Trend Source and Their Insulting Grocery Shop Offers

I frequently get requests from Trend Source asking me to shop a certain super market for a whopping $5 payment plus $9 reimbursement. They call it a $14 payment grocery and always try to convince me that the reimbursement should be considered part of the payment and that it is a good bargain. If that isn't insulting enough, you have to buy 4 items, including a deli purchase with the humungous $9 reimbursement, which means you have to go over the amount they give you. Also, the shop entails at least 40 minutes of time in the store making observations and asking asinine questions that no real shopper would ask. For example "Are your cabbages fresh, and what would go well with them?" This is in addition to the 40-50 minutes time it takes to fill out the report and answering follow-up questions.
I was once able to negotiate an extra $12 payment ( couldn't get them to budge any further), bit the bullet and did one grocery shop for them to see what it was like. This is how I know what kind of work ( and embarrassment from hanging around a store asking ridiculous questions for nearly an hour) is involved in doing the shop. I made approximately $10 after expenses from the whole deal ( less than $5 per hour). Being a professional shopper, I do not count the reimbursement as part of the pay, I consider it a business expense. The next time they begged me to do a shop for them ( because there are few shoppers in my area), I tried to negotiate again and was told never mind. They found some other sucker in the area to do it. More power to the poor desperate person who stepped up. Without any additional bonus, with added gas spent and additional money spent on the four items required, and time in the store and online, you are making $0, or possibly in the negative. I know, I know, some people would say, " Don't take a shop if you don't like the terms." Don't worry, I won't. I just wanted to try it one time . Now I want to vent about the insulting practice and give my sympathy to anyone else who did one for them, just to see what it was like, only to find out they have been played for a fool.

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I do these shops all the time when I'm near one already. 15 minutes max and if you shop smart, you can get a lot for $9. You just have to ask 2 or 3 department specific questions and If you really listen when you're in a grocery store, people are asking questions like those so the employees think nothing of it. Maybe you're overthinking them?
Unless your state is somehow different than mine, you are NOT required to purchase four (4) items. You are required to purchase a minimum of three items, The $9.00 shop does NOT require a deli purchase. The $12.00 shop does, which is why the fee is $3.00 more, and the deli purchase counts as one of the three items..

I consider myself a professional shopper as well. Granted I only do this part time, but I'm averaging over 1k per month this year. So, I'm really more than part time. I count my reimbursements as business expenses, but ONLY for tax purposes. Reimbursements mean I don't ever have to spend another cent on toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, etc.

This particular shop has the potential of decreasing my grocery bill by $884.00 a year.

Shopping up and down the Colorado Rocky Mountain front range.
I do these weekly (3 a weekend) and have cut my grocery bill 50%, yes I always go over the 17.00 payoff, but, I have to eat, and am grocery shopping in this store anyway. Deli sandwich's in my world are a good thing. I have been making $51.00 a weekend for food for years. Asking a simple question like, are your berries grown in CA is NOT a big deal. Required purchase is 3 items (not 4) and total time for me has never been over 30 minutes in store and 20 minutes for report. I love to go in pick up a tri-tip, steak, chicken or the other stuff I cook with.....what is the big deal. most reimbursement's are done as a "perk" and do not give a fee. Why be so bitter over it? Starting a new thread over this is over done, we have many threads on this subject, read and you shall learn.

Live consciously....
Great responses.

My posts are solely based on my opinions and for my entertainment, contact a professional if you need real advice.

When you get in debt you become a slave. - Andrew Jackson
Yes, I think it is insulting for MSCs/Schedulers to mislead shoppers by suggesting that a reimbursement is a fee. And I think too that any shop that pays so little is insulting in and of itself. Obviously others think differently.
The reference of "insulting" indicates you are taking it personally. I think professional shoppers would not. We also disagree on reimbursement. If the required purchase is something I have to buy anyway, and is of value to me - groceries, an oil change, etc., then a penny saved is a penny earned.

Most of their grocery stores have closed here. Prior, I did these shops. Any 3 items are acceptable. A tip - a jalapeno is about .08, a pack of peanuts is about .50, and that leaves $8.42 to be spent on whatever I choose.

Maybe a couple of PAD requests I submitted for their grocery shops were approved. I don't take it personally. Another shopper under bid me and I am fine with that.
I do these all the time for TS....grocery shop requires 3 items OF YOUR CHOICE and $9.00 purchase. For $9.00, I usually buy between 5 and 10 items that I always use/stock up on. Required departments for this particular Client are Deli, Bakery, Produce, Meat/Seafood. If no one is there after checking twice, move on. Then ask UP TO two aisle associates (although only ONE is required if that's all that you can find) about an item and see if you are walked to the item. Observe cashier, bagger, and check bathroom. I've been doing these for almost 2 years. Time in store, for me, because I like to walk around a bit, is usually 25 minutes. Report takes 10. Now that they've changed the required hours, I can do 3-4/day if I want, though I usually do two. The locations are fairly close by. Those that are further, I put in a PAD request. If accepted, I do it...if not, I don't. I don't take anything personally. It's a business for both parties. I am EASILY saving $1000/yr on groceries....easily!! Comes in handy when I can use the money for something else. If I didn't find it worthwhile for me, I wouldn't take the assignment. So if this assignment isn't to your liking, just sign up with more companies till you can find some assignments that suit you better. These shops are not for everyone, and there are a lot of shoppers who post here who definitely find them not worth it to them. But hey.....that's why this business is so neat! What works for/interests some of us, others find not worth it, and vice versa.
Admittedly, the first shop blows! 45 min in the store, 10 minutes outside trying to recoup from what just happened and an hour or so on the report to make sure you got it right, blows! However, after a couple of weeks I was at 18-30 minutes in the store and 10 minutes on the report. I'm averaging just under $400 a month on these alone, with my eyes closed, without the consideration of PAD. Most stores in my area are 6-20 minutes apart and I group them together every other week, west side, south side. For me, the reimbursements are income or savings, however you want to put it. They've been regurgitating the questions, Can I special order and order online is a lame one they need to toss on the grill (ON PARCHMENT PAPER, buahahahaaaa)
I don't do this for the base rate. The store is overpriced compared to some others. Wait until the end of the month and ask for PAD.

“I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.” ~Ben Carson
I don't do these shops, but I have to disagree with the OP on several points.

1. A reimbursement absolutely can be considered pay in some instances. I agree in all instances it is not, but in many it is. I do gas station mystery shops that pay $6, reimburse $5 in gas and $1 in an in store purchase. I consider that an $11 payment. Why? Because I have to buy gas. It's a requirement for my vehicle to run. And I only buy top tier gas so I would be buying from a major brand anyway, and they rarely vary more than a few pennies. I do not count the $1 in store reimbursement as pay. Why? Because I wouldn't have purchased that item. It's an expense. In the case you're talking about, it's groceries. A smart shopper would buy items that they were going to buy on their normal weekly shopping trip on this shop. Which means it can be considered pay because you would have purchased the item anyway.

2. A useful reimbursement (gas, groceries, oil change) actually has significantly greater value than it's reimbursement. Take this particular grocery store. For me it's an 8 mile round trip. If I did this shop once a week I would have 416 miles to deduct on my taxes. If I don't do the shop, I have to go there anyway. So, now I have an extra $225 to take off my earnings for the year. That's a $28 savings in self employment tax and anywhere from $22-$90 savings on income tax. Let's count it at the lowest and say I've just saved $50 between the 2. You also have the $9 reimbursement for all of those shops, which is $468. Here's the thing. It's more than that. Going back to that tax rate, let's say you are in the 10% bracket. To make $468 after tax to pay for those groceries you would have to profit $604 on other shops. Because that income is taxable. So now your profit is an extra $134 plus $50 for a total of $184, which is just over $3.50 per shop. Based on that the $14 is actually worth $17.50. Of course it could be more or less, based on how far away your store is.

3. For SOME shoppers this could be even better. Let's say you are retired and drawing social security. You have a part time job making $15,000 a year and also mystery shop part time. At $16,920 your SSI benefits will be reduced. So you need to keep your MS income under $2000. Taking 1 of these shops every week would allow you an extra $600+ in "profit" from MS without lowering your SSI.

4. The "practice" is not insulting. It seems most shoppers that do these shops can complete the report and the extra time in the store in about an hour. $17.50 an hour is a rate that is acceptable to many shoppers, especially when factoring in that some people just seem to like them. I will almost always do shops that I like at a lower rate than ones that I don't like.

Now, having said all of that, I do agree with the OP in that I don't do the shops. For several reasons. Mostly I just don't like doing them. Even if I did like doing them, I don't normally shop when I am home unless it's a shop I particularly enjoy. My home time is downtime for me, not work time. On top of that, my threshold for work is higher than $17.50 an hour.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
There are some of these that do require a deli purchase... I've done a few and don't mind them too much if I need groceries. For instance, if I need to make a big grocery trip, I'll already be traversing the store, so it's not a big deal to ask a few questions. The write-ups are quick. I simply look at it as a discount off my grocery bill.

You can also always request a PAD...

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Yeppers, grocery shops are mystery shopping boot camp. I love them, and complete a few every month.
I also did my first and last grocery store ship for them. It was like several jobs in one with all those departements! But, I will try almost anything once hehe.

TinaMarie
If you look at the shops as simply a way to make money, then yes, you're probably going to be disappointed because often times you can only get an additional few dollars to help with the travel. I have picked up a few with pay of $25-$36 for out of town shops that I did while doing elsewhat in that same town and I always back a little cheap cooler and buy a $0.99 bag of ice or ask the meat counter if I could have a little chipped ice. I was in my states Capital and was asked to pick up a route of shops for $12 extra each. I ended up squeezing in 7 stores in under 5 hours due to them being so close and when you spend $84 plus coupons and digital savings it can really make your groceries for the week. And of course getting fuel perks on double points weekends is nice too. Couponers spend more than 5 hours at times trying to save that $85-$100. The reporting isn't too bad either once you get it down. In my local area, I know nearly every persons names now and they all think I'm X person from my regular 9-5 job.

MegglesKat
@bgriffin wrote:

I don't do these shops, but ...an hour.

Way tddr. Shoptastic awaits an apology.
I've not seen these for TS, but have seen similar shops with STN. I only do them if I'm going to the grocery store. It's not one of those I'd pick up just to do. As with every shop, once you get used to doing them, it's not so bad. I too dislike TS's habit of including the reimbursement as part of the shop fee when they advertise a shop. But since I know they do it, again, it's not so bad.
A person at full retirement age does not have their Social Security reduced regardless of how much additional income they earn. Only benefits from disability or early retirement.

@bgriffin wrote:

Let's say you are retired and drawing social security. You have a part time job making $15,000 a year and also mystery shop part time. At $16,920 your SSI benefits will be reduced.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
@ChrisCooper wrote:

@bgriffin wrote:

I don't do these shops, but ...an hour.

Way tddr. Shoptastic awaits an apology.

HA!
Although I think you mean tl/dr (too long/didn't read). Or is this a new one I'm unaware of?

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
What are you folks talking about? Shoptastic hasn't even responded.
@bgriffin wrote:

@ChrisCooper wrote:

@bgriffin wrote:

I don't do these shops, but ...an hour.

Way tddr. Shoptastic awaits an apology.

HA!
Although I think you mean tl/dr (too long/didn't read). Or is this a new one I'm unaware of?
Exactly, Reimbursement is not a fee! I do like these grocary shops thou; after you do few, they become a second nature, easy and fast.
@spicy1 wrote:

What are you folks talking about? Shoptastic hasn't even responded.

CC was making fun of my longwindedness by comparing me to Shoptastic.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
This is my favorite shop. I have to buy a certain number of groceries anyway, so why not do it on someone else's dime? They are easy and reasonably quick - I'm not down to 15 min like the shopper up-thread, but I think that is definitely doable.
Other than the error about Social Security income, I found BGriffin's response quite informative.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
I would be willing to bet there are retired shoppers who are drawing SSI at less than full retirement age.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
>Report takes 10 (mins).

Are you sure about that? I haven't done these shops but I've never seen a report that could be done that quickly from start to finish.
I look at reimbursement like fee. For instance, I do not expect to make money on a dining shop, and if I am taking someone with me, I consider the shop fee as part of the dining expense when ordering food. I can do the grocery shops in 30 minutes. Usually I am going through the manager's specials in the ghetto stores to get the higher priced organics and specialty items for at least 1/2 off. For instance, I bought 10 bags of tortilla chips, all organic for 50 cents each. And I love the competitor shops, although the ones at two super stores can take longer.

I get exercise, can take the time to find bargains. I perform shops at a super store and have bought a sound bar for $25, food processor for $25, binoculars for $15 and so on. I have equipped my kitchen for ridiculously low prices as a result of these two shops permitting me the time to look and get paid for it.

I am looking at this weekend and in my town there is not much available on the job board.
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