There are several different types of gas station/convenience store audits, and they can be broken down into basically two types, revealed and unrevealed. Both require at least one purchase, although the revealed audits usually require two purchases; one of gasoline, and one of an item from the convenience store. Having an economy car, it becomes a “challenge” to schedule the route. Just about every time I’ve done the routes where I have to make a fuel purchase, I’ve left home with a quarter tank of gas and returned some 250 miles later with an almost full tank.
Photographs: Both audits require photographs of the location. Some require photos of every fuel pump while others only need a “representative” photo, unless there is a problem that needs to be documented. While I understand why shoppers like the ease and convenience of their cell phone cameras, I prefer to use my 6MP Nikon D60, set on low resolution. It gives me pictures that are 1/2 to 3/4 MB in size, and I have some control when the sun doesn’t want to cooperate with me.
Both shops generally provide Letters of Authorization, although you generally won’t show the LOA on the unrevealed audit unless you’re asked why you’re taking pictures. This is also why, on the unrevealed audit, you make your in-store purchase first in case you’re asked to leave even after showing the LOA. This is another reason why I prefer a DSLR camera to a phone–interchangeable lenses which give more versatility.
One important thing to remember, if you’re using your bank’s credit/debit card to make the $5 purchases at the gas stations. Call or go by your bank the day before your trip, especially if you have a route of these audits, and let them know where you’re going and that you’ll be making many $5 gas purchases. Numerous small purchases are often a giveaway that a card has been compromised and banks will often shut down a card after two or three such purchases. Let your bank know and they can let the appropriate people know so your card won’t get shut down in the middle of your route.