“ Category: Jobs „
I have been working for a number of mystery shopping companies and have found them to be good and average however I have now found one that is dreadful - Retail Maxim. I carried out a number of assignments for them on the same day and they won't pay me for them because of an unbelievable excuse and that is that all of the companies sussed me out as a shopper. This is rubbish and I know this because I have had a follow up call from one of them since I believe Retail Maxim have got their information and have looked for any excuse to not pay. The brief I had to follow was unrealistic and they have wasted a full 8 hours of my time and I have lost £20 in fuel. Stay away from this unprofessional company. There are many others that provided a much better service including Bare Intl and ESA or even Retail Active.
I must agree with jayjay and to add, they can loose paperwork and refuse to pay out and as the shopper has to pay up front, you can be out of pocket.
They were an ok company until a month or so ago when they just decided to alter the previously agreed level of payment. I had been working for them for almost two years and succesfully or so I thought when and without notification they altered the amount of previously agreed rates. When asked why, they just said it was a management decision and there was nothing they would or could do about it. Then the final straw for me was when they reduced my mileage from a claimed and previously agreed distance to a distance decided by some computer software. It wasn't so much what they did but the manner in which they did it, which I can only describe as inconsiderate, and rude amd frankly well out of order. Given that you have to fork out up front, you have to cover your own car insurance and remember it cannot be just SDP, to be valid it must be business as well and there is no allowance for maintenance or time paid for travel to and from a site, the level of payment is poor. One can only draw the conclusion that someone else somewhere has decided that the best way ahead is to treat staff with contempt.
Since I was made redundant from my job I was looking at a way to bring in some extra income whilst having some fun so I turned to Mystery Shopping and started to register with different companies and Retail Maxim is the latest company that Ive started working for and been with them for a few months now.
Who is Retail Maxim?
They provide a service which allow a client the means to improve their customer service and address any training requirement. The is done through Mystery Shopping visits where a mystery shopper will pose as a normal customer and will undergo a set task laid down by the client and will then feed back the results. Retail Maxim provide a range of services but I'll be just focusing on mystery shopping.
How do I register with Retail Maxim?
Go to their site www.retailmaxim.co.uk and read the information so you can make and informed decision. There will be a link to click on if you want to become a mystery shopper. There is an on line application that takes about 30 minutes to complete and this includes a short test visit. You will first need to answer some questions to establish if you meet their basic requirements. These questions essentially just ask if you have an email address, land line, are over 18, are allowed to work in UK/Ireland, mobile phone and have read and accept their terms and conditions.
What happens next?
Unlike most of the companies the jobs are not posted onto a website and they will contact you when there is work in your area. They will either contact you by email, SMS or by telephone and it works on a first come first served basis.
What should I expect?
Work will vary depending on where you live and what you're prepared to do. Generally I get a lot of Mystery Shop assignments in London mainly Department Stores and they'll normally group jobs together so you might do 4 or 5 departments in Harrods.
When you contact them you'll normally need to give them a quoting reference and they will describe the job to you and briefly tell you what is required and agree a date for you to complete. If you accept they will email you the details and this normally consist of an email with attachments that will include the brief and the details of the job.
How much will I get paid?
The average fee is around £11.00 and this includes your travel or if they might give you 4 jobs in the same area or department store thy might pay £30.00 + your travel card. Sometimes you'll need to make a compulsory purchase but this is normally up to £5.00 and you'll get this paid back and you'll keep the item. Payment is normally made made by BACS into you required bank account on the 27th of each month but will take few days to hit your account and you will receive and email with a payslip giving you a full break down.
Completing the Questionaire:
Once you've completed all your mystery shops you'll normally need to go on line and complete a questionaire using a password that have been given to you, The questionaire are generally quite short around 20 to 30 minutes with mainly yes/no answers but again this does vary depending on the assignment and company as some can be longer. You sometimes have to feed back your results over the phone but I haven't done one of these so can't comment.
Sometime you will have an assignment where you need to make expensive purchases but you'll be given and ID card and you'll go to the stores customer service depart at the end of your visit and tell them your a mystery shopper and have these refunded back to your card.
Be aware that the money will come out of you account straight away but can take a few day to credit back to your account which can be a bit scary when you've bought a shirt which is £380.00. Sometimes you may have to make a purchase and send this by post back to Retail Maxim before you get the money refunded but I avoid these ones even though they've previously offed to pay the money up front.
I've only been working for them a few months and I've had no problems and agree with most people that they appear to be the best Mystery Shopping Company. The work has been interesting and the payments are fair, on time and accurate. I've seen Retail Eyes post jobs that I have done for Retail Maxim and the payment is almost double. In the first month I was averaging about one full day of between 4 to 6 jobs a week but it has since died down and I haven't had anything now for nearly a month. Their customer service department is friendly and helpful and you can get through straight away and they actually respond to any emails that you might send. I've had loads of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Liberty assignments and it's been fun trying on £400 shoes or a £1000 coats.
The only down side really in some of these department store in particular Harvey Nichols, there is a lot of snobbery and if you're easily intimidated the staff will sniff you out as a fake. Also because you don't know what the job is all about until you contact Retail Maxim it can feel a bit awkward when it isn't something you're interested in doing although I have to say they never pressure you into it. I personally prefer to be able to look at a job first before making a decision. A very good company and definitely the best out of five that I'm currently registered with.
***WHY MYSTERY SHOPPING?***
I wanted to eanr some extra cash and I've always been interested in Myster Shopping. Working within the retail trade for over 6 years I have learn how important customer service is.
I have worked for retail maxim for over a year, and they are by far the best Mystery Shopping company I am signed up with.
I came across their site when I typed in mystery shopping into Google when I was looking for jobs.
Retail Maxim offers a service to clients which is includes Mystery Visits, Video Mystery Visits, Competitor vists, Telephone Test Calls and Exit Surveys.
***HOW OFTEN DO I GET ASSIGNMENTS?***
I get a call or text at least every 2-3 weeks asking if I am interested in doing a mystery shop which can range from trying something on in-store a clothes shop, getting something to eat from a specfic food store or making a general enquiry.
***HOW DOES IT WORK?***
When you have accepted an assignment you will be sent all the details via e-mail, including athe location and place to vist, the brief which you must stick to and the questionaire form which you must read through to ensure you get accurate and honest answers. It will give you a time and a date when the assignment has to be complete by as well.
The results are normally filled in online, the details of this are also on the brief sheets you will be sent. Normally results have to be entered within 12 hours other-wise the visit will become invalid and you will not be paid. Occasionally a member of their staff will ring you at an arranged time to collect the results over the phone.
If you can't complete an assignment you must ring retail maxim as soon as possible to let them know so they can find another person to complete the visit.
You must keep all the assignments for at least 3 months incase there are any queries or late questions they need to double check.
Occasionally you will need to buy a specific item, such as a piece of clothing which you will be re-imbursed for. They will also send out a postage bag so you can send the item you bought back to retail-maxim. They will also pay for delivery.
Obviously with edible items, you will still be re-imbursed the cost of the product.
You must keep all receipts for everything as often they ask you to send the receipts and some paper-work back to them.
***HOW DO I APPLY***
Simply go to their website www.retail-maxim.co.uk and apply to become a mystery shopper on there. They will ask you some specific questions and they may ask you to take a test online as well to see if your are suitable or not.
***HOW MUCH DO YOU GET PAID AND WHEN?***
Depending on the assignments depends on how muhc you get paid but its normally about £9.00 per visit and sometimes travel expenses are paid and sometimes they aren't.
If you complete an assignment before the 14th of every month you will normally get paid the same month otherwise if you complete an assignment after the 14th you will be paid the following month on or around the 26th, but this can take 2-3 days to clear in your bank account.
Out of all the Mystery Shop companies I am signed up with, retail-maxim is definately the best. I get more mystery shops with this company than I do with others.
All the staff are friendly and helpful and offer a reliable service. If you want to earn some extra cash and are honest and reliable then you should give this a try.
I think payment for the assignments is actually very reasonable and I think its a great way to save some extra cash. I don't find any disadvantages about this company.
Having seen a television programme about mystery shoppers I decided to look for more information on the internet.
There are many companies out there, but the one I was most impressed with was Retail Maxim. They work on behalf of companies to find out if the service being given in shops and stores is of a satisfactory standard. The company engages Retail Maxim to send out mystery shoppers on their behalf and report back with their findings.
As I love shopping, I decided maybe this would be a worthwhile way of earning a bit of extra money. I applied online and had to fill in a questionnaire about myself.
The next part of the selection process was to write a report about a shopping experience I had had. There was online guidance for this and I answered truthfully about a retailer I had visited recently.
Not long after completing this I had an e mail saying I had been accepted by Retail Maxim to become a mystery shopper, but it was several weeks before I was contacted again. In fact, by the time they rang me I had almost forgotten about registering with them!
The pay is not wonderful, around 9 pounds per assignment. When you consider the time spent travelling to the shop, making the purchase and completing the paperwork afterwards, then filing your report, it is not all that good.
Nevertheless, I do enjoy the assignments I have been given so far. It is just a case of doing what I normally do - going into a shop and enquiring about products. However, in addition you have to take notice of your surroundings, such as the displays, staff attitudes, is the store busy or quiet, etc. A lot to remember really.
I don't feel at all nervous when I do my mystery shopping assignments, the staff treat me as they would any customer - to them, that is what I am, just another customer, they don't know I am there as a mystery buyer.
Expenses are paid for mileage and you are reimbursed for any purchases you make too, and sometimes you are allowed to keep these. Nothing very exciting or expensive I should add here! (Well, not so far anyway)!
On the tv programme I watched mystery shoppers were given assignments where they were sent to hotels or for short holidays or to restaurants. I do not know where they found these assignments, I think it must have been a different company as Retail Maxim is obviously mainly concerned with retail shops.
As I am freelance and can choose the hours I work I am usually available for any assignments that come my way. I have been contacted by phone and by text when there is work available.
The details of the assignments are e mailed to me. I am given a scenario which I have to read thoroughly to make sure I know why I am going to that particular shop. There is also a detailed questionnaire to complete after the visit. This asks such things as how I found the retail experience, were the staff helpful, were they smart, correctly dressed, etc. What did they tell me about the products etc.
I find it helpful to read through this before I go into the shop and then when I have left and moved on, I complete the questions whilst they are still fresh in my memory. It would be no good walking into the shop with the questionnaire in my hand and giving the game away!!!
Sometimes Retail Maxim ask for the results to be e mailed back to them, usually within 12 hours of completing the assignment. Alternatively they may ring me, in which case a one hour time slot is pre arranged for them to call me.
I love my mystery shopping, but then as I said at the beginning, I am something of a shopaholic anyway. It would be no good taking up a job like this if you want a regular or substantial income, the work is spasmodic and you can't rely on it as a regular job. But it is interesting and if my small efforts help to make the retail experience better then I am happy to continue!
I just wish one of my assignments would be to a shop I frequent often, where the assistants are more interested in chatting to each other, or on the phone, than they are in serving customers!!!
After reading review upon review about mystery shopping I decided to take the plunge and apply to a few companies myself. I always wondered whether Id be convincing enough as a mystery shopper Im not very good at lying and thought Id go bright red and get flustered. But it appears Im a better liar than I thought and mystery shopping is my new, paid hobby.
I enquired and applied to 8 companies but Retail Maxim stand head and shoulders above the competition for me. Since I was accepted in August Ive had 10 jobs sent my way which I am very impressed with. At the moment Im in almost weekly contact with them.
~ ~ ~ Applying ~ ~ ~
From the very beginning Retail Maxim struck me as being a professional outfit. The first stage of the application process is straightforward and can be done online at www.retail-maxim.co.uk. The Enquiry Form is easy enough and asks all the usual information. It is quite detailed and does require some details about why you think you would make a good mystery shopper.
You are asked to give times when you would be available for work and preference is given to those who can offer daytime hours, so it is a perfect money making opportunity for people who work part-time, from home or unsociable hours or for stay at home parents.
~ ~ ~ Trial Visit ~ ~ ~
Once Retail Maxim have approved your online application, they will email details about what mystery shopping entails and provide you with a questionnaire so you can carry out a trial visit. For me this took 3 days. I was a little apprehensive about the visit having never done this kind of work before but it is a good way of seeing if mystery shopping is for you.
The trial visit gives you a good indication of the kinds of questions you would be asked in a real situation and makes you aware of the kinds of observation skills that are required.
Once you have carried out your visit and returned the questionnaire, a further application form which asks for bank details and National Insurance number and a passport sized photo, you will soon hear whether you have been accepted as a mystery shopper. I actually received my first job before the email confirming that they had taken me on.
~ ~ ~ Job Offers ~ ~ ~
Jobs are usually phoned through to you so it is important that Retail Maxim can get in touch easily so you dont miss out. I like the fact that they make contact by phone because it means youre not in competition with other shoppers to snap up the jobs as can happen when jobs are posted on a website. They have even texted me to inform me of possible work.
There is no obligation to accept any job that is offered. If you dont like the sound of it or you have other plans on the day they are wanting you to carry out the visit, it is easy to decline.
When an agent phones they will run through the job briefly and usually give you a selection of days and times so you can choose the time that is best for you. You really do have to have a clear idea of your own free time because often you are put on the spot to give a day on which you can do the work. And once you have accepted a job it is important that you complete the assignment on the specified date and time.
Flexibility is a must as sometimes you are given a choice of day and time, on other jobs you are given a specific day and others have tight time deadlines. Ive just been offered 3 jobs to complete between 11.30am-2pm. Work can also be offered at very short notice. I have had an instance where a job was to be carried out today or tomorrow so you might not have long to prepare for a visit. I would also recommend being able to drive just for the convenience of being able to visit the shops and the time saving aspect of this.
Once you have accepted an assignment, paperwork is emailed to you. Again, this is thorough and professional. The date and time of the job is confirmed as well as a full postal address of the shop. I find this useful as I can enter the postcode into multimap.com and see whereabouts Im going to be heading. All work Ive been offered so far has been relatively local ranging from my local town to going into Nottingham city centre and other surrounding towns.
The enquiry brief on the email is set out clearly including any cover story you must use if necessary and what purchase you are expected to make. All purchases I have bought so far have been relatively inexpensive and a spend limit is provided showing what Retail Maxim are prepared to reimburse.
A questionnaire is also emailed and it is necessary to study this carefully before undertaking the work as this will detail different things to look out for. Retail Maxim demand quite a lot of detail, including exactly how you worded your questions and the exact response of the shop assistants. You may also have to observe mannerisms of shop assistants, see if certain products are available and memorise names of people who helped with your enquiry.
~ ~ ~ Submitting Reports ~ ~ ~
I have submitted reports in 2 ways by phone or online, although I think occasionally it may also be done by post. When the agent arranges the assignment, they will inform you whether it is a phone or web report. If it is to be done by phone a callback time will also be arranged. This is usually an hour slot where you must be available to give your results. They also only phone landlines for reports so you must have access to a landline number.
Phone reports take on average around 7 minutes per job to complete. The agent will say a question number and you reply with your answer. This is often yes or no. Any negative answers have to be backed up by a fuller explanation and more in-depth responses are sometimes required at several points throughout the questionnaire. If youve done more than one job, all reports will be taken together.
Web reports are also very straightforward and are expected within a tight time frame, often no later than 8 hours after your visit. If the report is to be submitted online, a username and password is included with your enquiry brief. Then you just login to the Retail Maxim site using those details and up pops the form that needs to be filled in. It doesnt usually take longer than 10 or 15 minutes depending on how fast you can type your fuller answers. Again if youve done more than one job, there is the option at the end of the first questionnaire to access another online form.
~ ~ ~ Pay and Expenses ~ ~ ~
I have been impressed with the pay rate of the jobs offered. Retail Maxim pay a set fee for each job completed and this is dependent on the complexity of the assignment. The more work you are expected to do, the higher the pay rate. Ive been paid between £7-£9 per assignment so far but their website does say that some assignments will pay up to £20. Ive also been offered more than one job to do at the same time so this amount can be doubled or tripled.
Expenses are paid in 3 categories purchases, miscellaneous and mileage. You are reimbursed for any purchase you are asked to make up to a specified spend limit and of course, you get to keep the product so its a double bonus. Miscellaneous expenses include things such as parking fees or road tolls and receipts for these often have to be provided. Mileage for your car is paid at 22p a mile and any mileage you claim for is checked against a computerised system.
Retail Maxim pay you direct into your current account via BACS and sort out the tax and National Insurance. The pay date is usually one month in arrears, includes your expenses and you receive a payslip through the post showing all earnings and deductions. The monthly pay is for all jobs carried out between the 15th of one month and the 14th of the next and is credited to your bank account at the end of the month. Expenses are not taxed, you are only taxed on the fee you have been paid for completing the job.
~ ~ ~ Would I recommend? ~ ~ ~
Yes. As this is my first venture into the world of mystery shopping I have found Retail Maxim to be professional and trustworthy. They pay on time, their jobs are interesting to carry out and theres a lot of variety in the kinds of things you are asked to do.
And at the moment, there seems to be so much work heading my way that Im struggling to fit it all in. Of course this may not continue and regular work is not guaranteed, although anyone living in a major city stands a good chance of being offered assignments frequently.
So if youre interested in this kind of work to supplement your income then log on to Retail Maxim and you wont go far wrong.