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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 114
    • Larac
    • By Larac 23rd Sep 16, 1:55 PM
    • 740 Posts
    • 451 Thanks
    Larac
    ...I quite like having the whinge

    It's not as though anyone is doing such assignments to make a living - just for the sport and the food
    Originally posted by MysteryMan00
    TBF - there are some people who do make a living out of it. They seem to do a mix of video, audits, merchandising and some MS work. Do agree that report only work will not get you far though. I have been doing this for three years and the rates have remained static. All very much in line with my FTE who similarly has given mininiscule/non existent pay rises in that time. General trend in this country, costs go up, wages remain static and the rich continue to reap the benefits.
    • GlasweJen
    • By GlasweJen 24th Sep 16, 10:38 AM
    • 5,820 Posts
    • 10,419 Thanks
    GlasweJen
    I did a mystery pub visit for RA last night. Brief said it should be between 23/09 and 30/09 and must be on a Friday. When I took the assignment my proposed date was 30/09 but then realised we couldn't do that date.

    I filled in the questionnaire and when I hit the check button it says survey complete but when I try to submit it says to answer all questions. I emailed RA last night but they've not got back to me yet. Has anyone had similar problems?
    Bounts, Quidco, Shop and Scan, Receipt Hog, Costco Cashback, Debit card cashback

    NOT BUYING IT
    (unless it's on offer and can get my loyalty points)
    • lesley74
    • By lesley74 24th Sep 16, 5:58 PM
    • 2,044 Posts
    • 1,249 Thanks
    lesley74
    Ipsos
    Does anyone mystery shop with ipsos-mori? I am familiar with the company, but didn't know they did mystery shopping, too. Is the website http://www.ishopforipsos.com/ legitimate? Thanks.
    Originally posted by genetic
    Yes, I've done a couple of jobs for them. A bit of a rigmorole to get started though, a multi-option multiple choice quiz which was a bit fiddly, then a selfie video.

    I've done one clothing store non-purchase job, plus a couple of emails. They have emails and calls on just now, but you will have to remove your postcode and radius to see them.
    • lesley74
    • By lesley74 24th Sep 16, 6:02 PM
    • 2,044 Posts
    • 1,249 Thanks
    lesley74
    RA pubs
    I did a mystery pub visit for RA last night. Brief said it should be between 23/09 and 30/09 and must be on a Friday. When I took the assignment my proposed date was 30/09 but then realised we couldn't do that date.

    I filled in the questionnaire and when I hit the check button it says survey complete but when I try to submit it says to answer all questions. I emailed RA last night but they've not got back to me yet. Has anyone had similar problems?
    Originally posted by GlasweJen
    Going by your username you're not very far away, but I'm thinking you didn't do either of the ones more local to me (well by local they're still a drive across the bridge). I was reluctant because they involve driving and mention multiple drinks. I don't mind the drink purchase requirement when I can take the train (to Glasgow etc) but not much fun doing those in the car, particularly as they appear to be reimbursement only.

    I've not had the problem you mention. Did you also upload any pics etc? I've mainly done tile shops for them. Nothing much more.
    • GlasweJen
    • By GlasweJen 26th Sep 16, 8:51 AM
    • 5,820 Posts
    • 10,419 Thanks
    GlasweJen
    I've uploaded 2 pictures, the receipt and the exterior as per the brief.
    It sounds like the same pub chain, 2 drinks and 2 mains?

    They've also not replied to my email asking for help so this is probably going to end up as non-payment which I won't mind as we go to this pub anyway but hadn't planned on going there this week.
    Bounts, Quidco, Shop and Scan, Receipt Hog, Costco Cashback, Debit card cashback

    NOT BUYING IT
    (unless it's on offer and can get my loyalty points)
    • chills87
    • By chills87 26th Sep 16, 9:30 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    chills87
    A quick question here about declaring your income. I am a 20% tax payer as I am already employed and PAYE. I've recently started mystery shopping as a way to make a little extra money. I'm working things out and all the assignments I've done so far are a loss on paper (but not in my pocket) when you take into consideration the HMRC advised 45p per mile expenses.

    My question is, do I still have to declare this work through self assessment if I am making a loss. Also, if I do post a loss on self assessment, will I be entitled to a rebate on some of my PAYE income tax?

    Thanks.
    • Uggly Mug
    • By Uggly Mug 27th Sep 16, 10:31 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 6 Thanks
    Uggly Mug
    Duggy Stafford
    Does anyone work for Douglass Stafford? Are they a good company to work for?
    Originally posted by mrs lds

    I used to work for them, a few years back. They tried to shaft me for two payments for video work I sent to them and I fell out with them over that. Apparently, their recent contract disallows contractors from working for other companies (unenforceable) and I think it is that company (or it could be Performance in People) they've started fining people for silly little errors, like not putting the date in correctly on the evaluation report (again, unenforceable because clients should always give suppliers a chance to rectify errors before imposing sanctions).

    I know some people do think them a reliable and good company to work for though and they have plenty of work to give out - mainly automotive if you do video. Everyone has their own experience of them.
    • Uggly Mug
    • By Uggly Mug 27th Sep 16, 11:04 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 6 Thanks
    Uggly Mug
    Mystery Shopping for a Living
    TBF - there are some people who do make a living out of it. They seem to do a mix of video, audits, merchandising and some MS work. Do agree that report only work will not get you far though. I have been doing this for three years and the rates have remained static. All very much in line with my FTE who similarly has given miniscule/non existent pay rises in that time. General trend in this country, costs go up, wages remain static and the rich continue to reap the benefits.
    Originally posted by Larac
    I make my entire living out of mystery shopping. I don't do audits or merchandising. Video mainly, but some higher paid report work too now. The secret, I find, to make a living from it is to live in a great area with lots of work, also get established with many MS companies with lots of end clients and establish a good reputation with as many of the better players as you can, then the better jobs will soon be yours for the taking.

    The key thing to remember when thinking of doing any kind of low fixed fee per unit, short-duration freelance work (as opposed to week long jobs or whole day jobs etc for an hourly or fixed rate) is to work out what kind of 'profit' you need to make to live your life. If you have a high lifestyle maintenance costs (kids, high maintenance partners with expensive tastes, mortgage to pay, high rent, expensive car to insure etc.) then MS is probably not going to make you sufficient profit to live on, no matter how high up you go in the pecking order. Not unless you have other income from other sources.

    So many mystery shoppers I speak to only think of the gross fee per unit as indicative of the high earnings that can be had per annum. Quote of £40K per annum are expressed as possible. This is unrealistic and highly unlikely for the majority, but it is doable, but only if you want to put in very long weeks and have no life and are willing to travel god knows where all over the country. The costs will also be high, but the profit commensurately low by comparison to the effort made. Who wants that? The gross fee per unit approach won't help you make sufficient profit to live, if high enough profit is your reason for freelancing, as opposed to doing it as a hobby or something to do to pay for an outing or an occasional meal, etc.

    Once you have worked out what profit per annum you need to make (the net amount you will actually live on after tax/NI) and MS still seems a viable option for you, then you can find out what kind of jobs you will need to take on and how many hours you need to put in to reach that profit goal.

    Believe me, I've been in this game for over four years now and I have made my mistakes and worked out how best to work my schedule, and the higher per-unit jobs that involve a lot of travel, overnights, food etc. are not always as profitable as the lower fee 'on your doorstep' jobs - provided that they require minimal effort. Realistically, to make a living out of this you will need to do a combination of both.

    Factor into your work the tasks you will need to complete at home too: the time needed for new client generation, mapping / scheduling your routes and doing your books too. To make good money from this, you not only need to have the pick of the better jobs and have plenty of work - preferably locally to where you live, as opposed to remoter hard to get to areas (although these tend to be richer pickings for high bonussed, hard to fill work) you will also need to commit to a long working week too. Fifty hours is common. This is not a bog standard 7 hour a day job unless you want play/pin money. A typical day for me is get up 5am, leave home 6-6.30. Get to first location at 8.30-9am, finish all fieldwork by 5-5.30(sometimes later) travel home, edit if required and upload videos and do reports. I get to bed by midnight - if I am lucky.

    Unfortunately, most aspiring mystery shoppers who like the idea of doing this full time don't make the grade because they live in a low work concentration area, lack the commitment, lack the time, lack the stamina or they simply aren't skilled enough to impress the better paying MSCs at all or over the longer term to get a good reputation around the circuit to be offered the better jobs on a consistent basis. I do. I am lucky, but most give up or just do it as a hobby or for a meal out with popular report players like Grassroots and Market Force that pay token fees and reimbursement only work. These types of companies are useless is you want to do this for a living.

    Mystery Shopping is hard work, and not always fun, believe me! But if you can make it to the top (whatever that means), which could take a few years, mystery shopping is rewarding financially, and in many other ways. There is nothing better than waking up and deciding for yourself whether or not you want to work or not and ambling around the countryside on a lovely sunny, warm autumn day to get to your next gig. This is so much better than being stuck in an office bored witless trying to get along with a horrid boss or colleagues you would much rather avoid. Plus you can escape the rush hour traffic on most days, which is a huge blessing -particularly when you live in London, like I do.

    But remember: turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.
    Last edited by Uggly Mug; 27-09-2016 at 11:18 PM.
    • preecey
    • By preecey 8th Oct 16, 9:04 AM
    • 61 Posts
    • 36 Thanks
    preecey
    Has anyone received their GfK payment for the 10th today?

    I'm asking because when a GfK payment falls on a Sunday or Monday it almost always clears the Saturday before.

    Not today, however. Just my luck.
    Last edited by preecey; 08-10-2016 at 9:05 AM. Reason: Hdjseiddhd
    • Buzby
    • By Buzby 11th Oct 16, 3:24 PM
    • 7,924 Posts
    • 2,893 Thanks
    Buzby
    Gyp and Adobe Flash
    I commented back in May how Gyp's slavish imposition of Flash killed using an iPad or iPhobe return of results. As a Mac user, after updating from OSX to Sierra, When returning results I get a new error message, saying that My Flash s/w is out of date - I must use a version greater than 10.0.

    I'm using v23! So the error is bogus - reported it to Gyp and am told they are 'working on it' which I doubt, as after a month I'm still getting the error.

    Anyone else? And more to the point, is there a solution
    • genetic
    • By genetic 14th Oct 16, 3:50 PM
    • 108 Posts
    • 292 Thanks
    genetic
    Anyone else having a problem with the helion website today? When I click on the assignment to enter my results, it gets stuck on "Please wait, your evaluation is loading...... " with a scrolling bar. Tried on laptop and ipad, same problem. Thanks.
    • MysteryMe
    • By MysteryMe 15th Oct 16, 11:12 PM
    • 1,565 Posts
    • 1,963 Thanks
    MysteryMe
    Someone needs to mystery shop Performance in People, utterly incompetent.

    Been advised in writing 3 times of change of bank details and payments still going into the old account. Every other MSC managed to get it right first time of asking.
    • lesley74
    • By lesley74 15th Oct 16, 11:34 PM
    • 2,044 Posts
    • 1,249 Thanks
    lesley74
    Mystery shopping
    A quick question here about declaring your income. I am a 20% tax payer as I am already employed and PAYE. I've recently started mystery shopping as a way to make a little extra money. I'm working things out and all the assignments I've done so far are a loss on paper (but not in my pocket) when you take into consideration the HMRC advised 45p per mile expenses.

    My question is, do I still have to declare this work through self assessment if I am making a loss. Also, if I do post a loss on self assessment, will I be entitled to a rebate on some of my PAYE income tax?

    Thanks.
    Originally posted by chills87
    Why would you be doing it if you are making a loss? I think you are making yourself open to investigation if you are doing this at a loss, and trying to claim money back from the taxman to support it. Why would you be doing it.

    I suspect maybe you're not doing your calculations correctly, given that you seem happy to take the work. If your mileage is coming out more than the job, you must be planning to go there anyway or something for it to be worthwhile taking. Are you including the benefit in kind too? If you are doing a meal with no fee then it is a benefit in kind, so is not a deductible expense.
    • missymouse
    • By missymouse 16th Oct 16, 9:18 AM
    • 311 Posts
    • 308 Thanks
    missymouse
    Some of the scenarios in MS are bizarre imo.

    Certain store visits which involve a query at a counter about medication. It's a bit odd not to make a purchase. Why would you queue up etc plus scenario is unlikely as wrong time of year. You then go on to the main till to buy something after making a shopfloor enquiry.
    • YorkshireJon
    • By YorkshireJon 16th Oct 16, 10:18 AM
    • 15 Posts
    • 26 Thanks
    YorkshireJon
    Hey fellow shoppers!

    Anyone seen this today?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/bills/article-3839777/Mystery-shopping-didn-t-make-rich-got-snow-monkeys-Japan-hear-revelations.html
    • Chomeur
    • By Chomeur 17th Oct 16, 7:19 PM
    • 1,563 Posts
    • 336 Thanks
    Chomeur
    What's happened with Market Force's high street sandwich shop visits? They used to have hundreds listed, now I haven't seen any for several weeks.
    • so very confused
    • By so very confused 17th Oct 16, 7:31 PM
    • 879 Posts
    • 2,844 Thanks
    so very confused
    II don't know but they don't appear to have a fraction of the work they used to.
    Given their level of remuneration I tend to use them as fillers or if I want a particular product.
    SCP # 034
    The £1000 emergency fund #59
    • genetic
    • By genetic 18th Oct 16, 9:29 AM
    • 108 Posts
    • 292 Thanks
    genetic
    I can now see the sandwich shops, but didn't for longer than I expected after my last visit. Maybe the frequency with which you can do those visits has changed?
    • sunnyp
    • By sunnyp 19th Oct 16, 11:25 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 69 Thanks
    sunnyp
    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
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Learn from the mistakes of others - you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.
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    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 19th Oct 16, 1:19 PM
    • 5,877 Posts
    • 18,753 Thanks
    Doc N
    For anyone looking for 'free' meals, I see that Mystery Diner are trying to recruit new diners at the moment. They've taken on some large pub chains with a very small meal/drink reimbursement which hardly covers the cost of the food and drink, and I suspect they're finding it difficult to get enough people prepared to spend the time required to do it for a minimal return.

    There doesn't see to be much about them on here, so I thought a few comments might be useful. From personal knowledge of the way they operate, I'm not surprised they're having to run a recruitment drive - in most cases the reimbursement won't cover the cost of the meal, and unless you're a Platinum Diner (one level above Gold) you're unlikely to get the better assignments. Keeping that coveted Platinum status has become extremely difficult because of a system they introduced fairly recently of penalising diners for minor errors in reports. If you make a small number of errors, you're downgraded.

    What's even worse is that these black marks for 'errors' (termed 'Things to Consider' or 'TTCs') are very difficult to challenge because Mystery Diner rarely admits its mistakes - it has an extraordinarily arrogant attitude towards its diners and seems to regard itself as infallible. Some, maybe even most, of the people checking the reports from diners seem to take great delight in dishing out these TTCs for trivialities such as using the word 'should' instead of 'could' when a diner suggests an improvement.

    There are feedback forums within their website, but they're heavily moderated, and critical comments are frequently removed - with the result that genuine communication between diners over problems faced is near-impossible. There are frequent sycophantic, grateful comments from people expressing their thanks to Mystery Dining for 'allowing' them to eat out, so maybe it's not so surprising that the staff seem to have such a low opinion of diners!

    I do wonder how accurate the reports are, too - because anything negative tends to create extra work for diners. Positive reports and comments usually go through without too much hassle (subject to the TTCs) but anything negative tends to give rise to a phone call from the office to the diner asking for a lot of detail to substantiate the negativity. Scores of anything less than 10/10 require additional work from the diner, and often a telephone conversation, and I'm guessing a lot of diners just take the easy route and gloss over the faults for an easy life - not what the restaurants want, but easier for Mystery Diner, who probably have to spend far less time on positive reports.

    So sign up if you're interested - but three or four hours work for what can be as little as £10 isn't a great incentive, and maybe that's why they're looking to replace some of the diners that have given up on them and decided it just isn't worth all the hassle of TTCs, condescending staff and frequent phone calls.
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