Overview: Craving your favorite hamburger? A fast food shop could pay for your lunch and, depending on the restaurant and the mystery shopping company, you might collect a reimbursement on top of your meal.
Project variations: While the basic scenario is probably the easiest in the mystery shopping world, just be yourself, these are not shops that I would recommend for a beginner.
Visit and reporting requirements: Timing is probably the biggest issue. Since fast food has an implied speed, most, if not all, of the companies involved have timing standards for their restaurants. A key aspect of your job is to capture those timings. Depending on the company, you may only need to capture the time from when your order was taken until it was handed to you. Other shops might require the time you waited in line, the time it took to place your order, etc. The timing requirements are the main reason why I caution new shoppers against taking these shops. If the timings are off, then you run a high risk of not getting paid for your work.
Strategies: Living in a single party consent state, I audio record all my shops. These shops are ones where the elapsed time counter on the recorder comes in handy as I can capture the timings from the recording. Some shoppers use an app on their smart phones to accomplish the same thing; I just prefer the security of not worrying about pressing the wrong button to register a lap time.
Special note: I will enjoy the meal but, because of a history of heart disease in my family, I don’t do more than three or four of these shops in any given month.
What others have to say: Opinions vary depending on the particulars regarding the MSC and the client. Some shoppers opine that the reports are too much work for the money received [whether it be reimbursement only or fee plus reimbursement]. Other shoppers feel the total payment package is okay, and they also look at getting a meal they did not have to prepare as part of the total package.
Estimated pay: Reimbursement only is generally the minimum. Sometimes these shops can get bonused to $15-20 or even more if it needs to be done in a remote area.