Mystery Shoppers pose as customers to make behind-the-scenes discoveries for businesses. For example, they evaluate if the store was clean, if the sales representative greeted you within a certain amount of time, if the order was correctly inputted into the system, etc. Many businesses hire mystery shoppers to learn how customers perceive the shopping experience. Mystery shoppers report their experiences, not their opinions. Businesses who hire them can be department stores, salons, banks, restaurants, rental car agencies, apartment complexes, gyms, health care settings, and others. Most businesses will give the Mystery Shopper a survey to complete after the visit.
In order to avoid scams, you should only apply for mystery shopping jobs that are a part of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). This association has a web site, http://www.mysteryshop.org that lists the legitimate places to apply for jobs. This site lists over 150 reputable organizations, and none of these organizations charge a fee to apply. If you do see any places that charge a fee to apply, don’t, as these are assuredly scams. Also, if a place is offering to pay you $100 an hour or to keep expensive merchandise, it is also most likely a scam.
Mystery Shoppers get paid by the assignment, not the hour. Because the time for each shopping trip and type of experience varies, you can earn anywhere from $8 to over $150 for an assignment. The retail stores that offer a budget for purchases usually only give you a few dollars, but you can often get free meals in restaurants, free spa and beauty treatments, and free tickets to events. Most of the bigger ticket items and assignments are given to people with a lot of experience.
In order to qualify for a job, you must be a good writer. The companies who hire mystery shoppers also expect you to be very well organized and professional, and some businesses also require you to take an on-line training course. This costs money, and is offered on the MSPA web site. By taking this training, you will earn a silver certification which shows the employer that you are familiar with the rules of being a professional shopper. You can also take a one-day training class that will earn you the next tier as a gold certified shopper. Not all businesses require that you this training.
Mystery shopping is a job field where most people hire on part-time, and very few people ever work as full-time Mystery Shoppers. You would have to be hired by many different companies and carefully organize your schedule to try to get by full-time. Due to the fact that the assignments fluctuate, it is not recommended that you try to work more than a few hours a week. This is a job that people take on to supplement their full-time salaries.
Unlike most other fields, you will be asked some very personal questions in order to get jobs as a Mystery Shopper. Questions that are not legal in most business settings are acceptable in this field because businesses want to match the right person with the right assignment. You wouldn’t, for example, want to send a male into a nail salon. Certain profiles of people fit certain jobs.
Mystery Shopping can be a fun way to make extra money each month. The variations in assignments make the job interesting, but the key is to only apply at reputable web sites. Also, you should never rely on a set income, as the pay varies each month based on your assignments.