Mystery shopping is big business. Over 1 million people in the US have mystery shopper jobs, at a cost of 800 million dollars a year to the companies employing them.A mystery shopper, or secret shopper, is someone who poses as a regular customer in order to evaluate the service and goods of the establishment that they have been sent to rate. Shops, hotels, banks, restaurants, salons and other businesses, may all use mystery shoppers as a way to improve their company.
Most businesses will go through a mystery shopper agency to recruit the shoppers needed for their tasks. Below, we explain mystery shopping in more detail, and tell you how to find work as a mystery shopper:
The Benefits of Becoming a Mystery Shopper
- You can be paid from $8 for the very simple assignments up to $50 or higher, depending on the complexity of the task, how long it will take, and if you need some area of expertise to complete it.
- On some shop assignments, you may be given a purchase allowance of a few dollars.
- There are other benefits as well. If you are given the task of evaluating the service of a restaurant, then you will be reimbursed for the meal that you purchase. You will be given a spending limit, but usually it is more than enough for a good meal.
- Free meals are not the only possible freebie you get from mystery shopper jobs. You may also be able to get movie tickets, hotel stays, haircuts, oil changes and even gas.
What You Will Need to Do for Your Mystery Shopper Job
- The mystery shopper agency that assigns you the task will give you a list of questions to ask and things to look for while you are in the shop. Afterward, you will need to fill out a survey and/or write a report which you will either scan and email in, or fax it along with any receipts for reimbursement.
- You do not need any special qualifications to get mystery shopper jobs. The only requirements are to be reliable and have good writing skills.
- Some mystery shopper companies will require you to go through their own certification program to ensure you understand all that is required of you. There should be no charge for this.
- The MSPA (Mystery Shopper Provider Association), has a 2 tier certification system. You are not required to complete these to get the mystery shopper jobs, however some mystery shopping companies will prioritize their listing for the certified shoppers. It is not free to take this certification and you can get by without it. If you intend on trying to become a mystery shopper full time, or as close to full time as you can, it may be worthwhile. The silver certification costs $15 and the gold is $99.
Finding Mystery Shopper Jobs
- BE AWARE OF SCAMS. Aside from the optional certifications from the Mystery Shopper Provider Association, you do not have to pay anything to become a mystery shopper. There is no need to pay a subscription to receive a list of shopping jobs. Legitimate companies will not charge you, and you can certainly find mystery shopper jobs without paying.
- Stick to using MSPA registered companies. This way you will know that they are for real. You can find a list of these companies at the MSPA website. Another good list is at Volition.
- If you want to take this seriously, sign up with a lot of companies to increase your chances of finding mystery shopper employment.
On the Mystery Shopper Application
- You may need to give your social security number as this is needed for tax purposes. The company will be hiring you as an independent contractor and supplying you with a W4 tax form, which allows you to earn more than $600 in a year.
- Supply your PayPal address if it is requested. This is the payment method of choice for a lot of companies. If you do not have a PayPal account, open one. It is free and easy to get.
- You will probably be required to show off your writing skills in a series of shopping related questions. Give full and informative answers and don’t forget to spell check. Remember, you want to give a good impression so that you get hired for the job.
- Check your e-mails often. Mystery shopper assignments are usually on a first come first served basis, and the best paying jobs will go quickly.
- Be willing to take the less popular assignments to build your reputation with the company.
- Complete all mystery shopping assignments on time, and if you can’t, contact the company to let them know.
- Fill out all of the provided paperwork and send it back as soon as possible.