Have you ever seen the advertisements that state you can get paid to shop and wondered to yourself, “Is this legit?” In most instances, yes, it really is true. Restaurants, banks, retail stores, and other companies or organizations use secret shoppers in order to get a non-biased report about service, cleanliness, customer service, and a variety of other things. These secret shopping companies hire everyday people like yourself to conduct the “shop”. The shopper is given a set of parameters to follow and then must report back after the evaluation is complete.
There are many secret shopping companies, also known as mystery shopping, in business. In order to make sure that you are applying with one that is legitimate, check to make sure that they are a member of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). Never register with a company that charges a sign up fee; you do not need to pay to become a mystery shopper. You also do not need to pay for a list of mystery shops. Legitimate companies have available shops listed for their registrants to see, free of charge.
What Does a Secret Shopper Do?
Once you sign up with a company, you can access the opportunities they have available and begin getting paid to shop. An example of a common mystery shop would be evaluating service at a fast food restaurant. You will be given a day and range of time to conduct the shop. You will also be given a list of foods and beverages that you will choose from during your evaluation.
When you arrive at the restaurant, you should pay close attention to your surroundings. Is there litter in the parking lot? Are the entrance doors clean? Are you greeted when you walk up to the counter? Did your food arrive as ordered? A mystery shopper must be observant, but also discreet. You cannot let on that you are evaluating the store and service.
When your shop is complete, you will need to fill out paper work pertaining to your full shopping experience. This form will have a variety of questions that will vary depending on the type of shop you completed. The evaluation form may ask for specific time frames, so always carry a watch with a second hand. A digital watch with a timer is an even better option. This form usually needs to be completed via the mystery shopping company’s website when you return from completing the shop so that you are able to accurately remember details.
How Much Do Secret Shoppers Make?
Mystery shopping companies reimburse your purchase, up to a specified amount. Companies often provide additional compensation for your time and effort, which varies according to how long the shop will take and what you will be required to evaluate. Some companies do not pay compensation fees, they only reimburse for the cost of the shop. This may mean that you have eaten a free lunch, acquired a new top at no cost, or even got to stay overnight at a nice hotel at no charge to you.
Those that do provide extra compensation typically pay out between $5 and $50, although some could occasionally be higher. The amount of shops available to you will depend on your location. While you will probably not be able to earn a full time income doing this, you can certainly earn extra money and get paid to shop which sounds pretty fun, right?
Best Mystery Shopping Companies
Always do a quick Google search before signing up with any one company. The forums at Volition have been around for years (as you can see from their site design) and you can find lots of information there. Talking to others who actually do this work and have been around the block is the best way to decide if this avenue is for you and how best to get started. Market Force and Best Mark are two companies that seem to be popular. You may want to look there and investigate further.