Recently I’ve taken up mystery shopping. www.ShadowShoppers.com (here after referred to as SS) lured me in so I registered, and received multiple emails with available jobs, but the links would not open for me to apply. SS required that I pay a monthly fee to apply for the jobs. What!? Bait and switch…I’m not a fan, sounded like a scam…until I received an email offer to pay a discounted one-time fee of $3. I could afford to lose $3 so as my curiosity led the way; I paid et voila! the world of mystery cracked wide open.
Turns out SS is an umbrella for multiple mystery shopping companies. Fully aware that I would not pay another monthly fee, I registered within those thirty days with as many of the companies as I could. Since then I’ve evaluated employee performance and products at: an optical shop, a Lasik facility, coffee shop, car wash, auto dealership, and a high end restaurant and hotel.
Since that time I’ve learned a few major things:
The companies pay slow, normally within 6-8 weeks.
My attention to detail wasn’t as excellent as I thought.
Don’t drive fifteen miles for a $5 “re-imburse” shop.
If the follow up report takes longer to do than the shop, it’s probably not a good use of your time.
Pizza photo shops will ruin your diet.
I’ve been paid by all save the high end restaurant. I was contracted by www.RestaurantEvaluators.com to evaluate the bar, bartenders, drinks, dinner, servers, bussers, staff, and restaurant. I performed the job on 3/25/11, racked up a bill for $99 which was to be re-imbursed under the conditions of the shop as follows: “Reimbursements are paid by check 30 days from the day you turn in all parts of the review including the Reimbursement Request Form (RRF), itemized receipt, credit card receipt and the review itself.”
The on-line follow up report was by far the hardest, and most detailed that I have ever completed. The multiple essay sections would not let you proceed until you had reached the allotted amount of words, like 500 for each section. I started it when I got home around 11:45 p.m., and didn’t finish until 3:45 a.m. And then I still had to scan & email receipts so total time was about an agonizing 4.5 hours. To find my hourly “pay”, I use this calculation: 4.5 hours divided by $99 is $22 an hour. Remember I had to pay for this as the shop was performed (in good faith might I add) on the basis of reimbursement. I received an email back from www.RestaurantEvaluators.com approving the report, and actually giving me kudos as “the effort made on the report was quite apparent.”
I’d be happy if they just let me know they will eventually pay me, but it’s been over sixty days and I haven’t heard a word from the company. I’ve left phone messages, and followed website directions to a link to submit a re-imburse help ticket. Guess what? That link was either removed, or plain doesn’t exist. I’ve written a letter and also submitted a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC cannot provide remedies, but they enter complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide. Has a crime been committed? You betcha! My next step will be to contact Georgia Attorney General. Will follow up at a later date.
Please hit the comment link and tell me about your experiences.
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