Mystery Shopping


Have you ever received one of those spam emails about making money in mystery shopping? You know, the emails that tell you how easy it is to make a couple hundred dollars for a few minutes work if you just send them some money and/or all of your contact details first.

Well, while those emails are definite scams, mystery shopping is most definitely not a scam. Mystery shopping is a legitimate industry with thousands of independent contractors helping a variety of companies stay informed as to how their customers are treated and how their stores are being maintained.

Personally, I’ve done mystery shopping for fast food chains, gas stations, hardware stores, restaurants, movie theaters, flooring companies, and a few other industries I may not remember. 🙂

Now, unlike the spam emails many of us have received from time to time, you will rarely, if ever be able to make a couple hundred bucks in less than an hour. But you can put together some lucrative days by proper planning and also during times the schedulers are up against a deadline when bonuses are thrown in.

For many of us, mystery shopping can provide a little bit of part-time income and get us some meals and other items which we purchase and are then reimbursed for.

For the ridiculously organized and completely insane, if you live in the right area and are registered with enough companies, you just might be able to make a career out of it. A little warning from my personal experience: It’s easy to burn yourself out on this kind of activity when you’re trying to squeeze as much into a day as possible.

In a typical mystery shop, you will need to be aware of and make mental notes about things such as the exterior condition of a location, the length of time it takes to be greeted, the wording of the greeting, how the employees are dressed and a basic description of the employee(s) you interacted with, cleanliness of the interior and restrooms, how long you stood in a line, how many people were in line ahead of you, how long it took for your order to be ready, etc.

Some shops may require photos of the outside and/or inside, possibly even the restrooms.

And always get a receipt when purchases are required. 😉 Most shops won’t pay if you can’t provide a receipt. Follow the instructions and you will rarely have an issue.

Once you start doing a variety of shops, you will most likely find that you prefer certain types of assignments over others and then begin to do more of those whenever possible. Similar to merchandising, you can build rapport with your schedulers and may eventually be offered better opportunities that aren’t posted or occasionally negotiate higher rates as you prove your reliability and thoroughness.

A good place to start and see what kind of shops are available in your area is JobSlinger.  This is site where you can search for assignments based on your ZIP code. I do believe you have to register before it will provide full details of each shop, but if mystery shopping is something you think you may want to pursue, it’s worth it.

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