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Mystery Shopping Tips

Mystery shopping (also known as secret shopping) is a nice method of earning extra money. Although some people are successful enough to be able to earn a full time income from mystery shopping jobs, this is normally considered a part time or side income.

As a mystery shopper you can be assigned to various stores, restaurants, banks, theatres and other places of business to secretly monitor the service and environment. You are not there to spy on the business or to try to catch anyone doing anything wrong, but more to evaluate your experience as an average customer.

Companies want to know what their customers are experiencing in their places of business. Are they being served promptly? Is the area clean? Are the product shelves organized and stocked, or messy and empty? These are the type of things companies want to know and why they hire mystery shoppers. Of course if you do notice employee theft or poor service, you will note that in your report, as well as if you experienced exceptional service.

To be a successful mystery shopper, the most important skills are the ability to be unbiased, very observant, prepare detailed reports, reliable and well written.

The best way to get started in Mystery Shopping is to apply to as many companies as possible. If there are 100 shops that service the area you live in, apply to all 100. It is also important to become active on forums and message boards and other places that will allow you to network with schedulers. Schedulers are the people that control who is offered which job, so you’ll want to network and make the schedulers aware of you and your availability. You can find some mystery shopping forums in this list.

If you are offered a job that you know you won’t have time for, or if you know that you don’t want it because of the job specifications or the pay, don’t be afraid to say no right from the start. It’s very, very important to be reliable and not accept a job only to cancel or not show at the last minute. That type of behavior will not endear you to the schedulers, but they will respect your decision to not take a job right from the start. Sometimes you have no choice but to cancel a shop, just give your scheduler as much notice as you possibly can so that the scheduler has time to find someone else.

Pay rates vary depending on how detailed or what is involved in the shop. You need to determine what is worthwhile to you. When just starting you may decide that the pay rate is not as important as building experience and building a working relationship with the scheduler. As with any type of job, the more reliable and the more experience one has with mystery shopping, the better opportunities come your way. Once you build some experience, you may decide to pass the shops that are reimbursement only or pay less than $15 or $20. You have full freedom in choosing what you’ll accept and what you won’t.

To find companies that hire mystery shoppers, feel free to browse through our free mystery shopping list. Apply to as many that appeal to you. You should never have to pay a company to be on their hire list. To our knowledge, all the businesses we’ve listed here do not require a fee.

For tax reasons a company may ask you for your social security number. It is suggested that you not supply your number on the many applications you will be filling out, but wait until you are hired for a job. You can mention in your application that you are willing to provide your SSN upon job hire.

You may also wish to check out the forums and groups that focus on mystery shopping for more information.

Mystery shopping is not suited for everyone, and some geographical areas provide more opportunities than others, but it can provide a nice income boost to those who are dedicated to the industry.

Good luck with your mystery shopping endeavors!