HELP - So many Gas Station shops AND different scenarios!

Okay, so I have only done the Customer First shops several years ago when they were with the company that got taken over by the other big company. Those were pretty easy. I have not done any in several years.

I might be interested in doing some gas station shops again. Anyone willing to rank the station/scenario from easiest/quickest to most difficult/time consuming? I really do NOT need them ranked by pay. I can figure out what I'm willing to accept as payment.

Maybe something like this would be helpful to me (and other's) not as familiar with all the scenarios. I'm only listing 3 I have seen emails for recently. You can list the other gas stations as well. Since I'm not naming the MSC, feel free to list the client (instead of the colors). This is not the order I am ranking them, but this kind of format might be helpful to many shoppers. If this is already out there in another thread, please point me to that.

1. Chevron Customer First - easiest/quickest
2. Chevron STARS - some effort
3. Chevron IMAGE AUDITS - lots of effort

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1 Exxon/Mobil easiest
2. Chevron Star not to bad
3 shell most time consuming

I have never done a Chevron Image and stopped doing first customer as I prefer doing Stars.
Thanks for the input Pegleg2000. I have seen the Exxon/Mobil, but never done them. I don't really need gas (Tesla), so i have to take one of my other cars that I don't drive as often to do these shops (or I guess I could take a gas can and fill it with the 1 gallon.

I'm sure people would think WTF seeing someone in a Tesla doing this, but hey, if the pay is good enough, then I don't give a crap what they think. The great philosopher Snoop once said,

"Rollin' down the street, smokin' indo
Sippin' on gin and juice, laid back
With my mind on my money
And my money on my mind"
At this time of year it's a common sight to see someone filling up a gas can for their lawn mower.

(And good use of the Snoop Dogg lyrics :-)
@hbbigdaddy wrote:

Thanks for the input Pegleg2000. I have seen the Exxon/Mobil, but never done them. I don't really need gas (Tesla), so i have to take one of my other cars that I don't drive as often to do these shops (or I guess I could take a gas can and fill it with the 1 gallon.

I'm sure people would think WTF seeing someone in a Tesla doing this, but hey, if the pay is good enough, then I don't give a crap what they think. The great philosopher Snoop once said,

"Rollin' down the street, smokin' indo
Sippin' on gin and juice, laid back
With my mind on my money
And my money on my mind"

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. Eleanor Roosevelt
Shell is, IMHO, far and away the worst. Nit-picking, must photo every pump, confusing guidelines. I finally (against my better judgement) accepted one at $175. Five of 24 pumps had no numbers on them. I took photos of them all, editor sent them back because the "pump photos weren't in order, number-wise". Well, heck. The pumps weren't numbered, so even though I explained, and labeled them, and took the photos in the correct order, they denied the report.

Gulf I'm liking, mostly because so far it's the only one I can do on-site on an app; the app actually works. If you miss a photo, the app won't let you submit. Saves not getting paid, because you can correct your error right on site. But there's only 7 Gulf stations in my entire state!

Sinclair, the same. On site, on the app. And I don't understand at all why they get snapped up at base (or just above base; perhaps some route shoppers with long routes?) when many are 100 miles from nowhere. They get snapped up fast, but I suppose the long distances don't matter to some of our road warriors!

All the rest are between the best (Gulf and Sinclair) and worst (Shell).

M2CW
Shell - grand prize winner for ABSOLUTE worst
BP - 2nd worst
ExxonMobil - 3rd worst
Reason for the above 3 brands being in the categories of worst = a picture of each side of every pump is required. The requirement is not awful if the station is not busy. Hit a busy station, and the shop can be pretty time consuming and frustrating. Infractions must include a pump number / reference object in the picture. Shell requires more interior pictures and evaluations than any gas shop I have performed (all the way down to types of food offerings) and the evaluation forms are not in order. Follow the form, and you'll enter and exit the store multiple times until you get used to the shop and learn to streamline it yourself. I have done 2 Shells this year and probably will not do many more unless bonuses go through the roof (ha!).
Valero - straightforward, app available, not complex but not simple
ConocoPhillips - fairly simple
Chevron Image - [if the same as in 2019], simple and no mystery shop portion or purchase required
Marathon - very simple
Chevron Customer 1st - crazy simple
The 5 above are great - people snap them up at base quite often though so if I get a chance to do them, it's usually at the end of the period at a station in the boonies.

Can anyone elaborate on STARS without breaking any rules? I've actually never heard of this one. Have heard of Image and Customer First but not STARS.

Hope this helps smiling smiley

Edit: Oh yeah, watch the guidelines - I'm pretty sure it is called out somewhere to never use a gas can on at least one or two of these.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2022 02:37AM by patman9760.
In my opinion, Shell is the worst. I have only done Shell, Exxon, BP, Valero, Phillips 66 and Marsthon/Citgo. However, I haven't done any for about a year. The pay doesn't entice me anymore for the work required b
I just picked up a few Chevron (Customer First) that were bonused $30 + reg fee $8.50 + reimbursement $8 = $46.50. Plus with one of them, I get a free outside/inside car wash. At that location if you want gas you have to buy a car wash, so the MSC reimburses that too. One is 2 blocks away and the other maybe 2 miles. They are the easiest IMO.

Valero (think it is Sinclair in some areas) are fairly simple, but start out pretty low. And, Union 78/Phillips are similar. In my area, there are 2 different MSC's that have Union 76.

There are others like Marathon and Extra Mile (name of the convenience store). No gas purchase required on these.

I've been doing them for so many years I guess I'm on auto pilot now. I use to use a small cheat sheet for each station. Tucked in my pocket and used as needed. If I am not familiar with a particular station/location I google it to see how many pumps there are (if Shell or Exxon/Mobil). I can handle up to 12 pumps, but 24 pumps you could be there forever, so I have to be in the mood for that, and has to be super bonused.
Circle K are the easiest that I've done, but they don't pay much either :/ So far BP has kicked back everyone I've done for them. I just did my first Shell, wasn't too bad but I just submitted it.... so we'll see if I kicked back... lol
I don't think there's any that are difficult, for them more a case of being time consuming and annoying. Most of them have you looking for the same things, and if I forget if something is an infraction for "X Brand or Y Brand", I'll just take the photo anyway.

I agree that Shell is the most time consuming, mainly because of the in-store photo requirements. I haven't done a BP in, I think about three years, but didn't like that one either. ExxonMobil, in my opinion, has the most true to life evaluation as to what really matters for a customer and presenting a good image so I like doing them over others for that reason. You have to pay attention to detail with them, but if you do so, they in the "easier" category. Valero is an easy shop, but an annoying report with the narratives at the end. Gulf is actually my favorite, but like Cease said, there's just not enough here.

Obviously, the pay/bonuses impact what I take and don't take more than anything else.
I hate gas stations so I don't do this shops. I went to a Quik Trip once to do a photo audit but it was so busy, I left and did not do the shop.
Chevron and Shell are the only 2 in my "boundary" area. I have done Image and Stars for them and unless they have less 3 or less gas pumps (total of 6 pictures required) I won't do them because the pay never is worth it I found out the hard way. The back and forth between pumps and inside the convenience store is a workout. I am in central CA.
Circle K and ARCO are currently the easiest and best pay for requirements and time spent.
Below is my ranking for audits or audit/mystery combos
1. Chevron and Chevron STARS - easiest and most efficient (Audit shopper cannot shop C-1st shop)
2. Sinclair
3. Valero
4. Conoco-Phillips-76

No longer shop due to quantity of work required for pay:
5. Exxon-Mobil
6. Shell - absolute worst. I used to do these all the time, but requirements have changed. I cannot imagine ever being offered enough $$$ to make these worth my time.

Marathon, BP, Gulf, Citgo, Sunoco, do not exist in my area of the country.
Okay, I've repeated this before on other strings: For Shell shops, I use my Rule of 4. Take 4 photos for each corner of the forecourt. Take 4 photos for each corner of the interior. Take 4 photos of the products (with the aisle showing. Take 4 photos of the food offerings.
However, for the pumps, take 1 photo.
For the remainder, take 2 photos for each (MID, Overall, counter, restrooms)
Always, always have a backup photo.
Its easy.
Over the years I've audited Conoco/Phillips, Shell, Exxon, Valero, Sinclair, Chevron, Cenex....probably some others.

I don't find the audits difficult. I make a cheat sheet for all audits. I have processes in place to gather information quickly. I do not use mobile apps to input. These audits usually take 10-25 minutes to complete, not including time to input.

For me it isn't about what jobs are difficult, it's about my rate per hour vs how long these jobs take to complete. In my experience, Shell takes the longest because they require the most photos and information. They are the longest on site and longest to input. They really aren't worth the initial pay. But when they are well bonused, I will do them all day long.

Auditing is my niche. Many shoppers get either overwhelmed or possibly intimidated. They pick up audits and then don't do them. I sit back, wait for them to get bonused, then do very profitable routes.
1. Chevron First (never did them bec I’m on Image, but I’ve done similar ones that were on the board for a short while)
2. Circle K
3. Chevron Image. Quick shop, you fill out a written form, use that to input. Done.
4. ExxonMobil. Once you get in a groove they’re relatively fast and logical.
5. Valero. Truthfully dont remember that well, only did a few, but they were pretty fast/easy.
6. BP. When the app is working well, I’d move this up (not this Quarter which is a double), but the app can be glitchy and if there’s not good enough cell service on site then the app is less useful. The editing is much more particular.
7. Marathon. Just didn’t like it tho it’s not that difficult. Maybe I was nervous without a safety vest.
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100. Shell. Lots more more work on-site, more work to input; a bit better than it was since they rearranged the order of a few questions, but that’s not saying much. If you need gas then more is covered but I can do others so much faster I’d rather earn more and then I can pay for gas myself. I do Shells but they’re not at all my favorite and I hate the reports.
(ExxonMobils have added a few questions over the past couple of quarters, hopefully they won’t go the way of Shell)
I agree you should always take extra photos of everything.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/13/2022 09:21PM by Notme2021.
I've seen several people on here mention Circle K. I know that we cannot divulge the MSC in this thread because we are talking about the clients. Are people referring to Circle K mystery shops or revealed audits (whether they include a mystery shop component or not)? I know that Circle K gets mystery shopped each month, but I am now curious as to whether the chain is audited similar to Exxon, Chevron, etc...

BP - I do not know if others already know about this or not, but I thought I would pass it along. When you arrive at the station, check in, allow the survey to load for a few seconds, and then switch your phone to airplane mode. This will save your battery in addition to keeping the program from crashing and 'glitching' while you are performing the audit because the program will not be attempting to upload images while you are entering data. When you complete the audit, turn airplane mode off and allow the images to begin loading. After everything loads, hit the button to submit. I generally wait until I get home to Wi-Fi before submitting so that I can check over everything on my PC. Works like a charm.

**Edited on 6/25 to add - a user recently experienced an error while using airplane mode to perform a BP audit (see end of thread). Due to software updates, it is advised to test this method on a shop that is less time consuming first in case of any data loss.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/2022 12:45PM by patman9760.
The only Circle K shops i see regularly are mystery shop only. Get gas, something inside, pics of the restroom, and a couple of optional pics. I've been tempted a few times, but they vanish all at once just when i decide to try them.. ????
Yes, they are done by one of the very biggest companies. They are currently being shopped, but most in my area have already been taken.
@Belle wrote:

Does anyone know if Cenex stations are still done?
They appear as presto shops in my area.

Do not read so much, look about you and think of what you see there.
Richard Feynman-- letter to Ashok Arora, 4 January 1967, published in Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track (2005) p. 230
@patman9760 wrote:

I've seen several people on here mention Circle K. I know that we cannot divulge the MSC in this thread because we are talking about the clients. Are people referring to Circle K mystery shops or revealed audits (whether they include a mystery shop component or not)? I know that Circle K gets mystery shopped each month, but I am now curious as to whether the chain is audited similar to Exxon, Chevron, etc...

BP - I do not know if others already know about this or not, but I thought I would pass it along. When you arrive at the station, check in, allow the survey to load for a few seconds, and then switch your phone to airplane mode. This will save your battery in addition to keeping the program from crashing and 'glitching' while you are performing the audit because the program will not be attempting to upload images while you are entering data. When you complete the audit, turn airplane mode off and allow the images to begin loading. After everything loads, hit the button to submit. I generally wait until I get home to Wi-Fi before submitting so that I can check over everything on my PC. Works like a charm.
Actually, the Circle K and audits are both quick and easy. All I have seen this year for Circle K are mystery shops.
Circle K is handled by different MSCs in different areas of the country. Each MSC has what seems to be a totally different type of shop. That being shed, the MSC in this area just changed. No more bonuses ==> no more shops for me.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
I've used a gas can a bunch. It actually seems to make more sense since on some you're getting a ridiculously small amount of gas.

Love the Snoop Dogg lyrics as for whatever reason it runs through my head occasionally too when mystery shopping for those extra dollars!

I don't do anything revealed so Circle Ks and Chevron First are both super quick and easy.

@hbbigdaddy wrote:

Thanks for the input Pegleg2000. I have seen the Exxon/Mobil, but never done them. I don't really need gas (Tesla), so i have to take one of my other cars that I don't drive as often to do these shops (or I guess I could take a gas can and fill it with the 1 gallon.

I'm sure people would think WTF seeing someone in a Tesla doing this, but hey, if the pay is good enough, then I don't give a crap what they think. The great philosopher Snoop once said,

"Rollin' down the street, smokin' indo
Sippin' on gin and juice, laid back
With my mind on my money
And my money on my mind"
Once they go off of base price this happens in my area too. I live within multiple large cities and they ALL go, so it seems to be system not shoppers. Then hours later reappear. I have noticed if I grab some early in the morning I can still complete and submit during the time they are off the board, but it is frustrating.

@Morledzep wrote:

The only Circle K shops i see regularly are mystery shop only. Get gas, something inside, pics of the restroom, and a couple of optional pics. I've been tempted a few times, but they vanish all at once just when i decide to try them.. ????
Inside info Regarding Circle K:

In the State I'm in currently, Circle K is supplied by Shell, Exxon, and Mobil that I've seen. I've NEVER seen a Circle K audit, other than micro pins for storefront photo/bathroom photo/$3 gas/$3 promotable item. They are normally shopped AS a standard gas station by the company handling it in the region.

However...two days ago I spoke with a manager who disclosed they got information internally via email the location was set to go from outsourced gas to actual Circle K branded gas.

If this happens, then the brand gas shops at Circle K will stop to flow...until the MSC handling those brands gets the contract with Circle K.
I find it interesting that most are listing Shell as the worst. I quit doing Shells last year not because of the work involved but because of the editors. No matter how detailed I got they were never happy and they will reject a job without giving you a chance to fix it or answer their questions. When they did that I walked away and have not looked back. I just told them good luck getting someone to drive out here. I noticed the last two times around Shells are sitting on the board in my area a lot longer. Partly because some of them are far away in a town with nothing else to do but the ones in town usually go fast and they sat. I just giggled as I deleted their begging emails to take them.
As recently as two months ago I had seen Circle K mystery / reveal shops with the same company who had them before the mystery only shops moved to a new MSC. Because the audit shops are with a Prophet company, I cannot see if there are any posted outside of my immediate area and right now there are none. The audit portion entailed checking some things inside the store and getting a manager's signature.

sestrahelena
I don't mind Shell nearly as much now that they stopped making us ask the knowledge question, since as soon as we asked the question the employee knew we were the mystery shopper, and rarely could anyone answer the question with the answer Shell wanted. I'd say BP is my least favorite now.
My experience was they usually read one of the brochures or signs and gave the exact right answer. Not having to search every aisle for the little round thing is a big plus for me. Now if they would just stop making us look for each of ten things on the spinning rack.
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