I figured out some people are just making conversation, expressing a polite interest. Others are sincerely looking for something new or supplemental income. Very few are willing to put in the work to learn about mystery shopping.
Some barriers to mystery shopping are not trusting that it is a real job. I have been asked if all mystery shops on the Internet are scams, if I make real money and “Isn’t that something you should do once you retire?”
My response is that it is a real job. Virtually every industry that provides a service uses mystery shoppers; from oil change shops to paint stores to apartments and new home builders. They do pay with real money. Although some shops are reimbursement for meals or a product, I also get real checks in US dollars.
Nowadays I refer people to MSPA, (Mystery Shopper Provider Association,) and Volition. I suggest that they read about mystery shopping and if they are still interested to let me know and I will refer them to some companies that have shops in our area. Both sites list legitimate companies.
If someone follows up with me and is truly interested I suggest they do a few financial shops first or pizza delivery. They don’t require capturing a lot of times. Once they have a few of them under their belt I refer them to apartment shopping. I reassure them that at first the reports look long but that once you do them once or twice they go pretty fast. Other shops for new folks are oil changes, pre and private schools and retail. I reassure them that in ten years I have only not been paid twice and both times it was due to error on my part. Reimbursement shops do take a while to send your money but after a few months you will consistently get checks.
As far as flexibility, mystery shopping can’t be beat. You can do it while your kids are in school. I schedule around the days my husband works and the days I keep my grandchild. If I have a birthday or anniversary coming up I email my favorite schedulers and ask for a fine dining or hotel shop. Last month I took ten days off to help my daughter in law after she had surgery.
My best suggestion to new shoppers is to try lots of shops and then focus on the ones that give you the most satisfaction.