Are Those Low-Dollar Mystery Shopping Assignments Really So Bad?

When you get two or more mystery shoppers together, whether in person or online, the topic inevitably will turn to the low pay of the assignments in general. Mystery shoppers just love to gripe about the poor pay they get for their efforts. With assignments that can often take over an hour to complete with travel, site visit, and report time included, and with some of these assignments paying $10 or less, it’s not hard to see what all of the complaining is about! After all, most mystery shoppers consider their time and efforts more valuable than the equivalent of $10 per hour or less.

However, while there are some low paying assignments that you should absolutely refuse to do unless you simply have nothing better to do and want to get at least a few dollars for your time, there are other assignments that may have more value than you might think. Here are some things to consider before you pass up on another low-dollar assignment:

The Location. Most mystery shoppers certainly would not want to get themselves into a situation of earning less than the equivalent of $10 per hour, but the truth is that some of these seemingly low paying assignments may not take you long to do at all if you are already headed in that direction. Take an honest look at the assignment. Are you going to be driving out in the direction of that site visit for another job or errand anyway? Is the assignment close to work and something that you can do over your lunch break? Sometimes the location can make or break your decision to do the job. After all, if you can write off your mileage to your hourly job one day by simply taking an assignment over your lunch break, wouldn’t that add some benefit to the assignment? With a ten minute site visit, travel to a location you had to go to anyway, and a 20 minute report to file, that $10 assignment pay isn’t really looking too bad!

Your Actual Time. Along these same lines, consider errands that you were already planning on running, such as going to the grocery store or getting gas. If you can pick up the items you need, complete a few requirements on-site while you are shopping or filling up, and then get reimbursed for your time and some of your purchases, that seems like a pretty good deal. Sure, the assignment pay may be like $5, but with a $10 expense reimbursement coupled with time you were already going to spend running those errands, these may be assignments to consider after all. Who doesn’t want to get paid for running personal errands?

Nothing will probably make mystery shoppers stop complaining about their low paychecks, but the truth is that if you pick and choose your assignments wisely and factor in your own travel plans through town for the week as well as items you need to buy on your errands, you can really see far more benefit to working on some of the lower paying assignments than just a flat $5 or $10 rate. It sure would be better to get $20 on such assignments rather than $10, but until providers get wise and increase their pay, we may need to look for that silver lining on some of the low-dollar assignments.