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  • FIRST POST
    • shell_belle
    • By shell_belle 22nd Jan 15, 5:29 PM
    • 608Posts
    • 1,569Thanks
    shell_belle
    Mystery shopping thread 26 *please read the op first**please no client names or fees
    • #1
    • 22nd Jan 15, 5:29 PM
    Mystery shopping thread 26 *please read the op first**please no client names or fees 22nd Jan 15 at 5:29 PM
    Official MSE Insert:

    This is a great Forum discussion full of Tips for Mystery Shopping. Read it in tandem with our Boost Your Income guide for more ways to make cash.

    Back to weeg's original post...

    ---

    For other ways to NOTICE TO FOLK WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT TAKING UP MYSTERY SHOPPING (MSing): Read the first few pages before asking Qs. We're happy to help, but a LOT of the answers are right here. There is no 'right' answer to 'Who should I sign up with first?' It's horses for courses. Read some of the comments on post 2 and make up your own mind.

    Now enjoy - and play nice!

    ******************************************

    The vast majority of these opening few posts are advice copied from Timmne’s original compilation a while ago, with a few updates from Josie, ukmonkey and Becle’s previous threads, and other credits as mentioned.

    The old threads are linked to below - it's worth reading as many of them as you can to get a feel for what you might need to know.
    Part 1 (Thanks to nearlyrich for the OP)
    Part II (Thanks to leni for the OP)
    Part III , Part IV , Part V , Part VI , Part VII (Thanks to Timmne for the OP)
    Part VIII , Part IX (Thanks to ukmonkey for the OP)
    Part X (Thanks to Josie for the OP)
    Part XI,
    Part XII
    Part XIII
    Part XIV (Thanks to TractorGirl327 for the OP)
    Part XV (Thanks to TractorGirl327 for the OP)
    Part XVI (Thanks to Becles for the OP)
    Part XVII (Thanks to Becles for the OP)
    Part XVIII (Thanks to TractorGirl327 for the OP)
    Part XIX (Thanks to Becles for the OP)
    Part XX (Thanks to TractorGirl327 for the OP)
    Part 21 (Thanks Heaven'sDevil for the OP)
    Part 22
    Part 23
    Part 24
    Part 25 http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4734623

    Please also take the time to read these first few posts. They may be long but there is a lot of information in them and lots of your questions will be answered!

    An introduction to the mystery shopping thread
    The companies mentioned below are a good place to start. Don't worry if they ask you for bank details when you apply as this is only so you can get paid. Numbers of jobs offered seems to vary and very much depends on your location in the country so it's difficult to generalise. Lots of the companies have training materials and tests which help you to know exactly what to do and the standards they expect on their reports.

    Most of us have worked hard to get good at this job so whilst we are helpful we are not keen to hand on a plate information to people not willing to do the legwork too. Please also note that there is a finite pool of MS work so respect that people may not be willing to share all their knowledge with someone who in essence will be taking work away from them or causing a decrease in fees. Being able to read and digest information is a vital skill for mystery shoppers so the next stage is to read the rest of the thread and you should find people happy to answer specific queries you have.

    When you are ready pick a job: The first one is always nerve wracking. Possibly try one without timings or many complex stages as those give you just that bit much to think about on the first time. Go for one close to home so you aren't going out of your way as the fee will probably not be worth it otherwise. You can always go back into most places with an excuse if you miss something or if allowed take someone else who can keep an eye out too for details such as name badges.

    Basics you should know before you begin mystery shopping
    There are a few things you should know; these will help you hit the ground running, or alternatively, not bother with hitting the ground at all as mystery shopping isn't for everybody!

    Equipment - things you'll need to get a good start with most assignments
    Stopwatch (or a timer on your mobile can be useful)
    Scanner
    Printer
    Notepad & pen (pocket sized!)
    Camera/camera phone

    Companies
    A pretty long list of companies is listed below. I would say though (and I'm sure most MSers would too) that registering with as many companies as you can get your hands on is never a bad thing. My personal advice would be that GAPbuster's probably a good company to get started with due to the number of jobs available. They're not famous for high pay but the reports are great and not too laborious.

    Good and bad points of mystery shopping
    Mystery shopping will never make anyone rich - the pay is simply not high enough. If you're just looking for some free meals or clothes, be aware that it's not just a case of buying them and getting paid. You need a good memory, you need to be objective and have a great eye for detail. Missing the smallest bit of information from an assignment can mean that you don't get paid for a job - this can be a nightmare if you've had to spend your own money on buying something as part of doing it too!

    The great thing about mystery shopping is that you can make a difference to shops' service standards and your comments are listened to! You do get a meal or two paid for and sometimes you're paid handsomely to do them. As long as you treat the job with respect, you'll be rewarded.

    The more you work for a company and the better your reports get, you will be given better paying and more rewarding jobs. Companies aren't big on giving new shoppers the best jobs; these come as a reward for your loyalty and hard work, later on.

    ------------------------

    Registering for tax
    If you wish to start Mystery Shopping on a self employed basis, even just one job, you need to register with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) within 3 months or you could face a fine of £100. Please don’t think that because you’ll potentially only earn a few quid doing MSing that you needn’t register as self employed – it’s absolutely essential that you do as being caught out can be costly. The admin work involved in being self employed is so minimal that it’s not worth avoiding - and we're here to help you do it!

    It might be a myth but there's been word of mystery shopping companies passing names of their shoppers to HMRC before, which can spark investigations is said shoppers are not already registered as self employed.

    Forms and Guidelines you will need –
    To register as Self Employed you will need to either ring HMRC on 08459 15 45 15 or download and send back the form CWF1 (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/cwf1.pdf )
    If you prefer to register online, see this link:
    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/...er-selfemp.htm


    You may also be required to pay class 2 National Insurance at the rate of £2.70 a week, but only if you earn more than £5,725(between 06/04/13 and 05/04/14) after expenses in any one year through Self Employment. This means earning more than £5725 in addition to your other sources of income.

    If you think you will earn less than £5,725 in the financial year, then you can apply for a “Certificate of Small Earnings Exception” which means you will not have to pay NI (National Insurance) Contributions. The Exception application can be found at the end of this document CF10 - http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/cf10.pdf

    IMPORTANT National Insurance point: (thanks to Becles for this!)
    If you earn less than £5,725, you don't have to apply for the Small Earnings Certificate and you can pay the £2.70 a week contributions.

    If you are not paying NI in any other jobs, it can be worthwhile to pay these NI contributions. It will count towards any benefits you may need in the future and contributes to your state pension record.

    For example, the self employed get one of two rates for Maternity Allowance, regardless of their actual earnings. If you have a Small Earnings Certificate, you get £27 a week. If you have paid enough NI contributions, you will get £136.78. It's a big difference!

    Bear in mind that HMRC generally seem to have very long delays on processing these forms so don’t worry too much if it’s a few weeks before you hear anything. It's usually better to just call them!

    Information on Self Assessment - http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa/selfemp.htm

    ------------------------

    Working out how much tax you’ll have to pay
    You will be taxed at your normal tax rates for your mystery shopping. This sounds desperately vague but means that your MSing income (profit) will be added to any other income you have (employment, generally) by HMRC and taxed at the following rates (between 06/04/13 and 05/04/14):

    If your total income is less than £9440, you’ll pay no tax. (for 2013-14)
    If your total income is more than this, up to £32,010 will be taxed at 20%.
    Any earnings higher than this will be taxed at 40%.

    Tax rates can seem confusing but following the above information logically will help you work out your tax.

    If you have any job paying more than £10,000 per year then your MSing income will most probably be taxed at 20%

    Unless you earn more than £7,755 by self employment, (for the majority just mystery shopping) National Insurance (self employment’s version of National insurance is known as Class 4) will not be applicable. If you earn more than this, it'll get figured out and paid along with your income tax on your self assessment return.

    ------------------------

    “Tax doesn’t have to be taxing”
    Many people are put off MSing because of the tax registration work involved - but they needn’t be. Tax is actually quite easy to deal with and when you know what to do you’ll have no issues.

    There are a few accountancy trained MSers who regularly visit this board who might be able to help with a specific question that isn't answered here. Or just ring your local tax office!

    ------------------------

    Record keeping
    Keeping records is something that’s vital with MSing. This is for two main reasons – one is that the MSing company may call you (potentially ages) after the job has been completed to query your report, and the other is for your tax return information at the end of the year.

    In terms of tax, the record keeping can prove invaluable on a month to month basis and it’s worth investing some time and possibly money in setting up a bookkeeping system.


    ------------------------

    Working out your profit/loss
    There have been lots of people on the old MSing threads asking how to work out their taxable income. Below is a little example of how to do this for each job, with some suggestions of what you could include for each job you do:

    Income: (includes all fees and reimbursements): £30.00
    Expenses:
    Job specific costs (anything you had to pay out as part of the job) (£20.00)
    10 miles @ 45p (HMRC’s agreed rate per mile) (£ 4.50)
    12 pages printed @ 6p (reasonable cost of printing a page) (£ 0.72)
    Profit (income less expenses) £ 4.78


    It’s important to remember though that you can’t take the cost per page for printing from your income AND replacement printer cartridges and paper – it’s one or the other.

    When the MS companies state that the fee includes all expenses, it is up to you to work out how much you have actually 'earned', and how much you have legitimately spent on expenses. And yes, it is even possible to make a loss, on paper, for the odd job!

    ------------------------

    What expenses can I claim against my income?
    Claiming expenses other than the direct costs incurred in the job (meals etc) can be a bit of a minefield, and requires a bit of educated guestimating sometimes! with MSing, the usual, more obvious costs are:
    Paper & printer ink OR a cost per page (usually 6p for most people)
    Postage
    Files, dividers, folders etc
    Mileage costs (anything up to 45p per mile is acceptable)
    You can also claim expenses against your income such as buying software or small equipment (calculator, diary etc) which aren’t necessarily related to one job. If you buy something expensive (like a laptop) you can only claim a portion.
    There are some other things you can claim for though - these are more indirect costs and things you would have paid for even without MSing in most cases. These are simply contributions your business is making to you, for providing certain things. Below are some examples:
    Broadband - you can claim a % of your monthly cost against your income. For example, if you estimate that you use your internet 25% of the time for MSing, then claim 25% of your broadband costs against your income
    Telephone - this is done in a similar way to broadband. Line rental is done similar to broadband; calls are done either on this basis if you can't easily work it out, or using the exact costs if you can.
    Use of home - this is something most small businesses charge against their income. It's a bit of a notional amount (usually set at £5/£10 per month) that's supposed to contribute towards the costs of keeping your business running at home, using the heat, light and a bit of the spare room as an office!
    The last one is definitely a guestimate one - it goes along the lines of using your common sense and making educated guesses. More info is available here from HMRC on allowable "other" expenses....
    __________________________________________________ _____________

    Originally Posted by misssarahleigh
    From the horses mouth (anthony and his department at HMRC)

    Taxable Expenses

    If the breif required you to purchase said products in order to be paid a fee, the products are 'incidental benifits' and can be classified as an allowable expense.

    Reimbursement only

    You cannot argue you have done the job for a fee. You have taken on the job and recieved goods for that job. Therefore payment in kind and is taxable.

    If you can argue and prove that this was only done in order to gain access to fee paying jobs or build a reputation with the company, this will more likley depend on the strength of your argument. No set right/wrong to this, but based on individual circumstances.

    Taking on reinbursment only jobs and classifying it as an expense is not allowed. If you do this purposly to lower your profit margin, he was clear in that it would be classified as Tax Evasion.

    This is the answer I have received but please note this is not set in stone and very much open to interpretation.

    I believe the difference in opinions is due to the fact there is no right or wrong answer for SOME of the situations we come across.

    As previously said, i think it depends on your interpretation. i.e. i order a pizza and right it off as a taxable expense to get a fee. If the fee was £10 its clear I was doing it for the money. If the fee was £1, common sense would say i wouldn't go to all that trouble for £1 fee. But I would for the benifit of the pizza.

    It's a grey area and in fairness i think it's down to the person who looks at your accounts if your ever audited.

    So long as you can justify what you have done, and feel that your happy explaining why you have done that, then consider the matter closed.

    __________________________________________________ ______
    ------------------------

    CONFIDENTIALITY is something MSers really need to bear in mind. Please don't mention fees or client names (naming the Mystery shopping company itself is fine!!) on this thread as neither the MSing company nor the client being shopped will be very happy about their names being discussed on here.
    E.g: Don’t mention “B&Q”, or refer to it as “The orange DIY store with two initials”. Simply refer to it as “A DIY store” as there are more than one DIY stores!

    The fundamental issue with this is that MSing is a very competitive business and if an MSing company finds out which company shops a particular client (and even for how much) then it puts that contract in jeopardy. This, therefore means that the competition between companies will always mean lower fees for us, the shopper.

    ------------------------

    Alerts thread
    Timmne had the brilliant idea of an Alert thread, and set the first 2 threads up, the 3rd was started by UKMonkey and the 4th by mamashaz. It is specifically to alert shoppers of new job releases - the link is here. This is a very handy thread and it ensures us shoppers keep each other in the know - so if you spot a release of jobs, please let everyone know by posting on the alerts thread!

    An Important point on posting
    Please read the last few posts. Lots of people are 'Subscribed' so get an email for each new post, so check no-one has already posted. Check the jobs you are seeing are nationwide - a single job in Skegness does NOT merit a post! Also, remember to thank posters.
    The Alerts Thread

    ------------------------

    Jobbingmusician's useful phrases thread
    So, once you've started shopping, you'll need to get typing those reports! Jobbingmusician has created a thread here which is designed to help you along with typing up those reports. As with the alerts thread, this is only as useful as we make it so PLEASE add to it if you think of anything.

    Useful Phrases Thread
    Survey Queen/Poundland Fanatic




Page 115
    • MO2
    • By MO2 25th Oct 16, 9:47 PM
    • 203 Posts
    • 250 Thanks
    MO2
    Optimum Contact
    Has anyone done a job for this MS Company recently. I used to do stationary shops for them, but have not heard from them for over a year now. Are they still in business??
    Last edited by MO2; 26-10-2016 at 4:04 PM.
    • Big Graeme
    • By Big Graeme 26th Oct 16, 1:27 AM
    • 3,204 Posts
    • 3,692 Thanks
    Big Graeme
    I too haven't been able to see any sandwich shops for weeks now on MF. They still have them as I still get weekly emails with a list of locations that they could use help with! Note sure what's going on there to be honest
    Originally posted by sunnyp
    They do have an age limit on them too. Might be that.
    • Big Graeme
    • By Big Graeme 26th Oct 16, 1:31 AM
    • 3,204 Posts
    • 3,692 Thanks
    Big Graeme
    Would agree the tax man is likely to take a dim view, if you take jobs which are not profitable. A lot of these jobs are only worth doing if you can get a circuit up.
    Originally posted by Larac
    I can tell you now, anyone declaring a small profit (on a reasonable) turn over or a loss, will be looked at quite closely by HMRC and doubly so if there are any tax credits involved. The days of doing a basic few hours and claiming tax credits are gone.
    • Oddjob
    • By Oddjob 1st Nov 16, 11:25 PM
    • 375 Posts
    • 119 Thanks
    Oddjob
    Has anyone done a job for this MS Company recently. I used to do stationary shops for them, but have not heard from them for over a year now. Are they still in business??
    Originally posted by MO2
    I was only wondering the same thing a few days ago. I haven't heard from them for ages.

    Just realised the company wasn't mentioned in the body of the message, only in the title. Its Optimum Contact.
    • samtastic7
    • By samtastic7 6th Nov 16, 7:12 PM
    • 1,079 Posts
    • 783 Thanks
    samtastic7
    I have quite a few of the big yellow supermarket. All of them in the past have been scored 9 or 10,
    My last one got a 5, no queries of feedback 😒
    • vinh1000
    • By vinh1000 6th Nov 16, 8:48 PM
    • 1,020 Posts
    • 420 Thanks
    vinh1000
    Advice
    Hi
    Just need some quick advice

    Already have a job and decided to do this MS for some extra income with MF and SL.

    Did read the tax guide and its a bit daunting to me.
    Have sent a email to HMRC to register for self employed but how do I work out how much taxable income I am doing from MS?

    Most of the jobs I do are on MF and the mileage I dont take account off as im in that area anyway or its very close to me (3-5 miles) - do I need to take account of mileage or do I just claim back the fees they pay me? (ie not the reimbursement costs)

    Help
    • genetic
    • By genetic 7th Nov 16, 11:20 AM
    • 110 Posts
    • 292 Thanks
    genetic
    Hi
    Just need some quick advice

    Already have a job and decided to do this MS for some extra income with MF and SL.

    Did read the tax guide and its a bit daunting to me.
    Have sent a email to HMRC to register for self employed but how do I work out how much taxable income I am doing from MS?

    Most of the jobs I do are on MF and the mileage I dont take account off as im in that area anyway or its very close to me (3-5 miles) - do I need to take account of mileage or do I just claim back the fees they pay me? (ie not the reimbursement costs)

    Help
    Originally posted by vinh1000
    Long story short: you must keep track of all of your expenses and income.

    You need to keep track of the reimbursements, as well. It is in your best interest to keep track of the mileage. You deduct it (and other expenses) from your payment amounts to get your income. This way you only pay taxes on your after-expense income. There are separate entries for payment/income and expenses when you file your taxes.

    There HMRC offers periodic courses for self-employed people and, in my experience, are actually helpful if you call in.
    • vinh1000
    • By vinh1000 7th Nov 16, 4:35 PM
    • 1,020 Posts
    • 420 Thanks
    vinh1000
    genetic - thanks

    So if I do say a pub job and the fee was say £3 and reimbursement £9.75 would I only declare £3 as the taxable income because I would have only made that amount?

    Regards
    • Money maker
    • By Money maker 7th Nov 16, 4:42 PM
    • 4,736 Posts
    • 10,819 Thanks
    Money maker
    I think you would need to show the £9.75 coming in then going out, that explains where the reimbursement goes to rather than just showing a fee.


    Edited to say, coming in as a reimbursement but showing as part of the expenses so cancelling each other out.
    Please do not quote spam as this enables it to 'live on' once the spam post is removed.

    If you quote me, don't forget the capital 'M'

    Declutterers of the world - unite!
    • mamashaz
    • By mamashaz 7th Nov 16, 5:35 PM
    • 428 Posts
    • 2,386 Thanks
    mamashaz
    I think you would need to show the £9.75 coming in then going out, that explains where the reimbursement goes to rather than just showing a fee.


    Edited to say, coming in as a reimbursement but showing as part of the expenses so cancelling each other out.
    Originally posted by Money maker
    I have to disagree with this as I was told by the HMRC that the whole payment, i.e. fee + reimbursement, is taxable as you have benefited from the meal.
    So basically all goods, meals etc which are received and paid for by the mystery shopping company are taxable as we benefit from them. I jokingly asked if I would benefit from buying men's underwear as I'm female and I was told that this was still the case!!
    • missymouse
    • By missymouse 7th Nov 16, 6:16 PM
    • 328 Posts
    • 311 Thanks
    missymouse
    I was told by an advisor at the IR that they were only interested in the fee.
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 7th Nov 16, 7:41 PM
    • 6,042 Posts
    • 18,937 Thanks
    Doc N
    I have to disagree with this as I was told by the HMRC that the whole payment, i.e. fee + reimbursement, is taxable as you have benefited from the meal.
    Originally posted by mamashaz
    But would the meal be chargeable at the full retail value? Or the cost to the restaurant? I seem to recall some obscure point on this.
    • Money maker
    • By Money maker 7th Nov 16, 9:43 PM
    • 4,736 Posts
    • 10,819 Thanks
    Money maker
    I use the basis that if there is a reimbursement and a fee then the fee is payment for the job. If the fee includes a reimbursement then I would use the whole fee as taxable although if it included something I would not benefit from like postage then I would take that off it as an expense.
    Please do not quote spam as this enables it to 'live on' once the spam post is removed.

    If you quote me, don't forget the capital 'M'

    Declutterers of the world - unite!
    • Big Graeme
    • By Big Graeme 8th Nov 16, 9:38 AM
    • 3,204 Posts
    • 3,692 Thanks
    Big Graeme
    As a rule of thumb, if the reimbursement is equal to or greater than the fee, you have done the job for the combines amount and should pay tax on the combined amount. If the reimbursement is only a token amount needed to complete a transaction then you don't need to pay tax on this.
    • preecey
    • By preecey 8th Nov 16, 10:54 AM
    • 74 Posts
    • 45 Thanks
    preecey
    The pocket slapper have somehow reappeared on GR, despite them still having jobs running on ESA.

    I'm guessing GR are desperate to win them back.
    • skivenov
    • By skivenov 9th Nov 16, 8:57 AM
    • 2,170 Posts
    • 2,436 Thanks
    skivenov
    I haven't been shopping much at all lately, but I picked up a well paid job for Insight a few months ago (first one I've ever done for them), and they "mistakenly" paid me half the fee. They coughed up immediately when I queried it, What are people's experiences? Do they make a habit of this sort of thing, or is it a genuine mistake?
    Yes it's overwhelming, but what else can we do?
    Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?
    • Big Graeme
    • By Big Graeme 9th Nov 16, 10:33 AM
    • 3,204 Posts
    • 3,692 Thanks
    Big Graeme
    I haven't been shopping much at all lately, but I picked up a well paid job for Insight a few months ago (first one I've ever done for them), and they "mistakenly" paid me half the fee. They coughed up immediately when I queried it, What are people's experiences? Do they make a habit of this sort of thing, or is it a genuine mistake?
    Originally posted by skivenov
    I have done quite a bit for them and they were pretty good paying wise, like all companies sometimes they forget if the offer a bonus or increase the fee, always quick to sort it though.
    • Stuart788
    • By Stuart788 10th Nov 16, 10:12 PM
    • 866 Posts
    • 343 Thanks
    Stuart788
    Anyone else work for GFK? I did a job for them recently and they're usually very good at paying on time but nothing yet.
    • genetic
    • By genetic 11th Nov 16, 11:12 AM
    • 110 Posts
    • 292 Thanks
    genetic
    I've never had any problems with gfk. Payments are made twice a month on or before the 10th and 25th. The cut off date for completed work to be paid is the 10th for payment on the 25th and the 25th for payment on the 10th.

    Are you sure you should have been paid yesterday?
    • MysteryMe
    • By MysteryMe 11th Nov 16, 12:13 PM
    • 1,631 Posts
    • 2,049 Thanks
    MysteryMe
    There is an apology on GFK front page. Payments will be made 14th.


    The slapper assignments on GR seem to just be one specific assessment. The fee is so poor you'd have to be walking past to make it worth doing.
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