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Mystery Shopping with Bestmark - A Review
Bestmark - At A Glance
Name of service:
Type(s) of work:
Mystery shopping, store sudits
Varies, see article
Internet access, browser, cell phone with camera
I have been investigating various work from home opportunities for a while, but there is one type I have not covered yet: mystery shopping. I have been mystery shopping for a few months now, but only with one company. My experience has been good and soon I will write a review of that company, but I am waiting for a dispute to be settled first. However, my girlfriend has been pushing me to try other companies as well and write hubs about it. So, if you like the article(s) give her some thanks too! If you sign up for Bestmark, my referral code is VA11815. If you put that in the signup form, I may get a bonus when you complete your first shop. For more on how the referral program works, read on!
The first thing I have to say is this: no legitimate mystery shopping company will ask you for money to get listed. Nor should they ask you to perform check cashing, money transfer or Western Union transfers. If they do, do not give them any personal information! Unfortunately there are many scammers in this field, many using the names of or similar to legitimate companies, so be wary. Second, you will not make a fortune at this, but you can make some extra money, and in the process receive items or services for free. For example, as we speak I make about $60 - $90 a month with the company I am currently performing shops for. Most of the work I perform for them is in grocery stores, secretly pricing lists of items. For about an hour in the store I make $8.00 plus up to $12.00 in reimbursed items at the store. As you can see, you have to make a purchase, and they reimburse you for it, which equals free groceries (or free beer which is better)! This is to verify that you were at the store, or to evaluate certain aspects of the establishment. The amount varies depending on the type of task, but the mystery shopping company itself should never ask you for upfront money, it is a (normally small) purchase made where you are shopping.
There is also an association, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). They provide services for both mystery shopping companies and mystery shoppers. Having only performed work for one company so far I have not spent much time there yet, but intend to do more research there and report it to my readers.
For now, I am about to sign up with Bestmark, a mystery shopping company my research has told me is reputable.
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Signup process review:
After looking over the bestmark.com home page, I clicked the ‘Become A Shopper’ link at the top. The resulting page game me an overview of the two types of workers they have, and the requirements for them. The sign up page also includes links to areas they perform mystery shops, but you cannot see jobs until you apply and login.
The signup process consists of four pages: basic information such as name and email, then a page with a few questions about your skills and how you heard of Bestmark, a demographics page, and finally a page asking about availability and experience (only if you sign up for the auditing program).
At this point, they review your application; it is not an instant electronic process. After exactly one day of waiting, I received an email stating that my account was approved and active and showing some jobs in my area. Upon logging in for the first time after approval there were several different terms for me to agree too, some for specific Bestmark clients, and others dealing with Bestmark terms and policies. For example, for one client, it basically stated that I would not divulge customer information and that it was the property of the company, and that I would not enter any employee areas without an employee escort. In addition it stated that I would follow all rules of the particular task, be courteous and not destroy company equipment, displays or merchandise. I have not found anything terrible or that would violate your rights. It all seems common sense and made to protect both you and the company from damages. Still it is a good idea to read all of these before agreeing to them. It may be boring, but you want to know what is required of you and of Bestmark and its clients. It may also be advisable to print them and keep them on file.
After agreeing to all the terms, the website told me my profile was out of date, and that I needed to login. Not having received any login credentials, I requested them through the link on the page and updated my profile, which had more information on it than I recalled from the sign-up the day before. This seemed a little clunky, but was otherwise doable.
Have you ever Mystery Shopped?
Once logged in the site is laid out cleanly and is easy to navigate. I was able to quickly search for shops and audits by area as well as request my first shop. There was not much available in my area at this time, but having experience with another company tells me that more may post towards the beginning of the month, at least in my area, so I will wait and report back on that aspect.
There is a FAQ section detailing payment, as well as a ‘Bestmark University’ where you train and test to perform audits, which are more intensive than mystery shops.
There is a referral program. When others sign up they put your shopper ID in a field on the sign up page. I read a blog on Bestmark, as part of my research, and used her code, I invite you do to the same for me, but it is not necessary. My code is VA11815. The referral program is a little complex. At a glance, it appears that they recruit in different areas at different times, and the amount you receive for a referral varies by area. Also, they do general recruitment and recruitment for people that own specific items. For instance in my area they seem to be doing quit a bit of recruiting for people who own specific makes of vehicles. I would guess this is because they have mystery shops or audits for dealership service for those vehicles, so need individuals who own them. The referral amount varies from two to twenty-five dollars.
I performed my first shop for Bestmark today. The shop itself was fairly easy, and took about 40 minutes. Entry time for the survey was about 20 minutes, and travel time was about 10. So all told I spent close to an hour and a half on this shop, and should make $10.00. That works out to about minimum wage. Hopefully I can shave time off as I get used to their surveys.
One item I do not like about Bestmark is that you know what city the store is in, but you do cannot see the store until you accept the job. You may be able to guess given the nature of the shop, but that is not very useful. It does show distance, but I do not know how accurate that measurement is. I use shop location information to help determine if a shop is worthwhile, and the other company I perform shops for gives you that information up front.
I will report how they judge my work and payment as it occurs.