Tips for navigating mystery shopping assignments

Apartment mystery shopping can be an easy way to make extra cash, travel, and have fun! These are some tips that can help you complete a mystery shop.

  • Read the client’s shop requirements thoroughly
    • Make sure you meet and adhere to the requirements (e.g., student age for student shop, senior age for senior shop, specific timing, agent to shop, etc.)
  • Reach out for help using the white envelope on your dashboard for the shop contract when you have questions
  • Remember when you call the property, you should be in a quiet area without a lot of background noise
  • Research the property online first to see the office hours, then cross reference it with the client’s shop requirements to make sure you are following the allowable times/days
  • Research the area to see if there are multiple shops you can accomplish
    • You may can get a route bonus based on the number of shops are the area in which you select- ask your scheduler using the white envelope
  • Remember your ID! You can NOT tour without one
  • Be patient and friendly
  • Remember the deadlines- your report and all backup and required recordings should be completed and turned in no later than 24 hours after your visit unless otherwise directed by the client’s shop instructions
  • Report all follow up after the shop using your shopper dashboard. You can email [email protected] if you receive follow-up after you reported no to follow-up via the online portal.
  • Remember that shops must be completed, with reports, backup and recordings submitted and accepted before the 7th to be paid on the 22nd.

There are also some things you should avoid in order to be successful when apartment mystery shopping:

  • Do NOT ever reveal yourself as a shopper
    • If you feel that the agent knows you are a shopper please report it using the white envelope
  • Do NOT reuse the same shopper story over and over; try something new
  • Do NOT use different names for the phone call and the on-site visit UNLESS otherwise directed by the client’s shop instructions

These tips will help you to navigate apartment mystery shops. Remember, you are an integral part of the customer service experience and your feedback is valued. However, to ensure that your report is accepted and received by the customer, try these tips to increase your chances for success!

Are You the Next Spielberg? Tips for a Successful Video Shop

Video apartment mystery shops can be fun, once you get the hang of them! Not only that, but the video shops tend to have even better pay than the regular onsite shops. If you haven’t heard, you now have the option to use your phone to capture the recording, which means you’ll get an extra bonus on top of whatever the shop pay is! With these shops, your main goal is to get the leasing agent in the video frame at least 75% of the time. Here are some important video tips that will create a successful shop, each time!

Always Charge Your Equipment

You would be surprised how quickly a battery can drain during a video mystery shop. Sometimes a tour may go on longer than you expected, so it’s a good idea to make sure the equipment or your phone is fully charged as you head into the shop. If you run out of battery and are not able to capture all of the visit on video, the shop would need to be cancelled.

Check Your Memory Space

If you’re using EPMS equipment, this means making sure the SD card is in the device prior to going on the shop. These SD cards can generally hold the video for several shops, so you can use the same equipment to complete any video shops you have assigned at the time. If you’re using your phone, make sure you have enough available memory for a 30 to 45 minute video recording. This may mean deleting old, unneeded photos, videos or apps.

Be Sure to Check Your Camera Angle

Before heading out for a day of video shopping, shoot a quick test video for yourself so you can make sure the camera is positioned properly. If you’re using the EPMS button camera, make sure the camera isn’t pointed at the ceiling. The client will need a clear view of the agent and the surrounding area. If you’re using your phone, practice to find the best way to hold it so that you are inconspicuous, but still getting the best view. If you didn’t see it before, you can refer to our previous blog about the phone app, Mystery Media Pro.

Isn’t It Illegal to Secretly Film Someone?

In this case, the answer is no. Video shops can only be ordered for communities where all of the employees have signed a waiver giving consent to be filmed.

I lied for Money

Am I a Professional Liar?Several years ago I started mystery shopping just as a side gig with a few jobs a month primarily paying for some fast food during the workweek. As time progressed I learned about more and more shops.

I began shopping for new cars, apartments, and even houses. I did banking shops, pretending to have large sums of money available for investment. Friends have asked me about shopping and what it involves. All of a sudden, someone just asked me, “So you lie to people for money?”

It was an interesting thought, but the bottom line is, yes, I do lie to people for money. I lied to the banker; I lied to the leasing associate at the apartment complex; and I lied to the car salesman, all the while I had no guilt about it. You see, I don’t consider it to be lying. Yes, I am presenting myself as something I am not – a really interested buyer or investor, but it is my job. I pretend to be on board with policies and procedures at my full-time job that I disagree with too, but it is my job. And, honestly, mystery shopping is a lot more fun, as I’m usually doing something I enjoy.

I may not buy a car today, I may not rent that apartment today, I may not make any big investments today however, I do look at each shop as something I might do in the future. Conducting mystery shops helps me shop products in advance. So, is mystery shopping lying? No, it is research for me. Is it the right fit for everyone? Of course not, but neither is the full-time job I have! If you are uncomfortable with presenting yourself as something you are not, you should stick with fast food shops and some other simple shops that do not require you to make-up or use a back story. If you see it for what it can be, you may want to give it a try.

Free Meals by Mystery Shopping

chicken-burger-111794_1280It is always nice to go out to a very fancy restaurant, but it can get expensive. There are some mystery shopping companies that allow a shopper to visit a nice restaurant to evaluate their services for free.

Most companies require you pay for the meal upfront, but the company will reimburse you for all the costs associated with the mealtime and you only have to answer a brief questionnaire and rate how well the service and food was at a particular restaurant.

You can always save even more money by looking for ads for that particular restaurant that your scheduler has assigned you, which often gives you a discount off your meal or sometimes you can find a two for one meal deal price.  This helps to further reduce your upfront costs to the meal and then allows you invite someone to dinner for free.  It only takes a few minutes to look through the paper or search the computer for restaurant discounts and that would help supplement your budget until the company reimburses you for the entire cost.

There are also a few mystery shopping companies that provide a credit type of card for you to use at these restaurant shops so you just charge the meal on their card.  Other mystery companies pay you a mystery shopping fee for completing the shop on top of reimbursing you for the entire meal.

Earning a cash fee plus obtaining a company credit card for the meal is the best shop that I have uncovered, but generally most companies reimburse you for the meal.   In either case, feel free to visit that fancy expensive restaurant for a nice day or evening meal since this freebie is on the company and they might also pay you a fee to shop that restaurant.

Earn Extra Cash Shopping

Earn Extra Cash ShoppingSummer is a great time to earn extra cash since many students are out of school and family budgets may increase because the children are home for this season.  Mystery shopping offers accommodating schedules and various job opportunities to earn extra cash each month, and each shop generally only takes a couple of hours to perform.Most jobs can be performed during regular working hours during the week while other shops offer evening and weekend work.

There is no long term commitment when you sign up and perform mystery shopping jobs other than committing to do one job in its entirety.  In a couple of hours, you can earn from $40 to $300, and most mystery shopping jobs easily accommodate your schedule.

Mystery shopping jobs generally involve a shopper to evaluate an employee’s performance at a company.  You may need to ask certain questions and interact with an employee.  After your evaluation of the employee, most jobs require you to fill out an easy on-line questionnaire form for their company.

Generally, most mystery shopping companies pay within 30 to 45 days or some pay at the time you perform a mystery shopping job.  The Internet is filled with ads for mystery shoppers which include evaluating apartments, shopping for a particular item in the store, or having potential customers taste or try new company products.

There are many types of mystery shopping jobs available and the sign-up is easy and free.  Summer shopping is easy and many of you have free time to work a couple of hours to make some extra cash.  So get moving and enjoy your summer along with a few hundred dollars in your pocketbook.

Keeping Records of Your Pay

Keeping Record of Shop Pay-1When you start to work for mystery shopping companies, you should keep records of which company you work for and the pay rate. This way you have an idea of how much you are due and when you will be paid.

It is important that you know the date you will be paid as you can follow up if you are not paid on time. Also when you file your taxes, accurate files are necessary.

First of all, create a document where you enter in the name of the company and the date you shopped. Keep a record of the websites where you entered the data. Next, keep records on when you get paid and how you will get paid. For instance, some companies use PayPal while others mail a check. Still other mystery hopping companies prefer to do direct deposit in to a bank account. Accurate record keeping will help you to ensure you are paid on time and when and where

Secondly, keep a copy of your records and the receipts to give to your tax preparer. Almost all the things you use to mystery shop can be written off on your taxes. A good tax program will show you which items you can claim. If you can possibly hire an accountant for a few hours, it could be beneficial. After all, you can learn what the tax breaks are for working at home. Record keeping is essential for a good shopper.



Prep for Mystery Shopping Jobs

Prepare for Mystery ShopsYou heard about mystery shopping jobs and wonder what you need to start.  Mystery shopping jobs are generally listed online. A computer or a technology type I-pad, laptop, or any other computer type system to have regular access to the Internet is absolutely a necessity to find and apply for jobs. You normally need to log on and set up an account with each mystery shopping company.

The mystery shopping companies usually send emails on a regular basis to notify shoppers of potential jobs, cancellations, or other company updates, so having access to a computer is a necessity. Mystery shopping generally comprises of part-time work and once you find certain types of work that you enjoy and are comfortable over their pay amount, pay, you can focus on selecting several companies for jobs each month.

You should ensure that you set-up a banking type payment system to receive payments.  Many companies now offer electronic payments which require a checking or savings account.  Others, still process company checks and they are mailed to your home or office, so you should be open to both of these options.  Having a printer is helpful since you can easily print out information on your various assigned shops or you could use a notepad and pen to write down the information on each shop.

Further, most shops require a vehicle to drive to a particular store in order to perform their shop.  Or some companies have telephone shops where you can shop out of your home.  With a couple of basic needs, you can start earning hundreds of dollars in a couple of hours and mystery shopping jobs are very flexible around your schedule.

Shopper anonymity

The importance of anonymity in the mystery shopping business is much empathized and listed often in shop instructions. How can you expect the leasing agent, sales clerk or wait staff to act normally if they think they are being watched?

You can imagine how I honed in on a story on my local TV news station when I heard the words “Mystery Shopper”. The report of the suspicious incident in the parking lot of a Bay Area outlet mall identified the woman as a long time mystery shopper from Mesa, AZ. The co-worker and friend interviewed for the segment wore sunglasses and a scarf in her attempt to remain anonymous.


When I later reviewed the news articles posted on-line I found the names of two other mystery shoppers who seemed to know the Mesa woman and were identified as belonging to a mystery shopping association.


The more I thought about this incident the stranger it seemed. How often do you hear of the occupation of a victim in a new report? Okay, maybe if the person was a celebrity or well known, but, a mystery shopper!


I have been in this business for a few years and, while I enjoy the role playing and mystery involved while on the job, the secrecy when I am not working is the thing I like least. My friends and family are aware that I am a mystery shopper. Not being able to discuss what I am doing with them is like going on vacation and not being able to ‘bore’ them with the photos. Now I have to wonder about how bored they really would be. It seems the title Mystery Shopper holds great interest.
It would be good to hear other’s thoughts on this. Be assured, I will still remain anonymous.

Sandy M.

Mystery Shopping for Electronics

Mystery Shopping for ElectronicsDo you enjoy learning about computers or like playing with techie type gadgets and want to earn extra money?  If so, then mystery shopping might work for you.

Numerous mystery shops offer jobs that focus on evaluating a computer store personnel’s presentation on their explanation of selling computer products and software.  These shops not only provide extra cash, but you can learn about the latest upgrades in computers and software and this can provide you with a smart shopper list on comparing prices for the best buy if you’re a computer savvy person.

Do you want to know the latest difference between an I-phone or a Smartphone?  Or do you want to discover the latest computers, and video games for your children or friend?  If so, then computer mystery shopping can help you learn the differences while you earn extra cash.

One bonus, when mystery shopping for electronics, is that this allows you compare products with other store brands and you can be more informed on the latest game videos for children.  These shops usually require a simple fill in the blank question and answer survey online and an overall rating of the store employee’s presentation. Most forms can be completed in less than hour and payment for performing a technology shop is usually 30-60 days.

Most companies only require that you obtain a business card and take good notes of your conversation with the employee.  So, if you’re interested in learning more about computers and technology, or just have a nerdy side and enjoy gadgets and video games, these types of shops are easy to perform and provide valuable information on what the latest news is in the world of techie toys.


Elisa E.

Talk on the Telephone and Earn Money

Talk on the Telephone and Earn MoneyIf you need to make some extra money, or are a stay-at-home mom or student, performing telephone mystery shops are an easy and quick way to earn income. All that is required is a telephone, access to a computer, a notepad and pen, and a few hours each week.
There are many mystery shopping sites that cater to paying shoppers for telephone calls. Normally, the average pay for a telephone call shop is approximately $5 to $15. These shops often involve asking certain questions and recording the employee’s responses on a computer survey form. Many telephone shops involve a banking situation or may involve a question and answer conversation on an apartment or home.

If you sign up for several telephone shops, be sure to remember that during the later part of the month, many shops offer bonuses to complete their shops by the end of the month. You can make several hundred dollars each month right in the comfort of your own home.

You don’t have to waste any gas by having to use your car to drive to a job, no more driving delays, and with these types of jobs, you do not even need to own a car to make extra money! The telephone calls are all “800” type of telephone numbers, so there is no upfront charge to perform these shops.

You just make the call, ask the questions, record the individual’s answers, type it in the computer form, and submit your job for payment. Earning money and making a few hundred dollars each month from the comfort of your home couldn’t get any easier!

Elisa E.