The Secret Shopper Handbook, Tips for Retailers (Tips Series)

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They can be a good source of income for you, however. I'll say this again: You should not have to ever pay for the "privilege" to shop. You are performing a service, and should get paid. Any fee that is guaranteed to get you a list of jobs is bogus. For a genuine listing of most every single shop service on the planet, see Volition. And be sure to read up on the latest mystery shopping scams — I have never, ever, ever been asked to cash checks in my six years of shopping.

After some time, I gave up on mystery shopping. For some, this could still be a really good deal. Just be aware of the facts, and decide what's right for you. I still enjoy a nice hotel shop from time to time. Hubby and I enjoy getting away for a night at an eventual cost of free. The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors. Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

I've been trying to write a post about this for a long time, but I was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that I wanted to include. You did a great job of summarizing it. Thanks for all the great info, but I have 2 questions about Mystery Shopping. Should I trust the site if they ask for my SSN? Wow, hotel shops, that sounds nice. I belong to one service, and every once in awhile they list a shop for a certain toy store that's conveniently located to me.

I jump on it and manage to get one or two birthday presents out of the shop every time. I would do that one even without the fee. The other job they offer over and over pays the same fee, but you have to return the stuff. I did it once and it was so awkward. I blog at www.

I found a great blog that covers these points plus practical tips on how to actually do the job. It's called Mystery Shopping Demystified. It's less than a year old but the shopper has been at it a while and has some good tips. I've heard that they want shoppers that have a family. I only have pets! If you have a family, it is a burden to most most mystery shoppers. You have to leave them at home as a rule, for nearly every cpmpany's policy.

There was one exception, but even a drive through tke away require you to be alone. I do mystery shopping full time. Today I was invited to do 3am jobs. It depends on the shop. Some ask that you don't bring kids. Other ask for it specifically. As a Mom of 4 tiny kids, I found it difficult to bring them all on the ones that requested it. Shopping for myself is a chore, without all the requirements of many mystery shops. Others don't say either way, so it's safe to assume that if they won't hinder your experience, it's fine.

There are shops for pet-owners specifically, including vet, grooming, and pet store shops. They need people of all ages and demographics to fill mystery shopping roles. What kind of writing are they looking for? I've always been interested in doing this, but don't have many writing samples to show Higher end shops restaurants especially require great detail and they expect perfectly written reports-no grammar errors, no spelling errors Sometimes a dinner shop can produce a report that takes hours to type.

It's not fun and games, it's work! I agree with Guest. However, I feel that it is nearly an understatement. Some reports are quite complicated. Try driving all day to an accommodation job. You have already made your booking, researched the venue and written a word report on the booking process. You now have to write another report on the venue, the reception process, the exit process at reception and a meal report. Remember now, you have a 24 hour time limit to return your 5 essays which have about words each, and about 20 questions for each division.

If you miss your deadline, you won't get reimbursed. Be sure you book out of this venue by the customary 9. If you wait a month or two, you might get your "remibursement only" pay. Usually on the applications, all they require is a sample paragraph or two describing a recent shopping experience. They are looking for details, as well as proper grammer, spelling, etc. If you can take good notes and write exactly what you experienced, it's usually all you need to be able to do. This is very interesting, Linsey. I'm not sure it would work for me as a salary supplement, but as you and others pointed out, it could be a great way to reduce travel costs on an occasional get away, save on some pet products and pick up a gift or two.

Thanks for breaking this all down. That's how I felt. When I lived in the metro, there was much more opportunity. Since I have moved very rural, the opportunities are fewer and they seem to pay much less. If your town doesn't have a franchised shop of any kind in it, the odds aren't good that there will be a shop there.

I have been mystery shopping, product recall and retrieval and quality assessment for 11 years now. I started doing it full time 3 years ago. The only downside was when gas became so expensive; I was still reimbursed at the rate I had been getting a year before. This is not really a job if you have a family, but as I am single I do well.

LEE, That is still really great!

I can't even make 20k working my job! If you don't mind me asking, do you just use sites like jobslinger. I also am single and am really interested in doing this for now to supplement my income and would like to know as much as I can about it before starting it! Would you mind if we repost this on our new shopper blog? I have been working Bestmark Mystery Shopping Company and it has been fun.

Though some of the assignments have been product demos. I have worked with them too. All they seem to have for me in my area are car shops, or best buy It cost more to drive than I was making. I'm working for BestMark now, too. It's okay, I guess, just sorta "so so" work. I find it weird that they never sign their emails with their names, only "BestMark. The tanning surveys take me two hours to complete Three hours of work for only ten bucks and a free tan. Also, the tanning salon employees rotate to the different locations, so I am going to be busted by someone who recognizes me from another salon soon.

Already, because of the measely pay, I am getting a bit bored and disinterested. Guest I have been researching mystery shopping companys for quite some time, do you know which co. They will not pay you or even reimburse you. I can not emphasize this enough. Just go with a great company that has a ton of shops. Like a couple of the other commenters, my company is BestMark also. I understand very well that you quited doing mystery shopping because of lousy salary.

I still do some mysteryshopping but I am constantly telling people to ask for better compensations. I started my Mystery Shopping blog few months ago. Mystery shopping is hard work. I have been doing it for over 10 years. There is no free lunch as the saying goes. The high and dining shops require extensive narratives as stated above. They also require observations, timings and details that make the experience a little more than simply going in, eating and leaving. If you do a really high end shop, the narrative requires a detail of the entire experience in terms of who delivered the bread, who cleaned the crumbs, if the water was refilled, at what intervals and by whom.

The biggest challenge is reading name tag in dark dining areas and recording the information without being seen. The company asked you to go to the rest room several times to make notes and send your partner in alternating trips to do the same. If thee is a delay in some set time point, you are asked the reason for the delay. How should you know the reason for a delay in the payment process for a car 3 cars in front of you?

The shops also require you enter the times in and out two times, have warnings about managers watching cameras to be sure you are sitting there for 15 minutes and also cameras to check that you shopped alone. If the company decides you did not time properly or explain in enough detail the report can be rejected and you are out the out of pocket expense.

There are also time perimeters and if the location's clock does not match your watch and standard time- and believe me- I have shoppped fast food places where the time on the receipt is off by one hour- especially when the time changes- you risk not being paid. The money you put out for food that you may not even eat as the company dictates exactly what must be ordered at each of the order points is in limbo until you get paid- which can be weeks in the future. You are to remain unobserved despite the fact that you go thru the drive thru and then eat inside within a period of 15 minutes or so.

I was taken off a fast food shop recently because the manager IDed me. Well, I had been there twice in the past and I was the only white person who ever went into the place. The rest room was locked so I had to ask for the key each time and well, they figured it out. That did not take Sherlock Holmes to investigate! An appointment has to be made. This can take several phone calls.

The visit alone will take over an hour in most cases and then there is the phone training to qualify for the shop. The report can take a long time to write as the editors can be really picky. Shops are rated for quality. If an editor does not like your writing style or if you make errors your report is given a lower score. Lower scores translate to less jobs in the future. Companies seem to have a double standard that drive me crazy. If they are late paying, late in getting forms out to shoppers, they say it was unavoidable and apologize. Once I made a one number error on a report.

The report was rejected. It is by no means an easy job nor something that any of my friends think is worth the time and effort. Hi, I agree with your comment. Companies have double standards. They expect you to follow the instructions and guidelines perfectly, however, when it comes time to pay you for the assignment, if the payment is not received on time via paypal all they do is apologize. Mystery shopping is very demanding and time consuming for the amount of monies they want to pay you for the assignment.

I had one company tell me they were going to look at the video tape to confirm my report. I welcome it and then they decided to reject my report. I contacted the scheduler to discuss the situation and she said it was not on the video camera. I told the scheduler I had a video camera also and I wanted to be compensated for this assignment because I have proof of following the instructions per the assignment.

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I explained to the scheduler that the company that I mystery shopped is lieing. Once I provided that information to the scheduler, they reconsider. It is a doggie dog world and they don't give a crap about you as a professional shopper. You have to go thru extremes to receive a measly paycheck. Mystery shoppers need to demand more pay. The mystery shopping companies makes monies and pay the shopper crap for the service. This has to stop Mystery shoppers have to demand more to get more pay and respect.

Also every editor have there on unique writing style and they expect you to write like them. I had one editor inform me of my writing style to include the name of the person I am evaluating as associate instead of the employee name. When I followed those instructions, that editor commented negatively to me about the report and told me I was supposed to include the employee name instead of writing the words associate.

I responded back to the editor and redirected the editor to review the instructions that was given to me per the shop. I also recommended to the editor that they need to update or have a staff meeting to make sure everybody which includes the company, scheduler, editor, etc were working according to the guidelines that are given to the mystery shopper and have updated information so the mystery shopper rating is not penalized for their mistake.

It is organizations like the MSPA that ruin this industry. Did you know that they make you pay for certification?? Truth is that the recruiting companies for this industry don't require, nor care about this so called certification. This is probably the largest scam going in the industry. At the end of the day, all the recruiters really care about is finding good shoppers to get the job done. Watch out for the MSPA, all they want is to charge you money for a common sense 'exam', then tell you are certified.

The more you pay, the higher your certification. Like most any other field of business, if you want to excel in your craft you need knowledge. You get certified to become a teacher, a mechanic, an architect. Why not a mystery shopper? You would be surprised to see how many people can't pass a "common sense" exam. I have an example that just happened to me this week. I have be a MS for 5 years. I accepted a few bank jobs and was supposed to do an inquiry for Business Checking. I didn't read the guidelines, as common sense would dictate and now I have to redo them over.

I have been doing Personal Banking for a month and "assumed" it was the same. It's just another business expense for my taxes. The certification is completely optional on the shoppers part. No one is required to become certified. The site has some very useful information, whether you are certified or not. With so many mystery shopping scams out there, I decided to put together a list of companies that are legitimate at Free Mystery Shopping. Hope your find it helpful!

Speaking of learning from other retailers…

Having a good experience as a mystery shopper is all about finding the right mystery shopping company or a couple great ones to work with. All great companies from a shopper perspective. Kudo's to the great information. Another little known way to get rewards for trying products is through Nielsen Ratings.


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They have a program that allows select volunteers to be involved with their consumer product research panel. The website is http: Mystery Shopping is a great way to get a free meal, and maybe a few extra bucks. Not big money, but a nice supplement.

8 Truths From a Mystery Shopper You Must Read Before You Get Started

There is lots of information on where to get started here: For companies to sign up with, visit here: And don't forget to check out Paid Survey opportunities here: Wow, this is the most useful post I've come across on the internet. I just wish I had read it before heading out on my first shop. Anyway, its helps for next time and I high recommend it for any newbies. Check out my first time out mishap. I have received a FREE book from www. It has loads of information on mystery shopping and merchandising. I think it's a great beginner guide for Mystery Shoppers and it comes with an updated list of about MS companies.

The mystery shopping companies that pay thru paypal can be trusted. Paypal has a reputable site and some strict guidelines to follow to help secure your account. If you receive payment thru paypal, most of the time you will get paid faster than waiting on a check in the mail. I've had assignments from mystery shopping companies that pay via check and the waiting period to receive your check is longer. Receiving payment thru paypal is similar to direct deposit.

As soon as you receive it, the monies have cleared for your use. Also if you set-up a paypal account you can transfer that monies to your checking account or you can have a paypal debit card and use it at any atm machine. Just like banks there will be atm fees associated with it. For any business or job you must report earned income. Posting your SS with a reputable companies that have a secure site will be ok. Make sure you review the website to see if they have inforce key programs for a secured site.

If you are not comfortable with that process, there are companies that will allow you to contact them via telephone and give them your SS. Also, they will allow you to download a tax id form and allow you to fax that information to them. Lately the mystery shopping companies are requesting a scan copy of your social security cards to verify your SS.

I've been a victim of identity theft twice. I also have taken the necessary steps to protect my identity. No matter what, there are skillful people out here who will continue to hack the most secure systems available and get your identity. It benefits you to check your credit background, bank accounts, etc I had a security breach at Chase Bank and they adverstise strongly that they have a secure program in place to prevent these type of fraudulent activities.

I am very proactive with checking my credit report, banking activities, and credit background. Because I am very proactive, I found the security breach before Chase did. The more automated we become, the less security we will have That is unfortunate, however, that is the reality of the evolving world we live in. If someone is a genius to create a secure site, then there is someone who is a genius to hack the secure site So many people think that mystery shopping is easy money. Ive only been doing it for a little while, but it's hard tedious work and the money is not that great.

However, if you can work it into your everyday errands, it can be a nice little bonus. I am glad that I read this article before going out there to find a mystery shopping job.

I think the information here is very valuable. So happy I found this site! I don't expect to become wealthy let alone rich, but I do expect to have more control over my income and also the time to pursue the many humanitarian efforts I've dreamt of, and time to attend to emergencies should they arise, and time to write, travel and live. This artical contained several points of interest for me. Thank you for all of the help in looking further into the business. I have tried to work with an outfit called About Face located in the Atlanta area.

They positively are not in the communication business. You never get anyone when you call and in my experience, messages are seldom returned I never had one returned. Furthermore, they don't know their clients very well and insist that information be provided to them that is not part of the operators SOP. Furthermore, you can't get this bunch of bozo's to drop you from their mailing list.

I had the same experience with this company. I'm still receiving email from them. I just delete it. I learned a lot. I am very interested in mystery shopping and would like to learn more about it. Do you think this would be a good website to do so? Is the ShadowShopper website legit?

Lessons from High-End Stores: a Q&A with Luxury Retail Specialist and Secret Shopper Saira Sethi

If this is not the site for me to search for jobs can you direct me to the site that is legitimate? Mystery Shopping can be a very tricky subject. You have to be sure and not reveal the reasons as to why you are there. Sometimes it is obvious when a person is on some sort of mission. Is this product missing categories? Checkout Your Cart Price. Description Details Customer Reviews Businesses flourish by being able to attract and keep customers.

This book is for retailers and retail employees. The tips include methods to examine your business from the customer's point of view. Human relation principles, communication skills, and listening skills are emphasized.

The Mystery Shopping Secret Shopper How To Guide Part 2

An exercise at the end allows your employees to experience customer service outside of your business. Ten ways to appreciate customers, the definition of a customer, what customers need, plus tips for employers and employees will help your business attract the customers you need to succeed. Read your copy and highlight those tips you feel would bring more customers to your store on a continuing basis.

Everyone wants to feel important and and wants to feel special. These tips will show you how to implement those circumstances. Customers who continually return to your establishment are the key to the success of your business Implement these tips, and their return will be guaranteed.