Panda-reimbursement too low...

Inflation is rising, of course. That is no excuse not to raise the reimbursement on Panda shops. The $8 reimbursement does not cover the cost of either of the required meals. The base pay is low to begin with. If the shop requires the shopper to purchase a particular meal, the reimbursement should at least cover the entire cost after tax. If the reimbursement is not increased, this amounts to a pay cut and is moving into undesirable "will work for food" territory.

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So don’t do them. My last Panda shop paid me $37 in fees ($29) plus reimbursement. I won’t do the work for $8 + $8, that’s ridiculous for greasy starchy faux Asian.

Know your worth.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/22/2022 12:01AM by ColoKate63.
@veebeeshops wrote:

Inflation is rising, of course. That is no excuse not to raise the reimbursement on Panda shops. The $8 reimbursement does not cover the cost of either of the required meals. The base pay is low to begin with. If the shop requires the shopper to purchase a particular meal, the reimbursement should at least cover the entire cost after tax. If the reimbursement is not increased, this amounts to a pay cut and is moving into undesirable "will work for food" territory.

Oh, I agree, but unfortunately, there are those that will still do them. That's probably how the pay on these shops came to be the first place.

The person deciding the pay on these shops probably realized the things you pointed out, but also probably realized that there are still people that will go out and do them. And here we are with the current situation: enough shoppers out there that will do them at base pay that they feel like they don't need to increase base pay or the reimbursement. And you are exactly right, that moves this shop to the undesirable "Will Work for Food" territory. That's why I generally don't do them even though I would like to if the pay were higher.
I can see the argument from both sides here. Yes, the reimbursement should be $10. The pay of $8 doesn't bother me. I do online or drive-thru. 2 pics is super easy and the report is a breeze. I don't think I've ever had an experience that lasted more than 4 minutes and that includes placing the order on the app.

I am in Southern California. If I don't take them, there are at least 10 0ther shoppers that will grab the ones I want. So while I think they should be higher reimburse, I can justify doing a couple of them by feeding 2 people with a $10.xx two item combo and still netting almost $5 in pay. Or else I tell my wife to cook OR it costs me MORE money to eat somewhere else if she doesn't want to cook. So I don't mind doing a couple each month to give her a break from cooking. Just think, if I do Jack in the Box shop instead, I feed 1 person and make less $ and have 9 pics to take and spend MORE time.

I did like seeing the heavy bonuses the last few months. I have a few in mind for the $29 pay this round that will happen in around July 8th when they get down to the last week to finish the round off.
These discussions are always such a joke....
There is always someone trying to tell others what work to take, and at what price....
Just because THEY want to do them at a higher fee/reimbursement.
Everyone has their reasons for living their life the way they do, and last time I checked that was none of my business.
My husband works for Amazon and none of his peers have ever said 'oh don't take that promotion until they offer you xyz'.... We aren't unionized, so please stop with that mentality.
Me sitting at softball tournament in another state, my daughter wins a bracket game and that means a 3 hr break before the next game. I check the job board and see a 'xyz' food shop available 5 minutes from the complex.... YEP! I'm going to take this shop for whatever is listed, as otherwise I would be paying for concession stand food. And I'll do the report as I sit through the next game...

EVERYONE has their reasons for taking/ not taking work.

And when was the last time a plumber/ electrician/ painter/ etc came to your house, gave you a quote and you said 'oh no that's way too low, let me pay you more'??? This is business! Don't like the job specifications, don't take the job!
Obviously the demand curve is a curve. People will accept Panda shops at many prices. $8, $12, $18, $22, $29. The supply is also a curve. I don't know what the MSC is getting, but it might be worth their while to offer at multiple prices along the curve (duh). But why don't they have any urgency to fill difficult (far away) shops at higher prices at the start of the round? Why not begin with the weird university campus Pandas at $29? I suspect they're hoping to prey on the most desperate people at $8 for many locations, and then the reliable people for difficult routes later.

Do some of you get these outside the regular self assign board posts?
$5 bonus just added for the southern CA locations (if not nationwide). I grabbed 2 local ones that were ONLINE. I won't do dine-in as it requires more time and I prefer to go in, grab food, make observations and be out in 2-3 minutes. When the bonus is at $20 or $29 each, i will do the dine-in locations.
deleted
Moderator Note:

Moderator Note: Post removed because it contains a personal attack on another.

Unfortunately, this is a pattern we see over and over again. The requirements stay the same while the fees and reimbursements decrease.

And yet the shops are flying off the boards? This is a question mark as I don't do these shops.

Does the MSC offer bonuses?

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
These shops have shown a regular pattern of being bonused ~10 days after posting, ~15 days after posting, etc. If you don't like the base fee, wait for the bonus. Business 101.

I will do some locations at base pay because I'm already going to be driving by so no extra mileage, I can finish the report during my 20 minute visit, and it's one of the few fast food shops that has the option of eating grilled chicken and vegetables that are not fried potatoes.
@HonnyBrown wrote:

Unfortunately, this is a pattern we see over and over again. The requirements stay the same while the fees and reimbursements decrease.

Yep, and sometimes I see others reply back in a curt and spiteful manner to not do a shop if you don't like the pay. And for those wanting higher pay, I'd say the same thing, except I wouldn't mean it in a demeaning way. More in the sense of we deserve better type of way, and the only way to beat the people wanting to work for less is to not play that game by finding higher paying work outside of mystery shopping. That's the only way. Because people inside of mystery shopping are going to do what they're going to do anyway.

@HonnyBrown wrote:

And yet the shops are flying off the boards? This is a question mark as I don't do these shops.

Does the MSC offer bonuses?

Based on what others have posted, I think they do. I think I might have seen one with a decent bonus once, in an area I was in, but then I blinked, and it was gone. The rest of the time, the pay appeared to be at or very close to base pay.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/22/2022 09:25PM by Curious99.
Me to scheduler: Are you aware the reimbursement no longer covers the bowl?

Reply from scheduler: Yes, we are aware.
removed
Moderator Note:

Post removed for violation of Posting Guidelines, naming client and MSC in the same thread. Feel free to edit, removing the violation, then repost. Thank you.

Yeah, but the trade-off is as those bonus amounts go up, the number of available locations go down. So if your goal was just to get a cheap meal. Maybe mission accomplished. But if your goal is to actually make any significant money, you're screwed either way. In the beginning because of inadequate pay. In the end because of too few locations left. The trade-off is unavoidable.
Oh bless your heart if you're actually thinking you can make a significant amount of money on shops like Panda....


@Curious99 wrote:

Yeah, but the trade-off is as those bonus amounts go up, the number of available locations go down. So if your goal was just to get a cheap meal. Maybe mission accomplished. But if your goal is to actually make any significant money, you're screwed either way. In the beginning because of inadequate pay. In the end because of too few locations left. The trade-off is unavoidable.
@luckygirl0100 wrote:

Oh bless your heart if you're actually thinking you can make a significant amount of money on shops like Panda....

Oh honey, I don't do those, but thanks for the blessing anyway. :-)
By the way, if you think you are getting paid too much as a mystery shopper, feel free to Paypal or Cash App me whatever amount of money you think you don't deserve to be making. I will totally accept whatever money you think you shouldn't have. No questions asked. Promise. LOL. (Somehow I don't think I'm going to get any takers on that.)

But, on a more serious note, speaking more on the topic that the original poster presented in creating this thread, according to one source, Panda Express's Revenue peaked at 3.5 Billion in 2021.

As mystery shoppers the data we collect, can lead to insights that can significantly improve a business' profitability. Even when those insights might only result in maybe 10% more sales when used to make improvements, that can be significant when you are talking about businesses that generate millions of dollars.

So there is value in the services that we provide, and even if you a mystery shopper that is okay with being low-balled on pay, I don't see how anyone could say they couldn't at least afford reimbursements that fully cover shopper expenses. You can say it's business, and yadda, yadda, and all the other clichés when someone has opined pay is too low, but you can't tell me they can't afford it...

Panda Express Revenue
[www.zippia.com]

Who Panda Express Mystery Shoppers ultimately work for? A billionaire client.
[www.latimes.com]

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/2022 02:07AM by Curious99.
@Curious99 wrote:

You know what strikes me as funny? People coming on here, and bashing other people for having the opinion that mystery shopper pay could and should be higher as though that would be such a bad thing if it were. If it bothers them so much to read that opinion, then why read it? Nobody is forcing them to do so, yet they complain about it.

They want to complain about people forcing other people to accept a certain level of pay. Yet, nobody forces anyone to do anything. If someone is dumb enough to work for $1/hr when they could work $20/hr, and would be better served by doing so, then they are dumb enough to do that then. Nobody is stopping them from their own stupidity. They can do whatever they want.

I don't mind at all when people express their opinion that mystery shopper pay could and should be higher. I do mind when they imply, or say outright, that someone is dumb, stupid, or a jerk for accepting an $8 + $8 Panda job. That demonstrates a lack of imagination and empathy, because it means the poster can't envision that someone might be struggling to the point where a free meal is important to them. In the 2008 recession, food bank shelves were bare because people had to choose between paying for their mortgage/rent or their groceries. In 2022, we're seeing grocery stores prices jump on many items by as much as 30-40% overnight, not to mention gas prices.

I'm more fortunate than a lot of people, but an unexpected divorce five years ago put me $20,000 in debt for legal expenses, plus I owed a fortune in medical bills. I'm still climbing my way out. If I take a job for a free meal, that doesn't make me dumb, stupid, or a jerk.

As for why they (we) read the post, it's because that's the purpose of coming to a discussion forum. But also, you can't always tell from the first two lines that the person is about to call you stupid, so you sometimes see it before you mean to.

@Curious99 wrote:

Meanwhile, the idea of putting the retarded kid that lives on the corner to work on the job comes to mind... he says yes to everything...

I know you weren't calling any of us retarded, but the word is considered a slur, and your use of it didn't exactly mitigate my impression that you suffer from a lack of imagination and empathy.
@amyann2 wrote:

... I'm more fortunate than a lot of people, but an unexpected divorce five years ago put me $20,000 in debt for legal expenses, plus I owed a fortune in medical bills. I'm still climbing my way out. If I take a job for a free meal, that doesn't make me dumb, stupid, or a jerk ...

Never said it did. But if you make a choice to act against your own best interests, what do you call it? And no, I'm not talking about doing a Panda job because you are hungry, and craving the kind of food they have, or want to buy it for someone else. I'm talking about when you clearly have a better choice available to you for the purpose of making money, and you choose the lesser of the two.

@amyann2 wrote:

... As for why they (we) read the post, it's because that's the purpose of coming to a discussion forum. But also, you can't always tell from the first two lines that the person is about to call you stupid, so you sometimes see it before you mean to ...

Never called you that. Up to this point, I don't even think you had even participated within this particular thread. But if you see that the title of this thread is to the effect of pay is too low, and you can already reasonably assume that you are going to disagree with at least one, if not more people within the thread, and it might not be pleasant, then why go there? If you had posted a thread that said "shopper pay is too high", I would have laughed, and not even bothered to go there.

The purpose of a forum is to provide a place for people to talk about things, or a particular subject, such as "mystery shops", and that's what we have done here. It's not to obligate anyone to read anything that they don't want to.

@amyann2 wrote:

... I know you weren't calling any of us retarded, but the word is considered a slur, and your use of it didn't exactly mitigate my impression that you suffer from a lack of imagination and empathy ...

If you want to hold the opinion that I "suffer" from lack of imagination and empathy. That's fine. I don't even really know who you are, nor do you know who I am outside of this forum. So your opinion doesn't really weigh that heavily on me. As for the use of my analogy, I don't think there was anything wrong with it. It conveyed the point that I was trying to make.
Let me get this straight. Someone posted that because of inflation, the Panda reimbursement doesn’t cover the meal and should be raised. Your reply is that no it shouldn’t be. We aren’t unionized, and we should have the Amazon mentality of working for @#$%& pay under @#$%& conditions, no questions asked and no negotiation?
Wow.
@luckygirl0100 wrote:

These discussions are always such a joke....
There is always someone trying to tell others what work to take, and at what price....
Just because THEY want to do them at a higher fee/reimbursement.
Everyone has their reasons for living their life the way they do, and last time I checked that was none of my business.
My husband works for Amazon and none of his peers have ever said 'oh don't take that promotion until they offer you xyz'.... We aren't unionized, so please stop with that mentality.
As it applies to shopping, while my primary reason is money, I also have secondary and tertiary reasons. My lone experience with Panda is an example.

Last year was the first occasion I had seen, in my area, of Panda. I was curious, being a fan of Oriental food, so I selected a job at $5 + $8. The food was just OK, the serving size was small and I needed to chip in a few cents. I decided a second visit would only occur if the fee and reimbursement totaled $30. I respect that others have their price.
The $8 reimbursement covers 1 bowl in my area. Since the fee is also $8 I buy two and me and hubs have dinner for free!

I do audits and review products for another company and in my area the competition is fierce! I apparently live in the land of gig workers. Those jobs pay very little and are still claimed at lightening speed!
I am reposting this because I made a mistake and named the MSC when the client was already mentioned.

I'm not sure what you expect the scheduler to do about it. They are told to fill the shops as they are. Some are given discretionary bonus funds to do things with. I do not know enough about the current MSC, but it seems like they apply the same bonus amount for everyone when they decide raise it. I have seen other companies where schedulers will offer more or less depending on how easy/hard it is for them to fill.

While it would be nice to have the required purchase covered, the scheduler has no control over that (at least at current MSC). The patient shoppers will wait for the $5 bonus (added today) and then it will be even more come next week and finally peak at $29 bonus (highest I've seen in Southern California so far)
I know this is going to upset some people....

I want to make as much money on shops just like everyone else. But I feel some people think they are providing great value and pay should be higher. I think of the grocery store workers that are unionized and expect high wages like they have hard and challenging jobs. For the most part doing a mystery shop report is pretty basic stuff (there are exceptions). You don't have to have much "skill/schooling" like being an accountant, lawyer, doctor, computer programmer, etc. Those are all high-skilled professions and are paid as such. Many Costco (and other stores) have their own self-checkout lines now. So while a grocery store worker thinks they should earn top dollar, many customers can scan the items and process the payment themselves. These workers are easily replaceable as the skill sets required are minimal.

So my point is, while we all want top dollar, for shops like Panda or any other fast food place, is it truly worth paying someone equivalent to $30 per hour?

It takes me 10 minutes total to do a panda and that includes ordering on the app (less than 1 minute) / picking up (2-3 minutes tops)/ filling out report (7 minutes). So if I make $5 net (after the base rate of $8+8), that is like making $30 per hour (plus a meal). Now there are other factors that can affect pay like driving 30 miles to do a panda express in a remote location. Those SHOULD pay higher because it involves much more time and effort, but the ones in urban areas truly don't deserve to be paid that amount.
So you think grocery store workers AND mystery shoppers should be paid low wages? Nice. (Oh and I don’t need any geniuses here to tell me that officially it’s not a wage, thanks anyway).

An urban location doesn’t mean zero mileage. In many urban locations you can still drive ten miles which is worth/costs close to $6 according to the IRS. As independent contractors we have to pay full FICA, which is an extra $7.65% more of income tax than the grocery store worker that you want to see on food stamps pays for social security/Medicare (in this case it doesn’t matter, because there will be no income at the rates you think are reasonable). There is time spent looking for the shop on the board, self-assigning, and accepting it. There is the time to drive there, and in an urban location that you think is easy there may be time and more gas looking for parking. If there’s any sort of glitch it could take extra time to upload. There’s time making sure you got paid for the shop, reconciling the fee, taking notes about expenses etc. Extra time to prepare taxes. We are fronting the expense of the shop which also has value. Oh, and based on what this thread is about, there’s non-reimbursed expenses since the required purchase costs more than the reimbursement amount.
So at the base rate, many people will have lost money, depending on where they live, etc, and if they’ve made money it’s not at minimum wage. Most mystery shops require a car and a good-quality smartphone, as just some of the base expenses. People who are in urban areas where they may be closer to more shops pay more in rent, gasoline, food, etc.
Running the cash register at a grocery store means being responsible for large sums of money each shift and standing on their feet 8 hours a day. These days it often requires wearing a hot and dirty mask for 8 hours a day and/or a required vaccination. It meant working when people were cowering at home. It means working different shifts different weeks. It means dealing with rude customers and knowing that the canned beans are on aisle 6.

Mystery shopping requirements depend a lot on the project. But they generally require good grammar, ability to use different apps and platforms, ability to play a role convincingly and being comfortable taking covert photos. They require a generally good memory and good observational skills. The work is not dependable, which is partly why independent contractors “earn more per hour” (the other reasons are all the oreviously mentioned expenses, and most importantly, *we are saving the company money compared to hiring staff.*
@hbbigdaddy wrote:

I know this is going to upset some people....

I want to make as much money on shops just like everyone else. But I feel some people think they are providing great value and pay should be higher. I think of the grocery store workers that are unionized and expect high wages like they have hard and challenging jobs. For the most part doing a mystery shop report is pretty basic stuff (there are exceptions). You don't have to have much "skill/schooling" like being an accountant, lawyer, doctor, computer programmer, etc. Those are all high-skilled professions and are paid as such. Many Costco (and other stores) have their own self-checkout lines now. So while a grocery store worker thinks they should earn top dollar, many customers can scan the items and process the payment themselves. These workers are easily replaceable as the skill sets required are minimal.

So my point is, while we all want top dollar, for shops like Panda or any other fast food place, is it truly worth paying someone equivalent to $30 per hour?

It takes me 10 minutes total to do a panda and that includes ordering on the app (less than 1 minute) / picking up (2-3 minutes tops)/ filling out report (7 minutes). So if I make $5 net (after the base rate of $8+8), that is like making $30 per hour (plus a meal). Now there are other factors that can affect pay like driving 30 miles to do a panda express in a remote location. Those SHOULD pay higher because it involves much more time and effort, but the ones in urban areas truly don't deserve to be paid that amount.
@hbbigdaddy wrote:

So my point is, while we all want top dollar, for shops like Panda or any other fast food place, is it truly worth paying someone equivalent to $30 per hour?

Yes, if you value your people over profits. If not, then I guess you could just pay nothing at all if people will let you do that. (Side Note: These do not pay $30 per hour.)

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/24/2022 04:25AM by Curious99.
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