It really does sound like a dream. Being paid to go shopping?
Just how legitimate are these mystery shopper jobs?
As it turns out, many of them are indeed quite legitimate and the real deal. However, don’t get too excited yet. You’re probably not going to be purchasing Gucci handbags and making $200 for a mystery shop.
Basically, it works like this. Retailers employ companies to evaluate the high-quality of service in their stores. They frequently use mystery shoppers to acquire the data. They instruct a mystery shopper to make a specific purchase in a retail business, and then file a report on the experience. The shopper is then reimbursed and can keep the product or service. In most cases, the shopper receives a small payment, for the task, as well.
In fact, you may be asked to go to McDonalds, etc. and purchase a $5 meal (for which you will be reimbursed) plus another $5 for your time. If you think about it that could be good or bad. If you already dine at these places frequently, then it’s a pretty sweet deal. A free meal and $5 to eat it. But, if you’re making a special trip, then the gas for your car and time to get there, eat and return, make it a pretty lame way to make money. Years ago, I actually was a McDonalds mystery shopper and it was a pretty good deal, as I tended to go there for lunch a bit more than I should have. Unfortunately, I moved away and forgot the name of the company that provided the “shops”.
Before you dive in to the mystery shopper opportunities, make sure to protect yourself
You do NOT have to pay to become a mystery shopper. It really isn’t necessary to pay ANY company to sign on as a mystery shopper, so don’t do it. Be careful of online scams and phone calls that offer mystery shopper “jobs” but in some way ask you for payment information such as a credit card, wire transfer, etc. Do NOT wire funds to anyone, at any time.
Do your homework and research mystery shopping companies online. Google terms such as the name of the company along with keywords such as “reviews”, “scam” or “complaints”. Remember that sometimes “reviews” can be faked so make sure to investigate a company with multiple search queries.
Certification is not required so do not pay anyone to become certified as a mystery shopper. If you think you may have been ripped off, contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint.
Where to get started in mystery shopping?
Lately, I started looking into mystery shopping again to see if it still was a great way to “have your lunch and get paid for it too”. One company I signed up with was Sinclair Customer Metrics. It seems to be a legitimate business (be very careful as many of them are not) but I wasn’t about to read through more than a half dozen long pages of directions to buy one Auntie Anne pretzel with a meager payout. It would have taken an hour just to read through and sign off on all the requirements. Not a very good use of time or value.
Another “shop” that I received info about was buying a laptop from Staples, evaluating the experience and then returning it within a few days for a $25 pay out. At first, that sounded like a good deal but when I thought about all the “extra qualifications” I would have to complete plus the time and expense to drive to the store twice for both purchase and refund, it didn’t seem like such a great deal.
Market Force looks like another good candidate for legitimate mystery shopping. I recently applied with them and it was similar to applying for an actual job with a lot to fill out. That is probably a good sign because it appears they are a bit fussy about who they accept. I would be a bit wary of any of these companies that simply required a name and email address to sign up. I will update this post concerning my experiences with this company.
Update 12/10/16: I recently received an email from a Market Force rep in regards to a “mystery shop” at a local hardware store, literally just 5 minutes up the road from my home. I was required to buy a small tool, etc. for under $5 and ask a few questions. As it turns out, I needed a couple Allen wrenches so I decided to give this a try. I was reimbursed $5.00 for my purchase and also earned $10, which was deposited directly into my bank account within a couple weeks. When I completed the “shop”, I had to fill out a questionnaire online. Pretty easy stuff for a few minutes of my time, especially since I needed to go to the hardware shop anyway. Also, it turned out that the sales clerk who waited on me did a fantastic job, so I was able to give him a 5-star review. Totally legitimate and everybody wins! A few days later, they e-mailed me about an AT&T shopping gig where I would receive $200 towards an upgrade of a new phone plus $50 for my time “shopping”. Though I was very tempted to get a new upgrade, I decided to keep th phone I have now.
Same with Intelli-Shop which I have also signed on with. Though once you sign-up, you are required to take and pass some simple tests.
Thank you for reading and I hope this helps some of you. I will report back on my experiences and let you know what the pay offs are and whether mystery shopping is worth it, or not. Please post below and share your experiences as well.
A quick note about the reviews and tool links on this site: I am an affiliate for most every product I review or link to. I purchase these products and test them myself in order to create quality reviews. All my reviews are completed as honestly as possible. I make no promises to the vendor prior to writing my review as to the content of the review. Should you click a link on this site that takes you to a paid product, this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to purchase that product.
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