Considering Coyle

Hi there. I like restaurant shops. They give me the opportunity to try new places that I wouldn't normally treat myself to. I have done many for ACL even though the surveys take a good chunk of time. I hear that the Coyle dining shop surveys take a looong time to complete. Can you good people share with me if you feel that the Coyle surveys take about the same, or longer than ACL surveys? I don't think I have the energy for a survey longer than the typical ACL dining survey.

Thanks!

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In my experience they're longer, but not by much. The difference, really, is that you have something to work toward with Coyle, like hotels and resorts, where with ACL you're pretty much just looking at more restaurants.
Oh, and Coyle pays actual money. Reimbursement only with ACL. Pass.

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
I did a shop for ACL tonight, $90 meal, cost me about $20 more than that. It took me 2.5 hours to write the report. I completed a Coyle shop yesterday, $150 limit, the bill was around $112, there is also $15 paid. The Coyle report took me 4 hours, possibly longer. A $50 or under ACL shop will take me less than an hour to complete. I find ACL much easier to communicate with. Coyle will not even answer my very rare emails. I typically do not get questions from Coyle, never from ACL, so that is not a factor either.

Coyle takes significantly more work, but I do not mind, especially if the shop is for a $300+ fine dining establishment.
I have completed a single shop for both ACL and Coyle. From strictly a work:reward ratio, neither is acceptable to me. If, though, you place a value on a meal that is history the following day AND have no objection to toiling over a keyboard for hours, I suggest you try one. If you do, you will never be in the position of wondering "what if" ? Give me a Texas Roadhouse, although I am not a fan of country music, and I am happy with both the meal and 30 minute report.
What kind of shops did you do for ACL? Are they just the $20-$45 variety or are they higher, nicer restaurants? ACL usually does not pay any fee, just having dinner for reimbursements. Sometimes their reimbursements do not cover the required items to order. For example, I did their $75 dinner at a fancy hamburger joint. A Signature drink is required at the bar. That cost $12-15 plus tax and tip. Then, at the table, both diners are required to order alcohol, but not the cheap beer or margaritas. No, no draft beers and margaritas are not acceptable, says the guidelines. So you have to order other alcohol whether you drink or not. There goes another $16-20. Now, for the meal, an appetizer, 2 entrees, and a dessert. My entire dinner/bar usually goes over. And they are chintzy on the parking reimbursement as well. If the service is slow, which usually is, you have to pay anything over $5 parking reimbursement. On top of that, their reports and editors are so detailed.

How did you like the shops that you have tried?


@Myrab wrote:

Hi there. I like restaurant shops. They give me the opportunity to try new places that I wouldn't normally treat myself to. I have done many for ACL even though the surveys take a good chunk of time. I hear that the Coyle dining shop surveys take a looong time to complete. Can you good people share with me if you feel that the Coyle surveys take about the same, or longer than ACL surveys? I don't think I have the energy for a survey longer than the typical ACL dining survey.

Thanks!
Coyle surveys are much longer and more detailed. You must employ their prescribed style of writing.

ACL reports are much shorter and less detailed. You can relay your dining experience relatively willy-nilly, when compared to Coyle's narrative requirements.
Thanks everyone for the feedback. I barely have time for the ACL reports, they are my absolute limit time wise. I think I'll pass on Coyle due to my schedule for now.

Shopperfun99 - I have done pizza, retail, casual dining, fine dining, parking lot audits, and a hotel. ACL was actually my very first MSC that I worked with. They take a long time but I know what to expect now for most assignments. The hotel survey took almost 6 hours to complete so I likely wouldn't do that one again. I agree that often it's hard to not go over budget, but I'm not a big meat eater so the veggie options often help keep costs down. The fine dining restaurant that took the longest was my favorite restaurant in LA when I lived there, and you were required to get dessert to go, so it was worth it to me.

That being said, I would not recommend ACL to everyone. And I am pickier with assignments I take due to time factor.

Thanks again everyone!
I haven't done ACL surveys but I have done Coyle's which can take several hours and after you submit the survey, they have come back to me a week later with another dozen questions. Geez! The expense caps are pretty high but if you get more food than what they allow (such as 1 dessert to be shared by 2 people), they won't pay for it. My expense reimbursement had the 2nd dessert deducted even though I was well below the reimbursement cap.
@Nancy Drew wrote:

I haven't done ACL surveys but I have done Coyle's which can take several hours and after you submit the survey, they have come back to me a week later with another dozen questions. Geez! The expense caps are pretty high but if you get more food than what they allow (such as 1 dessert to be shared by 2 people), they won't pay for it. My expense reimbursement had the 2nd dessert deducted even though I was well below the reimbursement cap.

And they always tell you to order the "mid price" options, and no filet even if you are at a steak house, go figure.
I just did a Coyle restaurant/bar survey. It was my first survey both with Coyle and with dining. My survey initially took me three hours. I was emailed about 13 hours after my submission and asked to write, in narrative form, things I had already put in the “comment” portions that are after each individual question. I was given until “the end of the day,” whenever that is, and spent another 90 minutes redoing my narratives. I hope it satisfies. I’m not sure yet if it’s worth it. I suppose I’ll be quicker at it next time since I better understand the narrative requirements now. I duplicated a lot of typing.

I think I’m becoming more observant in general after all this. So at least I’m learning a skill!
@Niner wrote:

@Nancy Drew wrote:

I haven't done ACL surveys but I have done Coyle's which can take several hours and after you submit the survey, they have come back to me a week later with another dozen questions. Geez! The expense caps are pretty high but if you get more food than what they allow (such as 1 dessert to be shared by 2 people), they won't pay for it. My expense reimbursement had the 2nd dessert deducted even though I was well below the reimbursement cap.

And they always tell you to order the "mid price" options, and no filet even if you are at a steak house, go figure.

When you are at a steakhouse, and the waiter is recommending the filet, saying how great it is, it is embarrassing if you cannot order it for just a few dollars more. I had that experience, when I had to order the NY steak and felt sheepish.

On Coyle, I actually had better experience with their editors than ACL. Or could it be I did not mind their asking questions when I just had a fantastic $200 dinner. While with ACL, I resented it because I had to pay out of pocket to cover required orders, had to take and upload so many pics, all for a lousy $60 meal.
@Niner wrote:

@Nancy Drew wrote:

I haven't done ACL surveys but I have done Coyle's which can take several hours and after you submit the survey, they have come back to me a week later with another dozen questions. Geez! The expense caps are pretty high but if you get more food than what they allow (such as 1 dessert to be shared by 2 people), they won't pay for it. My expense reimbursement had the 2nd dessert deducted even though I was well below the reimbursement cap.

And they always tell you to order the "mid price" options, and no filet even if you are at a steak house, go figure.

I have done my share of ACL "high end" restaurants.. Fortunately like Shopperfun I prefer the Veggie options if they have one that is interesting. That allows my guest to purchase something mid range. That seems the only way to stay under budget. Ordering two mid price options would have gone over budget most of the time even if you get your drink at happy hour and ask to be allowed to order a less expensive soup as the appetizer. But my guest is always happy to order one of the fish items from mid range.
Sandyf
How do you order your drink/food from Happy Hour? They specify that we are not supposed to start until 6 PM. For lunch, what we did sometimes is go very late, order the main entrees, then stretch it out, wait for 2 PM, and order the appetizers which are now discounted at happy hour prices. It saves a few dollars, but this only works areas without parking garage fees. Parking fees are only $5 reimbursable, good for only 2 hours. This is ACL, real tight. I reported $7 parking and got $5 back.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/28/2019 08:16PM by ShopperFun99.
Sounds like you didn't look at their resource center that they put on their email to you or you would have seen that it is to be narratives and not in the comment boxes.
The client reimburses, so you can't expect to get reimbursed if you don't follow directions for ordering -- you obviously read them...and it specifically says you can order filet if at a steakhouse, so not sure if you read the full requirements.
Check your tip. I just got 12 cents removed from my reimbursement because it went over the 20% subtotal before tax. 12 cents? I knew that when I did it, but wanted to round out the total. I did not think that small amount will matter !
@felix wrote:

Sounds like you didn't look at their resource center that they put on their email to you or you would have seen that it is to be narratives and not in the comment boxes.

You are correct! I had only read the example survey they offer, and did not observe from the example the important distinction between “comment” and “narrative.”
@felix wrote:

The client reimburses, so you can't expect to get reimbursed if you don't follow directions for ordering -- you obviously read them...and it specifically says you can order filet if at a steakhouse, so not sure if you read the full requirements.

Coyle finally added that about the steakhouses pretty recently to the instructions. I ordered my first filet mignon during my last steakhouse shop.
I am a new customer to Coyle but have been doing mystery dining for other companies (which are UK based) for years.

I have to say, I am very disappointed after completing my first dine with them. I spent a significant amount of time on my first report and looked at the example report provided. My report was sent back with a generic email saying “the client requires more detail.” I tried again to include even more than before (however excessive) and received the exact same email. To add, I had tried to engage with them over email in a friendly manner to see exactly what was missing and was not acknowledged. I am still yet to know if my report is approved / if I will be reimbursed. Whilst they have great opportunities and seem to be fair to other diners, my experience so far has been quite negative and I would hesitate to do another dine.
@Winch123 wrote:

I am a new customer to Coyle but have been doing mystery dining for other companies (which are UK based) for years.

I have to say, I am very disappointed after completing my first dine with them. I spent a significant amount of time on my first report and looked at the example report provided. My report was sent back with a generic email saying “the client requires more detail.” I tried again to include even more than before (however excessive) and received the exact same email. To add, I had tried to engage with them over email in a friendly manner to see exactly what was missing and was not acknowledged. I am still yet to know if my report is approved / if I will be reimbursed. Whilst they have great opportunities and seem to be fair to other diners, my experience so far has been quite negative and I would hesitate to do another dine.

I had the same thing happen with my first report with them, for a store though. I got the generic "write more" email, with no other specific instructions. I have also found that you can email them and they will not write back. I rarely write them, and if I do, I don't expect a response, but hope for one.

You need to include tons of detail. A poster here said it was like writing a screen play of your meal. I fully agree, and that's what I do now. It takes me about five hours to write up a fine dining shop, but I do not get any questions from them and get high grades (if they even send the grades, usually it's just marked "good to pay" on the site).

So, it's possible to do these shops, but you are in for a commitment. I enjoy writing. I do not mind. ACL has shops that take me 2 hours at most, but if you forget a single detail, they will throw out the report and warn you that they will not be using you in the future. Coyle does not do that. They really are not that bad considering the quality of the restaurants.

Also, my reports are much more detailed and longer than their samples.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2019 01:43PM by Niner.
@Winch123 wrote:

My report was sent back with a generic email saying “the client requires more detail.” I tried again to include even more than before (however excessive) and received the exact same email. To add, I had tried to engage with them over email in a friendly manner to see exactly what was missing and was not acknowledged. I am still yet to know if my report is approved / if I will be reimbursed. Whilst they have great opportunities and seem to be fair to other diners, my experience so far has been quite negative and I would hesitate to do another dine.

I’ve done two with Coyle now. On my first one, I recieved lots of feedback from an evaluator and was given time to edit my survey. I lost points for having to resubmit some answers. On my second, I recieved prompt (within 6 hours) attention to my e-mailed questions. I had fudged up on that second one, so it was eventually re-shopped and I will not be reimbursed for my solo meal. But I expected that, and it seemed fair to me based on my fudge-up, which was not keeping the itemized receipt (I only kept the credit card receipt), and when I requested a copy of the itemized receipt from the restaurant they could not provide it within my survey deadline. If I had asked my evaluator for an extension (which I did not) it is possible I could have gotten credit for the shop since the restaurant was eventually able to find the itemized receipt for my meal.

However, I did not ask. Too much time had passed for my memory to be reliable, even with note-taking, by the time the restaurant tracked down that receipt. It was 3 days post-shop. Because of the amount of time it takes to fill out a survey with sufficient detail, I opted not to write my survey until I had a hard and fast answer from Coyle about whether or not my shop would be accepted without the required receipt (it would not), or I had recieved a copy of the required receipt from the restaurant (which was not recieved before my survey deadline).

So that’s just an example of the risk you might run with Coyle. The meals are very good but also quite expensive: I don’t regret the meal I paid for, or the delicious martini I had at the bar. I was going to have dinner out that night anyhow. But if the report is a guaranteed 5 hours of my time, then I will only take that time to write it if I know I will be reimbursed. I wasn’t willing to write the survey then hope the whole receipt business would work itself out. Wrong or right, I told the evaluator I couldn’t do the survey for the receipt reason, and now I see that restaurant is being re-shopped.
I would have thought that I had written this exact post. The same thing happened to me. It was a very intense report and then they wanted more!
I would rather do 3 ACL meals at medium level restaurants and with all 3 reports still have less time in that one of the "simple" coyle shops. I am sorry, but the level of detail they require is excessive, even for "fine" dinning.

Orlando - lightly shopping NC
I have not seen the "simple" Coyle shop in a while, but if you see it, take it. The shop is a chain restaurant. The report is not their normal report. It will take a half an hour. The meal is around $100.
I actually did do this one while I was considering working with them. I don't think I got any questions back after I submitted. I'd do this simple chain assignment again smiling smiley
Maybe just don't order more than you're supposed to? I've never had a problem with Coyle because I just follow what the guidelines are. The ordering guidelines are pretty clearcut.
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