Purchase Return Assignments: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Many mystery shoppers are very specific about the assignments they work and those they refuse to do. Some mystery shoppers feel very strongly about assignments that require you to make a second visit to a location to return merchandise that you bought during the initial site visit. There are some pros and cons to these assignments, so let’s look at what is involved in these assignments and why mystery shoppers feel so strongly about them.

Time Crunch. Most of these merchandise return assignments require you to purchase an item the first day and then make the return the following day. Some assignments are very specific about the time frame when you can make the initial purchase as well as make the return. For busy mystery shoppers, it’s often difficult to squeeze in two assignments in back-to-back days that have such inflexible requirements for the visit. Other mystery shoppers simply don’t have the ability to commit multiple days to one assignment.

Pay. The compensation for these types of assignments really runs the gamut. This type of assignment essentially is like two assignments combined in one. You will have two separate site visits as well as reporting questions that will take up your time, too. You want to be paid justly for all of your efforts, and many mystery shoppers simply will not consider this type of assignment unless the pay is equivalent to that of two assignments. This is generally a very good philosophy to have. After all, you don’t want to lose money by taking up this assignment. The fact is, you could very well take on two assignments to complete in the time frame it takes to work on this assignment, and you should not give up the opportunity to earn income. However, if you don’t have assignments available to complete in place of a specific return-purchase assignment, you should consider picking up whatever work you can.

Losing Out on Freebies. One of the greatest benefits mystery shoppers simply love about this job is the ability to get freebies, or at least reimbursements on their purchases. With a purchase return assignment, you don’t have the option of keeping your purchases. So while one assignment may offer you a little bit lower pay but let you keep some merchandise, these assignments don’t let you keep your purchases. When you are trying to figure out if a certain assignment is more financially beneficial to you, consider how returning the merchandise rather than getting a reimbursement and being allowed to keep the merchandise will affect your bottom line. These purchase-return assignments should take that into account and offer you slightly higher pay for your time since you won’t be getting a purchase reimbursement.

So why are so many mystery shoppers passing on these purchase return assignments? The fact is that many providers offer these assignments at the same rate as other assignments. Yet these assignments require you to make a second trip to the site, which eats up your time and has higher associated travel expenses. They also don’t have the perk of providing you an expense reimburse and keep your purchases. When you are considering for yourself whether to take on these assignments, take time to consider these important points as well as if you have other assignments that you could fill these time slots with instead. If not, it may still be worthwhile to take this type of assignment on.