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You Can Make Money As A Mystery Shopper

Updated on October 10, 2010

Mystery shopping is a job. It takes time and communication skills. The companies who employ mystery shoppers have a standard that they expect the shoppers to meet. Doing an evaluation on a shop is more than walking in, purchasing an item and leaving. You are required to observe many different aspects of the shop, the employees, the building, the parking lot and even the other customers. You then must file a detailed report with actuate time references and the report must be filed the day you complete the assignment.

What is a mystery shopper? A mystery shopper is a person, male or female, who as an independent contactor gathers feedback about a store’s customer service. A mystery shopper provides a service for their clients and reports the findings back to the client. As an independent mystery shopper you are your own company. You are required to pay taxes on your income. To be taxable the income must be over $600.00 a year. You must look for you own assignments, schedule them and complete the paperwork.

What do you need to become a mystery shopper?

You must be 21 years old or older.

You must have reliable transportation.

You must have online Internet access.

You must be a detailed orientated person.

You must be reliable

You must have good written and oral communication skills.

Mystery shopping should be a fun, enjoyable job. It requires your time and planning. If you think you have the qualification, let’s get started.

First step is to find a mystery shop that interests you. There are several types of shops: fast food and casual dining, retail, wholesale, car rentals, audits, trailer checks, banking, and the list goes on. Each company monitors different aspects for their company. The best way to find your comfort zone is to apply and use the trial and select method. Only you know what makes you happy and what type of mystery shopping you enjoy.

Then you need to apply. Applications vary from company to company. Some are as simple as signing up with your name, address and e-mail. Other requires a test. The test could be writing a few sentences, going through a series of pictures relating to a shop and remembering the details. And some require reading a scenario, remembering details, reviewing what is required at different shops and passing a test. Companies do not want you to fail. They give you extra chances to correct any wrong answers. Companies change the scenario from month to month, so may require you to update your profile by completing a new test. These are very simple. Do not let this fact deter you from becoming a mystery shopper.

You can apply to as many companies as you want. You might even have to apply just to find out what the company has to offer in your area or your desired type of shop. This means you may apply to a company only to discover they do not have any stores in your state. Once you find such a company, list it on a paper and label it, “Do not apply list.” Include a brief reason why it made this list. The company name may pop up again and again in your searching. If you have a physical written list, you will save yourself time and effort. There are hundreds and hundreds of companies. They are not all the right combination for you.

A scheduler, assigners, or company representative will review your application. If chosen you will receive an e-mail with a shoppers ID and password. You need to make a list of these facts. These numbers will be different at each of your shops.

Now you are ready to go to the company home page and start working. Each site is set up differently. Some have, ‘research,’ some have, ‘job boards,’ and some just list available assignments by towns. You click on any listing that interest you. Check out what the assignment requires and decide to accept or decline or just keep looking. You do not have to accept any assignments. You chose only the ones you can complete on time and those that interest you. The payment for completing shops varies as much as the companies requirements. Some companies pay monthly, some every 45 days, and a few pay twice a month. You should keep a record of these facts and keep track of your completed assignments.

Remember it is always FREE to sign up to become a mystery shopper. If a site asks you to purchase something or offers you a gift for signing up, don’t sign up. These are scams. Other scams include: receiving a big check to a mystery shopper and asks them to deposit the check. Then the shopper is asked to mail just a small portion back and you keep the rest. They get your cash and you get nothing. The check is not worth the paper it is printed on and you are out of your money. Another type of scam is asking a mystery shopper to buy a product to review and they will then send you a gift card. You pay for the product and you get nothing. Another scam for a mystery shopper is when the company offers to sell a product to get you started on your mystery shopping career. The product is an e-book or a list of mystery shops. They take your money for a book or list that is offered FREE online. Beware of these scams. You should not be required to make any purchase to become a mystery shopper. Some companies ask you to make a purchase, but you are reimbursed. Only make a purchase after you have been accepted as a shopper and only after you have been assigned the shop.

Yes, you can make money as a mystery shopper. How much can you make? Your income will depend on your organizational skills, your time scheduling skills and your commitment. It could be as little or as much as you want. Mystery shopping is more than spying on employees, checking stores for cleanliness or making sure your service is timely. Mystery shopping included eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, going to the movies, shopping, pet care, and even playing golf all for free. Plus you are paid for doing all these activities. Your pay can be anywhere from a few dollars to one hundred dollars.


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      8 years ago

      Great article! I am currently in between jobs and did some research on mystery shopping and am currently signed up for a couple of great companies! I don't get rich like some of the scams state, but I definitely make some extra cash (along with meal reimbursements, automotive service reimbursements, etc.).

      I landed with a great company called BestMark; they have a lot of shops in my area with a lot of variety. I actually heard about them because I received one of those scam checks to wire money somewhere and looked further into MS companies. I found this article helpful in figuring out how to find legitimate companies: . We all know that there are tons of scams going on right now and it’s best to do your research before you sign up for anything!

      I haven’t had any problems yet with BestMark; my state scheduler is awesome and the reports are easy and the pay is decent. I am also signed up with MarketForce but they don’t have many jobs around me. If you guys want to try a legit company I would definitely suggest visiting


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