Why would I want to be a mystery shopper?

There are too many reasons for why you should be a mystery shopper to even list them all. But first, it’s flexible to your own schedule. Plus there’s really no special experience required, because independent contractor mystery shopping is about doing the regular things normal people do, like:

  • buying groceries
  • putting gas in the car
  • grabbing a bite somewhere
  • shopping for that perfect pair of sunshades
  • looking for a new apartment
  • spending the night at a hotel
  • checking out the newest video games
  • and more!

But beyond being easy and fun, there are tangible benefits to conducting mystery shops.

You get PAID!

Yes, mystery shoppers actually get to make money doing something they would be doing anyway

You get FREE stuff!

Mystery shops reimburse you to purchase and consume or use products so you can report on quality

You make a DIFFERENCE!

A mystery shopper can play an important part in the ‘big picture’ of improving Customer Service

Secret shoppers, ‘spies in disguise’… it all sounds so mysterious! But the only mystery is that you’re the one doing it. The cashier at the fast food restaurant knows she gets shopped every month, and the car salesman knows his sales performance is gauged by ‘pretend customers’ as well as his manager. But since they don’t know WHO their mystery shopper is, they should treat every customer with the same great level of service! (And that’s just one benefit the owner gets out of mystery shopping their employees.)

There are some mystery shopping companies out there that are not very reputable, so look out for yourself!  Ask your friends (especially if any of them are mystery shoppers), and check reliable online resources like the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MPSA) to see if companies are listed there.

Most mystery shopping companies do not ask you to pay ANYTHING to shop for them! If they do ask for payment, make sure you know:

  • What exactly it is you’re paying for (membership, finders fee, or just to get a shop contract)
  • How often they plan to charge you
  • What kind of shop contracts you can get from them and how often
  • What the average shop contract payment is

MSPA does offer mystery shopper certification at several levels, and you have to pay a one-time fee for those but the certifications often give you preference over other mystery shoppers for shops with some mystery shopping companies. MSPA Silver certification has a nominal fee, but Gold Certification is more expensive – mystery shopping companies who give preference to MSPA certified shoppers don’t often distinguish between Silver and Gold certification levels.

If you still want to be a mystery shopper, then please read on…

Typically you have to register with a mystery shopping company by filling out an online or faxed form and you will have to provide your personal information (including a social security number for tax reporting), which is why you should protect yourself and know the reputation of the company before you sign up. Some places hire shoppers directly to do just shops at their stores, but most will hire an outside mystery shopping company. When you sign up with one of these mystery shopping providers, you will be able to shop at various stores and locations because they have a number of clients who contract with them to do their shops.

If you want to do all types of shops – and there are a lot of them! – you will probably want to sign up with several mystery shopping companies. You can always pick one to start, see how you like it, and go from there. (If you’re a brand new shopper, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many shop contracts at once – you want to be successful, and as with everything else we do, there is always a learning curve.)

If you’re ready to be a mystery shopper, getting started is very easy.   After registering with the mystery shopping company you can typically gain access to current shops they need to have completed. In many cases, you can assign those shops to yourself right away, and in others you can express interest and a scheduler will contact you with a day or so to confirm the assignment. You’ll be given a date or timeframe when you have to do the shop, and pertinent details of the shop assignment.

Once you complete the mystery shop, submit your report and any receipts or backup, your shop is reviewed for proper completion and then sent to the client, and your shop payment is processed. Voila! 

If you are serious and want to be a mystery shopper, there’s no better time than the present. Just do it! You’ll wonder why you waited so long.