If you spend any time on the mystery shopping online forums, you know that mystery shoppers love to complain about the low pay on some assignments. It is true that some compensation is so low that it really is a slap in the face to mystery shoppers. However, there are plenty of great assignments that do pay a fair wage. As a mystery shopper, it is up to you to pick and choose your assignments wisely, and part of this process involves really analyzing what each assignment may really be worth to you.
Now, you may look at an assignment and see that it’s value to you is in the form of “shop pay,” or otherwise the face value of the compensation. However, there is much more to the value of an assignment than this face value compensation. In fact, each mystery shopper may value an assignment differently based on certain criteria based on these factors, so it is up to you to determine what worth the assignment really has to you. Here are some factors to consider when valuing an assignment:
Travel. It’s pretty easy to figure out that a $10 assignment at the grocery store where you do your weekly grocery shopping at is far more attractive to you than the same $10 grocery store assignment at the store on the other side of town. Part of the reason for this is due to the time it will take you to travel to the farther location. If it takes you an hour to get there, that is an hour that you could have spent working on another assignment and earning money in that period of time! Plus, there is also the cost associated with travel, and with gas prices inching back upward again, this is a major consideration indeed.
However, if an assignment is otherwise attractive to you and it has been sitting on the job boards for more than a few days, you may want to ask your provider if travel pay could be provided to you. This is a great way to get compensated for your time and travel expenses, which makes this assignment more worthwhile to you.
Purchase. Most, but not all, assignments have a purchase requirement. Most will also allow you to keep that item you purchase, but some will require you to return it. The ability to keep a purchase that you are being reimbursed for is truly of value to you, but only if you really need the item you are purchasing. The best way to get the most value out of required purchase assignments is to buy items that you need. At places like groceries stores, gas stations, and even clothing stores, it’s pretty clear to see that buying necessities will help you to maximize the value of that assignment. However, even on other assignments like bookstores, accessory retail stores, and others, you can still buy some necessities. If nothing else, these assignments can be used for buying gifts and other such items that you will eventually need to buy.
Time. After you factor in all of the various forms of compensation into your analysis, you will be able to see pretty clearly how much that assignment is really worth to you. Avoid the impulse to look purely at the financial aspect only, as there are two components to this equation. You don’t want to just earn $30 or $40 (or whatever your magic number is) on an assignment, but rather you want to earn that amount in a certain period of time. After all, few mystery shoppers would be pleased with earning $40 over a 4 or 5 hour period, but earning that amount in an hour would sure be nice! So factor in how much time you anticipate the assignment will take you, and be sure to include time for travel, the site visit, and completing the report, too!
As you can see, there are several factors that come into play when you are trying to determine if an assignment has real value to you. Keep these factors in mind the next time you visit the job boards!