I have mystery shopped for over 5 years, worked for many companies, and thoroughly enjoy the adventure! I have shopped restaurants, amusement parks, retail stores, grocery stores, movie theaters and hair salons. There are an abundance of businesses that need to be mystery shopped in South Florida.
I only shop places I go to anyways or want to go to. I only choose to shop businesses nearby, or near an area I will be by anyways. I don’t mystery shop to make money, but to keep money in my pocket while enjoying a nice dinner out. I like that I am able to help a business improve by sharing the likes and dislikes of my experience, and in return I get reimbursed for my purchases/meals and sometimes make a little extra money as well.
Just a few weeks ago my family and I shopped an amusement park and were reimbursed for everything including tickets, food, and gift shop purchases. This is why I love mystery shopping!
What is mystery shopping?
A mystery shopper is a person who visits a business for the purpose of observing and measuring customer service, product quality and the environment of the establishment. As a shopper, you can pick and choose which assignments to take. Some shops reimburse you, some pay you a fee, and others reimburse you AND pay you for your time.
Myth: Mystery shopping is a SCAM!
Truth: While it is true that there are a lot of scammers out there, there are twice as many legitimate companies looking for people to mystery shop for them. To make sure a company is legit always check with the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association). Also, never PAY a company to mystery shop for them, and never provide anyone with your bank account information. The FTC has a great article on spotting Mystery Shop Scams.
Myth: Mystery shopping is easy, anyone can do it.
Truth: Actually, it takes a special type of person, someone with a good eye for detail and a good memory. You have to be able to write a detailed report so good english and spelling is a must. Many companies have a hiring process that includes testing grammar, knowledge and comprehension skills. You’ll also need a phone, camera or scanner to send in your receipt for reimbursement.
Myth: I’m going to make A LOT of money mystery shopping.
Truth: Mystery shopping can help supplement your income, but don’t quit your day job. However, if you are looking to get dinners, movies, and a haircut reimbursed you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what mystery shopping can offer you.
- Factor in your gas cost for mystery shop jobs. Companies do not reimburse gas.
- Be aware that you will have be put up money upfront for many shops and it can take 2-4 weeks to be reimbursed/paid.
- Be extremely cautious about the shop details. If you do not complete jobs exactly to company specifications, you will not be paid or reimbursed.
- Create a separate email just for mystery shopping.
- Not all mystery shops are worth your time. Read the shop details carefully and see what is reimbursed and is asked of your time before committing to a shop. I refuse to do any shop that is not going to reimburse me 100%.
How to get started: Find legitimate mystery shopping companies through the MSPA. The more companies you sign-up with the more assignments you will have to choose from. Once you sign up with a company you will need to check your emails regularly for new shop opportunities. Mystery shop companies require you to sign a confidentiality agreement, so I can not disclose which companies shop specific businesses but to get an idea of what shops are available in your area check out the MSPA job board.
-Melissa Cid is a Miami Lakes Mom of two, blogging about coupons and deals to Help keep money in your family's pocket at www.savingmomsmoney.com