And now... drum roll, please... welcome... The... Genius...

... Shoppers!

In another, earlier thread, we explored a lengthy diss of people who make choices for their own reasons. Now we have a chance to balance the scales and present a differing view. Please tell us about the genius shoppers.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. - Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
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I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
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Genius shoppers are those that:

1. Account for ALL expenses and time spent from the time you’re “on the clock” including entering the report, reviewing guidelines, commuting to the shop location, etc.

2. Leverage the shop for other benefits such as rewards, hotel status that inch you closer to lifetime, etc.

3. Have amazing tracking skills, so they can reference previous paid fees for negotiation.

4. Adjust to their client (the mystery shopping company) whether it’s how the scheduler, editor, project manager, etc. tend to prefer how they like their work to be received.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
I acknowledge that people shop for various reasons, perks for one: they fill their gas tanks and refrigerators, go on luxury cruises, etc.

I work for cash. If I get a veggie sandwich or taxes done in the process, yippee for me.

Edited to fix cell typos.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/02/2021 12:59AM by HonnyBrown.
Able to stack multiple shops in one location. I once did a mystery shop and was able to add about 3 FA jobs in that same store.

Kim
6. Finance all or most of vacations with hotel stays, meals, and shopping, plus gas station shops for road trips.
(no number, just a word from the trenches/a note to self)

They know their limits. They do not overbook or make themselves so tired or sore that they cannot complete planned work. In brief, they plan not to flake or earn a bad rep. They consider all advice as good and adapt it as necessary for their situations. They do not need to compete or try to keep up with others who are situated for more of the same or completely different work. They do what they can, when they can, and call it enough.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. - Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____
....they tend to get personal phone calls from schedulers happy to offer very nice bonuses when shops are past due and just need doing.....

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@willarosen wrote:

6. Finance all or most of vacations with hotel stays, meals, and shopping, plus gas station shops for road trips.
That's an interesting one.

Can definitely save money on those, but I guess for me a vacation means zero work. ...I feel our minds/bodies need that, so if I go on vacation, it'd be without ms-ing or any work at all. I feel more recharged afterwards.
@Shop-et-al wrote:

... Shoppers!

In another, earlier thread, we explored a lengthy diss of people who make choices for their own reasons.
I think a possible misunderstanding of or failure to see what was implicated (not saying this is by you, Shopetal, but just in general) in that thread was the issue of offensive low-ball rates MSCs throw out there at us.

Although it's true that many shoppers take shops for their own reasons and one person's treasure is another person's 10-foot pole, there can still be fees (or lack thereof) that are universally deemed as offensive.

Grocery shops aside, most people know/agree when there is a crummy low-ball shop offer. I won't call someone an idiot for taking it, but the MSC should know better! It's like...come on...you KNOW that $2.00 shop fee is ridiculous and predatory, Mr. ABC/XYZ MSC.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/01/2021 11:38PM by shoptastic.
There is nothing inherently wrong or idiotic about no-fee shops. Some people will fare well without fees if fees were sufficient to put them over some threshold for benefits. I realize that many people who post here are comfortable financially or can wait for bonuses to appear. But not all mystery shoppers are so comfortable financially. Some are hungry! Why call them idiotic if they can have groceries and keep other benefits? Why, why, why??????????????????????????????????????

If I were hungry and needed food today, I would take a no-fee grocery store. I would end up with a few groceries, if nothing else.I would not have exceeded any benefits threshold; I would not have worsened my situation. I might be called an idiot, but I would have a little strength with which to tackle another day tomorrow.
If I could afford to wait for bonuses or negotiate for fees, I would do that. If the low-fee grocery shop jibed with something else, I would consider it. As it is, I am not wealthy but can afford food. I rarely complete grocery shops. But I would do it for free if this were the difference between eating and starving.

I simply do not understand the hatred that is aimed at strangers whose situations might be bettered via no-fee shops. We are independent contractors, not the lifestyle police for all IC's. It might be a good idea to remember that we do not know everything about everyone. We do not know enough to advise them based upon their individual circumstances. That is their private situation and none of our concern. If and when they are ready to wait or negotiate, they are free to do so. If their situation never improves, at least they have an opportunity to get some freebies and not incur other losses (usually, the loss of other benefits) in the process. These other benefits have a monetary equivalent value that mystery shop money might not match or beat consistently over time.

Anyone who wants fees or higher fees should pursue those individually and leave everyone else alone to handle their own factors.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. - Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____
I don't get that (mainly because I'm not, nor have I ever been, in that situation): if a shopper "needed food today" how would s/he pay for the shop food? How does it work so that the shopper can wait for a reimbursement 10-60 days later, but not be financially able to put food on the table today?

@Shop-et-al wrote:

If I were hungry and needed food today, I would take a no-fee grocery store. I would end up with a few groceries, if nothing else.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Good point. Presumably, an ideal candidate for a no-fee grocery is just a little needy... they have enough money for a few groceries, perhaps a little gas to drive to the store if they cannot walk, bike, or access public transport (all three of which necessarily limit the amount of stuff they can reasonable bring home from the store). This person can buy a few groceries and get by for awhile, or just until the next no or low pay grocery assignment. Eventually, they will be reimbursed for their grocery expenditures. The most important point is that they do not receive so much money in fees that they lose other benefits. The exact formula will look a little different for each individual and family, but there is a common theme.

The great thing about high fees is, they earned so much money! They can, and they did, earn money! Who does not applaud this!? The danger with high fees is, the shopper might lose benefits because they earned too much money as per the formulae that are utilized to determine benefit amounts. If they lose benefits and cannot replace them with other earnings, their condition worsens. Mind you, this is extremely odd math. It is an example of life at the intersection of poverty and relief. I hope no one has to live there very long, if at all.

As the world of commerce continues to change, shoppers age in and out of eligibility, and shop types come and go, it is difficult to predict what will happen for each shopper. It is possible that some shoppers have lost shop opportunities and revenue and will never again come close to matching or exceeding earnings/benefits thresholds. Other shoppers might still have enough work to keep them busy and, possibly, at the higher earnings. These are the ones who might have to decide how likely it is that they can consistently earn, through mystery shopping or other methods, at least as much as they received in benefits. They are not idiots! They are people who live in an ever-changing world where revenues are not necessarily steady or predictable.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. - Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____
Take any shop with any benefits and any fee - or lack thereof.
Then, add $5 to said fee.
The shopper is, and always will be, $5 better off.

Take any shop with any benefits and any fee - or lack thereof.
Then, add $20 to said fee.
The shopper is, and always will be, $20 better off.

Take any shop with any benefits and any fee - or lack thereof.
Then, add $200 to said fee.
The shopper is, and always will be, $200 better off.

Learning how to become a more efficient shopper (expending less effort and yet earning a better compensation, whether it be reimbursements or cash payment), is part of what I would consider learning to be a successful shopper. A part of that is learning how and when you can gain bonus payments - without otherwise sacrificing potential earnings (whether they be reimbursements or cash).

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
A genius shopper is someone who knows what they want and selects the right jobs at the right terms to meet those goals. They could want a number of things: income, extra cash, free stuff, lifestyle perks, travel, or just something to do.
@Shop-et-al wrote:

There is nothing inherently wrong or idiotic about no-fee shops. Some people will fare well without fees if fees were sufficient to put them over some threshold for benefits. I realize that many people who post here are comfortable financially or can wait for bonuses to appear. But not all mystery shoppers are so comfortable financially. Some are hungry! Why call them idiotic if they can have groceries and keep other benefits? Why, why, why?????????????????????????????????????
I never call them idiots, but I do think MSCs can be predatory - much of the gig work industry is that way.

The MSC cannot be sitting there with a straight face offering 50 cent or $1.00 shops, thinking these are fair deals. Even elementary school kids would probably scoff. The MSC knows it is being predatory, offensive, and price gouging desperate people. Reading the guidelines, alone, is already worth 50 cents or a dollar usually.

Ideally, the genius shopper will not stay in the same place for years and years. Try to move up and improve - whether within the industry and going outside of it. It's okay to start at the bottom, but take a growth-oriented mindset and gradually improve your earnings over time.

I only worry about those who are desperate enough to do the low-ball shops that they may get trapped into a cycle of poverty. If you work for less than minimum wage (which is already inadequate) and you get into debt and/or cannot build savings and appreciating net worth, you can be stuck in that position for endless amounts of time. I think it's important to stress to those taking the predatory fee shops that they should always be looking for a way "out." That compensation for much of the industry is less than it was a decade ago should be a warning.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/02/2021 08:50AM by shoptastic.
shop accurately states-- That compensation for much of the industry is less than it was a decade ago should be a warning.


Bob adds--As I was in the business then, it was lower in that decade than what was previously paid. One of the first posts I recall from the Volition forum, after I joined, discussed the lowering of fees; that was in the summer of 2003. If one adjusts for inflation, the matter is even worse. Unfortunately for those in need, that IS business and until the needy no longer exist, the situation will continue to fester.
@shopperbob wrote:

Bob adds--As I was in the business then, it was lower in that decade than what was previously paid. One of the first posts I recall from the Volition forum, after I joined, discussed the lowering of fees; that was in the summer of 2003. If one adjusts for inflation, the matter is even worse. Unfortunately for those in need, that IS business and until the needy no longer exist, the situation will continue to fester.
Interesting. So, the depreciation goes back that far!

I've mentioned this before, but a family friend of ours who shopped a few decades ago said what is now called "bonuses" for travel and which may or may not get accepted as requests were standard and expected parts of the package back then. She said if an MSC offered you a job, it was just expected they'd negotiate and compensate travel pay for you. Nowadays, she says, it's not at all guaranteed and certainly not even expected to be offered (it's like you have to beg for it some places) and it's up to the shoppers to figure out routes that work for them.

Things just seemed much more generous and adequate in terms of compensation back then. I can definitely see how that'd be much easier on shoppers too in terms of scheduling. It can be super time-consuming to sit there trying to figure out a workable route constantly from lack of travel compensation and/or high enough fees. Time = money, so that is a cost in itself.
The genius shopper probably chooses IPSOS (bonus and compensation heaven) and not Trend Source, ACL, or Intellishop ("just say no" ). grinning smiley

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/02/2021 06:05PM by shoptastic.
Genius for me is to be already at or needing to be at a location that will not cost me extra time and expense to travel to. i will work for fun perks; retail and fine dining especially comes to mind. My guest(s) and I will drive no more than 20 miles to dine at a restaurant on Fri. or Sat. but it's got to be over $150 or so reimbursement. Retail shops have to afford me to get something I want or someone else wants. I will only partake in an eatery where I enjoy the food. Bonuses, fees, etc. do not concern me. Those miniscule fees will not make an impact in my life. Although I could probably handle hotels, cruises, casinos, etc., I would not apply for any of those jobs.

I will do bank jobs here and there provided there's a nice cash payment. Those that I have taken in the past were monotonous, not fun and many times required me to return to the institution due to MS guidelines. NOT for me anymore unless I am paid without having to wait for an eternity or return and try again at a future date.

I so realize people shop for different reasons. I however feel genius is to make a profit minus your expenses; time expended may be a factor as well.
One thing I've done is to try to undercut my competition by a very slight amount to secure shops that I like.

So, for example, if some burger shop goes for $16 (you can deduce this from when they get taken off the boards) on average, I'll bid $14.25, $14.50.... etc. for that shop - enough to undercut my competition, but not so low as to deprive myself of a desired and market-commanding price.

Spicy1 taught me a trick in the past too that I shall not reveal (actually, I have already, but don't wanna say it again, lol). Alas, I am also competitive business person and cannot reveal everything. tongue sticking out smiley

eta: A very aggressive shopper might even explicitly ask a scheduler how they can undercut the competition (e.g., ask what the going rate is for x/y/z shop(s) and offer to do them lower...maybe negotiate a package).

Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2021 02:24AM by shoptastic.
Genius shoppers are proficient at doing reports on their phones so their job is done when they get home!
That or they carry a Tablet or Laptop with them along with the requisite chargers.

@pambam57 wrote:

Genius shoppers are proficient at doing reports on their phones so their job is done when they get home!
@2stepps wrote:

That or they carry a Tablet or Laptop with them along with the requisite chargers.

@pambam57 wrote:

Genius shoppers are proficient at doing reports on their phones so their job is done when they get home!

That or they have found it more efficent to pack in as many shops as possible into a day to reduce mileage and/or hotel costs, and then do the reports later on a computer. Different strokes.
I've been broke before by my own doing. I knew when my next paycheck was coming, I had funds in savings to cover necessities, and I had untapped resources for free meals.

I volunteer at a food bank every month. I see people who have no hope in their futures.

@Shop-et-al wrote:

Good point. Presumably, an ideal candidate for a no-fee grocery is just a little needy... they have enough money for a few groceries, perhaps a little gas to drive to the store if they cannot walk, bike, or access public transport (all three of which necessarily limit the amount of stuff they can reasonable bring home from the store). This person can buy a few groceries and get by for awhile, or just until the next no or low pay grocery assignment. Eventually, they will be reimbursed for their grocery expenditures. The most important point is that they do not receive so much money in fees that they lose other benefits. The exact formula will look a little different for each individual and family, but there is a common theme.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
@HonnyBrown wrote:

I volunteer at a food bank every month. I see people who have no hope in their futures.
@Shop-et-al wrote:

an ideal candidate for a no-fee grocery is just a little needy... they have enough money for a few groceries, perhaps a little gas to drive to the store if they cannot walk, bike, or access public transport (all three of which necessarily limit the amount of stuff they can reasonable bring home from the store). This person can buy a few groceries and get by for awhile, or just until the next no or low pay grocery assignment. Eventually, they will be reimbursed for their grocery expenditures. The most important point is that they do not receive so much money in fees that they lose other benefits. The exact formula will look a little different for each individual and family, but there is a common theme.
A lot of people don't believe this, but there is a level of poverty in America so deep that people live on "$2.00 a Day." That is the title of a book by Princeton Sociology Professor, Kathryn Edin: [www.amazon.com]

She studies extreme poverty in America and has great lectures on YouTube about it as well. I am lucky that I have not lived this type of poverty, but I have some relatives who have probably come close. It can be very difficult to get out of it. It's sometimes no longer about desire or working hard, but the structural barriers in place that can make lifting oneself out of a very deep hole harder and harder, as they fall further and further into it.

The Earned Income Tax Credit has helped a bit, but is insufficient still for many trying to survive and improve their lives at the bottom rungs of American society. I think it was Noami Klein who said life as a poor person is one emergency after another. There is often not enough of a safety net, nor ladder for success for many stuck in entire communities blighted and depleted of resources and opportunities for success. Good companies/corporations (many of whom don't even pay taxes anymore or very little) don't come into these areas and higher income folks certainly don't buy homes their to build up a strong municipal tax base. In the worst cases, these economically bombed out cities have oppressive police forces writing bogus tickets (often targeting minorities and the vulnerable) for the most minor of "offenses" (like walking on a sidewalk, where you just happen to be obstructing a mail carrier) to make up 20..30%...of their city's revenue. Ferguson, MO has been like that. Something like 1/3rd of the city's revenue came from police writing tickets. Substance abuse rates are often very high (used to self-medicate from the shame, hurt, and pains of living in poverty), as are incarceration rates (which only further reduce one's earning power and life prospects).

Edin has a story of a woman who just upon receiving $50.00 had dramatically turned her life around in a matter of a single day. The power of just a little extra cash to help someone in these situations can be dramatic. That is good that you volunteer. For those who can donate material goods and financial help, that also constantly makes a big difference. Every dollar counts.
I am no genius - as a shopper or even a human. But I'm ok with that. I have aspired to be good and may have achieved that goal. There have been some genius ideas and practices offered here on the forum by shoppers who are efficient and effective in running their businesses. Thank you all for all the insight you've given us. I have learned so much and it has helped to make my own business more successful.

sestrahelena
@HonnyBrown wrote:

I volunteer at a food bank every month. I see people who have no hope in their futures.

Why do you say that?
I see it in their faces, demeanors and the words they don't say. They wear their desperation like a jacket.

And not far from them are the folks crying "starvation" with their $5 lattes. The volunteers take bags of food to their high end cars.

I can't be judgmental...that's not my purpose.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Don’t know if I am a genius, but my goal is to work
smarter not harder. I’m now only working 2 weeks out the month doing shops. I left my last job to do shopping full time, which I did. Now after a year returning to shops I learned to be nice to schedulers and do what I commit to so
I am deemed reliable. Result is I make a great living and work 10-15 days a month. I have a bottom line and won’t work for less. I value my time. I am a business. I treat my shopping like a business and keep excellent organized records of my time, expenses and mileage. However I used to be a shopper who did well but my goal was to get free experiences for my then little kids, add those special expensive items to our life,
make a little extra money and eat out for free. I consider that time shopping just as valuable as the time I do now. It afforded me to stay home with my kids and not work. That was priceless.
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