Overview: These shops aren’t applying for credit cards, but rather seeing if you’re offered a credit card application with a purchase that’s within a certain dollar range.
Project variations: There are two main variations, and it will depend on the type of store that is the target. In some of these shops, you will only have an encounter with a sales person, while in other scenarios you will have to engage a cashier as well as a sales person on the floor.
Visit and reporting requirements: These shops are usually on a very tight deadline—generally a 3-4 day time-frame, and the report deadline is generally 12 hours. I was able to get an extension once on a series of these shops because the company needed them done and they had no takers. I hesitate to call it a route because all the shops were within 20 miles of home, but the mileage for the day was about 150 miles. I got the shops done in one day and the reports uploaded the next.
Strategies: The MSC generally provides you with strategies to end the encounter. Generally speaking, the strategy involves having given your credit card to your spouse so you ask the cashier to hold your purchase.
Special note: This is one of those shops where, as the instructions plainly say, “know your exit strategy before you even enter the store.”
What others have to say: Shoppers either love or hate this shop, based on comments at www.mysteryshopforum.com. The main objection tends to be the interaction with the cashier where you have “forgotten” or “lent” your credit card to your spouse. The comments lean towards being embarrassed with a “shopping cart full of lightbulbs” or something similar. I will look and can generally find two or three items to reach the required dollar interaction. Having worked in retail, I can attest that a customer forgetting their credit card is more common than most shoppers think. The bookstore I worked at, it wasn’t unusual to have 4-5 customers each week forgetting their credit card. I believe this shows that we, as shoppers, do sometimes have the tendency to overthink the scenario we are given.
Estimated pay: These shops are generally $15 or so each. The majority of the report is yes/no with minimal narrative. Depending on traffic in the store, the shops can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
MSCs: Research Services Group