Are mystery shopper fees negotiable? Or is it strictly “take it or leave it”: accept the pay that is offered or do not take the assignment? Although you may not be able to get a pay increase on most shops, there are times when the scheduler can authorize additional pay to get the job done.
There are lots of assignments that are easy to fill at the usual fee. There is no need to offer a bonus on these shops, because there are shoppers willing to do them. This may be because they are in a large urban area where there are lots of shoppers, the usual fee is reasonable compensation, and/or the shop is attractive because the perks are really good, or it is a fun shop to do.
However, there are shops that are hard to fill because they are in out-of-the-way locations, the client has specific demographic requirements that make it hard to find shoppers, or the shop is simply underpriced. Even if the shop is hard to fill, the scheduler is responsible for making sure it gets done. That can sometimes mean paying bonuses to secret shoppers.
Sometimes a the scheduler will offer a bonus, but other times you must ask if you want more pay. Here is what you need to know about mystery shop bonuses and how to go about requesting a bonus.
When you see a shop languishing on a job board, or you get email after email from a scheduler desperate to fill the assignment, you may decide to ask if a bonus is available. Schedulers will not hate you for asking for a bonus, as long as you are polite. Sending an email such as this is not what I have in mind:
You must be joking!!! You want me to go all the way to Podunkville to do this shop? Do you have any idea how far that is from my house? With the price of gas today, you must be out of your mind. And that does not even take into account the time it would take me to drive there and back. Forget it!
The email about the assignment was not sent only to you, so the scheduler probably does not know exactly how far you are from Podunkville. Chances are that the email about this job was sent to all of the shoppers within 100 miles (or more) of Podunkville because they have not found anyone to take the shop. As the due date approaches, schedulers will email shoppers farther and farther away, hoping someone will either take the job (maybe picking up the shop while visiting Mom back in Podunkville) or will know someone who will do it.
Let’s say you have seen several emails come through about the same mystery shopper job, and the scheduler is sounding a bit more frantic in each one. Although the assignment is not in an area you normally shop, you could do the job. But not for the standard fee. You might send an email such as this to the scheduler:
I see you are having a hard time getting someone to shop the Fred’s Bank in Podunkville. Although that location is more than 25 miles from my home, I would like to help you out if I can. Is there any bonus money available to help compensate me for the additional gas and time needed to do this shop–perhaps another $15? Thank you for considering my request. I hope we can work something out.
The scheduler may agree to your request and assign the shop to you. Or, she may make a counteroffer. For example, the scheduler may say that the maximum bonus she can offer is $10. You can then decide if you are willing to do the shop for that amount.
The scheduler may say that she can not offer a bonus because there is no bonus money available. Do not take this personally. Sometimes there is nothing in the budget for bonuses.
Sometimes, if there is not a bonus available, the scheduler may come up with a creative counteroffer, such as offering a group of shops near or on the way to Podunkville, allowing you to do several shops in one trip. Even without a bonus, that could make a trip to Podunkville worthwhile for you.
Schedulers know that you are in business to make a profit. They try to accommodate reasonable bonus requests when they can, because it also helps them to get their jobs done.
Oh, and there is one reason to consider doing an out-of-the-way shop even without a bonus: It creates great shopper karma. When you do something to help a scheduler in need, she will remember you. That means that when that great assignment comes up that everyone wants, you may have an inside track. Although doing some hard-to-fill shops will not guarantee that you will get every shop you want, it can help.