Over that past few months I’ve had the opportunity to get free meals, movies, clothes and groceries. How’d I do it? I became a mystery shopper. Getting paid to shop can be fun, but it’s also a lot of work. I can’t make a living from mystery shopping, but it does give me a chance to afford a nice meal at a restaurant or a new piece of clothing each month. Mystery shopping can also be done for things like veterinarian visits, oil changes and gas stations. Here are some things that I’ve learned from my mystery shopping experiences:
Work with Reputable Companies
There are several mystery shopping companies out there. Take the time to make sure that they’re legitimate and NEVER trust a company that makes you pay to shop for them. The application process for mystery shopping companies typically involves completing a form and some will also ask you to describe past shopping experiences or take a short quiz. Don’t rush through your application and make sure that your writing reflects that you will be able to write detailed shopping reports.
Some good companies include with A Closer Look , BestMark and Retail Eyes. The Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (MSPA) is a great resource to find companies. MSPA offers certification, but I’ve never needed it to get accepted to a company. It may take some trial and error to find companies that offer shops that you’ll like in your area, but the large number of companies out there ensures that at least one probably will.
There are mystery shoppers who get the chance to perform shops for cruises and five star restaurants, but these shops are competitive and given to experienced shoppers. I started off with smaller casual dining restaurants and coffee shops to get used to remembering multiple details about my experience and the process of writing those details in a report for the company. The companies will give you detailed instructions and a copy of the report you will fill out after a shop. Be sure to read this information thoroughly so you will know what to do during the shop.
Other Things to Know
- You’ll typically pay out of pocket during the shop and it usually takes about 45 days to get reimbursed.
- Reports usually must be completed between 12 and 24 hours after a shop. An editor will review your report and you must be available during the days following your submission to answer any follow-up questions she may have.
- Don’t use your primary email address with the companies. They will send you a lot of information about available shops that can flood your inbox.
I hope that helps take some of the mystery out of mystery shopping! Feel free to ask any unanswered questions in the comments.