"Citgo concerns please read"

In my email today:

"If you are receiving this email you have either completed a Citgo shop for us before, or currently have a shop assigned to you.

Citgo has asked that when evaluating a location to use a CRITICAL EYE. Shops are being consistently scored too high across the board. If your shops do not coordinate with past shop scores and are continuously too high, you could/will be removed from the Citgo program completely.

As a contractor that means you must take clear/concise photos. This includes both the required photos and deduction photos."

Translation: "Hey, for the meager fees we're paying, we expect more. Don't you shoppers realize how dirty, run-down and decrepit Citgo stations are? Now shape up, or we'll never offer you $7 (minus non-reimbursed required purchase) again!"

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@ceasesmith wrote:

Wow. For a crummy $7?
Yes, that's the early-in-the-month price. As shoppers turn up their noses they try $8, then when the flop sweat sets in late in the month they'll do $12. In March they must have had a lot of trouble filling shops because at the very end of the month they went to $18 (plus negotiable bump-up for mileage if you responded to a specific scheduler's email (I got $21 per shop on a cluster of multiple locations based on the travel I had to do).

The shops require 7 photos even if the place is flawless, unlimited extras depending on the number of violations. Your fee is de facto reduced by at least $1 because you have to make a non-reimbursed purchase in the store (to the good, no receipt required. They just want you to buy something so you can interact with the clerk. I usually buy the 99-cent Arizona Iced Tea because that's usually the cheapest thing in the store).

The shop can be done in about 15-20 minutes with reasonable shopper thoroughness. The "white glove" treatment Citgo seems to be demanding now would of course add to that time.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/13/2021 07:46AM by KokoBWare.
I take it this is an unrevealed shop?

I never have figured out how to take the photos of infractions without being seen to take photos.

And I hate to say it, but sometimes it's true "you get what you pay for". I'm afraid there are shoppers who....shall we graciously put it as....don't put the same effort into a $7 shop as they would a $70 shop? (Not you, of course!)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/13/2021 02:23PM by ceasesmith.
I used to do three locations before I moved.

I usually did the interaction before taking any pictures.

Several of the stations do not have convenience stores, just the old auto repair garages and the rest rooms on the side of the building. The one I did with a convenience store didn't have public restrooms, seedy side of town I guess.

Then I don't worry about taking the pictures. I've never had a problem.

I normally waited for the bonuses or if I'm in the area of a station.
I find it more difficult to take the photos while remaining undercover. And there are usually plenty of sub-par things at the stations I've done. But I only take them at EOQ when the fees are almost acceptable to me.

I buy single candies sometimes found in a jar near the register, like a 10-cent Jolly Rancher. If there are no single items I can usually find small boxes of Red Hots or Mike and Ikes for .25. Then there's always those small packs of gum for .35. It's just my principle: they won't reimburse so I won't spend. If I run out of home-made tap water I'll find a Circle K and spend my dollar there instead.

sestrahelena
Client wants the quality of shop that their competitors get, that have revealed audits and pay twice as much. (Considering Citgo base is really $6 due to the non-reimbursed required purchase). You get what you pay for, Citgo.
I did a bonused one last week, accepted it before reading the guidelines, I mean how bad could it be?

Another one for my 300 ft pole away. It was a small full service, nothing to buy except gas, at $3.09. So many infractions that I was supposed to take photos undercover! Thankfully I had just done a blue route and my tank was full so I asked to fill it up with gas because "I thought there was something wrong with my gas sensor!"
@ceasesmith wrote:

I take it this is an unrevealed shop?

I never have figured out how to take the photos of infractions without being seen to take photos.

And I hate to say it, but sometimes it's true "you get what you pay for". I'm afraid there are shoppers who....shall we graciously put it as....don't put the same effort into a $7 shop as they would a $70 shop? (Not you, of course!)
Yes, cease, it's unrevealed, although the MSC provides a LOA in case someone asks why you're taking photos. Still, my nature is to try to stay undercover, which can make things sticky in the New York City metropolitan area where a lot of the stations have pump attendants. I did one recently in a county north of NYC and the attendant started paying a lot of attention to me when I hung around the station to get photos. Got what I needed without a confrontation but it required some stalling and play acting ("gotta get something out of the trunk, so not leaving yet" ), luckily some other motorists getting gas distracted him enough to let me do what I had to do.

I've never done one for $7 but have done a handful for $12 if in a geographic cluster with another shop(s).

I agree with "you get what you pay for." The noted ad man David Ogilvy used to say "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys." (I'm not accusing anyone here of being a "monkey" but yeah, higher fees are a great motivator in my experience. Garbage fees, not so much.)

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2021 06:17AM by KokoBWare.
I got chased out of the parking lot years ago by an owner with a gun who saw me taking photos. At that point it was easier to reveal ahead of trying to take photos and remain undercover with all of the video cameras they have around the place. If I would take another one I would present the LOA before trying to sneak around undercover.

Why are you taking pictures does not go over well. Presenting an Loa and telling them you're taking photos presents a much easier situation for the shopper.
These shops are truly an insult. In particular, the no reimbursement of the required purchase adds insult to injury. However, I remember the.Sunoco shops for $4 and many went off the board. I only do one if heavily bonused and even that is only if it is convenient.
@Equine24 wrote:

I only do one if heavily bonused and even that is only if it is convenient.

Hahaha. So, that's like what, $1 extra? That's what this MSC considers "Heavily bonused!"

sestrahelena
I did it at $16 or $18 because it was a small station near the paint disposal site that I was going at the other end of the town. Sounded very basic, did not read the instructions. Never again.
There are tons of Citgo's in my area. I take one or two that are easy to get the pictures I try to be in and out in 15 minutes or less, an average of ten minutes. My husband who shops too will not do these, period at all, unless it's a debrand of a closed location that we already know is shut down. This is at 7 or 8 dollars. Then as they come up over 10 I'll pick up a few more but I never do all of them. My husband says, why are you trying to take all those infraction pictures, why, we need to hurry up and get out of here. But I try to take major infraction pictures. If I know a place is going to give me issues I stop doing that particular location. I have revealed twice. One was a debrand that was still doing business and had people sitting outside the door. It would have been impossible to get all four sides of the canopy without being noticed and questioned. The second time was a new-to-brand location and the owner/manager came outside and asked me what I was doing when I was almost done. I didn't want them freaking out thinking I was scoping them out. They are a pain, but I use them as fillers to add a little money or to cover the cost of lunch while doing a route of better-paying jobs. In my area, since COVID it seems like they are getting even cheaper or maybe it's the increased number of shoppers increasing competition. I will be so HAPPY, when people go back to their regular pre-COVID jobs!
I do Citgo stations now and then, but I never do them for less than $15, and I RARELY do them for less than $20. I'll go 10 in a day, mostly because by the time the price goes that high they are in remote areas and there is a lot of driving involved. And since the pandemic shut down my stamina is not what it used to be.

I take the required pictures, but honestly, the only infraction pictures I take are the island amenities and obvious safety concerns. Most of these stations are run down, in terrible repair, and they hire less than desirable folks who have no idea what customer service is or should be. And nothing you flag is going to change no matter what. I don't return to stations whose owners or employees have questioned me and forced me to show them the LOA.

Sometimes, the addresses change too. One time I did a station and it was listed in one city, the next time I did it, I thought I was getting a different station, but it was listed in the actual city that it's in. Then a few months later I saw the same station listed in the other city again. I've had to use the LOA at that station twice now, I don't do any stations in either of those two cities anymore because of this mess up.
@Morledzep wrote:


Most of these stations are run down, in terrible repair, and they hire less than desirable folks who have no idea what customer service is or should be. And nothing you flag is going to change no matter what.
Yeah, that's kind of what I was getting at in the original post. It's funny that Citgo is wringing their hands over shoppers not turning in enough violations when it's pretty clear they're not interested in sprucing up their run-down stations.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2021 07:01AM by KokoBWare.
I used to do a lot of these stations on an ongoing basis. While it may have taken a while, I did see a pattern of the worst stations getting debranded when I reported the violations consistently.
Update: Not sure how it is in your area but they are getting nervous here I think, I'm seeing $12 fee offers on June 9, and $12 is usually their end-of-the-month bid near me. There's one near me that I've done several times at end-of-month and I know the place like the back of my hand so I know what to look for, so I thought about grabbing the easy $12. (Plus it is a kiosk location and the kiosk is built so the clerk can't possibly see you for most of the photos you need to take. So pretty easy shop.)

But you know what? The hell with it. Memo to Citgo: Threatening underpaid contractors is a really bad business model.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2021 09:20AM by KokoBWare.
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