How you decide "what's worth it" when choosing shops?

Exactly. I am doing a slew of shops tomorrow that require no or very little out of pocket expense. I will hit a little over $150 in 6 hours (including drive and report time) if traffic is my friend, LOL. My out of pocket expenses involve the purchase of bottled electrolyte water at some convenience stores and for some stamps (if the post office clerk does their job). Not a hardship at all. And, I will be driving less than 40 miles to do the 11 visits I have planned.

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I prefer to do big pay shops, once in awhile. What I consider big pay is $100+, no out of pocket. If the shop is a role play (go to a bank in person to apply for a loan scenario) so much the better because it makes it fun. I've done several shops over $100, but my favorite two were $500 each. One a role play, one testing a product at home and answering questions after using it. Both were fun. Big payout shops allow me to do one shop whenever it sounds fun or interesting and makes me feel my time is valued. I don't care for doing alot of small shops or a route because it makes me feel like I am running errands, which is my least favorite thing to do...even if I got paid to do it.
Sounds great! We all have our niches, though. I like my small routes, and it doesn't feel like errands at all smiling smiley
That's a pretty good 1day haul. But I can't do all of those shops in a day, even after many many years of mystery shopping.

Have a great day
Yep, I have alot of other stuff on my plate right now. Oddly, the shops I do reduce my stress smiling smiley Yay for niches!
Who do you do these big pay shops through? I have never seen shops with $500.00 payouts! Maybe I am not aware of this company?
mlzg, you can have a dinner for 4? Most restaurant shops are only for 2, some solo bar shops or lunch ones, but I have not seen one for a party of 4 even if you pay for the extra orders.
I have some sort of neuromuscular thing going on. I am focusing on phone and web shops that don't pay much. But they do add up. Last month was about $450. I'm doing somewhat better so I'm picking up bank shops since usually in and out quickly. Anything that I have to stand and walk is out. I make sure they're close to where I'm going and only 1 or 2 a day. Anything helps
@ShopperFun99 wrote:

mlzg, you can have a dinner for 4? Most restaurant shops are only for 2, some solo bar shops or lunch ones, but I have not seen one for a party of 4 even if you pay for the extra orders.
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I did the party of 4 shop @ lunch on Saturday. It could be between 1-4 people. One person 25 reimbursement, 2, 50 and so on. Of course I took the maximum amount of people. It will be first and last. The food SUCKED.
Only you can answer your question. Whatever you are comfortable with. Restaurant shops don’t pay fees as you know, and often the bill is higher than the reimbursement, so if you can’t afford to eat out, don’t go.....simple...just take shops you can wait a couple of months to get reimbursed. You only do this part time, so you have 2 regular incomes coming in..you’re lucky to have that. There are some low cost fast food assignments too. You may also want to consider travel time and report time in your decisions. Good luck!
Sometimes i know i am going to need cash so financial shops, apartments. Sometimes i am hungry. Quarterly oil changes. I am in pretty big urban area so I have choices.
BTW keep an eye out when traveling. I picked up a huge bonus for 10 minutes work and only 15 minutes out of the way
I would love to know which companies you shop for, if you are willing to share? 5000 travel shops and app shops? Sure sounds better than the 6.00 gas station shops I have been doing lol
Because I do this full time (video mainly) and I need the money for living essentials - not just nice to have's, I need to take a logical approach to mystery shopping. Living in a big metropolis helps a lot - there's plenty of work and choice, so I can make it a full time living - as long as I am smart about it.

Starting point: the best MS job to have is one that pays a lot but takes as little time as possible (including travel and report writing time). A bonus is that it is fun to do as well and/or it is at a place where you need to go anyway. For many jobs, they don't tick all of these boxes. Hardly any do, in fact! The fun ones are low paid or involve a lot of travel and petrol (gas you you Americans) or they are right next door and boring a f**k and the report is a like writing a novel.

For those of you who love restaurant/cafe jobs or tend to do these quite often only makes sense to do them as 'incidental' visits (i.e., you were going there anyway, or at least passing that way - negating the need to factor in travel time or even the time spent in the restaurant because it was either doing it for a bill (cheque to you Americans) or doing it free of charge. That means that you are substituting some observations and report writing for the bill (or most of it, if a contribution), which makes it a positive sum game and worth doing, particularly if it is not a special occasion or you are alone.

If you were not going there anyway, making it a destination mystery shop (i.e., you are going to work - you wouldn't be going there at all or at that date/time unless it was a mystery shop either as a stand-along job or part of a route of shops), you need to consider whether the food is going to be a high enough or enjoyable enough standard for you to feel adequately rewarded for the effort. If it is just a fast food or unappetising stomach filler, think again - unless your cupboards are empty and there is no cheque coming in to buy groceries. If it is not to fill up cupboards and/to prevent hunger, and is somewhere wonderful or enjoyable it might be worth considering doing some other types of work that pays more just to pay this restaurant bill, so that you can enjoy the meal more without having bothersome timings, observations and a long sluggish report to do later (and the risk of not getting paid or reimbursed if you miss a vital observation or name tag - making it a huge cost to yourself. All that happens when you do a destination restaurant visit, unless it is somewhere really swanky and out of your usual price range for a meal out - you are just adding risk and having a less than great time in exchange for the bill, which makes it a zero sum game (if you are paid, neutralising its worth) or a negative sum game if you lose the fee/reimbursement and/or just hate the food.

Even when done well enough to be paid and reimbursed in full, restaurant visits tend to give a low fee and expect a long report, so it needs to be worthwhile to visit. I would say that most of the time they are not worth it, unless you are a regular customer at one of your mystery shop destinations - and are bagging a freebie instead of going to work to complete it as a destination shop.
It varies from person to person and everyone is different what works for me may not work for you.
It might be your credit card but more then likely it is the gas stations. They will only let you use the same card usually 2 or 3 times before you can use it for the rest if the day or without a few hours passing. A gift card is a great way around it or if I want cc points I will rotate the cards I use so there is more time inbetween. Occasionally the credit card company will block me or send me a fraud warni g but its usually via text and I can clear it up immediately.
@K7463N wrote:

I am so jealous that there are so many options in the US!

When I lived in Canada, I shopped for one company. Beyond Hello. All I shopped were 2 different locations of a sunglass store. 75.00 each time. It was a purchase return, but super easy. One location was 30 miles from my house, the other was about 64. It was on the border of Ontario/Michigan. I had a nexxus pass( I'm American) and would go to Michigan 1x a week to grocery shop, pick up mail. I stopped at the store on my way in. Super easy. Now that I'm in California, I'm seeing how rare those 75.00 retail shops were.
Lots of options in Canada.

@K7463N wrote:

I am so jealous that there are so many options in the US!
@Shop-et-al wrote:

The longer I live, the more I like cosmetics-free-- on me and on others. Think this lets me off the hook for all the cosmetics shops.

I like the way you think.

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning; the devil shudders...And yells OH #%*+! SHE'S AWAKE!
I would experiment. Personally, I like banks, thrift stores and apartments. I do not do the majority of gas stations in the summer, because it's too dang hot.
My reimbursement only shop is a restaurant and it's only done if I'm working an overnight route. The majority of other restaurants have been one and done because of how long the report takes.
I did an airline shop for roundtrip to a conference. I would do it again.

Check the app shops. They can be worthwhile.

It boils down to exhaustion for me. When I first started I overloaded my schedule. I was in a constant state of the terrible two tantrums. My choices of shops depend on how long I'm on the road and the reports that have to be written.

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning; the devil shudders...And yells OH #%*+! SHE'S AWAKE!
@Gracelyn64 wrote:

Cecilia, yes doing restaurant shops allows you more date nights, etc.

[...]

5. Have fun no matter what.

I can't imagine being on a date and focusing on the details of the shop rather than the other person nor can I imagine wanting to spend time with another person who is shopping rather than focused on me. I just don't see how romance and work mix. Either the romance is being cheated or the work is being cheated.

Nor can I imagine how one can have fun doing a shop. It's work. One does it because it yields revenue. It is as bizarre to me as those who actually enjoy going to stores when one is not getting paid to do so. The great advantage of the internet is that one can obtain goods without ever having to enter a store or interact with a retailer.

Different strokes.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2019 05:02AM by Rousseau.
@Rousseau wrote:

@Gracelyn64 wrote:

Cecilia, yes doing restaurant shops allows you more date nights, etc.

[...]

5. Have fun no matter what.

I can't imagine being on a date and focusing on the details of the shop rather than the other person nor can I imagine wanting to spend time with another person who is shopping rather than focused on me. I just don't see how romance and work mix. Either the romance is being cheated or the work is being cheated.

Nor can I imagine how one can have fun doing a shop. It's work. One does it because it yields revenue. It is as bizarre to me as those who actually enjoy going to stores when one is not getting paid to do so. The great advantage of the internet is that one can obtain goods without ever having to enter a store or interact with a retailer.

Different strokes.

I have been wining and dining my husband all year through mystery shopping. We went to a very nice steak house last night that cost around $200, with less covered, but the majority of the bill was covered. The report for this company was not that bad, even though I needed to complete it after we got home at ten. We would not go to places like this because we don't spend this kind of money on going out and would rather spend a thousand a month on things like paying down our mortgage. But, with mystery shopping, we have been spending anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand a month going out. I don't mind writing the reports (well, maybe not the Coyle reports). During dinner, taking down a few timings and whatever else I need to do is not a big deal. It does not make me focus less on my husband. When we go out to eat and it's not a shop, I actually feel like I should be doing something and wish I was at a mystery shop, as strange as it seems. Now, if this was a date with someone you were trying to start a relationship with, a mystery shop could be kind of weird, "Don't eat that until I take a picture!" Or, something similar. That would be weird.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2019 02:46PM by Niner.
I shop to pay bills and sometimes for lifestyle. Over the years (I've shopped for 11 years now) I've gradually focused on scenario shops that pay well and keep my brain engaged. It does not appear to be in my make up to enjoy route shopping, which I have tried. Mostly I do banks lately and some senior communities but also like to get occasional restaurant shops. I really haven't built relationships with schedulers since my job has required heavy phone work for years and Market Force soured me on frequent phone calls. Bonuses would be nice! Also, I see a lot of new shoppers asking questions that other posters did not answer. New shoppers: you're not getting an answer because each and every experienced poster has put in time, sometimes many years, to get the shops you so covet. You, also, will need to put in time, build your reputation, and apply to many companies to hit the sweet spot, which, is different for every shopper, based on your needs and wants and also where you reside in the country. There is no short cut. Apply everywhere, be patient, and alert for opportunities. Most importantly, do an excellent job.
I take shops based largely on the following:
* How much does it pay for the work involved? If the pay isn't commensurate, is it a lifestyle shop that enhances my standard of living significantly enough for the work?
* Who is scheduling them? I'll take a less than desirable one for my favorite schedulers because I know they'll make it up to me.
* How long does payment take? I'd rather use a coupon and pay $15 for an oil change than wait 4 months for reimbursement.

“I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.” ~Ben Carson
I am so happy to see so many new participants in this thread!!!

Still waiting for an answer from the shopper who said they got $500 for trying a product at home and reporting on it. I'd like to know what MSC that was for!

Welcome to you all.
@ceasesmith wrote:


Friday I have only one anchor shop at $75, also 175 miles away, and I'm searching for shops to go with it to make it a $300 day, too. I don't think I'll find any. But I committed to that shop, so I'll do it.

Edited to add: Just thinking about those two days makes me tired..

Wow! Driving 350 miles for a $75 shop. Looks like slavery is alive in modern day USA.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/25/2019 01:29AM by Book.
I just saw a luxury watch shop. It said it reimburses up to 4800.00. It was listed as a phone shop. It also paid a small amount. I'm wondering if you have to send back the watch. I can't imagine them letting you keep it.

It was gone by the time I went to look for it. It was on the Isecretshop platform. I'd take that in a second if I could keep the watch. That would be worth it.
I did not read it incorrectly. It was titled " web and phone shops"
MSP: Customer 1st - 805-357-9777
Date / Time: Between Aug 22, 2019 and Aug 25, 2019 / From 5:00am to 9:00pm
Project Title: High End Watch Shop!
Compensation: Shop Pay: $60 / Reimbursement: Up to $4900

I'm NOT posting the name of the actual store, so as not to violate the agreement.
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