If you enjoy shopping and getting paid, mystery shopping might be right up your ally. I’ve picked up many items and services absolutely free, spending only money on gas to get there.
- Steak Dinner
- Oil Change
- Chinese Meal for Two
- Inquiries into opening a checking account ($20 a visit)
- Electronics, including headphones and cell-phone charger
- Free Fast – Food at many different locations
Mystery shopping companies with job postings will ask for identifying information but also ask that you provide your social security number. Certain companies will not require a social security number to accept and begin assignments — but don’t expect payment until you cave and provide this.
Common information you will be required to provide:
- Date of Birth
- Address (Including City/State)
- Email Address
- Telephone #
- Marital Status
- Experience Level
- Personal interests
- Shopping preferences
Where to Begin
Jobslinger.com is an excellent source for locating mystery shop assignments in your area. Search by radius after entering your zip code or you can enter your city, state and miles to search within. The links on Jobslinger lead to external sources and you will be brought to sites for individual companies.
Types of Assignments to Expect
There are two types of assignments you will find. Some assignments require a purchase at the location and will reimburse the purchase and often offer extra pay. The others will not require payment and the only requirement is to follow the instructions provided to you. All companies offer worksheets with specific directions you will be required to follow. It is up to you whether or not you wish to participate in the pay shops. If you do, remember to save your receipts. These are used as proof that you in fact visited the store and did purchase the item you were instructed to.
How Payment Works
Most companies I have worked for offer pay on a certain day of the next month from when you completed the shop. If a shop’s payment date is the 7th of each month, and you complete a shop after the 7th, you can expect payment the following month on the 7th.
Different types of payment are available, depending on the company. Certain companies send checks to your physical addresses; others will pay via Paypal or Direct Deposit. It is important to note which assignments are offering which type of pay. Read on Staying Organized for additional tips on this.
Often, each company only offers a limited number of job assignments. Individual companies usually provide only shops at one or two main locations. Bestmark, for instance, usually sticks with Best Buy. You can only complete the same shop a limited number of times within a given time frame. The name of the game here is quantity. To be successful and make good money as a mystery shopper, you will need to be able to juggle working for multiple companies and landing various jobs. Each company has an unique website with job postings. The ultimate key to your success is organization.
Keeping It Clean
Create one free email account in which you’ll receive all notifications for mystery shopping.
Keeping a linear schedule is important. This is important for assignments and payment. I use an Excel spreadsheet to track details for each job I have landed, including company, location to be visited, pay amount, and pay-date. I keep a separate Excel spreadsheet that lists my log-in credentials for each site as well.
I also create a folder for each assignment. I include the printed questionnaire to be filled out after the shop is completed, job requirements, and other additional information if it is listed. Although all submissions and reviews can be submitted online, it is helpful to print the questionnaire. I often review this once or twice before actually visiting the shop. The company may require you list whether or not all store employees are wearing a visible name tag and the company’s logo. Pay attention to these details while shopping and make sure to answer the survey accurately.
The Fun Stuff
What I enjoy the most as a mystery shopper is actually working with store employees and visiting different types of locations. To know your perception of a place or employee is considered and important is a very powerful feeling. Often, consumers feel as if they go unheard. Submitting unique and detailed reviews to mystery shop companies allows you to be heard. I also often feel the rush of being spy-like at each location. As silly as it may sound, I get a rush from playing the part of consumer. Another perk – I love trying products and services for free!
Companies I’ve Worked For
- Shopper Inc.
- Reality Shop
- JM Ridgway
- Service Research
If you are highly organized, have an eye for detail, enjoy shopping, and receiving items and services for free, then mystery shopping is perfect for you. It is especially important to remain confidential at all times and offer only professional and high-quality reviews. If you can do this, expect to succeed and have a great time while getting paid and enjoying freebies!