Friday, February 5, 2010

Mystery Shopping

I have had many people ask me lately about mystery shopping since I am a mystery shopper.
Despite what the name sounds like, mystery shoppers do not where a trench coat and sunglasses to hide their appearance. A mystery shopper is someone who gets paid to go to a particular store, restaurant, or other location and be a customer. It's all about evaluating customer service as well as the cleanliness of the location. As with paid surveys you will find middlemen wanting to charge you a fee to have access to the companies who hire mystery shoppers. There is no need to pay this fee because you can find the companies on your own just by searching for them and in a lot of cases, the sites that charge a fee are scams.

If you are interested in becoming a mystery shopper I would start by going to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website. There is a listing of legitimate companies as well as training. Some companies ask if you are MSPA certified. You do not have to be certified to be a mystery shopper but in some cases you will be chosen first or be paid more if you are certified. Volition is also a good place to see a free listing of mystery shopping companies.

So here are some basic facts you should know.

  • You cannot make a living mystery shopping. You can however, make some extra cash and be reimbursed for purchases.

  • Some shops require you to purchase something. If this is the case, you will either be reimbursed for the purchase or you will be required to return the item to evaluate the return process.

  • When you purchase items, always use a credit card. This will ensure that you can get your money back in a timely manner when you have to make a return.

  • Most of the companies will pay/reimburse you via a check or a PayPal account. Some require direct deposit only. I would avoid the direct deposit ones unless you have a completely separate account not tied in with your personal account.

  • For most companies the payments/reimbursements are made at the end of the following month of your completed shop. For example, if you complete a shop on Sept 15 you won't get paid for it until the end of October. This is to give both companies involved time to verify your shop.

  • Most require you to have a digital camera to take pictures of your receipts or specific things at the location.

  • A scanner is definitely helpful for scanning in receipts but isn't always required.

  • You are notified of shops that are available via email. Some you can self assign and others you apply for and they let you know if you have been assigned.

  • Read all of the information about the company and how the shop is to be performed. Incomplete shops or shops that are incorrect you will not be paid for.

  • If you live on a tight budget, mystery shopping could be an excellent way to get the "shopping bug" out of your system or to just go out and have a free dinner. Shops include, restaurants, entertainment, retail, banking, apartments, and hotels.

I've been shopping for over a year and love doing the entertainment and dining shops. They usually equate to a free date night for my husband and me. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask. I can't however divulge which locations I shop or which companies I am signed up with. If you want to know the legitimacy of a mystery shop company I highly recommend going to Volition and reading the Mystery Shoppers Forum. At the forum you can read about other shoppers experiences with different companies. I usually go here to read about a company before I sign up. I want to make sure they pay in a timely manner. Happy shopping.

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