Is Anyone Still Mystery Shopping?

Is anyone still mystery shopping? I figured places would change to delivery or online shops however I am unfortunately completely unable to find any company besides MarketForce that has any shops which is rather surprising.

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I scheduled an assignment for July. Will it happen? We well see...

This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. - Leonard Bernstein
I have done a few business/ home inspections. Just the ones where you take pictures. Not having to meet with anyone.
I'm doing gig work and online shops. Nothing else is out there.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
The work's dry. But got an online market research gig lined up. Good pay at $150 for 4 discussion board posts.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Companies need to cut spending right now.

Servimer Regional Manager- Nevada, Illinois, Wisconsin & Minnesota
I've seen phone shops, but I don't typically do phone shops, so they're out there for someone else.
I have 3 gas station ones tomorrow. They're with marketforce and I'd like to cancel them but not sure if they're one of the MSC's I can cancel with without it negatively affecting my account or not.
We haven't worked since March 16th, when the BP's and the Chevron's canceled. I did one Kroger because I had to go to Kroger anyway and get all of our prescriptions. I've spent about 400 buying stuff that normally I would have waited till other paydays to get. I had to spend 15 on a pack of quilted Northern since that was the only decent toilet paper I could find that would last the two of us any length of time. (I normally buy Kroger's Nice and Soft for about 6.99, lasts the two of us a couple of weeks [and it's reimbursed] or if I do a particular Kroger an hour away which pays 18-21 PAD I buy the same brand for 9.99 which lasts us about a month). My Publix shops went first, followed quickly by BP then Chevron. It's not worth it to go out of town without the gas stations so there was really little point in looking at the board. We also decided early on that it was not worth the risk to do any FF or fast-casual shops since I have asthma and he has high blood pressure.
But several blessings have happened so for right now we are ok. The credit union gave us an emergency skip-a-pay on our car note. Capital One reduced all of our cards' minimum payments to ZERO! We both have platinum and Walmart cards under them, 4 cards and I have a Quicksilver card. So that's five credit cards that I can pay whatever I can afford on. I haven't called Citibank or Discover yet.
I am truly shocked that Texas Roadhouse is not doing mystery shops for online ordering to pick up all along. In my area at least, the employees and locations are doing everything they can including selling the meat out of the counters. They are giving free food to truckers and medical people. I am so impressed by how they are doing, I am torn to email the MSC scheduler and tell them that they are doing a good job (the locations and employees).

But outside of a few Mobee and Field Agent shops I am done. 99% of the shops have disappeared from my board. I had $500 scheduled for April that was cancelled. Most of it was cigarette compliance and I turn 26 in October. So sadly I will be fazing out of it even though I pass for 18.
@dailydog wrote:

I am truly shocked that Texas Roadhouse is not doing mystery shops for online ordering to pick up all along. In my area at least, the employees and locations are doing everything they can including selling the meat out of the counters. They are giving free food to truckers and medical people. I am so impressed by how they are doing, I am torn to email the MSC scheduler and tell them that they are doing a good job (the locations and employees).

But outside of a few Mobee and Field Agent shops I am done. 99% of the shops have disappeared from my board. I had $500 scheduled for April that was cancelled. Most of it was cigarette compliance and I turn 26 in October. So sadly I will be fazing out of it even though I pass for 18.

I talked to a couple chains out here in my area, they stated their revenues are down around 75%. I am NOT surprised that they aren't doing any mystery shops. There's no budget when restaurants are operating in the red.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Grocery stores, on the other hand, are raking in the dough right now and seriously could have some curbside and delivery evaluations, and they could afford to pay for it, too. Questions on the form should concern social distancing, glove usage, whether items were bagged with care, and some basic customer service stuff (friendly and polite, etc). Out of stocks would not be counted against the store, but timeliness would be a good thing to evaluate. It may be awhile down the road, however, since stores that offer it in my area have limited availability for these services.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

Grocery stores, on the other hand, are raking in the dough right now and seriously could have some curbside and delivery evaluations, and they could afford to pay for it, too. Questions on the form should concern social distancing, glove usage, whether items were bagged with care, and some basic customer service stuff (friendly and polite, etc). Out of stocks would not be counted against the store, but timeliness would be a good thing to evaluate. It may be awhile down the road, however, since stores that offer it in my area have limited availability for these services.

Totally agree with this. A project like this is extremely difficult due to a variety of complex factors: how quick the urgency to turn around a project like this from conception to actual execution, to the most major factor: the social distancing and implementation by CDC recommendations is surprising state-to-state. I have a close friend out in Arizona, but was not surprised to hear the delayed reaction they had in response compared to us in Colorado. Either way, it can be an opportunity for a MSC to offer this kind of market research that could be fruitful for them.... The thing we don't know though, is how long this social distancing and epidemic overall will last, I understand why there's hesitation for any of the major players in the "essentials" market to invest in this kind of data. In the end, will additional data to tighten up their social distancing and other compliance solutions lead to increase revenues for the clients? I am sure that would be a major factor in a client jumping on a project like this.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2020 08:56PM by Tarantado.
They say in some states the virus will peak within the next few weeks. That doesn't mean it's going to peak one day and then decline, peak could mean it peaks for several weeks (with the highest amount of cases and deaths) or longer before it begins to subside. Then, there is still the downhill trajectory. To me, this means I will likely miss my summer vacation with my niece and her son in mid-June and may be quarantined until late July or even sometime in August. I am okay to live in a bubble for awhile. I don't expect everyone else to do the same.

We shall see what happens. If the trend continues on through summer, hopefully grocery stores WILL implement some MS programs. I also anticipate that some other grocery stores will jump on the bandwagon and if they don't offer curbside and delivery services now, they soon will. I am okay with paying for my groceries, I just don't want to go inside any stores.
You mean in addition to putting themselves at risk to serve the public, now they have to worry about shoppers as well?? sad smiley

@Tarantado wrote:

@JASFLALMT wrote:

Grocery stores, on the other hand, are raking in the dough right now and seriously could have some curbside and delivery evaluations, and they could afford to pay for it, too. Questions on the form should concern social distancing, glove usage, whether items were bagged with care, and some basic customer service stuff (friendly and polite, etc). Out of stocks would not be counted against the store, but timeliness would be a good thing to evaluate. It may be awhile down the road, however, since stores that offer it in my area have limited availability for these services.

Totally agree with this. A project like this is extremely difficult due to a variety of complex factors: how quick the urgency to turn around a project like this from conception to actual execution, to the most major factor: the social distancing and implementation by CDC recommendations is surprising state-to-state. I have a close friend out in Arizona, but was not surprised to hear the delayed reaction they had in response compared to us in Colorado. Either way, it can be an opportunity for a MSC to offer this kind of market research that could be fruitful for them.... The thing we don't know though, is how long this social distancing and epidemic overall will last, I understand why there's hesitation for any of the major players in the "essentials" market to invest in this kind of data. In the end, will additional data to tighten up their social distancing and other compliance solutions lead to increase revenues for the clients? I am sure that would be a major factor in a client jumping on a project like this.
@LindaM wrote:

You mean in addition to putting themselves at risk to serve the public, now they have to worry about shoppers as well?? sad smiley

You mean the MSC's risking by pursuing business opportunities to keep themselves afloat? Shoppers are IC's anyways, so taking on any field work is voluntary.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Grocery stores near me are begging for new employees. The stress and danger of the new work environment is overwhelming for many of the staff members there.

When there's a line around the block to get into a store, I don't think it's time to be worrying about the metrics of customer service. You not only would have to discount out-of-stock items, but also smiles, wait times, carts in the parking area, bagging policies...and pretty much everything that would be collected with normal shop data.

What's the benefit of that? To find out that Sally forgot to wear a name tag and might not have said, "Thank you."...so they can scold her for that?

I understand the instinct to want work. It just has to be tempered with the reality and gravity of the current situation.
@Tarantado wrote:

Shoppers are IC's anyways, so taking on any field work is voluntary.

Sorry...but I'm tired of the 'free market' argument. That's the same excuse MSC have used to keep payments to shoppers down for decades.

It's socially irresponsible and could potentially destroy the company on the other side of this by presenting a bad reputation.
Working in the grocery stores might be considered risky, yes, but these employees are there already, and getting outside to carryout orders might give some welcome respite from standing at the register interacting with customers all day. If I worked in a grocery store, I would much rather do the personal shopping over working at the register area or at customer service.

Grocery pickup service where I live is contactless. Order online, pay online, call the number on the sign when you get there and tell them which lane you are parked, and pop the trunk. No contact whatsoever between the associate and customer. I am using this service whether I am evaluating the stores or not. But, if they want feedback on how they are doing, they are going to have to pay for it.

@LindaM wrote:

You mean in addition to putting themselves at risk to serve the public, now they have to worry about shoppers as well?? sad smiley
]
We don't have that here...there are no lines. The parking lots are half empty and store traffic is minimal. Many people are utilizing the delivery service or curbside pickup. The parking lots are clean and the carts are corralled. I never said anything about name tags; in fact, when I have been using curbside service ,they aren't wearing name tags. I did say in my post that out of stock items would not count against the store since that's likely out of their control. I do think if you order a few days ahead (which is what I had to do) and when you get there and call the number on the sign and it takes over 30 minutes to bring your order out, well, that seems a bit much. The order wasn't a big one and there were no frozen items in it.

@SteveSoCal wrote:

Grocery stores near me are begging for new employees. The stress and danger of the new work environment is overwhelming for many of the staff members there.

When there's a line around the block to get into a store, I don't think it's time to be worrying about the metrics of customer service. You not only would have to discount out-of-stock items, but also smiles, wait times, carts in the parking area, bagging policies...and pretty much everything that would be collected with normal shop data.

What's the benefit of that? To find out that Sally forgot to wear a name tag and might not have said, "Thank you."...so they can scold her for that?

I understand the instinct to want work. It just has to be tempered with the reality and gravity of the current situation.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

We don't have that here...there are no lines.

Understood, but then how do you decide where that applies?...and how does that singular piece of data help the store? If they are using any soft of tracking program (which they must be if you ordered online), they are already aware of the time you arrived and the time the order was delivered.

MS programs are usually rolled out by corporate, so they have varying degrees of service right now, depending on the location.

If the MSCs want to help, then target stores who are underperforming and offer shoppers willing to outfit themselves in PPE and collected groceries for delivery. It's a temp assignment for a temporary measure...
@SteveSoCal wrote:

Sorry...but I'm tired of the 'free market' argument. That's the same excuse MSC have used to keep payments to shoppers down for decades.

It's socially irresponsible and could potentially destroy the company on the other side of this by presenting a bad reputation.

Would you rather push companies to laying off to skeleton crews, push whatever staff to be furlough and be dependent on unemployment, risking bankruptcy even further hopping on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the stimulus, etc., or worse, just have a percentage of these business simply close their doors permanently?

At some point, a surviving business has to draw the line and try to make SOMETHING work. Sad to say, along with the bankruptcy of hundreds of businesses as a result of being "social responsible" by shutting down operations, the bubble will likely build from those jumping into the PPP to save their business. This will probably cause a percentage of those businesses taking advantage of the PPP to also default, assuming a portion of those business do not follow the guidelines to the T to ensure the loans are forgivable.

After living through the 2008 housing crisis and fully grasping what caused the crisis, aka sub-prime loans, this can also be yet another crisis from these PPP loans due to sub-prime clients, except this time, it will be a "business" bubble.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
@Tarantado wrote:

At some point, a surviving business has to draw the line and try to make SOMETHING work.

There are probably fewer MSC's than I can count on my fingers that would care one bit about ditching any shopper they have in order to stay afloat if laws changed about using IC's, so for me, there's no love lost in watching those of them with poor financial planning go under...so yes, I would prefer they simply go bankrupt now, rather then depend on the PPP or endangering the lives of others to survive.

If all this really comes down to is the bottom line ($$), then all shoppers should want the industry to go through a culling of the weak to ensure a better business when we eventually recover from this. Fewer MSC's will result in less competition between the surviving companies...
There is one MSC that is evaluating the Covid 19 sanitizing and cleanliness response in all the grocery stores. You don't have to interact at all with any associates or ask any questions. It's not a shop where you are concerned about stock levels. Just observing what is being done about social distancing and cleanliness. Take a few pictures and report. I'm in the stores anyway doing my grocery shopping each week, so I try to get one or two a week. So far I've done 4 total. The fee helps offset some of my grocery costs.

Since these can be done at any store that sells groceries, I'm wondering if this MSC has contracted with some government agency to report on this, which I think is a good idea.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2020 11:42PM by guysmom.
What do you mean, where that applies? I haven't heard of long lines anywhere in my state so far.

I don't think they are recording the time of arrival at the stores where I am doing online pickup. They know that I ordered on March 31st and was scheduled for pickup on April 2nd and that my time slot for arrival was between 3-5 PM. I place a phone call upon arrival, I doubt that is being tracked (at least at this time).

This particular regional chain rolled out their program just last year and apparently it has bugs in it already that need ironing out, such as the inability to edit an order placed several days in advance for curbside pickup. I would get that if there was less than 24 hours before scheduled to pickup that the customer couldn't add additional items to an order, but for an order several days away a customer should be able to edit and add more items to their order without having to place a separate order. Additionally, this particular store doesn't run the credit card (even though they have it on file) until all of the items have been retrieved, scanned, and bagged. Still, it shouldn't have taken over 30 minutes to receive 5 small bags of groceries. I did not complain, but if the store knew the length of time it was taking for curbside, maybe they would implement some corrective procedures. That and fix any issues with the online ordering system (which they must not know about).

@SteveSoCal wrote:

@JASFLALMT wrote:

We don't have that here...there are no lines.

Understood, but then how do you decide where that applies?...and how does that singular piece of data help the store? If they are using any soft of tracking program (which they must be if you ordered online), they are already aware of the time you arrived and the time the order was delivered.

MS programs are usually rolled out by corporate, so they have varying degrees of service right now, depending on the location.

If the MSCs want to help, then target stores who are underperforming and offer shoppers willing to outfit themselves in PPE and collected groceries for delivery. It's a temp assignment for a temporary measure...
@JASFLALMT wrote:

What do you mean, where that applies? I haven't heard of long lines anywhere in my state so far.

Because grocery stores are not just limited to a single state or area. A grocery store with easy access in other parts of my state might have a 45 wait for access in my part of the world.

There's often conjecture here about what data clients are interested in, or how MSC's operate. Most have a very limited staff and can cease operation for a few months with limited affect on their finances compared to brick & mortar business. They key to the industry surviving is the brick & mortar clients.

I'm obviously not concerned about the grocery clients going out of business.
While I see what you mean, the stores I am referring to do not have stores in other parts of my state or other states. And since they both had mystery shopping programs in place prior to the corona virus outbreak (not curbside or delivery, however), it just seemed logical to me that they might want to have their online shopping program evaluated since there are apparent issues. I do see your point otherwise, however.
"it takes over 30 minutes to bring your order out, well, that seems a bit much. The order wasn't a big one and there were no frozen items in it. "

How many people were ahead of you?
I did an order online pickup today and I check in just as I leave home. It tells the store about how minutes it takes for me to get there. When I got there I had to wait 35 minutes for my order. There was 25 cars there in the marked spaces when I arrived all the marked spaces were full. So I parked in a unmarked space and in about 5 minutes a clerk stopped and asked for my name and told me they would get my order as fast as possible.
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