I’ve thought about doing this for a while, and I finally made the plunge. It’s kind of fun. I get to pretend I’m a spy and practice my never-formally-trained acting skills. If you’re looking for a little side cash and have good attention for detail, I’d recommend mystery shopping.
What is Mystery Shopping?
Companies, especially large, franchised ones, want to make sure their sites are operating as they expect them to. If they send a corporate team in, odds are that the staff will up their game. If they send someone in that looks like an everyday shopper, odds are that shopper will have real insight into what happens on a daily basis. So the company pays an everyday shopper to go in and make observations. Sometimes you’ll be evaluating the employee’s performance, sometimes you’ll be evaluating your surroundings. I’ve seen shops for car dealerships (where you get reimbursed service in addition to your pay,) electronics stores, restaurants, apartment complexes, and insurance companies so far.
Is Mystery Shopping Right for Me?
Mystery shopping may be right for you if you have a good eye for detail and a good capacity for holding on to that information. For obvious reasons, you don’t go into the store taking notes. So you’ll have to retain all the information you absorb. This isn’t a simple in and out process; you have to read about your shop in great detail before you go in, ask certain questions in an unsuspecting manner, and then accurately answer questions about your shop when you’re done. You will most likely need to have the ability to scan and upload your receipt, too. (Though sometimes taking and uploading a picture via your cell will suffice, too.)
One time I got really frustrated doing a shop. I wasn’t supposed to say thank you; I was supposed to give the employee an opportunity to do it first. But it’s habit. I was getting ready to leave and said, “Thanks so much.” Dang you, manners. Shop blown. $10 not earned.
How Much Does Mystery Shopping Pay?
I’ve seen shops anywhere from $4-$30. If you’re with a decent company, you’ll most likely see most of your shops around $10.
Who Should I Shop for?
I’ve had a really good experience with BestMark. If you sign up with them, I can give you my shopper ID for a referral. I’ve signed up for Second to None, too, but have found that a lot of their shops are not worth the money for the effort. If you’d prefer to go a different route, there’s also a mystery shopper’s forum where you can find a ton of great information on the different companies.