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Mystery Shopping for Money

If you enjoy shopping and interacting with others, then mystery shopping may be for you. It could provide you extra income doing what you do anyway - shopping for groceries, going to banks or department stores.

What is Mystery Shopping? For mystery shopping or 'doing a shop' as it called, you visit an establishment like a normal customer, buy an item or make inquiries about products or services. But while doing these usual customer activities, you are noting the behavior of the staff, the quality of service and product, cleanliness of the establishment, the time it takes for the staff to attend to you. In short you are sizing up the establishment.

You have to do all this without letting the staff of the establishment that you are there to check up on them. This is why it is called mystery shopping.

After finishing your shop, you report your findings to the company which hired you. For doing this, you are paid for your time and for the items that you purchased while doing the shop.

Who Gives Mystery Shopping Assignments Mystery shopping assignments are given out by establishments which depend upon retail customers for their business. They could be departmental stores, auto dealers, banks, hotels, fast-food outlets, gasoline stations, sit-down restaurants, drug stores, computer stores, warehouse clubs, wireless telephone providers, bookstores, etc.

Why Mystery Shopping? Businesses want to know the impression the customers are getting when they visit their outlets. Are the premises kept clean and neat? Is the staff courteous and helpful? Is the customer kept waiting unnecessarily? Do they greet the customers with a smile and say 'Thank you' when the customer pays for the purchase? How is the customer treated when s/he wants to return the purchased items?

Answers to such questions help the establishments to improve their profits and popularity. From this on-the-spot audit, they learn what changes need to be made to make their establishments more customer-friendly so that a first-time customer becomes a repeat customer and also spreads a good word about it to friends and relatives.

The changes that may result from such shops could be anything from a strategic placement of items for reduced service time, improvement in the staff hiring, training and rewards program to stocking of better quality of goods which attract a lower rate of returns from customers.

Is there money in mystery shopping? Yes, there is but not as much as some hyped ads may lead you to believe.

Mystery shoppers are generally paid about $10 to $40 per shop plus the cost of the items they have to buy during their assignment. Some companies let the mystery shoppers keep the items they purchased during their shop.

When you are doing a shop in a food outlet, the food you eat is a freebie in addition to what you get for the assignment. But sometimes you may get only a free night's stay when you are evaluating a hotel.

All this means is that you don't get rich by doing shops. But if you treat this as a paying hobby you will certainly get extra income while doing something you enjoy.

You can build steady income if you can get regular jobs every month. For this you have to build up a relationship of reliability with the hiring companies. If you are available to do a job at a short notice and don't let them down after taking an assignment, they would be more likely to call you before other shoppers when a job becomes available.

Another thing that would count in your favor is writing your reports with clarity. You need not be a PhD in English for this but you must be able to express what you mean to say. Needless to say you should be observant and remember to evaluate all the points that you have been asked to by the hiring company.

Where to find shopping jobs? The internet is the obvious choice when looking for mystery jobs. Look at the ads that you find. Look at various sites to get the feel of the work availability. The sites that you should go for are those that have searchable databases of available jobs. As you can work as a mystery shopper where you live, search the database by your location. Then apply for as many openings as you can comfortably handle as this is a way to get a fair number of assignments every month.

A word of warning: No legitimate shopping opportunity site asks you to pay a fee or buy a training kit. In fact genuine sites provide you detailed information and instructions to carry out an assignment.

So be careful when you are asked to pay to join a mystery shopping site or which promises training to become a mystery shopper for a fee. Beware of such sites. In a word, don't pay to work. You don't have to.

About the author:

Nissar Jagani runs a website Online Income Resources where, among other resources, he features a Do-it-Yours elf Guide to find your best opportunity yourself without relying on others

Written by: Nissar Jagani

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