

For instance if you can show that your mileage cost is significantly under the federal deduction and you showed a loss even though your business was cash flow positive enough to justify the time then it's very possible you could get away with it. I would suggest consulting a tax professional before attempting that. I only assume based on my knowledge of the tax code that it's a possibility.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
What the 3 years in a row thing is for is, let's say in my case I enjoy photography. Professional level equipment is quite expensive. So I could create BG Photography and take a deduction for all that equipment (I WISH!) and show a loss every year. Even if I got a paid gig a few times a year it is obvious I am not a business but a hobby.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Some folks suffer from acute ostrichitis. The following is an account of a conversation with a man who, at the time, was unknown to me. He entered my store to inquire as to the traffic in the shopping center where I was located. During our brief chat, he mentioned he had made $1000 that morning, but needed to relocate due to the building having been sold. After, though, I learned he was a seller of gold, he conceded he actually only netted approx. $100. Next, I deducted mileage and, since his net:gross ratio was so low, the loss of the use of his $10,000 investment; his true net for the day, he agreed, was $42. He would wave as he walked by, but never again engaged me in conversation. I was not attempting to shame him, rather merely bringing to his attention that he was not earning what he wished to believe.

I well understand those shoppers who are desperate or desirous of activity working for a pittance; thankfully that does not include me.
I do $6-$7 shops every month, lots of them. They just happen to be convenience stores that sometimes are only 1-2 miles away from each other (and between 1-20 miles from home), and I can knock out 4-5 of them in an hour, including drive and report time on the app. I don't think the MSCs care whether or not shops cover mileage or not. They figure someone will take them, and they are right. Usually. I doubt the clients know or care what we make. As long as they get done, why would they care?
When I first started Mystery shopping I started with the pay they offered. I got to know what I would do and what I wouldn't do for some of the shops, got great experience. If you don't like what you get paid, don't do the shop. I agree with JASFLALMT, some small shops can be better than high paying shops, if you get enough of them and don't mind doing them. I just don't understand why so much complaining, you are self-employed, no one is twisting your arm.
Because she needs SOMETHING to talk about and just comes up with as many subjects as she can

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@shopper8 wrote:

When I first started Mystery shopping I started with the pay they offered. I got to know what I would do and what I wouldn't do for some of the shops, got great experience. If you don't like what you get paid, don't do the shop. I agree with JASFLALMT, some small shops can be better than high paying shops, if you get enough of them and don't mind doing them. I just don't understand why so much complaining, you are self-employed, no one is twisting your arm.

I get your point, s8.

Nonetheless, I think it's still a perfectly legit criticism and entirely separate from notions of being a self-employed shopper. The two issues aren't mutually exclusive. I can be perfectly happy to not do those jobs - I don't. smiling smiley - while complaining they waste our time posting ridiculous job offers on boards that I "have to" check to see what's available.

This isn't personal (just wanted to say that before I say the following, in case my tone sounds that way), but I don't understand those who "complain about those who complain about fees." Why does anyone care what others think or complain about? Unless one is getting paid as a forum/company shill to do P.R. for a MSC, I don't understand why anyone would care that other shoppers think it's annoying to see emails or job boards filled with $5, $6, etc. job offers.

If people don't like the complaining, they can not read the thread. No one if forcing people to read this or agree. I don't have a problem with the counter-points, btw. It's fair and good for debate/discussion. Just saying it's weird people get upset that others complain and/or get preachy about "no one is forcing you to take a job."

The latter is not 100% true, though, as half of all Americans are broke and economically desperate in our rigged economy. Ever since 1976, when it became legal for corporations to donate to political campaigns (bribing politicians legally and getting all sorts of deregulation and welfare for the rich), the destruction of America's middle and lower classes has increasingly gotten worse. Economists compare inequality today to the Roaring '20's. The statistics bear this out. But, that's another conversation. smiling smiley I'm just saying that many people probably do have to do this work. So, for them, they're working at a pittance.

I do see SOME shops that have actually gone up in fees. Yay for those! But, I'd guesstimate that 85% have stayed the same or gone down. sad smiley
1. Recently, I saw yet another example of a lowered base fee. Those shops should be paid at $25 minimum with or without a route.
2. It is impossible to determine what any other shopper is receiving in aggregate. We do not know every factor in any shopper's math.If we perform similar shops, we may be aware of some payments that have existed in the past.
3. If some shopper gets even a few ginormous bonuses, these may offset some lower fees and bring the overall earnings to... less bad, or not too bad, or slightly profitable, or substantially profitable...
4. Shoppers can avoid these shops, wait for or ask for bonuses, build routes, reduce travel costs, or whatever is possible in their worlds to offset the lowered fees. I don't see any business' books, but I look around the world of commerce and see many businesses in trouble. How many of the mystery shopping clients are in trouble now or would be in trouble financially if they did not scale back some of their costs, such as the mystery shopping programs? Some shoppers might know how to put together unique routes and work it, even with the lower fees. Alternately, they might negotiate for bonuses. If the new starting point for bonuses is lower, well, too bad for shoppers who might have to find other jobs or cut some costs. I don't think that this mystery shopping is intended to provide a living. I believe that it is meant to provide opportunities for many people to perform some work and then do something else with the rest of their lives. This may or may not be true. Is it reasonable to think that fees can and shall increase, or is it reasonable to add shop types, other job types, and find other ways not to suffer from fee changes?

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/06/2019 07:28PM by Shop-et-al.
While some MSCs do come up with pay and reimbursements that are fair, their actual intent is to get the job done for their client, not to please shoppers. MSCs are not thinking about what shoppers are doing with the rest of their lives. This job is not intended to provide opportunities for shoppers. If payment and reimbursement is commensurate with a shopper's needs, that is a happy circumstance.
Shoptastic wrote, Also, do clients know that MSCs offer shops at $5, $6, etc. and how that doesn't cover expenses and/or encourages cheating and falsifying reports possibly (I could imagine a desperate person not even studying the guidelines or preparing and just filling in whatever to quickly do a report.....I'm usually wondering who on Earth is taking these $5, $6, ...shops??)?

If this is true, why bother Mystery shopping at all? I don't think you would get away with it for to long. I wonder who on this shopper forum would be that desperate.
Exactly, shopper8. Why bother? I, for one, could NOT imagine anyone cheating and falsifying reports (for any amount of money), much less for $5. It's like a bank robber going in and holding up the bank teller for $5. I would not falsify a report for $100, why would I do that for $5?
I took a $7.00 shop today because it was a new company for me and I wanted to see how the report was and if it was really "fun and easy". I was pretty much kicking myself on the way there - even though it was close to home - due to the low fee. The shop was easy, report fast but I will now wait to see when they get bonused so I can do a route. I looked at it as a learning experience since I did not want to do a route "cold" and wanted to know what was involved. So there are many reasons for taking a low paying shop.
I just assigned two 9.00 jobs each close together, one store I will be in the other close enough and same scenerio. I'm not doing anything and don't want anything that takes a lot of work like banks. Being home
anyway, I'll have an extra something in my pocket with no shame.....why not? These shops go quickly, so
if not me, someone else.

Live consciously....
Ah ha! So @JASFLALMT is really whoever that annoying pothead guy was!

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Annoying pothead guy? I must have smoked too much pot in the 80s because I don't get it. Dude, where's my car?
DavePi!

Wasn't he the one that always like his own posts? Or was it ParkCityBrian? One of the really annoying ones. Anyway I see you've caught it now but you liked your own post above.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Sorry I couldn't remember his name for the life of me when I posted that.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Yes, and I wasn't smoking anything, though I did take a vicodin. It was DavePi that liked his own posts...PCB was outspoken but I didn't find him annoying. What makes you think that either of them were smoking pot?
DavePi used to talk about how high he was. I ASSumed he was talking about pot. Hell he could have been talking about heroin I suppose. I'm fairly certain PCB mentioned it a few times as well but I could obviously be wrong. I lump them together because they were both annoying as hell. Although honestly PCB was pretty cool for a long time then got something stuck up his ass.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@shopper8 wrote:

Shoptastic wrote, Also, do clients know that MSCs offer shops at $5, $6, etc. and how that doesn't cover expenses and/or encourages cheating and falsifying reports possibly (I could imagine a desperate person not even studying the guidelines or preparing and just filling in whatever to quickly do a report.....I'm usually wondering who on Earth is taking these $5, $6, ...shops??)?

If this is true, why bother Mystery shopping at all? I don't think you would get away with it for to long. I wonder who on this shopper forum would be that desperate.

I know it sounds crazy possibly, s8, but there really are a lot of desperate people out there in the gig economy.

When I was recovering from a major physical ailment a few years ago and stuck at home most of the time, I tried various types of online gig work during my rehab. Stuff like MTurk, Textbroker, etc. Later, as I started to get healthier, I also discovered and got into MS-ing too. But, when I was doing online work, I was in a lot of reddit forums. You can meet and talk to a lot of people who do gig economy work that pays them about $3.00/hour to $7.00/hour oftentimes, as that is all they can find. I definitely was shocked by how many people were making less than minimum wage. They were often in economically depressed areas and from very humble backgrounds. They frequently had car/transportation issues as well (or, maybe that was just something I personally noticed in my sampling of interactions, but not reflective of the larger group - not sure). Many have looked for work to make ends meet, but cannot find enough. MS-ing and/or other gig economy work sort of fills those needs. Yet, it's often not enough.

Right now, about 25% of all Americans work in the gig economy (posted an article on this previously: [www.theguardian.com] ). By nature, it's very insecure, frequently pays low wages, often lacks labor protections, and has no benefits.

I don't know how many people ms-ing are in such dire straits, but I have seen enough in terms of gig economy workers to personally believe it is likely a lot. Maybe even over 50%.
@bgriffin wrote:

Because she needs SOMETHING to talk about and just comes up with as many subjects as she can
It really is getting old.

Here on this subject, we have invented a problem that does not exist. If you don't want to do a $5 job, ignore it. If nobody takes that $5 job, the fee will go up. Where's the problem?

Out of all of my friends and acquaintances, I know exactly zero who work in the gig economy. 25% seems high.
The gig economy is so much about the shopper/merchandiser/auditor. Whoever is available can pick up an assignment and get on with things-- whether more gigs or something else. It is not necessary to be close to home or within a designated radius; it is possible to search for shops anywhere (where it is legal to work). There is no time card, and there is no need to fit the moonlighting into a clandestine scheme or designated lunch period. In the mystery shopping world, and in the gig economy, moonlighting is the norm and the need (for some people).

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
I do shops that I want to do, usually to offset costs.

I ONLY do them when I'm ALREADY GOING somewhere...whether that is across town to drop kids off at soccer practice and pick up a shop on the way; or out of town, where I try to pick up a few...some are easy and some are harder/more complex...depending on how much time I have to spend. Example: just driving through town= easier shops. Sticking around a while (daughter was in Denver all day for a dance intensive tryout, so I picked up several nearby...) = more complicated...

So, even if I do a $5 gas station shop with a $2 reimbursement...if I'm going that way already, it's fine. It takes all of 20 min to do AND enter the shops.

And I have $5 ($7) more in my pocket next month than I would have if I hadn't picked it up....

And when we were on our vacation (a month of driving through/sightseeing CO-MO-TN-NC-SC-GA-FL-OK-KS-CO), we put 4800 miles on our van. I picked up MANY pizza shops and MANY gas station shops, some with GREAT bounuses
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login