The Good and Bad of Mystery Shopping

I did some mystery shops over the weekend that highlight some of the good things and bad things about mystery shopping. There were a couple of bad things about this mystery shop. First, I had a receipt rejected because it didn’t include the address of the convenience store. I can’t control whether a store puts their address on the receipt or not. Luckily, I had another receipt with the address printed and I was able to scan the address on to the other receipt.

The other problem was that a report checker invalidated one of my reports because she said I didn’t purchase gas. This wasn’t correct and I had submitted a receipt for the gas so I don’t know why the checker said I hadn’t. I resubmitted the receipt and the checker asked me to send it yet again because the edge of the receipt didn’t scan. This was a little ridiculous since everything on the receipt was still readable and the important information was intact. Since I wanted to get paid though I had to send the scan in yet again. I have heard that you will occasionally run into checkers that are a PITA and I guess this was my first experience with one.

There are some good things about mystery shopping. It is nice to get to get paid to buy gas although there is quite a bit of work besides just buying the gas. It is also nice that most of my mystery shopping income will be tax-free. Since I can legally write off my mileage at $0.50 per mile most of my income is eliminated. For example, one of the fast food shops I did this month was 16 miles round trip from my home giving me an expense of $8. Since my pay was only $7.50 I technically didn’t make any money doing this shop. This would be bad if I thought my true expenses were anywhere close to $0.50 but since I estimate my true expenses to be less than half that these shops are worthwhile.

4 thoughts on “The Good and Bad of Mystery Shopping”

  1. Yep, those PITA editors are definitely out there. I’ve had similar issues when some of the older gas stations ring up your inside purchase and it looks like you bought gas even when you didn’t. I think the problem with the editors is they are former shoppers, most of them working from home, and they need to appear to be doing more than just accepting shops.

    I love the tax advantages of shopping. There’s been some debating on Volition about the cost of travel and most of the shoppers think $.50/mile underestimates their cost. All I can say is, ditch the gas guzzler and get something reasonable to drive if you plan to drive a lot.

    • The report did finally get approved. I don’t know if the editors have any influence over what shops you can get but I decided to be extra nice just in case. It looks like I have pissed off a couple of my mystery shopping companies because there aren’t nearly as many shopping opportunities available to me this month. I guess I will have to get back in their good graces.

  2. I haven’t encountered a PITA editor yet. I also haven’t been counting my mileage! Why haven’t I done that? It just hadn’t even occurred to me! I’ll be going through my shops for the year and adding up the mileage. Thanks!

    • Counting my mileage eliminates my profit for some shops. It is nice to legally make tax-free money. Check out He is a master mystery shopper and you can probably learn a few tricks.


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