I recently was introduced by a friend to a way to get paid for shopping and eating , in exchange to fill out questionnaires and surveys: Called Mystery Shopping or Secret Shopper.
Sounded too good to be true, so I signed up to check it out.
Here are some retail and restaurant secret shopper deals I saw:
- – Get re-imbursed up to $75 for eating at a Casino Restaurant.
- – Get paid $20 for talking to associates at Airline Lounge Shop.
- – Get re-imbursed and paid $30 for going to a Salon.
Nothing is free however. It does cost time for you to get to the shop, and spend time performing the required task, then time to fill out the report online.
If you like “free”, and up for some role-playing, this might be for you.
What is Mystery Shopping?
When a store wants to evaluate whether its employees are following the customer service guidelines, it needs secret shoppers/patrons to make a visit and “test” the employees.
Some examples of tasks:
- – Restaurants: Is the food hot? What was the time it took for Drive-Thru? Did they offer an appetizer or dessert with your order.
- – Banks: When you ask for an Auto Loan, what type of offers did the associate ask you.
- – Liquor Store: Did the cashier ask for your ID?
- – Hotels: Did associate offer you an upgrade? Did they offer to help you with bags to your room?
The companies will pay mystery shop companies a lot of money for these evaluations. Companies get value in seeing if their trainings are working, and if employees are doing their job. Virtually every fast food, and retail chain uses mystery shopping companies.
This is where you and I come in.
We sign-up to become mystery shoppers, visit the shops that need patrons to “test” their employees, and get reimbursed and paid in the process.
The shoppers duty varies from shop to shop, but usually involves in asking specific questions or ordering specific items from the menu. Carefully observe the responses from the shop, and then fill out a report online.
How much do we get paid to mystery shop?
For restaurants, you’ll usually only get paid up to a fixed amount, with no re-imbursement. This can be $10 at a fast food place, and $75 at a sit-in restaurant. You’re required to choose certain items on the menu. Rules for jobs vary for restaurants.
For non-restaurant shops, depending on the shop type, the pay is usually between $10 to $30.
How much can I make from doing this?
With time, and careful planning it’s very easy to perform 1-2 shops a week, even if you have a full time job. A extra $100 per month extra is not hard.
If you need to go shopping, pick a job near the store you’re going to anyways, and spend 15-20 minutes to visit the shop and complete the report online.
What are the requirements to be a secret shopper?
- – A Car: to get to the shops.
- – Money up front: You’ll need to pay for the services, then wait for re-imbursement payments.
- – Able to “Play the Part”: Just act like a normal person, sometimes you have to act like someone you’re not to complete the job. (i.e. act like you’re interested in buying a car)
Where can I find Mystery Shop Opportunities
All the opportunities will be through mystery shopping companies.
The opportunities are all listed on websites of mystery shopping companies. And you’ll most likely need to fill out their mystery shopper application to see the opportunities.
Number of jobs will depend on where you live. Bigger cities will have more.
So if you don’t live in a big city, you can plan out a route and do a day trip to visit 10-15 shops in a big city.
A few tips before signing up:
- – Create a new email address to sign up for all these companies. Don’t use your main personal email address. You’ll be emailed about once a day when new secret shopping opportunities come up.
- – Most companies pay by direct deposit or Paypal. There are ones that mail a physical check. I personally only use ones that pays online.
- – You’ll be asked for your SSN when you sign up. This is needed because you’ll get a 1099 once you get paid more than $600 in a given year.
Here are some of the best mystery shopping companies
A mystery shopper consolidator, with a nice map to show where jobs are available. Good for planning trips to do multiple shops. No sign-up needed to view the map. But to request a job, you need to sign up with the company offering the job.
Market Force Theater checks:
Count patrons in the theater. Make sure the right trailers are playing.
I Secret Shops:
A Closer Look
Tips for Mystery Shopping
Some tips for making the most out of being a secret shopper:
If you’re visiting a lot of shops, keep a Google Doc spreadsheet of all the shops you visited, the amount you paid, to be paid, and how much you sent.
Keep the Receipt:
Keep the original receipt, and a picture of it. Very important to prove you did the job.
File the report on time:
Jobs will have different requirements on when you must fill out the report. Note on your spreadsheet when you have to fill out the report, and when you completed it.
Apply Fast for Good Jobs
Check the job boards regularly (once a day), as desirable jobs go fast. If you get emailed with an enticing job, claim it as soon if you think you can do it.
Becoming a Secret Shopper does take some work, but you can work whenever you want. I use it a few times a month to make some extra money to pay for eating out and treats for my kids. Then there are some full time secret shoppers that make a few thousand per month.
How about you? Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments!