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You are very wrong when you think

"It's bizarre that so many shops are for very high-end stores/restaurants, when no shopper at that real socioeconomic level would even enter those, unless it's big and anonymous and you might go in there for "sight-seeing." They tell us to dress expensive, but I have no actual clothing/accessories anywhere on that level, and of course the employees can totally tell."

There are many shoppers that have the income, the clothes and accessories, and choose to shop for their own reasons which can be boredom, want to supplement income without paying the $$$, the lifestyle experience, etc.
I suspect that there may well be a bimodal distribution of education and income, although there are a lot of poor writers in the middle and upper middle class!

That said, I have met, literally, hundreds of shoppers at IMSC conferences. Because of the cost of conferences, Those skew older and higher income, with many who are either retired from former occupations or have disabilities that make it better to be able to control their own schedules and shop to supplement disability of SS income. There are a TON with advanced degrees, btw. At all age levels there are shoppers who are paying off student debt (their own or their children's) while working full time.

I have also met and chatted with dozens and dozens of schedulers, both at conferences and online. Although they may mention poor writing skills, they value reliability and objectivity, as do editors. The latter would much rather fix grimmer, spelling and usage errors than have to reject a shop for lack of detail inconsistency, or failure to floow guidelines!

Finally, don't forget that there are a lot of "lifestyle shoppers" who love to travel, dine well, cruise, and have the capital to carry credit card charges until those reimbursement checks flow into their accounts. Some of those have substantial incomes; many do not, but have the capital to handle those life style shops.

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.
Folks who shop are as diverse as the general population. Over the years I have known some shoppers who are multi-millionaires and some so close to disaster that they roll credit card balances to a new card every few months to limit interest they incur on debt they will likely never be able to pay off in full. I have known some shoppers who dropped out of high school and did or did not get a GED as well as a handful of folks with PhDs.

Businesses have target customers and want to know what representatives of that group think about their stores. "Dress expensive" is a bit of a joke because the wealthy have the self confidence that they wear what is comfortable except for on truly formal occasions. A multi-millionaire I know goes everywhere in either flip flops or velcro joggers usually wearing the shorts equivalent of sweat pants and a golf style shirt. Yet when the occasion demands, the tux or the very expensive suits come out, along with the dress shoes.

Things I rarely see on folks with a lot of education or a lot of money are tattoos or body piercings that cannot be concealed by normal business attire, gum chewing, excessive jewelry (no more than one pair of earrings, one necklace, watch, no more than one bracelet or set of bracelets). Hands tell a lot and nails should be tidy and scrupulously clean.
@Shopper9 wrote:


But shops tend to be so detailed, long-winded, tedious, and anxiety-inducing, every step of the way, that I'd think most people wouldn't want to settle for it for a lifestyle choice. I always thought it was better to just work any, more tolerable job (or other sources of income) and to use the money made with that other income to buy the things they want that mystery shops offer, like the retail, dining, etc.

The wealthier and more educated shoppers I know are also quite savvy about tax implications. If I earn enough to no longer be covered by the standard deduction, I will pay IRS. If that income comes from Mystery Shopping and I cannot offset it adequately with legitimate business expenses, I will pay self-employment taxes. In my county if total household income goes above a certain threshold I will lose an exemption on property taxes for my home. And at a certain level I would lose entitlement to things such as the stimulus checks. But reimbursements are not taxable. There have been years when I booked close to $25000 in USEFUL reimbursements for dining, groceries, oil changes, gas and other things. It makes it worthwhile to write reports.
@Shopper9 wrote:


I've never been acquainted with any shoppers, other than reading bits of people posting on mystery shopping forums such as this one, but that's not really being acquainted with them. Shopping has been a very solitary venture for me over the years. How do people get acquainted with them other than maybe becoming friends through boards like this one or through MS conferences?

Over the years I have become friends with a number of folks on this and other boards. I have only met a couple of other shoppers in person other than those I have encouraged into shopping. This is a solitary venture though other shoppers know what you are up against when things don't go well. The forum and personal messaging constitute a 'break room' for a lot of shoppers to get moral support--and isn't that what friends do for each other?
@Shopper9 wrote:


At what point do you consider them wealthier and more educated? I run into a multitude of problems in life because I'm a WOC, and my parents are immigrants, so I don't have the deep, generations-long understanding of the way things work in the US, and I don't have close friends/family who can tell me, too.

What I learned early on is that the more educated tend to discuss ideas while the less educated tend to discuss people and things.

@Shopper9 wrote:

I got reimbursement for some interesting stuff, but I never thought it was worth it. Mystery shopping for me was way too tedious, painful, and anxiety-inducing, for various reasons. Doing it extensively isn't for everyone.

Absolutely true. And when I started I was an extremely fast and accurate typist so reports were easy, but with loss of sensation in a couple of fingers and increasing arthritis in my hands, report writing is growing more difficult, so I take on fewer shops.
I confess I am a WASP due to no action on my own part, so I expect neither rudeness or unfairness and speak up if/when it happens. I am an old enough female that I can tell you of all sorts of discrimination in credit and hiring, including being told I would need my father or husband to co-sign for a credit card when I was earning more than my father and was not married and being told I could not be considered for a particular job because it would be 'unseemly' for me to travel with my married boss without a chaperone. But they could offer me a job with more responsibility at half the pay.

I frankly don't evaluate an 'educated' person by what degrees they may have bought or earned. You know you are talking with an educated person by their knowledge base. Currently I am friends with a 15 year old girl who has done the rounds of foster care, family reunification and then return to foster care when the family again failed. Her horse is being kept on my property and some evenings I give her a hand as she is training a young filly. She is a mediocre student, probably because I don't think she has ever spent more than one year in any school before they move or human services pulls her out to foster care. She has an extensive knowledge of horse health and training from reading, listening and applying. She has extensive knowledge of art and artists from books from the library where just from curiosity she tries to imitate drawing and painting styles. A former foster home had an extensive movie collection so she is familiar with movie history including the old Charlie Chaplin and silent movie stuff on through the art films and the classics. The kid is a regular sponge for anything that captures her interest. She is polite and well spoken and presents as exceptionally well educated. She could stand here and complain and I would listen sympathetically, but she knows that her case worker has the clout to work with the school on bullying and unwanted groping by classmates as well as issues at home.
I am with most others here in saying shoppers come from all backgrounds and economic levels. I personally don't need to shop. I do it for the fun I find in it, and the fact that I am naturally frugal. I find a lot of value in giving some time for a little money and a car wash, or a meal, or some groceries. I do this even though I can easily just pay for these things.

It's really a very diverse group, and I like that about it. If we are talking about background (not income), I am first generation in this country (parents both immigrants), and technically Latino, so, whatever that is worth, there you have it.

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
Shopper can speculate all day long, but the people who own and run this business are the ones who know the shopper demographics. It's not likely anyone is going to come on and say that their shoppers are mostly, 2 new car, nice house and >$200,000 a year incomes.

Based on 20 + years in this business, both as a shopper and a scheduler/editor, the vast majority of shoppers are older and not wealthy by any means.

A few simple examples:

A scheduler friend had an account that was changed by the client, which required shoppers to be under 50. More than 75% of her shoppers were no longer eligible to do the shops. In some areas, she no longer had any shoppers to do the shops.

Age compliance shops are notoriously hard to fill (not just the under 25 year old ones either, some go to 30 years and up).

I was the only person in the Las Vegas area who had enough credit line to make some purchases for a particular account. The credit line required was only $50,000. I'm not surprised that most shoppers couldn't do it, but NONE of them could do it.

Shopper conferences are generally held at lower end properties, since most shoppers can't afford the nicer venues. (Thinking of Crown Plaza, Embassy Suite, Greek Isles & The Flamingo in Las Vegas).

Some of these shops and audits are hard work. Thinking about doing a gas station audit in TX in August or one in Michigan in February. Heck, taking photos of a dirty bathroom in Malibu in April doesn't sound all that fun either. Perhaps a reimbursement only job for 2 tacos or $15 in groceries?

Obviously, the shopper pool includes people of all ages, races, abilities and incomes. There is still a basic demographic once you do the averages though.
To what may I now respond?

For what it's worth: I am well educated, frequently so tired that I write like an imbecile, and by nature the queen of frumpy, dumpy, dowdy. Even if I were wealthy, I would not aspire to look like a character (caricature?) from Dynasty or other stylized versions of what a wealthy individual "should" seem to be. I do not give a fig about money unless I need more of it for some specific purpose. Then, I rouse myself and focus for awhile on getting some more of it.

I live in a small town that features few shop/audit/merch opportunities for a woman of a certain age. Occasionally, I travel a few hours to fetch whatever assignments can be fit into short days. I have an extremely early morning job that sometimes ends late and does not permit me to go far and also have reasonable hopes of reporting much as well as sleeping before the next very early shift. The sum of all my work does not make me wealthy, but it provides some personal pleasures. I especially love certain drives and regions at various times of the year. When shops are available at the end of those drives, all is well. Fortunately, I had so many experiences when younger that I have no need of any IC assignments for giggles, thrills, fun, adventure, or curiosity. Despite the dearth of consistently available local gigs I would not live anywhere else, especially in congested areas where gigs are practically ubiquitous. *shudders*

When I worked in corporate world I frequently bemoaned, "They want me to dress how well on how little?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?" I was then too snobby to do something practical such as visit a thrift or consignment store and pick up something decent to wear for less than bottom dollar retail. Now, I can complete gigs at thrift and consignment stores and obtain clothing or whatever seems acceptable on any given shop day. Go figure. But it is not enough to send me back into corporate world. grinning smiley

I would guess that I am among the least ambitious mystery shoppers on the planet. Some other shoppers might appreciate knowing that they will get no competitive or territorial response from me. Yes? No?

@Shopper9 wrote:

.

Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.- Al Bernstein
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/12/2021 11:40PM by Shop-et-al.
I have to say that I meet shoppers from all income backgrounds at conferences. One of the main things they are interested in is how to get the high-end shops. I've even presented a highly successful paper on how to get these shops. I don't doubt that there are shoppers who agree with @Shopper9. However, the vast majority that I meet strive to attain levels where they receive these opportunities.

When you learn, teach, when you get, give. Maya Angelou
Proud to say that i have met CureMS and attended her presentation. As I recall, she got a standing ovation. (Quite rare)

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.
Love that CureMS got a standing ovation! Woot! smiling smiley

Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.- Al Bernstein
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____
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