If your main focus as a shopper is obtaining higher-end assignments such as restaurants and hotels, then Mercantile Systems Inc. would be a desirable mystery shopping company to add to your list. Recent opportunities included: steakhouses, brewhouses, barbecue restaurants, other upscale casual restaurants and bars, golf courses, and resorts.
This family owned business was founded in 1954 and is headquartered in Brentwood, California. It started as a loss prevention company, but later branched out into mystery shopping as well as merchandising.
Sign up with Mercantile on their website at www.mysteryshopmsi.com. Click on the link “Become A Mystery Shopper”. The application is standard for most MSCs using the Sassie System. A confirmation email will be sent when approved. Assignments are widely available across the nation from Washington to Florida and California to New York and all points in between.
Shoppers can receive notices of available assignments via email and/or the Shop Notifier app on their smartphones. Most projects are requested by shoppers from a job board which will then be assigned by a scheduler, although there are also opportunities for self assignment.
This MSC openly states that preference is given to MSPA certified shoppers, as well as those that have successfully completed prior assignments for them and hold a rating above an 8. Mercantile also implements positive recognition programs such as their featured “Top Shelf Shopper” write-ups on their website and awarding shopper “Hero” citations. This translates into the ability for a shopper to make special assignment requests and to receive preferential projects.
Payment is made via check 45 days after the completed shop date.
Mercantile is frequently included on listings of favorite MSCs on www.mysteryshopforum. Only one serious snafu involving pay was mentioned in discussions about this company. All other members reported timely payments. Schedulers and editors are described as being among the best in the industry to work with on projects. Positive communication and useful feedback were cited as some of the attributes that kept shoppers loyal to this MSC. However, there were many comments about assignment reports being cumbersome, repetitive , too much work, and excessively long. Some stated that conducting some of the assignment visits was difficult because so many details needed to observed and noted. Others found their experiences to be enjoyable.
Personal Experience: My very first mystery shopping assignment was with this MSC. They called me up when they needed a shopper that very day due to someone else flaking at the last minute. I was incredibly nervous and anxious. The scheduler was very patient and encouraging as she walked me through what the assignment entailed. I’ll always have a soft spot for Mercantile, because like so many things in life, many enjoyable firsts are remembered fondly.
Since then, I have always been treated with great appreciation and value. I have found almost all schedulers to be responsive as well as flexible in working with me on scheduling and in granting extensions for report submissions. Communication with them has been prompt and pleasant.
However, there is only one other company that I work with that edges this MSC out for top honors in having the most tedious reporting. Mercantile expects a thorough and detailed picture portrayed of each visit. Reports consist of heavy narrative followed by a ratings section that must include even more narrative in the form of supporting comments. Even this overly verbose writer finds it a challenge to add fresh commentary to each and every part of the reports.
Payments are made in a consistent and timely manner. Mercantile will offer minimal bonuses, and schedulers are usually open to negotiation.