Have you ever wanted to know how to be a mystery shopper? Have you ever wondered if mystery shopping is a legit gig?
I was a mystery shopper for years and while it didn’t give me a full-time income, it definitely saved me a lot of money and allowed me to visit some great establishments I may not have visited otherwise. This is why I wanted to share with you how to become a mystery shopper if you are interested in doing so. Read on to find out more on mystery shopping and how to find legit mystery shopping companies to work with.
What is a mystery shopper?
A mystery shopper is a person who visits an establishment (typically a retail store, bank, restaurant or other such places where the public does business) for the purpose of observing and measuring customer service, product quality and the environment of the establishment in general.
How to Find Legit Mystery Shopping Companies
Check Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) at http://www.mspa-na.org. (Check spelling or click on my link, you want to make sure you are at the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s website, MSPA). To avoid any fake companies you want to always start here. Once you get to the site I suggest two options to start with, check the opportunity board or search the member companies list. I suggest the opportunity board first to see what types of shops you would like and go from there.
When you get to MSPA-NA.ORG, click on the INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS Menu on the Navigation bar. (Keep in mind the website can change at any given time but these are the steps as of today,
1.Opportunity Board. Click on “Search our opportunity board”
2. Opportunity board search. This screen comes up. Click in the location area and enter your location and hit SEARCH ( I suggest doing this type of search before narrowing it down too far with payment, dates etc).
3. Opportunity search results load. Opportunities will pop up and you can click on the ones that interest you. It will show category and pay on this screen and more details when you click on details.
4.Choose an opportunity from the list. I Clicked on the first one to show you an example. In this example, you are visiting an upscale retail store where you will make a purchase and ask an associate for help. The pay on this one is $15 flat so you will only get $15 no matter what you buy but you can return the item if you wish.
5. Sign up for a mystery shopping company. If you liked this job for example or these types of jobs you would then go ahead and register with the mystery shopping company associated with this job, in the above case it would be www.secretshopper.com.
Once you get approved you will be able to start shopping. I suggest starting very slow with just one shop and one company at a time until you get used to it.
Mystery shopping is mostly reimbursements for products, goods or services and also sometimes a flat shopper payment or fee (they pay you a fee). Above is just a small sample of the job, when you sign up for the job you will get very detailed instructions which have to be followed exactly or you will not be paid. You will also want to make sure you KEEP your receipt and do not lose it or you most likely will not get paid, I learned the hard way when I forgot to take my receipt on a restaurant shop I did.
To give you an example of a shop, you could be asked to visit a store and observe several areas of the store and to also ask one of the employees a question to evaluate customer service. You will then usually have to purchase something (but you will only be reimbursed a certain amount) just to get a receipt to show that you were there when you said you would be and to also evaluate the checkout process. Usually, they will give you a minimum amount of time to be in the store as well like 25 minutes to give the associates a chance to help you and to also give you an opportunity to take everything in. That is just one example, there are many others.
All shops will have DETAILED instructions that you must follow or you will not get paid. It gets easier the more you do. They also have field associate and audit work available with some companies. That would not be “mystery” work as you would interact with the manager or be setting up displays at movie theaters etc. Usually, the companies themselves have free training or reimbursed training to do audits. MSPA also offers many certifications and training programs that are legit but you are not required to have any types of certifications to start shopping, I shopped for years without any. The more shops you do for a particular company the better they rate you and you will get picked for the best shops. If you choose to get a certification from MSPA they do say you get better jobs but I cannot speak to that. I would suggest doing a few small gigs before attempting any certifications just to see if you like it first.
Pros of Mystery Shopping:
- Free Stuff! Of course, you have to pay upfront and then get reimbursed but it’s a great way to get some free groceries, free oil changes and a free night out at the movies etc
- No previous experience necessary to become a shopper.
- Great way to try out companies, products or services you might not have otherwise tried.
Cons of Mystery Shopping:
- Some reports are very long and detailed and seem like more work than they are worth. That is why it is best to do a few and see which ones you like and which ones you do not.
- If you lose or do not get the receipt (for most in my experience) you will not get paid.
- If you mess up the report or miss something in the instructions you may not get paid.
- Some shops pay very little for the amount of work needed in my opinion.
- Never pay to become a mystery shopper! Certification/Courses from MSPA are different, you are paying for the certification/course not to become a mystery shopper. Like I mentioned above these are not needed to become a shopper they are just something MSPA offers to make you a better shopper.
- If it’s too good to be true, it may be a scam! Beware of scams. No legit company will ask you to cash any type of check or wire any money anywhere. Stick to companies that are members of MSPA and always verify any emails are coming from that company. I have worked with several of the same companies for a few years and I like to stick with them because I know they pay. A $100 Dinner or free hotel stay is NOT too good to be true BUT a free trip to Italy or $500 to Wire $1000 to someone IS definitely a red flag. Mystery shopping companies also never pay you upfront so never take or cash a check to do your shop. When in doubt always trust your gut and google the company and the word scam to see what comes up.
I hope this post about mystery shopping really helped you. If you have any questions or tips you would like to share please comment below and if you liked this post please share it using the sharing buttons above and below this post. Thank you