In the spirit of making money extra money on your own time, I've decided to discuss mystery shopping, if it is a legit way to make money, and how to find mystery shopping jobs. First, you probably want to know, is mystery shopping a legit way to make money, or is it all one big scam?
The answer is, yes you can make money mystery shopping.
Unlike the survey's I write about, I don't have personal proof of this. In all honesty, I prefer making money from taking surveys. But mystery shopping is closely related and is an appealing way to make extra cash. I completely understand that, which is why I would like to help you out by providing my findings from some extensive research I did on the subject.
What is Mystery Shopping?
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Mystery Shopping is basically a version of online surveys except you actually go to the stores or restaurants and evaluate them there. This is very similar to product testing, but you have to leave the house. Just like online surveys and product testing, stores and restaurants want real feedback from consumers. This is how they make decisions or evaluate individual stores along with employees.
These retailers hire research marketing companies to take care of this. The retailers and mystery shopping companies come up with areas that they would like to get feedback on, and it is the mystery shopping companies job to find mystery shoppers to get the information first hand.
This can be anything from going and buying a coat, while noting the customer service, the selection, and other aspects of your shopping experience. It could also be going to a restaurant to evaluate a meal, along with how you are treated there, and things related to that.
Typically, the shopper is reimbursed for the assignment and get's paid some money on top of that. Shopping assignments can vary in pay, but are typically $5 to $25.
How to Avoid Mystery Shopping Scams?
Unfortunately, just like with taking online surveys, there is the chance that you may run into a person trying to scam you with mystery shopping. However, there are a few guidelines that you can follow to make sure you don't get scammed. They are pretty similar to avoiding survey scams.
- Research the mystery shopping site that you are interested in.
- I do have a list that I recommend below, but since I focus on survey companies, I still recommend researching them more
- BBB is a good place to start
- Never pay to join a mystery shopping company
- This is exactly like online survey companies. They are supposed to pay you, not the other way around.
- Avoid the wiring money scam
- This is the most common scam. It involves a “company” sending you a check, which you then deposit, and withdraw cash to wire them money to “test” a money wiring service, such as Western Union. The check ends up being fake, but this is found out too late, and you have already sent the money and are held accountable for it by your bank.
- Don't do business with mystery shopping agencies that:
- Promote in the “help wanted” section of the newspaper or with unsolicited emails and phone calls
- Require you pay for a certificate
- Guarantee you a job (you have to apply for mystery shopping jobs)
- Charge any fees
- Sell directories of companies (here is a directory for free)
- Ask you deposit and wire money
If you are unfortunately scammed by a company, make sure to report it immediately to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and/or Your State’s Attorney General.
If you follow the rules above, you should be able to avoid scams.
If you would like a list of 100 legitimate mystery shopping sites to get started with, click the link below to expand the list:
How to Make More Money with Mystery Shopping
As with anything in life, there are different ways to do things. With all my survey reviews, I take pride in showing you the best way to make the most money with these survey companies.
Since I am being honest about not being a mystery shopper, the best I can do is share with you the general mystery shopping tips I came across to make mystery shopping work better for you.
- Take it seriously
- Just because you are getting paid to eat fast food, doesn't mean it is not a serious job. Companies are paying for your opinion, so make sure you take it seriously
- Prepare for your job
- If you had to complete at task at work, you would have notes with you so you remember what to do. Before going into a restaurant or store, review in your car what is needed from you.
- Accept every assignment that comes your way
- Since you have to apply for mystery shopping, you basically need to have a good resume. The more mystery shopper jobs you have done, the better your application will work
- Be reliable
- If you can complete assignments on time, and get all the required information, companies will trust you more.
- Find a few “core” companies
- If you follow all the tips above, you will be building trust with these companies. If you find a few core companies that you begin to build a relationship with, you should try to do their assignments over other companies assignments if there is a conflict of time. Building these relationships will result in these companies coming to your more often with work
My Thoughts on Mystery Shopping
Not that it really matters, but I thought I would give my opinion on if mystery shopping is a good way to make money.
For me personally, I don't prefer mystery shopping. The payout is not high enough to account for my time of having to leave my house, drive to the store or restaurant and shop, then write up the experience and drive back home. Applying for these jobs is also time consuming and doesn't guarantee work.
Comparing this with surveys, where I can hop on my computer at home or in a coffee shop and start to earn money immediately is much more appealing to me.
If you'd like to see the companies that I use to make money, here is my list.
But this is simply my opinion. Mystery Shopping is a completely legit way to make money, and if you enjoy shopping, it maybe great for you.
If you'd like more information on mystery shopping, I recommend checking out mysteryshop.org. (However, realize that you don't need to buy their certificate to search and apply for jobs, which you can do here).
What are your thoughts on mystery shopping? Do you prefer online surveys or going to shops and restaurants and evaluating them? Let me know in the comments.Advertiser Disclosure: We get a commission for some of the links on the blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners.