When I moved to Las Vegas I found out that mystery shopping was much different in the state of Nevada than anywhere else in the U.S. I learned right away that you must be an employee of a licensed private investigative firm. I looked in the phone book and found QSI Specialists. I gave them a call.
QSI Specialists, is one such firm that deals in private investigations and one aspect of their company was mystery shopping. I asked QSI what were the first steps to becoming a mystery shopper? I was told to visit the PILB Private Investigative Licensing Board in the city of Las Vegas. The PILB is a Regulatory Agency that licenses and monitors/oversees private investigative firms and licensing.
I was told that mystery shopping in Nevada falls under the definition of private investigator, therefore, it requires an individual or business to be licensed, before performing any services, such as mystery shopping. The associate told me I would get a packet, study for a test, once passed, I would pay for the PILB work permit and wait patiently for that provisionary card (temp card) to arrive. During that time of waiting, I must not and cannot work for them or any other company, until approved, as it would be illegal to perform a mystery shop without the work card. It was a long 3 weeks but I learned a few valuable things:
The PILB told me that NRS 648.012 law states: A private investigator is one who agrees to investigate the “identity, habits, conduct, occupation, honesty, integrity, credibility, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency, movement, whereabouts, affiliates, associates transactions, acts, reputation or charactor of another individual.” It was pretty serious to be caught without the work card. The fines could start at $2,500 first offense, $5,000 second offense, $10,000 third offense and the punishments grow stronger as the non-carded person continues to violate the law.
Therefore, you must obtain a work card (permit) that ranges from $85 to $110. The entire breakdown for me was : $85 work card, $25 fingerprints and $7.00 for fingerprinting, which the photo and fingerprinting could be done at one place.
I went down to the PILB and I was given a packet of instructions. I was told that in the midde of the packet, was a test and I must study and pass that test. It asked a lot of questions about security (as security guards must also have this same work card) I took the packet home and read through it, and it explained what you needed to get a work card. It also told you in about 3 weeks you would receive a provisionary card “temporary” card and in about 6 to 8 weeks, you would receive your permanant card. All of this depended on your background check that is mandatory in the state of Nevada.
I found the address of where you could get your fingerprints and photo and went there to get my photo for my permanent work card. When you came back with your paperwork all signed and your test, at this time, if you passed, you would pay the PILB $85 for your work card, which was good for 5 years.
I turned in my paperwork and my payment. They grade you right there. I scored 100% and my paperwork was accepted. (if you did not score 100% you had to do the test over, or at least correct your wrong answers.) Once you have done this, you turn in your paper work and wait 3 weeks for your provisionary card, which entitles you to work until you receive your permanent card.
Once I got all “legal” I went on-line and applied to be an employee of QSI. All the regular documents you need, such as I-9 form, W-2, Work history, all the normal stuff was submitted. You wait for an acceptance letter and you become officially employed (or not) depending if you pass the mustard.
Then when you get your provisionary card, you are invited down to the QSI location, where an associate explains all about how to do your online reports and shops. I was told to treat this employment very seriously because if you were in any way involved in the integrity shops, you may have to testify in court, as to cash handling, or alcohol sales violations. Pretty serious stuff.
The first form they showed us how to fill out was for Market Force. The difference in Market Force to other MSC’s, is that Market Force paid your reimbursements to you, whereas all other MSC’s paid your employer, who paid your fees and reimbursements. This came on your check from your employer.
But Market Force paid you DD for your reimbursements only. Your CPI always showed “0” for fees, because QSI handled that aspect of your pay.
There were many different companies, and I worked with several. The difference is, you are an employee, you can be terminated if you fail 3 shops. You are paid better though. As an example:
Almost all shops for Market Force paid between $10 and $12 or more depending on the shop, plus reimbursement. Let’s say you did a burger shop for Market Force, and you were paid $5 bucks. In Nevada, you were an employee, responsible for taxes and deductions, so the fees were higher in Nevada.
Someone once made the comment that mystery shopping companies in Nevada paid more. Yes. But there were more restrictions, as some of your employers do not want you to work for another employer, without their knowledge or approval.
I found shopping, in other states much better and less stressful than Nevada. Some who live in Nevada love the format of how shops operate there. I prefer to be an independent contractor and do as much or as little as I want to do.