- Personal Finance»
- Income & Making Money
Mystery Shopping -- Companies That Really Pay
Shop Till You Drop
It's no secret that many Americans are having a hard time making ends meet these days, myself included. There seems to be longer lines at the emloyment agencies and fewer jobs up for grabs.
I am a work-at-home mom (wahm) and I'm always looking for different things that I can do to add a little more money to my bank account. I'd heard about "mystery shopping" years ago, but never knew anyone who actually made any money from it. Now, keep in mind, I lived in an area that was lightly populated and these shopping offers were few and far between. Well, in the last year I moved my family to a much larger area in a new state and decided to give the whole mystery shopping thing another look.
I'm a pessimist by nature, I see the glass half empty, and I'm always skeptical when a company claims you make millions in the first year you do business with them. You know the ones I'm talking about. So I did some research.
There are companies all over the internet advertising for people to become mystery shoppers, all you have to do is send them $19.95, blah blah blah. Excuse me? Why should I pay to become an "independent contractor" with this company? I know that it takes money to make money, I've been a wahm for over ten years (with another home business), and yes, at times it is necessary to spend some money to advance your business. But, hey, this is mystery shopping... I'm not asking to sell stuff from my home, I don't need to keep an inventory or buy advertising space. Those companies were quickly weeded out.
Then I came across a website listing all of the mystery shopping companies who they associate themselves with. I picked one, did a little check over at the Better Business Bureau web site, and guess what, they were affiliated with the BBB and had an A+ rating. Well, well, well... we just might have a winner on our hands.
I went to their web site, looked around, did a little more research and decided I'd go ahead and sign up. Right away I logged into the shopper hub and looked for shopping jobs near me. Fifteen jobs came up within a 25 mile radius of my zip code. Wow! I found one that didn't seem too in-depth and was only about 5 miles from my house. I clicked the link to request the job and chose a day that would work best with my schedule, then waited. About 4 hours later I got an email, I'd been selected to do the job.
Free Sticky Notes
This shop was simple; go to a local electronics store (they tell you which store needs to be evaluated, address and phone number are included), look around the section housing the and wait for someone to come help me. There were things I needed to keep track of while I was performing the shop; what time I got to the store, how long it took for an employee to greet me, how long before someone came to help me once I showed interest in an item, etc.). I was required to purchase a small item in the store, which I was reimbursed for, as proof of my actually being in the store at the time I said I was. No biggie, free package of sticky notes, too! eReaders
After a total of 16 minutes, I was done and headed home. The online survey was short and sweet, most were multiple choice and after submitting my survey and uploading a photo of the receipt I got when I bought my sticky notes, I was done.
Did I make a fortune? No, but I did get paid $9 for the shop and reimbursed the full $1.50 for the sticky notes.
Now, keep in mind, not all mystery shops require you to actually purchase anything... I did one for a clothing store in the local mall and all I had to do was snap a picture of the front of the store with the camera on my cell phone. And they do put a "cap" on the amount of money they will reimburse for your small purchase, most are small, in the $2 range. Others, however, will cover then entire amount of the shop.
Free Auto Services
Now, I'm not going to bore you with details of every mystery shop I've ever been on, that would be a waste of time for both of us. But this one has got to be my favorite, hands down. I've gotten the oil in my car and truck changed for free. Yep!
These shops are so simple and more profitable than some of the other shops available. For my 2006 Ford truck, I got the $50 oil change for free... AND pocketed $20 for doing the shop. In my 2008 Chevrolet sedan, the $30 oil change was free and I was paid $25 for doing the shop. And it doesn't end there! I recently realized that the brakes in my car didn't seem to be grabbing as well as they should be, I looked online and found a shop for a brake inspection not too far away. I signed up, took my car in, and found out my front brake pads were almost completely gone! I walked away knowing that this was an issue I would need to deal with quickly, and, you guessed it $12 for doing the shop.
My Personal Favorites
By now you're probably yelling at your computer screen, "Just give me the company names already!" At least, that's what I would be doing. So, here is the big web site I found that has huge list of mystery shopping companies; Mystery Shopping Solutions. You can sign up with them to receive updates about new shops from all companies.
My personal favorite 3 sites that I work with on a regular basis are; Second-To-None, IntelliShop, and BestMark (referral ID AZ6506). Now keep in mind, there are a lot more companies out there who offer a wide variety of shops, so you don't have to limit your choices to just these 3... these are my personal favorites with whom I've actually made money with.
So, I hope you can take this bit of information, along with my personal experience, and run with it. I hope to help others who are feeling the strain on their wallet.