Mystery shopping (not mistery shopper!) or secret shopping has been portrayed on the web as a great way of making extra money on the side for those who love to shop and dine. There are hundreds of reviews about alleged legit mystery shopper companies out there, claiming that so many people are earning a decent income as panel members on these companies.
Are there really legitimate mystery shopper jobs offered by trusted research companies, or is this whole thing nothing but a giant scam and fraud?…
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What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping or a mystery consumer is basically a tool that market research companies use to help companies and businesses learn about the quality of service provided by their employees, as well as their compliance to industry rules and regulation.
Mystery shopping is used by many different industries. However, retail stores, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, fast food chains and banks are some of the industries that use mystery shoppers more than others.
As a secret shopper, whose identity is obviously unknown (to the workers and employees where you shop), you will simply shop or dine at a specific store or restaurant, then report back your experience with the employees and their service by filling out questioners or by answering a few questions over the phone.
Remember that time you went to McDonald and the employee forgot to give you the straw for your soda, or was extremely rude to you when you asked for some extra napkins!?…And do you remember how badly you wanted to report them to a manager or their employer?…
Well, that’s one of the example scenarios that McDonald and other companies would like to avoid. So they are willing to pay you, yes pay you, to report those instances to them.
Of course, they are not doing this to annoy the workers or scare them, this is done so that the employers can come up with better plans to improve the quality of their customer service in general. It falls along the lines of paid surveys and focus groups. It’s a win win for all!
If you have to only sign up for one paid survey site to make money with, I recommend Ipsos-iSay. Ipsos is the most fun and well-paying panel. Give it a try to see how you like it. It is free anyway!
Some of the things that are in focus when it comes to mystery shopping jobs, are:
- How many employees you saw when entered the store
- How long it took before an employee greeted you.
- What was the name of the employee who you interacted with
- Whether or not the employee was friendly
- How fast was the service
- How clean were the store and the employees themselves
- Whether or not you found everything you needed
- Were you invited to come back again
- Did an employee suggested other products
As you can see, these are things that we as consumers always talk/complain about. So, by conducting such studies, companies and businesses are hoping to improve these conditions to make the shopping experience a more pleasant experience for all of us.
Needless to say, you will be rewarded for your time and effort. In some cases, not only they cover your purchases and pay you for the assignment, they will also let you keep the items for free. That is why there are many people who are talking about secret shopping jobs as a way of making a living.
Secret Shopper Jobs Scam
Sadly, just like paid surveys and scams involved with it, scammers have found a way to rip off unsuspecting people who are interested in becoming a paid legitimate mystery shopper. That is why it is important to research and learn as much as you can before joining any company claiming to be a legit mystery shopping jobs provider, so you can avoid mystery shopper scams.
The most famous scam is known as the “mystery shopping wire transfer scam“. Here is how it works…
You get “Hired” to be mystery shopper. They tell you that as your first assignment, you will be evaluating a money transfer service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram. So, they will send you a check and ask you to deposit the check to your account, then withdraw it in cash, and wire some of that money to a third-party and keep the rest as your reward.
How great is that, you just earned some cash for a few minuets work, right?…
Well, unfortunately, in the next few days, you will realize that the check was fake. But it’s too late now, as you have just sent money from your own bank account to somebody who you don’t know!
And if you didn’t haven enough money to cover that wire transfer you did earlier, because the check has just bounced, by law, you are required to pay your bank back the amount they wired.
It’s an awful situation to be in, and one that many hundreds of people have found themselves in. I truly hope you never have to face that, but if you have ever been a victim of such a scam, or any other mystery shopping related scam, you should report it to either The Federal Trade Commission or your state Attorney General.
How to Become a Mystery Shopper?
Well, to be a legitimate secret shopper, all you have to do is find legitimate mystery shopping companies and apply to become their panel member for free.
Now, finding legit and trusted companies is another story. With all the scams out there, it is kind of hard and time consuming to do that. That is why I have gathered a list of more than 100 companies, most of which are members of MSPA, (Mystery Shopping Providers) Of North America.
Mystery Shopper Jobs
A Closer Look
A Customer’s Point of View
A Top Shop
ABA Quality Merchandising
ALCOPS – Allied Corporate Protection Services
Ann Michaels & Assoc
Ardent Services Inc.
Associate Consumer Evaluations, LLC
At Random Communications
At Your Service Marketing
Ath Power Consulting Corporation
Bare Associates International Inc
Barry Leads & Associates Inc.
Beyond Hello Inc
BMA Mystery Shopping & Incentive Programs
Business Evaluation Services
Cirrus Marketing Consultants
Commercial Service Systems
Consumer Research Group
Corporate Research International
Count On Us
Coyle Hospitality Group
Creative Image Consultants (CIA), Inc.
Cross Financial Group
Customer Service Experts, Inc
Customer Service Profiles
Data Quest Ltd.
David Sparks & Associates
Devon Hill Associates
Douglas Stafford North America, Inc.
Ellis Property Management Services
Evaluation Systems for Personnel (ESP)
Excel Shopping & Consulting
Focus on Service
Franchise Compliance Inc.
Graymark Security Group
Greet America Inc.
Hilli Dunlap Enterprises, Inc.
HR & Associates
IAG Infinity Assurance Group
Instant Reply Inc
J.M. Ridgway Co. Inc.
Kern Scheduling Services
LeBlanc & Associates
Management Consultant Group, LLC
Market Viewpoint, LLC
Marketing Systems Unlimited
MarketWise Consulting Group, Inc.
Melinda Brody & Company
Michelson & Associates, Inc.
Mintel International Group Ltd
Mystery Guest, Inc
Mystery Shopping Solutions
National Shopping Service Network, LLC
Nationwide Services Group
Northwest Mystery Shopping Service
Pacific Research Group
Pat Henry Group
Person To Person Quality
Premier Service Consulting
Promotional Network, Inc.
Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers, LLC
The Quest for Best Mystery Shoppers
Reality Check Mystery Shoppers
Ritter & Associates, Inc.
Satisfaction Services, Inc.
Second To None, Inc.
Sensors Quality Management Inc.
Service Alliance, Inc
Service Evaluation Concepts
Service Excellence Group, Inc.
Service Performance Group Inc.
SG Marketing Group, Inc
The Shadow Agency
Shoppers’ Critique International, LLC
Sinclair Service Assessments
Spies in Disguise
Each assignment is unique, therefore requires specific amount of time, and pays according to the shopping assignment and its requirements. But on average, a secret shopping job takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours or so, and you can expect to get paid to shop anywhere from $10 to up to $150.
To be honest, I wouldn’t count on it as a way to make a living. Yes, some shopping jobs do pay a lot of money, but you won’t have shopping assignments to work on every single day. Sometimes you may go weeks without any mystery shopping job. So, be realistic about this.
Having said that, if you like to shop (and complain, lol), and wouldn’t mind earning some extra money on the side, I would sign up with some of these legitimate mystery shopping companies.