Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas, Mystery Shoppers.
I hope you have a blessed day with family and friends,
and sweet, blessed rest.

Demystified will return January 9, 2009

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Year End Accounting

I'm taking the month of December off from shopping. Not only will that free me up to celebrate with family and friends, I anticipate all outstanding shops will be paid by December 15th, making a nice, neat bottom line.

So, in round figures, here is how I "did" this year:

I performed 230 shops for 27 companies.
I earned $1477 in shop fees and $123 in bonuses, for a total paycheck of $1600
I drove 3640 business-related miles, at 50 cents per mile (the standard IRS deduction) for a tax-deductible expense of $1820
I spent $391 on other tax-deductible expenses such as printer ink and paper, cell phone minutes etc.
I spent $2611 out-of-pocket that was reimbursed.

I'd say this was a pretty average year for me. How did you do?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Talking about your shops


Okay, I'll provide a little more detail. Don't discuss the details of your shops with others. "I was at Juicy Queen the other day, and I was supposed to ask the manager about catering a birthday, and he said he only caters birthdays for children under age 10, and I said..."

No. Don't. Specific details like this violate the Independent Contractor Agreement you signed with the mystery shopping company. They all have confidentiality clauses, and you need to read them to know what you may and may not say. It's best to just not say anything. The results of your shop are for your employer only. Not your sister in Maine, not your best friend in Omaha, nobody.

The mystery shopping world is very competitive and by nature, secretive. Yeah, it would be great if there was a site where you could look up which mystery shopping company evaluates that favorite boutique of yours, but there isn't. If you ask a shopper, and they are serious about their business, about honoring their confidentiality and contractor's agreements, they will say, "Sorry, I can't tell you that."

So, how did established shoppers find those shops they love? I am currently a shopper with over 100 companies, and I check with each of them at least weekly. I do a wide range of assignments to find out what I like and don't like, what pays well for the time investment and what surveys are a nightmare to complete.

Think of yourself as a shopping superhero. You must keep your identity secret to protect Aunt May!

Go ahead and ask me, " What company shops the Golden Arches?" I know, but I won't tell you. Don't take it personally, I wouldn't tell the President of the United States, unless I have it in writing from my mystery shopping company that I may!