Introduction and General Guidelines
Whether you are new to mystery shopping or simply new to Advanced Feedback, you will want to complete all available certifications before applying for your first assignment. We use the certifications to communicate industry standards, Advanced Feedback expectations and screen applicants based on their scores. See the certifications topic below for more information.
Before taking the certifications, we recommend reading this brief PDF guide to high quality mystery shopping to better understand the primary objective and the best practices used by top mystery shoppers. Take your time and read all certification material to understand the reason behind each question and best response.
Your Shop History, Payment, PayPal, and 1099 Reporting
Do not expect payment before 30 to 45 days, and up to a maximum of 60 days. Advanced Feedback completes mystery shopping programs monthly, compiling payables from various databases in the subsequent month. Payments are processed through PayPal or Venmo, two to four times per month beginning with the oldest payables first. You will receive an email with each payment that lists all shops paid.
IMPORTANT! Please be sure that your PayPal email address in GigSpot or ShopMetrics is up-to-date to avoid any delay in payments. If you prefer Venmo, enter your linked 10-digit phone number in the PayPal field. For GigSpot, you will need to enter your Venmo telephone number followed by “@af.com” as this is an email-format field, e.g. “[email protected]”. If you must receive a check by mail, please enter “[email protected]” in the PayPal email field.
ShopMetrics and GigSpot generate a pay statement that shows your completed shop history. While this is useful for your personal records of shop dates and fees, it does not reflect Advanced Feedback’s payment cycle or processed payments as explained above.
Note that Advanced Feedback will not be issuing a year end 1099-MISC for contractors paid via PayPal or Venmo, which is an independent payment service with specific 1099-K reporting requirements (see below for more details). Please refer to your PayPal account for an accurate year-end summary of Advanced Feedback payments.
IMPORTANT: If a survey is declined because it fails to meet our minimum quality standards (as stated in the survey, the shop instructions, as well as the shopper agreement) this will result in non-payment for that shop, including any reimbursements. Failure to complete the survey and/or requested edits within the deadline specified may also result in forfeiture of payment/reimbursement.
1099 REPORTING: Please refer to new IRS guidelines for important information on reporting 1099 income, which includes all gig work such as mystery shopping. For your convenience, the information directly below and in quotes has been copied from the IRS website page on Form 1099-K, https://www.irs.gov/businesses/understanding-your-form-1099-k
“Included in the American Rescue Plan of 2021 is a change to the reporting threshold for third-party settlement organizations such as PayPal and Venmo. The new threshold requires reporting of transactions in excess of $600 per year; changed from the previous threshold of an excess of 200 transactions per year and an excess of $20,000. TPSOs are required to report payments for goods and services. The law is not intended to track personal transactions such as sharing the cost of a car ride or meal, birthday or holiday gifts, or paying a family member for a household bill.”
“On Dec. 23, 2022, the IRS announced that calendar year 2022 will be treated as a transition year for the reduced reporting threshold of $600. For calendar year 2022, third-party settlement organizations who issue Forms 1099-K are only required to report transactions where gross payments exceed $20,000 and there are more than 200 transactions.”
“Even though the Form 1099-K reduced reporting requirement for third-party settlement organizations was delayed, some individuals may still receive a Form 1099-K who have not received one in the past. Some individuals may receive a Form 1099-K for the sale of personal items or in situations where they received a Form 1099-K in error (i.e. for transactions between friends and family, or expense sharing). IRS is updating guidance to direct taxpayers to report these scenarios on the Form 1040, Schedule 1, for tax year 2022. See the section titled “Information for personal income” for additional information.”
“If you own a business or are self-employed, including those who work in the gig economy, it is important that your business books and records reflect your business income, including any amounts that may be reported on Form 1099-K. You must report on your income tax return all income you receive. In most cases, your business, including self-employment income will be in the form of cash, checks, and debit/credit card payments. This income is generally referred to as gross receipts on income tax returns. Therefore, you should consider the amounts shown on Form 1099-K, along with all other amounts received, when calculating gross receipts for your income tax return.”
“Forms 1099-K can report many types of transactions that should be considered when filing. In some instances, taxpayers may receive a Form 1099-K for the sale of personal assets or for transactions that are not required to be reported. To help with filing requirements, the IRS is providing guidance for these specific scenarios for the 2022 tax year. See section Information for personal income for more information.”
Finding Jobs Opportunities
There are multiple ways to locate job opportunities, listed below.
1. Video Shoppers: You can refer to our assignment maps, located here: Video Job Page. There are usually five or more maps spanning the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. We update them regularly so they often reflect the most up-to-date assignments that we have available.
2. ShopMetrics Users: Whether you are using MobiAudit or a browser to log into ShopMetrics, users can filter by postal code, state, and/or city in Open Opportunities and search by distance from home. ShopMetrics users can also find our jobs on the MSJobBoard, www.MSJobBoard.com
3. GigSpot Users: GigSpot users see available assignments for all companies subscribed to the app, Advanced Feedback included. However, visibility of open opportunities is limited to your local area or by filtering by known postal codes. If you are a video shopper using GigSpot refer to our assignment maps on the Video Job Page so you know what postal codes contain jobs you might want to apply for.
4. We send out mass emails at the beginning of every quarter and whenever we post new assignments – these emails usually contain a list of all the open assignments for a client or all the new assignments recently posted. Be sure to have your security settings toggled so that you can receive emails from us; otherwise, the system will automatically remove you from the email list.
MobiAudit and Gigspot are two mystery shopping apps which offer alternative options to view, apply, and complete open jobs.
Gigspot: is a single signup mobile and web app that gives you immediate access to all participating mystery shopping companies, not just Advanced Feedback. With Gigspot you manage just one sign-in, profile, and email to view jobs, pay, and reimbursment for many companies in your area and by postal code.
MobiAudit: is a ShopMetrics mobile app. You can use this app to search for jobs on a map, locally or nationwide. You can apply and complete Advanced Feedback jobs using any mobile device. To use MobiAudit with multiple companies you will need an account and sign-in for each company.
Advanced Feedback can only offer limited help with app functionality. If you experience technical issues with either mobile app, please reach out to their respective helpline.
GigSpot is a 3rd party app developed to give shoppers a single sign-in and access to many companies on the ShopMetrics platform. You cannot use the same email address with both GigSpot and MobiAudit/ShopMetrics.
If you are experiencing technical issues with GigSpot we recommend you contact the Gigspot help desk for assistance. Rebecca’s email address is shown below at the end of this section.
Gigspot will need to know what type device and/browser you are using as the resolution of most issues comes down to whether or not you are using the GigSpot website or the GigSpot app. Each device and system operates differently, so they will usually need to know both to try and pinpoint what is happening.
Some general things you can do to troubleshoot login, access, and visibility issues are provided here.
First, make sure you are logging out by actually clicking the log out button each time you are finished in GigSpot. Do not just close the tab on your browser or the app. When you do not log out, temporary internet files are saved that cause confusion as to which file should be used.
If you are using the GigSpot website, clear the cache in your browser. If possible, use Chrome. While GigSpot is compatible with other browsers, in general the operation of Chrome is more up-to-date. GigSpot finds this especially true with any device that uses the iOS operating system. If you are being redirected from Gigspot to Advanced Feedback’s log in page when you click on a shop, adjust your browser settings as follows: select “Always Allow Cookies” and turn off “Prevent Cross-Site Tracking”.
For Safari on your iPhone/iPad:
1. Go into your “Settings” app.
2. Scroll down and click on the “Safari” settings.
3. Scroll down once in the “Safari” settings until you see some options similar to the picture below.
4. Make sure you turn the “Prevent Cross-Site Tracking” and “Block All Cookies” settings OFF.
For Safari on your laptop/computer:
1. Open Safari from your Dock or Applications folder.
2. Click Safari in the Menu bar.
3. Click Preferences.
4. Click Privacy.
5. Click to uncheck the “Block all cookies” AND “Prevent Cross-Site Tracking” box.
If you are using the GigSpot app, make sure you do not have other apps open.
If for some reason your GigSpot password becomes unsynced (maybe too many failed log ins, or an attempt to log into the MSP’s site directly), try to resync following these instructions:
1. Log into GigSpot on the website and go to My Account (small circle in the top right corner), then go to Change Password (you are not actually changing your password).
2. Enter your current password into each comment box for: Old Password, New Password, and Verify New Password, then click the “Save” bar at the bottom of the screen.
3. Log out and clear your Internet browser’s cache. You should be able to log back into GigSpot.
GigSpot Support: Rebecca, [email protected]
ShopMetrics Technical Tips
New Shopmetrics Users
If you are new to Shop Metrics, this navigation image highlights the main features.
We strongly recommend you watch the tutorial here before attempting to use this program. Please do not send us emails about problems submitting your survey or other ShopMetrics questions until you have viewed the navigation image and watched the tutorial.
You can skip to “Completing a Survey” if you are only interested in how to submit your shop.
Save your work often using the green SAVE SURVEY button on the bottom of the form, as you work will not be saved if there is an interruption in browser or Internet connectivity.
When you click the SAVE SURVEY button you should be taken back to your home screen. Missing or conflicting entries may prevent this. Scroll up to review the entire survey to find where data conflicts are highlighted, if any. We have had long written summaries lost during failed first-save attempts, so keep your browser open until that first save is successful. (It is always good idea to prepare long written summaries in a word processor first and then save into Shop Metrics. Use a mouse right-click to copy-paste, as ctrl-alt-del is not enabled.)
When you are finished with your survey, use the “Check Complete” at the bottom right of the survey to find incomplete or restricted responses. Select OK to fix now and continue scrolling through all highlighted errors until pressing “Check Complete” brings up Survey is Complete.
Your shop is not submitted until you click the green Submit button in your inbox. If it is not green, there are missing entries. Use the Check Complete process as outlined immediately above. Upon submission, you will receive a confirmation number.
Phone Shop Recording
Phone Shop Recording
Upon approval of a shop with a required recorded phone call, you will have access to the full survey and calling/recording feature. Please use the click-to-call feature to make your recorded phone shop. DO NOT dial the location directly unless you are certain you have the correct target telephone number and the capability to record your call and upload it to the form.
If you are a GigSpot user, you must use the click-to-call feature on a computer as the mobile version of GigSpot does not support this feature. Click-to-call is fully functional using MobiAudit and the Shop Metrics app.
The recorded calling process will be initiated when you click the “Call Now” button. You will find this button in the instructions table above the survey. This will ring the phone number you select from your database profile (ShopMetrics or Gigspot). Answer your phone and enter the PIN code provided when you clicked CALL NOW. Once you do this, the system will connect you to the target/destination number.
Complete the phone shop as a real prospective customer. Hang up upon completion and your call recording will appear after a minute or so at the bottom of the survey. You must make three (3) attempts to reach an associate. Failed attempts such as reaching voicemail, busy signals, no answer, wrong person if targeted, being asked to call back, etc. will also be recorded and should be kept with the survey showing the history of call attempts. If you are unable to connect with an associate, try again in 30 minutes. We recommend you begin completing the survey while waiting for the recording to appear. Begin by accurately entering the local time and date of the call in the appropriate phone shop section of your survey. If the survey is for the phone shop only, the date and time is entered at the top of the form.
You can refresh your browser to speed the delivery of your recording. We highly recommend you save your survey entries often to avoid losing any reporting due to Internet or server interruptions.
NOTE: Caller ID blocking is currently turned off so it is possible the target will see your caller ID. This is usually not an issue as cell numbers vary beyond area codes, but be prepared with a cover story if you are not calling from the region. We suggest that you program the number being called into your phone so that you can recognize a callback and answer with your alias if necessary.
Video Shopping vs Traditional
Before you apply for an assignment please note whether or not there are instructions that require video. Video shops are different than traditional mystery shopping (written reports) and require you to own or lease body-worn undercover video shopping equipment.
Do not apply for a shop labeled as a video shop if you are not a video shopper.
If you are interested in becoming a video shopper refer to the following Video Shopper Resources.
Video Shopping Resources
If you are interested in becoming a video shopper, we recommend you invest in equipment designed for undercover video work, specifically a body-worn button camera and pocket DVR. Other body worn equipment and/or mobile phone apps may be sufficient for short video requirements, but will typically be unacceptable for extended one-on-one sales and service experiences.
For more information regarding video shopping services and products, click here.
You will be required to complete certifications based on the type of shop you are applying for. Some may require a phone shopper certification while others may require video certification. Make sure to complete and submit all requested certifications when you apply; otherwise, you will not be considered for the shop.
Click here to see an image showing you exactly where the certifications are located on the shopmetrics website. In GigSpot, click Companies, Advanced Feedback, and My Certifications.
Completing all general certifications successfully increases your chance of selection. Please do not complete a brand specific certification unless you are applying for those specific shops.
Shop "Due" Date versus Report Date
Start Date: The date on which the jobs were posted or first available for applications.
Planned Date: The date that you selected during your application; this should be the date you plan to conduct your assignment.
Due/Survey Date: This is the date you must submit the report by, including the video (if applicable). Generally, your due/survey date will be set to 24 hours after your planned date, though exceptions can be made. If you require more than the allotted 24 hours, contact your scheduler as soon as possible
Report Date: This date appears on the top of your survey form. It is not meant for the date and time you fill out the survey – it is for the date and time you conducted your assignment.
Once you have completed the form in it’s entirety, click the Check Complete button at the bottom of the survey to initiate a scan for missing entries. A dialog box will ask whether you want to make the changes now or save. How the form identifies missing entries varies depending on the browser and app you are using. Carefully scroll the entire length of the survey to find the cursor placement or fields outlined in red.**
Once all entries are verified and complete, click the Save Survey button at the bottom of the survey. You will be redirected to your home page/inbox. If you are not redirected to your home page, your report may not have been saved, so you should not close your browser. Try to return to your data entries and repeat the check and save process.
At the home page, a green check mark will appear next to your completed shop and the submit button will become active. If you do not have a green check mark, something is incomplete and you will not be able to submit the survey. Please re-open the survey and confirm the date, time and required fields (questions and images) and that all comments meet their constraints. Repeat the process above (Check Complete, Save Survey and Submit).
**A common problem that will prevent submission is a survey date (the date at the top of the form) that is not within the past 5 days. If this is the case, your report is too old for submission and will not be accepted. If your scheduler has agreed to review an old shop, you will need to enter a recent date and notify your scheduler of the correct date.
Scam Warning and Alerts
What to look out for and how to get help if you believe that someone is trying to scam you.
Mystery shoppers across the country are receiving emails from scammers posing as real companies. They will then send you letters in the mail along with checks for large amounts of money. These emails and letters appear to be legitimate and often include real company logos and may even have links to real websites. The scammer attempts to send you a check in the mail and will make it seem official by providing a shipping tracking number. They send checks for large amounts and ask you deposit them and to keep a certain amount as your shopper pay. The rest of the money is to be used for such things as buy gift cards during your shop. They will ask you to either send the gift cards back to them, or take pictures of the back of the cards so that they can gain access to the numbers and pins. The problem is that the checks they send will bounce in a few days and you are stuck paying for the gift cards with your own money. For example you recieve a check for $3,000, the “agent” asks you to deposit the check and to keep $500 for your shopper pay. Then you are told you will need to go to a big name store and purchase $2,500 worth of gift cards. When you get home you provide a write-up of your shop and send pictures of the cards with the film scratched off the back to expose the numbers. The next day the check you deposited bounces and you have just lost $2,500 from your account.
Postal Inspectors advise that if you receive any offer like this, DO NOT RESPOND! Instead, report the incident to Postal Inspectors online or call Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.
We have seen an increase in scammers attemtping to take your money this year. Believe us, we are just as upset as you. They clone our website, use or logo, pose as employees, tarnish reputations, and attempt to hurt those we care about most, our shoppers!
If you are unsure if the offer you recieved is from Advanced Feedback, Inc. please contact us at [email protected]. We do not send emails from non “@advancedfeedback.com” email addresses, nor do we solicit shoppers via postal letters. We have all our shoppers register with ShopMetrics or GigSpot through our website, take certifications, and distribute payments via PayPal.
If you have reason to believe that you have been approached by a fraudulent mystery shopping company, we suggest you contact one or all of the following:
- Your local police department. Ask for the Cyber Crimes department.
- The FBI. Visit FBI Complaints to file a complaint.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Visit FTC Contact or call 1-877-FTC-HELP
- E-mail service provider of the person contacting you such as AOL, Google, Yahoo, etc. Visit their ‘Contact Us’ page to file a complaint.
Here are some other clues that will help you to determine if the offer is a scam:
- You are sent ‘money’ in the form of a check in advance of your performing a shop. These checks are not good and your bank will then look for you to make good on the deposit. Advanced Feedback, Inc. does not pay shoppers in advance of a shop.
- You are asked to pay money to become a shopper. Legitimate mystery shopping firms never ask for money from a shopper.
- The email address does not use a legitimate Advanced Feedback Inc. email name, which will always be in the form of [email protected]. If the person contacting you has an AOL or Gmail or similar non-corporate email address, it is not from a legitimate mystery shopping company.
- If the regular mail has a letter with a legitimate return address but the postmark is not from the same area, it is likely a scam. Almost all of our correspondence with shoppers will be by email.
- If the caller has a foreign accent but his or her given name does not sound foreign, be suspicious. Many of these scams are undertaken by groups calling from foreign countries who mask their phone numbers to look as if they are calling from the U.S.
- The offer includes a high payment amount for a relatively easy assignment. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- The offer does not require you to enroll as a mystery shopper with Advanced Feedback, Inc. We require all individuals who wish to mystery shop with us to enroll, take certifications, and apply for shops.
Account Status and Email Notifications
GigSpot shoppers Your account and profile information is managed by you in the Gigspot Technology Platform, operated by Spot Media, LLC. Gigspot shares profile information with Advanced Feedback, Inc., a mystery shopping provider, upon your request to do business with us per the terms of our independent contractor agreement. We use your profile information to show you job opportunities based on location, and determine if you are qualified for specific job opportunities and contact you directly. You can edit and update certain information in your GigSpot profile through that Technology Platform. Advanced Feedback’s staff cannot do this on your behalf. Advanced Feedback cannot deactivate, disable, or otherwise close your account in GigSpot. We can reset failed login attempts if you have forgotten your password and tried more than 3 times. We can also change your account status with Advanced Feedback to DO NOT HIRE, which will prevent you from receiving additional email notifications about Advanced Feedback job opportunities. If you would like to deactivate your profile in GigSpot, please contact them directly at [email protected].
What am I supposed to write for my narratives (visit summary)?
If your report has a summary or narrative at the beginning, and most Advanced Feedback surveys have this, you must spend time writing a thorough and thoughtful play-by-play of your visit. Describe your visit from beginning to end. Focus on the actions of staff in response to you and others. Include names, quotes, eye contact, smiles, tone. Avoid personal opinion or writing a “yelp type review” of the establishment. We are looking for an objective narrative the manager can use to train employees and improve the overall customer experience. Management would like to be able to read your summary and see what actually happened, like watching an undercover video.
Do I need to enter notes in every comment box?
The comment fields to the right or below each question are required fields for any “No” and N/A responses. Use these for brief explanations of negative responses or N/A responses, and the occasional elaboration of “Yes” responses as necessary, such as direct quotes. As a general rule, each section should have at least ½ of the comment boxes filled-in.
What am I supposed to write for additional comments?
Depending on the shop, the additional comment field at the end of each section may or may not be required, but it is always recommended to show a finished product. This is where you should write any extensive comments or personal observations relevant to that section. You can add personal comments in this area if you feel they would be useful feedback for management. Explain observations that were not addressed by the questionnaire and elaborate on some that were. This also an excellent place to draw attention to a job well done.
What do I write if I don’t know an employee’s name?
Names are required for most assignments. In the case of employees with whom you have little interaction (valet, housekeeping, bussers), it is understandable you may not be able to get every name. However, for the majority of employees, you are expected to creatively find ways to get their names. If this is an extensive one-on-one sales evaluation and you did not get their name you should explain in your evaluation why their name is unknown. If, after multiple attempts, you were unable to find out an employee’s name, enter a physical description of the employee in the “name” box or
description field if provided. Description must include: approx. age, height, build, ethnicity, hair color, hair length, and any defining characteristics (i.e. glasses, tattoos, etc).
How do I submit my completed survey?
When you are satisfied with your evaluation, click Continue or Next until you reach the final submission page. In Shop Metrics, use the “Check if Complete” option at the bottom right to ensure the survey is complete and ready for submission. Shop Metrics has a final Submit button in your Inbox once the survey closes. If you are using one of our standalone forms make sure to click the “Submit” button at the end of the form, otherwise we will not receive it and your entry will be lost.
Can I just put some notes in and finish the survey later?
Yes. If you want to put notes in right after your visit, and perhaps complete the full narrative later, click the “save” option in the margin of the Prophet system, “Save Survey” at the bottom in Shop Metrics, or “save entries, finish later” option on the bottom of our independent entry forms (Make sure to write down the access code provided before you close the browser). When you are ready to finish the survey, use the same survey link that was emailed to you, select the option “Continue filling in a saved form”, enter the access code, and you can complete the evaluation.
How do I play back recorded calls in Shop Metrics?
If you are conducting recorded phone shops using Shop Metrics, please be advised that there is a time delay based on the length of the recording before you are able to playback your call. The file needs to be formatted, uploaded and associated with your entry. This may take a few minutes. If you are in a hurry or completing multiple assignments, we recommend that you begin your survey, such as the date and time of the call, and then click “Save Survey” to close the survey and open later. You can be working on multiple phone shops at the same time. Your call will appear at the bottom of your editable survey after a few minutes
When do I have to submit my completed survey?
Your specific project may have unique time requirements, which may be shorter or longer than the typical required survey submittal within 24 hours of returning from your visit.
How do I know if my survey has been accepted?
Your report will usually be reviewed within 24 hours, longer following a weekend or holiday. If further info is needed, your scheduler will either ask you to re-enter the survey and make the edits, or they will send you questions you can reply to via email. Depending on the extent of the edits and how quickly you respond, it can take up to a week after your visit before the edits are complete and your evaluation is accepted. Please note, the start of your payments cycle will be “on hold” until all edits are completed. It is very important you are accessible and are checking your email frequently in the days following your visit so you can quickly address any edits required.
When do I receive my reimbursement?
Once all edits are done and your scheduler confirms no further information is needed, your reimbursements and shopper fee will be scheduled for payment at or near the end of our agreed shopper payment period. Please understand and budget for this payment period to be long. This time accounts
for all shops to be delivered plus our billing and the client’s payment terms.
Advanced Feedback has been the leading mystery shopping company in the United States, Canada and Mexico since 1991, with over 2 million shops of experience. We offer completely customized mystery shopping services that connect your vision of success to the complete satisfaction of your customers.
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