How would you like someone to buy your lunch and PAY you for eating it? Would you like to get reimbursed to have fun with your family at some of the hottest amusement parks in the country? Mystery Shoppers all around the country get paid to shop and have fun, and becoming a “shopper” is easier than you might think!
Mystery shopping is a legitimate job that you can choose to do part-time or full-time. Businesses hire mystery shopping companies to help them evaluate customer services and product quality, giving them an extra set of eyes to observe their business. Having an anonymous person observe business practices allows companies to get a true picture of how everyday consumers view their brand.
Myth: You Must Pay a Fee to Become a Shopper
Truth: While most mystery shops require you to make a purchase during the shop, you should NEVER pay to BECOME a mystery shopper. Whenever you are in doubt check with the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) and the MSPA job board to find opportunities in your area. Once you find a reputable company you are interested in shopping for, you must apply to join their team. A typical application process will include samples of your writing skills, as well as some basic grammar and comprehension tests. If you are selected to become a Shopper with their company you will not be an employee, but rather an independent contractor, and you will be responsible for your own taxes at the end of the year.
Myth: Mystery shopping is easy
Truth: Mystery Shopping is not for everyone! Ideal mystery shopping candidates have a good eye for detail and a good memory. The report that needs to be written after a shop is completed must include details such as times, names, descriptions, dialogue, etc. You are essentially "under cover" and can not reveal your shopper status. Impeccable grammar is also a necessity when entering your reports. The more detailed your report is, the faster it will be approved for payment. Myth: I can complete shops whenever I want, with whomever I want
Truth: While it is true that mystery shopping allows you to be your own boss, each shop has its own special set of rules and specifications which can include specific times you are or aren’t allowed to shop, who you can or can`t bring along for the experience, and specific days the shopping must be completed. Some businesses allow you to bring along family and friends, while others are much stricter and must be done solo.
Myth: All Mystery Shopping Positions are for Restaurants and are Undercover
Truth: Mystery shopping frequently goes beyond just restaurant and apparel stores. In fact, it’s not uncommon to come across mystery shopping opportunities at car dealerships, movie theatre, hotels, hospitals, amusement parks, and even cruise lines! Additionally, not all mystery shop positions are undercover. Some opportunities include performing audits and store merchandising or a “reveal”. For example, in a reveal, you visit a business and if the employee doesn’t perform a specific action, you reveal yourself as a mystery shopper and give the manager additional contact information for your mystery shopping company.
Myth: Mystery Shop Companies have a list of clients on their website
Truth: Mystery Shop companies make you sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents you from publicly disclosing names of clients, reimbursement and compensation information. You will rarely find specific information on the clients of a specific mystery shop company until after you’ve been accepted to become a shopper. Frequently, once you’re accepted you will see is a job board that says “Easy Fast Food Shop”; but until you accept the job you will not be able to see the business name. It’s the competitive and secretive nature of the industry that prevents this information from being public.
Myth: All Mystery Shops are worth my Time!
Truth: Read the shop details carefully and see what is reimbursed and is asked of your time before committing to a shop. Mystery Shop Assignments can range from ONLY partial reimbursements to full reimbursements with a generous shop fee for your time (additional money). Some Shops reimburse gas, some do not. Try to schedule numerous shops in the same area on the same day to lessen the amount of driving you`ll have to do. After all, time is money.
Myth: I`ll get paid quickly
Truth: Most mystery shops will require you to make a purchase so you can properly evaluate the service you receive. It can typically take 2-4 weeks to be reimbursed for your purchases. Also, factor in the cost of gas to get you to the shop location that may or may not be included in your reimbursement costs. One of the coolest aspects of being a mystery shopper is that you can directly influence and improve the customer service and policies of business, resulting in a win-win for both consumer and company. Mystery Shopping is a fun job that can help supplement your income or it can be your full time gig!