Mystery shopping is a tool used by market research companies or by companies themselves to measure quality of service, or compliance with regulation, or to gather specific information about products and services. The purpose and identity of the mystery shopper are generally not known by the company or service being evaluated. While this job isn't intended to fulfill your monthly expenses, it's an opportunity to earn some extra cash.
Beware of scams. Never pay money to join a company to become one of their shoppers. Make sure the mystery shopping company is a member of the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association (MSPA).
MSPA is the official organization responsible for regulating mystery shopping companies. The objectives of the MSPA is to establish professional standards for the industry, educate providers, improve quality of services for clients and shoppers and to promote members to other industry associations and prospective clients. Varying certification levels are offered to their members. See the MSPA site for details.
There are several reputable mystery shopping companies. The following companies are free to join: Best Mark, Sinclair Customer Metrics, Market Force, Intelli-shop and Experience Exchange. Once you register with these companies, the company will email you with shop offers based on your preferences, provide you with shop offers via their mobile app or you can browse the offers through the mystery shops online job board. You can search by zip code or city and select a radius within that location. You can then apply to the mystery shop of your choice.
Once approved, the mystery shop will assign a due date to complete the mystery shop on or before. You then have a limited time to log into their site and provide your feedback. If any purchases are made during your mystery shop, the company may grant a full or partial refund depending on the assignment given. Your chances of increasing your shop request approval can be based on multiple factors; you have previously worked with the mystery shop, have high shopper ratings, conduct your mystery shop timely with no prior cancellations or no shows, have an MSPA certification and have registered with IC Pro as an Independent Contractor.
A quality Mystery Shopper should be open minded and objective with each shop job. Following directions, detail oriented and strong memory retention are all skills that one should have to complete a detailed and concise report. Mystery Shoppers need to be friendly to hold conversations with the people at the mystery shop establishment. Providing honest feedback is also essential.
Mystery shopper jobs pay may vary depending on the mystery shopper job. Jobs can pay between $8 and $25 each. The more you shop and become a reputable shopper, the more you can get paid per job. Read this Forbes article to hear about one person's experience mystery shopping and how they saved their shopper earnings over time to purchase a car. Again, this is not intended to become a full-time career but a supplement to your existing income.
If you enjoy interacting with people, appreciate good service and would love to have some extra pocket money, then becoming a Mystery Shopper may be for you.