Free restaurant shops

I agreed this week to do a seafood restaurant shop. I agreed for (up to $100 reimbursement) no shop fee. I don't mind at this point because I haven't eaten there since I was a kid and I can't afford it. It was basically 95 dollars for the two of us to eat including tip. So I wrote a decent report, put a lot more narrative in it than I usually do. The editor sent it back with not a couple of questions, not 8-10 questions, but 18 questions. She asked me crazy redundant stuff that I already said in the report but apparently she wanted it written a different way, she asked me things that I could not possibly know the answer to (well a thing, but still). Now I have something to say and I want to know who feels like they could stand with me against free shops. A free meal is not worth two Novellas! I'm not going to do it again without a bonus, this kind of headache is not worth my time!

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Those shop meals are NOT free; you pay with a novella. This has often been observed here. You can name the MSC as long as you do not name the client.

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.
They take a little experience doing them before you get the hang of what they actually want with any particular MSC. You can get in a snit or you can get with the program. Chances are they didn't need the 'lot more narrative' than you usually do but rather succinct narrative that expanded/confirmed the Y/N questions you answered. I'm frankly not concerned whether I get paid a few bucks fee or not if it is a decent reimbursement at a restaurant that is good and could be better (and who can't be better?). This is the difference between being a lifestyle shopper and someone shopping to pay the bills.
I absolutely agree with Wales and Flash.

In my early years in this business, I tried hotel eateries, amusement parks and fine dining, only to learn that all that glitters is not gold; each served, what I considered, grossly over priced food. While I possess the ability to compose a novella, I reserve that skill for assignments that answer, paraphrased, Clara Peller's Burger King counter inquiry of the late 80's "Where's the money?"
I generly shy away from restaurant shops for this very reason, unless there is a decent fee attached or it is actually some place I would be eat at anyway. It just feels low key to me that MSCs think a shopper will do anything for a "free meal". I work for the fee, not the reimbursement.

That said -- I'll do one of these shops it it gets into the 20-30 range. A nice reimbursed meal plus 20 for a decent report seems fair enough to me... In fact, for a while Coyle (of all places) had a very nice fine dining shop here at a place I loved to go. They started at 15 and would always toss me 10 bonus plus a 150 reimburse. I did this every 2 weeks for 18 months until the restauant ended the program. It was just a lot of restating the questions lol
I have avoided these shops after reading many on this board discuss them. The food is definitely not free. You pay with your labor no matter how bad the service or food. For me I'd prefer to pay in cash and not deal with it. Another thing for shoppers to consider before taking on these type of jobs is that there is also always the chance, like all jobs,that the work won't be accepted and you'll be out the cost of the meal. It breaks my heart to read devastated shoppers out the cost of a meal or hotel they couldn't afford from a job that didn't go as planned.
I've done Cheddars and Tex. Roadhouse in the past. I don't remember going through this much anguish. But I'm a full-time shopper who shops for a living. I don't do Five Guys for less than 14 and usually 18. I shop for multiple companies and shop for this MSC almost monthly. I like them but they are not my "bread and butter". I thought I reiterated the questions already in the first novella. I refuse to do O'Charleys for a gift card. It's not happening. I'm not going to shop for your restaurant for "another free meal". I always need my money back. As for losing a shop, fortunately, I haven't lost a shop since last year I think.
I don't do reimbursement only or flat fee shops unless, its a place I would attend on my own.

A Dad shopping the Ark-LA-Tex and beyond.
What is the company, its all right say which company and then I can better assist you. Sometimes its just the editor, and sometimes its the company. They may not have provided you with enough information that you would know you have to answer more specifically.
@ShoppingDad wrote:

I don't do reimbursement only or flat fee shops unless, its a place I would attend on my own.

I am usually only willing to do it for steak and seafood (something of a "higher quality" ). Hence, no Bubba's for me. Won't do a narrative food report for burgers and fries. Not worth it.

BARE has a lot of good seafood ones. I disliked BARE's format the first time I did a seafood shop.

But, over time, you do so many that the requirements become second nature and it's internalized. It gets easier. Plus, they pay a fee on top of reimbursement.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2019 07:07PM by shoptastic.
@F and L TeleComm wrote:

, not 8-10 questions, but 18 questions.

I'd be pretty shocked if I got 18 questions back to edit. Seems like a lot. Don't know all the details (no judgment either side), OP, but hang in there!

I had a situation once where I had to rewrite a lengthy food shop report before. I was upset, but realized it was partially my fault too. I didn't think I needed to redo that much of it, but could see where it could have been better written. I held my tongue, because I liked the MSC and project, and just did it. I wanted to say something confrontational, but just held back and re-did it. Got a 10, thankfully. Kept a good standing with the company and still do their jobs.

Maybe this will be a one-off thing. I wouldn't let the single experience stop you from future jobs of the same sort if you genuinely enjoyed it.
Think of it as good practice in writing novellas. Because if you start doing more involved shops (think apartments etc) you will need that. You work just as hard but for more money. That's why I don't do food shops. I want money, not someone else's food. I shop for money and I go out for fun. Never the two shall mix in my world.
There is a local restaurant my friends go to. An MSC offers a shop there. The guidelines say, "Must earn $50,000" My friends do not make $50,000 a year. I showed them the guidelines and they said that was ridiculous. Requiring and income to eat there.
Thinking that saying you must make a certain amount shows you go out to fine dining, not true, but they believe it. Probably dress better than say a FF worker, but the truth is, everyone goes out nice from time to time B-days, holidays and such.

Live consciously....
Is the juice worth the squeeze? (My dad used to say that. It fits into a food shop thread.)

Is the memory of the food, the beverage, and the companion sweeter and greater than the reporting experience? Would you starve without that meal? Could you have prepared and enjoyed something similar for less money and spent time with your companion instead of with an editor?

The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy. - Corrie Ten Boom
I have eaten out a lot throughout the years and have about four memorable dinners, one was Bobby Flay's restaurant in Vegas, that Pork chop is embedded in my mind. When eating out with my ex, he was trying to impress, we went to a place called Georges Bistro and had exotic foods that made me feel quite sophisticated, great fun. Today a memorable is Chinois (Wolfgang Pucks on Main st., and a few in Chicago.....nothing shopped anymore, just go shop for lunch that's about it, but I do like BJ's or a good burger "on the house" for a report.

Live consciously....
@Shop-et-al wrote:

Is the juice worth the squeeze? (My dad used to say that. It fits into a food shop thread.)

Is the memory of the food, the beverage, and the companion sweeter and greater than the reporting experience? Would you starve without that meal? Could you have prepared and enjoyed something similar for less money and spent time with your companion instead of with an editor?

Right now, Pizza Hut still has their $7.99 large 3-topping deal. I drive by there every single day almost (no mileage wasted) and have been picking up larges quite a bit (mushroom, olives, sausage mmmmmm).

Plenty leftovers for days too.

For me, the if the shop is no fee and only reimbursement and it's over five miles away, I really do think hard about it. Is it worth it? Could I take the mileage $5.00-ish and just buy something close by and eat it without a report???

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2019 11:56PM by shoptastic.
ACL has some awesome local pizzeria shops (carryout) in my area that reimburse nicely ($30-$40) and some pay a small fee. OMG it's so good and I don't mind writing the simple reports! Yeah, I have only paid for pizza on my own dime 3x in the past 15 years (not just ACL pizza shops, other MSCs too).
I see ACL pizza shops - none carryout - but they are usually 10+ miles away. *bummer*

We need Papa John's to come back. Easy shop + no mileage needed for delivery. Sad.
I try to stay away from narrative reports, novella requirers because they take to much out of me. The report times outweigh the fees offered. This includes fine dining and apartments. Gas stations pay the same with less investment money-wise and time-wise. Only occasionally do I add a nice restaurant for a treat. I've done like two church shops and they didn't even give me this kind of trouble. I've got CI's car wash shop down to a science with cheat sheet narratives I can copy and paste and edit to individualize it for that site. I can do that report in about 30 minutes. I could do 100 worth of Discover's in a day here in town with no drive and a 10-minute report. I don't like being up all night doing reports and straining my brain unnecessarily. I can make just as much money with the assignments that have easy reports.
I have an expensive restaurant in town that I do at least once a year. I would never pay $120.00 for dinner. The report takes a good hour or two to complete.
I hated Papa John's pizza. I only did if it was generously bonused and i always gave the pizza away to my neighbor's teenagers.

@shoptastic wrote:

I see ACL pizza shops - none carryout - but they are usually 10+ miles away. *bummer*

We need Papa John's to come back. Easy shop + no mileage needed for delivery. Sad.
@F and L TeleComm wrote:

A free meal is not worth two Novellas! I'm not going to do it again without a bonus, this kind of headache is not worth my time!
IMO, a free shop is not even worth a sentence.
@johnb974 wrote:

There is a local restaurant my friends go to. An MSC offers a shop there. The guidelines say, "Must earn $50,000" My friends do not make $50,000 a year. I showed them the guidelines and they said that was ridiculous. Requiring and income to eat there.


You probably should not be showing guidelines to people. Inside info is most likely proprietary.

sestrahelena
Shoptastic posts--We need Papa John's to come back. Easy shop + no mileage needed for delivery. Sad.

Bob comments--Approx. 15 years ago, I completed a single Papa John's. It paid $20+ the reimbursement of what they named their everything pie; it think it was called The Works. In addition, it was a carry-out. The time and aggravation of cutting the item into pieces to photograph, especially one that required a geometric figure, far exceeded the benefit. It was an experience I chose not to repeat.

As to the pie itself, the two small boys for whom I accepted the job were happy, but I do not recall my opinion.
You know the pizza's bad when even the homeless turn it down when they find out it's a Papa John's pie. Yep -- it happened to me a few year's back when John's shops were still offered everywhere.
@sestrahelena wrote:

@johnb974 wrote:

There is a local restaurant my friends go to. An MSC offers a shop there. The guidelines say, "Must earn $50,000" My friends do not make $50,000 a year. I showed them the guidelines and they said that was ridiculous. Requiring and income to eat there.


You probably should not be showing guidelines to people. Inside info is most likely proprietary.

It's public information. They tell you the requirements even before anyone takes the shop.
@johnb974 wrote:

@sestrahelena wrote:

@johnb974 wrote:

There is a local restaurant my friends go to. An MSC offers a shop there. The guidelines say, "Must earn $50,000" My friends do not make $50,000 a year. I showed them the guidelines and they said that was ridiculous. Requiring and income to eat there.


You probably should not be showing guidelines to people. Inside info is most likely proprietary.

It's public information. They tell you the requirements even before anyone takes the shop.

It is not public information. The guidelines are available only to those individuals who have registered with the MSC and signed the company's Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA).
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