The Stuck Up Shopper

stuck up shopperI began mystery shopping when a friend that was already a shopper told me that I would be good at it. I was not familiar with it, but I always valued giving and receiving good customer service so I said why not. I began to shop and I got so deep into it that I forgot that she was doing it before I was.

In my mind, I was first and I referred her! We would often race to see who would get a shop if we both applied for them. We would also compare our ratings to each other- a friendly rivalry. However, I began to notice how hard I worked to keep my commitments to the shops that I applied for while she did not have a big problem cancelling. It may be because she was tired or maybe because she decided the pay was not enough after she already applied. She then began to wonder why I was getting more blind solicitations or referrals from other companies.

I would tease her about it and her response would be “Well, I am with 35 other shops so I have other options”. She felt that if she cancelled several times due to what she considered legitimate reasons that they should understand. If they did not, she felt that she was with 35 other companies and so she would just move on.

On the other hand, it was a rare occasion when I cancelled and I felt very bad about it. There are a lot of people counting on shoppers; the client, the schedulers, the reviewers and also the customer. I may not be with 35 companies, but the companies I am with know that they can count on me to keep my commitments. So the question is: Is it better to be with a lot of companies that may not be sure if they can count on you or to be with fewer companies that know you will keep your commitments and value you as a shopper? You decide.

Happy shopping!


AttitudesI’ve heard it said that the attitude of workers are transmitted from the top down. A manager that runs a tight, but fair, ship has happy workers that value customers. Other managers give their employees free reign. In these places the old adage “while the cat’s away the mice will play” seems to ring true.

As a mystery shopper it is my responsibility to transmit what I encounter in either case. But who ‘secret shops’ our managers and co workers or other independent contractors that we as shoppers deal with on a daily basis?

I find most of the agencies and schedulers I work with understand what we deal with as shoppers. They are aware of the difficulties in reaching a target or the constraints long distance route shops place on meeting deadlines. One or two seem to work on a 9 to 5 schedule and haven’t a clue that their shoppers do not have that luxury.

I recently had a manager treat me as if I were back in junior high when he ‘sent me to the principal’s office’ for breaking a rule and submitting over the allowable monthly limit of shops. I readily accepted it was a mistake on my part and expected to not get paid for the shop. Instead, I was suspended and not allowed to apply for more shops until I was properly punished. After my suspension ended I had another incident with the same agency manager. At that point I simply asked to be removed from their list of shoppers. It took about three weeks and several more emails before he seemed satisfied that he had chastised me enough. He then relented and paid me for the shop in question. He appeared to have ignored my request to be removed from his shoppers list when he started his next statement with “In the future……..”

Is this manager’s attitude transmitted from his superiors or is he the worker with free rein?

I have a controlling personality and I like things orderly in my life. I certainly hope I never become so obsessed that I forget those I come in contact with are my equal.


What to Do When You Run Into Someone You Mystery Shopped

So, a while ago, I wrote about a certain leasing agent I had recently shopped. Let’s just say that calling his performance mediocre would be an understatement. And for the record, any leasing agent that gets me should consider themselves pretty lucky because I always try to mention the stuff they actually did well — whereas I imagine that some mystery shoppers just take the opportunity to pick apart every little thing. Continue reading “What to Do When You Run Into Someone You Mystery Shopped”

I Mystery Shopped an Apartment Resident

I recently mystery shopped a community that was clearly understaffed on the day of my visit.  Upon my arrival at the leasing office there were several people waiting to be helped and I could see that there was only one agent in the office at that time.  Although I had arrived on-time for my scheduled appointment, it became evident that I might have to wait for a bit.  I made my presence known to the busy leasing professional and then wandered out to the clubhouse to have a seat where others appeared to be waiting as well.

Continue reading “I Mystery Shopped an Apartment Resident”

When A Good Mystery Shop Goes Bad

The day started off so well.  I got up on time, had my coffee, showered, got dressed, and started my mystery shopper phone calls.  One was to be recorded for one of the two apartment shop contracts I had to complete, so I started off with that one.

Continue reading “When A Good Mystery Shop Goes Bad”

Sometimes I Just Get So Emotional…

I have a real passion for truly loving what I do for work.  That’s not necessarily a bad characteristic to have either. I learned how to display that passion through enthusiasm, effervescence, and a general bubbly personality.

Many employees in the property management community display that same perkiness day in and day out in their jobs, and that’s good, because in most cases that enthusiasm leads right to a sale. But if you happen to be one of those people, when you conduct a mystery shop…it’s time to put the brakes on and let the leasing agent shine.

Continue reading “Sometimes I Just Get So Emotional…”

The BIG 7 – Reasons I Mystery Shop

Well, why not? Really, this is the one opportunity that you have to get paid to give your honest opinion on how an apartment complex is treating its potential customers.


You are doing both the apartment complex and the “real” potential clients a favor by sharing your expertise. Feedback from a potential customer is priceless to any company.  Don’t you admire the property management companies who strive to maintain a sense of quality and address the needs of their potential residents?



Everyone can use some extra cash.  With the value of the American currency decreasing which reflects in the price of every day goods, any extra cash could help.  Ellis  pays pretty well for the time invested in completing an apartment shop.  The video shops pay on average $50 for a contract job that takes no more than 45 minutes to an hour.  The average American does not make this much money an hour at their day job.


You do not need to be a particular age.  Well, okay you have to be at least 18 or able to lease an apartment to seem like a true customer.  With that said, all walks of life need a place to stay.


It’s fun.  Simply the fact that you are a “mystery” shopper is exciting.  It’s a secret. Who doesn’t like a secret that only you and the cool people know?

You can be yourself. This is a huge one for me.  There are many instances in our lives where it does not feel safe or acceptable for us to be ourselves.  This is a contract job where you can be yourself (within reason of course!) – just a regular person who is looking for an apartment.  You may have to pretend that your bed will not fit properly in a room to get the agent’s creative juices flowing with how to sell you the apartment or you may have to mention a pet that you don’t really have but those things are fun.


You don’t need a special degree.  If you wanted to start mystery shopping, there is no delay.  You would simply need to fill out an application and let the show begin.  The barrier to entry is very low for this field.  As long as you are able and capable of renting your own apartment, you are set.


You become an expert.  I’ve done quite a number of mystery shops over the years. When it was time for me to look for a new apartment for myself, I knew the ropes, the questions to ask, and what to expect.  It feels great to be an “insider”!


With that said, what are you waiting for?  You have no excuse for not helping future potential residents and can have a great experience while making some extra cash.


Becoming a mystery shopper is a click away.  Shops (or mystery shop contracts) are available throughout the US.  Your experience and opinion matter.


Tell us some of the reasons YOU mystery shop.


– Stacy M