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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Savvy Mystery Shopping--5 truths

Ah, mystery shopper... Just hearing it sounds so glamorous. Everyone is intrigued when I tell them that's what I'm doing right now. I remember working for a department store and hearing about them. I didn't want to work at the department store anymore, I wanted to be a glamorous mystery shopper. They held such power. Look out for mystery shoppers. You never know who they are and they report back to the store. It's true, mystery shoppers do hold power, but the glamor doesn't always translate to great pay.

People want to know about it, so I pass on to you some FAQs that I have encountered.

Is it true you get to keep what you buy?
Sometimes. If I shop a restaurant, I am reimbursed up to a certain amount. Often, I am responsible for tips and anything over that amount. The commission doesn't always cover everything. If I shop a retail store, some times I am paid to report on the purchase process, but then if I want to keep what I buy, I have to pay for it.

Do you get paid alot?
Rarely. I did a series of shops for a high end Italian designer on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the Beverly Center and a few other locations. It involved making a purchase and then a return plus evaluating their customer service. It was fun, but time consuming. I had to put a large purchase on my credit card, hence the need for higher pay. How much pay? $75. That one was totally worth it. Most shops don't pay nearly as well.

Is it fun?
Sometimes. Sometimes it's really not. Sometimes, despite your best efforts to get a job completed, it doesn't happen. If you don't complete it, you don't get paid. That's really not fun. But sometimes it's really fun, especially when you are getting terrible service and you start wondering how they would treat you differently if they knew you were a mystery shopper and how much they might regret it when it comes back to haunt them through your report. It's also not very fun to realize what bad service you are getting from some of the places you go.

What skills do I need?
I've listed the 5 most important.

Observational Skills
You have to be very observant about what people say and what people do. You have to record objective facts about what happened and what people say without giving your opinion. You must be able to keep track of timings, take pictures discreetly, observe and record everything.

Great Grammar
You have to have great grammar for writing the reports. They have editors that grade your work.

Writing Skills
It is one thing to say, The service sucked. You can say that to your friends. As a mystery shopper you must say exactly why based on your keen observations. The server did not smile. He was not professionally dressed. My food arrived after 35 minutes of waiting. The vegetables were mushy and my steak was not cooked as I ordered. That is unacceptable. I was offered a free desert as compensation and the cashier tried to charge me for it. My credit card transaction took 10 minutes to process and the cashier had to call the manager over to help him. He did not thank me for my business or ask me to return.

Be on One Time!
You need to perform your shops and turn in your reports ON TIME. Some companies will automatically unassign you for not submitting your report. It's frustrating and it has happened to me. Everything is online nowadays. It's hard to imagine how they did all of this in the days before the internet.

Acting Skills
You have to have some level of acting skill. If you are interested in being an actor, this is great practice that you will get paid for. You have an audience on whom to practice being sincere and natural. The truth is I don't need an apartment, I can't afford a new car, I can't afford to buy high end designer clothing... I use some of my life circumstances to be more believable. I live with my parents and I would like to more closer to where I work. I name some place I used to work. I name a bank that I mystery shop and say I work for them--I sort of do. I'm tired of my commute, etc. Picking believable circumstances and improvisation are the cornerstones of a great performance.

Why does a company hire mystery shoppers?
These shops matter deeply to the client and they wouldn't be paying anyone at all to perform mystery shops if it weren't a valuable service. They need to know how their employees treat the general public, if they are asking for ID when they are supposed to, if they are suggesting add-on sales and if they are doing their best to perform in these times. Under no circumstances are you allowed to every tell anyone that you are an auditor or a mystery shopper when you are working with a client.

Is it a good job?
That depends on your circumstances. Mystery shopping is difficult to swing as full time work. It's better as something part time or as a hobby. You learn alot about people and how well they do their jobs. I know what model service looks like. I can read body language. I am more observant. I am not richer. I am more amused and I am connected to a community via email that I never knew existed. One of my schedulers told me she knew she had taken her kids on too many shops when her 5 year old grabbed literature at the bank and said she needed to discuss her accounts. Her son asked, Mom are we really shopping or are we mystery shopping?

How do I get started?
Visit the Mystery Shopping Provider's Association (www.mysteryshoppers.com) which is the official site for all mystery shoppers. There is a job board which will tell you jobs that you can sign up for and what companies are offering them. You should never have to pay a fee to sign up.

How do I get paid?
The most popular way is through Paypal. Get a Paypal account and funds will be transferred into it when your shops are completed and approved and payroll is run. Have patience. Sometimes it takes a month to get paid. Some companies work with direct deposit through bank accounts. If your report is not accurate or you make a mistake, you do not get paid.

Any other tips and tricks?
Shops usually have bonuses added if they are in places that are difficult to get to. A bonus might also be added as an incentive to do a shop in a location that no one else has claimed. Shops become more valuable at the end of the month or the end of a campaign. They want to show the client how thorough a job had been done and do what they can to in order to make it happen. Recently I competed a shop with a $10 commission and $15 bonus either because no one had signed up for it or because someone did not complete it after signing up for it. For more tips and tricks, visit Want More Mystery Shops? from www.MysteryShoppersManual.com

Want to help me get a bonus?
I am a member of two companies that offer a signup bonus. Send an email to SavvySingleChristian@yahoo.com and I will send an invitation to you. I get a bonus when you complete a shop. The bonuses are listed as follows right now.

$2.00 United States
$10.00 Mexico, India
$20.00 Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany
$50.00 Turkey, Japan, Italy, Spain

Happy mystery shopping!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Swinging Around Some Ideas

If I am like Tigger, Swing is my Eeyore. Lately, I'm always trying to cheer him up because going through a tough time trying to get his dissertation done. I'm always learning something new and interesting about him...things that make me glad to still have him as a friend and see that he wouldn't be good for dating anybody right now. Usually our phone calls start like this:
Savvy: Hey, it's me. How's it going?
Swing: Oh....I don't know.

One time I said it with him. The oh part is really long.

One time I called him when I got new Invisalign aligners because they made me lisp really badly. I sang part of the Tigger song.
Savvy: So, do you find me remotely amusing?
Swing: Sometimes.


Over dinner on Friday, I cracked a couple of jokes with him.
Savvy: Oh, I got half a smile.
Swing: That's because it was halfway funny.
Savvy: Maybe sometime I'll actually make you laugh all the way.
Swing: You're starting to make me feel self-conscious.
Savvy: I just want you to feel happy at least when you are with me and so I fell into gauging "audience response."
Swing: I appreciate your effort, I really do.


He showed me his new iPhone and a map came up.
Savvy: What's this?
Swing: Oh, just a place I went to.
Savvy: Is it nerdy?
Swing: You couldsay so...I went to a comic book store.
Savvy: Nothing wrong with that. You don't have to hide that from me.
Swing: I also came out her to see lucha libre.

We talked about the struggle to find parking in Hollywood.
Swing: I had to park in a garage.
Savvy: I found street parking. Are you jealous?
Swing: Yes.
Savvy: I never pay for parking.


It turned out had parked directly under a sign tat said PERMIT PARKING ONLY. I started laughing.
Savvy: That's what I get for bragging.
Swing: Oh no!
Savvy: I forgot to check the sign. I just saw a space.
Swing: If it's easy, there must be something wrong--especially in Hollywood.


He stroked my hair and gave me a hug. Since then, we've been commiserating about tickets, court appearances and not having any money. He got smacked with charges for failing to take car of a fix-it ticket and it put him in a bad mood.

Savvy: So are you in the slammer? Is this your only phone call?
Swing: No...But I had to pay about $400.
Savvy: Of money you don't have.
Swing: It would really be better to live in an area where you don't have to drive anywhere.
Savvy: Yeah, I was gonna say, when I go down to hang out with you we have to make double sure I don't get another ticket. I got another one after Friday.
Swing: You got another one?
Savvy: Yeah, I went to the bank and I didn't see the lines and they docked me for parking 1/3 of my car into the next spot. But I swear that it wasn't that much. Maybe they'll let it go.
Swing: You can try, but it didn't work that way for me. It amazes me how people try to argue with the judge.
Savvy: Not a good idea. I have the best idea in the world.
Swing: What's that?
Savvy: We could move back to Amsterdam, find some place to squat--a garret apartment like in La Boheme--and make money by selling $1 beers and having an impromptu jazz performance every night. Oh and we could do classical stuff like a salon kind of thing like in the Romantic era. I had a friend who did that in New York.
Swing: Yeah, I like the idea of reliving the glory days in Holland.
Savvy: It sounds so fun. Plus, you did it before, so you can be like the manager, except tat nowadays I guess we realize that the bohemian life kinda sucks.


Swing is a really interesting guy who has had lots of interesting adventures. I wish I could do something to help him feel less depressed, but depression is something on the inside. Still, I think I'll keep him around. He's always been respectful toward me.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Savvy Mystery Shopping

So, you've always been curious about being a mystery shopper? This article will be coming soon.... Busy doing mystery shops!! Thn I will share my savvy experiences.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Feeling Bass, Feeling Better, Growing Up


Election Day. It was all backwards. Nothing went as planned. Nothing at all.

First, I signed up for a bunch of mystery shops that I wasn't able to complete. That was a loss of alot of money. Second, I got a call saying I didn't qualify for unemployment because there were no funds that went in to my account. That has to be a mistake that I'm going to fix it. Tall opened up a bottle of Crystal to celebrate Obama winning the election, was slurring all his words together, making me laugh and rubbing it in about Obama winning. Another friend said, I couldn't decide what was worse--listening to Obama or looking at McCain. And lastly, I ended up actually talking to Bass.

I called him just to see if he would pick up. He didn't and I didn't leave a message. Then a few minutes later my phone was ringing.

Bass: Hey, sorry about that. I'm back.
Savvy: Um, hey. Do you know who you're talking to?
Bass: Uhh...hehe. Umm...
Savvy: It's Savvy.
Bass: Oh wow. Savvy. I didn't recognize the number.
Savvy: Yeah, I got a new number. I didn't leave a message cause I didn't know what to say. I guess I wanted to talk to you because, well, I felt really bad about the last time we ran into each other and I didn't know what to do about it.
Bass: Yeah, that was really weird. I mean how totally random.
Savvy: I had tried to call you and I didn't hear anything back. I just couldn't talk to you. I had heard alot of bad things about you and I hadn't heard from you at all, so I was pretty mad about that.
Bass: I guess I thought at the time that it would be too hard to be friends.
Savvy: It didn't have to be that way. It could have been different.
Bass: It's true, it could have been. Things didn't end very well between us.
I thought we had something good and then you started lying to me and you showed up with that girl. We already talked about that.
Bass: I wasn't happy about the way I behaved with you. I felt better after I ran into you at volleyball.
Savvy: That was actually really hard for me because I was still hurt over what happened. I really don't understand why things happened the way that they did. I really liked you and I'm not sure you got that.
Bass: I didn't at the time. I've been through alot of changes in the past few months.
Savvy: Like what?
Bass: Well, I fell in love--something that hasn't happened since I was in my 20s. I think I started to get how much I hurt you when I fell in love.
Savvy: What happened?
Bass: We broke up.
Savvy: How come?
Bass: Well, we were just very different politically, socioeconomically and culturally. It was too much to overcome. I'm over it now. I did alot of growing up from that.
Savvy: You actually do sound like you really did. I'm impressed.
Bass: I'm curious, what things did you hear about me?
Savvy: Well, Bill doesn't have anything nice to say about you.
Bass: Well, nobody's perfect.
Savvy: And then I ran into a girl from meetup and she didn't like you at all.
Bass: That's really interesting because I thought we had a really good time. I just knew I didn't want to be her boyfriend or her husband so I didn't call her. That's probably why she's mad.
Savvy: I don't know, she said it was more like she was onto you that you were just out for fun and you were in a band and she didn't want any part of that.
Bass: Well, that is true. I was out for having fun. I feel like for the past 3 years I've been going through what most people went through in high school. I've really done alot of growing up.
Savvy: Having been a high school teacher, I have to say that's true. I watched kids be really awful to each other. And I think when people go through that period later on in life, they put the people around them through alot of pain.
Bass: Yeah. I really wasn't ready when I met you. But I now I am. I don't know if I'm ready for marriage, but I'm definitely ready to be with just one person. But I learned so much from going out with different people. I've learned I'll never understand women, though.
Savvy: Why's that?
Bass: You think you know what's going on and then you find out that you don't.
Savvy: Well...I don't know.
Bass: And everyone's so different. Some people are really religious. Some women are all over you while others are more reserved. I'm learning how to talk about things, though I still don't like confrontations.
Savvy: Communication is key. I mean, sometimes you think a confrontation is going to be big and it's easy. Other times you think it's going to be minor and it's huge.
Savvy: Honestly, you kind of scared me when we met. I started to be upset that maybe you just wanted to have sex with me because of the way things ended.
Bass: Savvy, if that was all I wanted, I wouldn't have gone out with you those other times. It's a really good thing that you're a good girl. You're good.


Our accidental conversation lasted 40 minutes. We talked about jobs, shoulders and various topics here and there. He asked how my shoulder was doing and how my singing was going.

Savvy: I'm glad that we talked. I hope that we...um... talk again sometime.
Bass: That's a rising possibility. I hope you're great in whatever you do.
Savvy: Thanks, have a good trip with the band.


I feel better somehow. It was our first real and honest conversation that didn't involve immediate emotional pain.

And yet I don't. I want to be in love. I wanted to be in love with him, but he wasn't ready. I wasn't ready either, and I admitted that to him. I had just broken up with someone. Why didn't I meet him later when he was ready? When I was ready? How can you be friends with someone who stomped all over your heart?