Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting Started as a Mystery Shopper

So many times people see advertisements around the internet regarding Secret Shopper, Mystery Shopper or simply, Make Money Shopping!

And then, right after that, you can click to sign up and pay for a list of companies.

Want to know my advice?

I am sure you guessed right...DO NOT PAY!!!!!

These lists can be found for free if you go to the right sites! And, I plan to bring you many, many companies you can sign up with for free and begin shopping immediately.

It is a waste of money to pay someone for what you can easily attain on your own. So, let me start by saying, I have made over $400 a year in compensation ( free dinners, products, haircuts, etc ) by mystery shopping. AND, I do this very occasionally. I have three small children at home with me, so I can't devote time to signing up for actual "shopping" shops.

They want you to pay attention to details, stay in the stores a certain amount of time, and other things I cannot do with three kids in tow. Primarily, I have only done restaurant shops that are children friendly. A few times, I have done bank shops, mattress shops and even clothing stores.

But, in general, for me, I stick to restaurants. My husband is with me then, so I am able to pay closer attention to what is happening around me.

My point to telling you all this is that if you have the time and ability to tackle all the other mystery shops out there, you can potentially make a lot more than I have. I use my shops strictly for free dinners out for me and the family. We usually go out at least once a month for free. My husband and I have also gotten to go to nice establishments alone, that we probably wouldn't want to pay the money for otherwise.

Have I peaked your interest? Are you ready to get started, too?

Here is some helpful advice when signing up.

  • Roboform will be your friend. Click here to download. It will automatically autofill your information in, so you don't have to refill your application out again and again per site. This will save you alot of time. And, believe me, it will take a while to sign up for all the companies.
  • Don't be shocked when they ask for your social security number. They are running a company, and are required to report income over a certain level ( I believe $500, but I am not positive ) to the IRS.
  • I would also recommend setting up a new email address strictly for mystery shopping. I get many, many offers a day for shops. My inbox is full. And, if these are mixed in with your normal email inbox, you will either lose job opportunities or personal emails. It is just not wise to mix them. You can always go to yahoo for a free email account or hotmail. But, please...get a new mailbox.
  • You do NOT need to be certified. You will notice when you sign up at all these sites they mention being certified. Do not let this stop you from signing up and applying for shops. I get shops monthly, and I am not certified. I, also, get a very high rating every time I submit a report, which then reflects on my work in itself. I am not saying paying the money to get certified is not beneficial if you are going to be doing this alot, but if you are just doing it to make a little extra here and there like me, it really doesn't seem worth it and it is not necessary.
  • Check email daily. The opportunities come in throughout the day for me, and I apply immediately to something I want. I am not sure how they ultimately decide who gets what shop, but I know I have been trying to work the Bonefish Grill for 2 years, and I have yet to be awarded the shop. There are some shops like that. They pay well, and everyone wants them. So, make sure you check your account at least once a day, if serious about this, and apply for the shops you want to perform. They will then, generally, get back to you within a week or so to let you know if you have it. And, many times, you will get an automated email if you don't get the shop, too. In addition, some shops are on a first come first serve basis. So, if you aren't the lucky first applicant to accept, you don't get it.

Now, as far as the work involved, it isn't bad. You will get the complete questionnaire you need to fill out before you go. So, it is VERY important to read through the whole thing. This allows you to know what key points you are looking for at this particular location.

For example, some stores might require employees to have certain colored shirts and that women have their hair pulled back. Well, if you didn't know to look for this, you might not have noticed. And, in most cases, if you can't complete the form adequately afterward, you won't get paid. But, don't let this frighten you, because it is not hard at all. I am just telling you in order to make sure you find out what you are looking for before you go. Read through all your material!

Next, most shops require you enter your data within a day or so. Believe me, it is very beneficial to complete the questionnaire the same day while everything is fresh in your mind. Most shops will not allow you to take pen and paper in to write notes ( hence why it is called a mystery ). So, alot of it is relying on your memory. And, your memory is the freshest when you first come home from the shop.

I hope all of that information is helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have specific questions about mystery shopping.

Happy Shopping!


Jessica said...

When you eat out with your family, do they pay for you in advance or do you get reimbersed for your meal?

Elizabeth said...

Wow! Neat program! How long have you been doing it? What are the pros and cons?

The Loden's said...

Have you given out the sites for the shops yet? I am new to your site and have not found them yet if you have

S said...

I just signed up I think? with the Intellishop....that is a confusing process. The person on the phone was of little help. We will see what happens

Shayna said...

Where do we go to sign up?

EMG said...

I was just considering the other day becoming a mystery shopper but dont know where to begin, would you be able to point me in the right direction? I would want to do this as my actual job, is there anyway to make around $150 a week?

Elizabeth said...

I have some of the same questions that are already posted. How do you know where to even begin?

Danielle Miller said...

I just started mystery shopping. Did a restaurant yesterday. It was so much fun!!! I found that having to be more aware of my surroundings made me be more "in the moment" and not somewhere else in my mind. It made for a more enjoyable dining experience in all sorts of ways. Plus, nice to know in advance that if I get crappy service (which often happens, but not this time) then I get to complain and actually be heard.

Love it, love it, love it! I've already been accepted for another one this week. This time it's a retail shop. I've applied to another one that sounds like fun too but haven't found out if I'm accepted yet.

So answer another's question here, pros . . . I think I already answered. Cons, you do have to front the money, they reimburse you later. And it looks like payment can take a long time. The retail one says they will process at end of month, then payment will be applied to your paypal account within 60 days. That's a long time to get paid for work done.

Freelancebyu.com said...

Hey Carrie ,
FYI the bonefish grill shops can only be done every so many months and your shopper rating reports need to be a certain score (I am unsure of what they are) but I have shopped them 2x and love it! also I have a list of my mystery shops http://www.freelancebyu.com/mysteryshop.htm (mine is EDITED to only those that I or other freelancers have shopped and been paid for)
and volition has a large unedited list as well.

Chrissy said...

I just want to say thank you. I stumbled on your site last week and I have always wanted to do this just didn't know where to start. I was able to sign up from your information. Found out in my area there are a lot of need for mystery shoppers. I have done yesterday my 1st 3 job's (sonic, Party America & Jim's Formal Wear) Today I did (Dillon's-Kroger) Tomorrow I have another (Sonic )job and Monday a (state farm) job. I will get reimbursed for 2 meals, 1 Gift wrap and $9 worth of grocery's and will be receiving so far $79 from these jobs.

Thank you

Carrie said...

I LOVE mystery shopping!! I go to volition.com and find all sites to register for FREE!! I have been a shopper for 4 years now and complete regular demonstration locations I also found on that site. I have completed every kind of shop you can imagine and it is fun!

Kate said...

I signed up for a site that uses the SASSIE system, then went to another company that also showed the SASSIE system. Do I need to sign up again, or does the system list you with every company automatically?

Craig said...

These are some very useful tips for someone starting out, I've been a little bored recently in my free time and thought I'd consider giving mystery shopping a go. From the comments I've read, it sounds like it's actually quite fun and I can't wait to get started.

anieb said...

This is one of the best posts that I’ve ever seen; you may include some more ideas in the same theme about Mystery Shopping. I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post.

Jack Angus Braid said...

yes mystery shopping is a good way to earn extra money, especially for student and a housewives, and there's many Mystery Shopping Companies that provide great offer