Saturday, April 4, 2015

How to Land a Great Mystery Shopping Job

If you love shopping and enjoying delicious meals—all on someone else’s dime—you might consider becoming a mystery shopper. These clandestine shoppers supply instant feedback to companies in regard to their customer service, cleanliness and other operational areas all while earning extra bucks to spend at home.

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1. What is a mystery shopper?

If you’ve always heard the term, but never understood what a mystery shopper does—here are the basics. Companies hire mystery shoppers to enter their stores while shopping and interacting with the employees all while maintaining their anonymity. Hence the name ‘mystery’ shopper as the store never knows when it is being shopped by such an individual. 

As a mystery shopper, you may be required to order or purchase a certain item, say a certain phrase to an employee or require a certain service all while reviewing the situation at hand. For example if you are required to purchase a shirt in a specific size from a store and the shop employee responds enthusiastically and is helpful—you would probably give them a positive review. If the employee responds with a surly attitude, you would annotate that response in order for the company to improve their customer service. 

As a mystery shopper, you are expected to make purchases out of your own pocket, but you will be reimbursed for the purchase as well as your time. So if you were required to go to Jamaica Joe’s and order an enchilada platter—you might pay for the meal in person, but you will eventually be recompensed. In essence, you receive a free meal while being paid to eat it. Typically, a mystery shopper receives anywhere from $5-$20 per shopping assignment.

2. How do you become a mystery shopper?

First, let’s cover the 'don'ts' in regard to looking for a mystery shopper job. Don’t reply to emails or texts which promise $200 per mystery shopper experience. These are obvious scams. You also should never pay up front to become a mystery shopper. While you will be paying for the merchandise or food while on the job, you should never be required to pay to become a mystery shopper.

Check around online for mystery shopper availability. This will depend upon your locale. Obviously bigger cities with higher populations will require more mystery shoppers while rural areas may have a scarcity of openings. You can look on ad sites, mystery shopper forums and even in your local newspaper (or online newspaper) for jobs. 

When you find a mystery shopper job which seems to suit you—verify the company’s reputation. Search online and ensure the company you are about to work for is legitimate. 

3. What about mystery shopper companies with strict guidelines?

While you may think of shying away from companies with strict guidelines, consider that they care about their reputation and want to provide the stores and restaurants receiving mystery shoppers exemplary service. These companies are actually ideal to work with as they tend to not be fly-by-night services—here one day and gone the next. Plus, with clearly written guidelines, you are never left wondering what the right response is in regard to a certain situation (such as if an employee identifies you as a mystery shopper—you would want to know the appropriate response ahead of time.)

4. How often do mystery shoppers get paid?

While each company creates their own rules in regard to payment, expect to be paid at least monthly. You should also expect to fill out and sign a W9 form for tax purposes in regard to your working with a company as a mystery shopper. Payments consist of checks, direct deposits or PayPal payments.

5. How do you find assignments?

Once you’ve signed up with a company, you should gain access to their forums and message boards. Assignments will be posted there and it’s up to you to snatch up the right assignments. Remember, you will be helping companies audit their customer service and performing quality control so pick assignments you feel comfortable performing while you are getting acquainted with mystery shopping.

6. Who sets the rules for my mystery shopping?

While the company you work for sets the main rules, each retail store will have its own particular rules and guidelines in regard to mystery shopping. Ensure you understand what is expected of you before your trip out.

Mystery shopping is a great way to earn a few bucks while getting out of the house and shopping. Whether it’s a side job done during your lunchtime or a source of income for a stay-at-home parent, mystery shopping is an ideal job for anyone who loves to shop.


This contribution comes from Sentry Marketing Group, a customer data collection agency. They handle competitive analysis, customer audits, as well as mystery shopping in Dallas and surrounding areas.

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