Expenses policy

What we cover and what we don’t

We recognise that our Mystery Shoppers are volunteers and that it is important to enable people to cover costs. At the same time, it is important that we use our Mystery Shopping budget as effectively as possible. This policy is designed to find a balance between reimbursing volunteers and ensuring we can carry out as many mystery shops as we can in as far a manner as possible.

Important things to be aware of

All travel costs include travel for both you and your companion if required.

It is important you submit your expenses claim after you complete the post-event form, up to a maximum of 8 weeks after the gig or festival – if you submit the claim after this date we will not be able to cover your expenses.

We cannot cover expenses for a shop that you complete that we have not previously agreed to in writing.

When you request a shop, you will be asked how much you expect to claim. If the amount you claim varies from this by more than £10 and you have not given us a clear and reasonable explanation for this in advance, we may not be able to pay more than the amount you originally stated.

Please Note: Expenses can take up to eight weeks to be processed. We try to do it faster than this but cannot always guarantee it.

Venue shops

We encourage people to Mystery Shop their local venues where possible and are particularly keen for volunteers to shop grassroots venues.

What we will cover:

The cost of one ticket AND

Petrol costs (20p for mile up to a total of 100 miles or £20) OR

Public transport costs up to £30.

The total costs for tickets and travel are capped at £50

Festival shops

We understand people tend to travel further to festivals and our expenses policy reflects this. We also understand that festival tickets tend to be more expensive.

What we will cover:

The cost of one ticket AND

Petrol costs (20p for mile up to a total of 200 miles or £40) OR

Public transport costs up to £50

The total costs of tickets and travel are capped at £100 for a non-camping festival or £200 for a camping festival, if you stay overnight.

Please note: An outdoor event featuring only one major stage and heavily advertised around one or two major headliners will be treated as a gig rather than a festival and the £50 venue cap will apply.

Companion tickets

Applying for a companion ticket at no extra cost is an important part of the Mystery Shopping process. We encourage you to do this. If you are rejected for a companion ticket, please let us know and we will attempt to assist in any we can without compromising your anonymity as a Mystery Shopper.

If you are refused a companion ticket and feel you need a companion in order to attend the event, we may be able to approve the cost of two tickets on a case-by-case basis. We can only do this if you contact Mauro at [email protected] before the event and include a copy of your email correspondence with the venue or festival. 

What we don’t cover

We are not able to cover expenses for the following items:

  • The cost of food and drink when you are at an event.
  • The cost of VIP upgrades or tickets that are more expensive than the lowest cost ticket that meets your access requirements
  • Any other costs beyond the ticket and travel

We do not usually cover expenses for the following items.

  • The cost of taxis
  • The cost of campervans
  • The cost of tickets for friends or family members attending an event with you. (Please read the Personal Assistant tickets section below for more information with this.)
  • The cost of hotels or other accommodation
  • The cost of parking

However we may do so in rare circumstances which are covered by the Exceptions to the Policy below.

Exceptions to the policy

Whilst this policy is intended to be as fair as possible, we recognise that there may be cases where we do need to consider making exceptions to ensure fair access.

We can only make exceptions when this has been requested and agreed in writing via email in advance.

We cannot consider exceptions if we are notified after the event has taken place.

We may consider exceptions in the following cases:

  • If you are both unable to drive and unable to use public transport
  • If you live more than 50 miles from an accessible music venue and there are no options for more local venues that you could shop
  • If you are on a low income and could not otherwise afford to mystery shop any of the venues in your area
  • If you cannot obtain a Personal Assistant ticket at no additional cost for the venue you want to shop (please see the section below for more information on this)
  • If the lowest price ticket options are not accessible and you need to spend extra on the tickets to access the event.

Please note: We cannot make an exception simply on the fact that the venue or festival you have requested exceeds the cap. Exceptions can only be considered if you are facing additional financial barriers as a disabled person and an exception is the only way to mitigate this.

If you do wish to request an exception, please email our Volunteer Coordinator Mauro at [email protected] and explain your reasons for this. You are welcome to attach any evidence you think would be helpful. If you could not afford the shop without the exception being in place, we recommend requesting the exception and obtaining agreement for it before buying the tickets.

Requesting a review of a decision

If you feel you have been unfairly treated under the expenses policy and wish to have the decision reviewed, please contact Paul Hawkins, Head of Volunteering and Skills Development, via [email protected].