One of the most common questions I get is from readers wondering how to get started with mystery shopping. I started Mystery Shopping when I first moved to Atlanta 11 years ago. To be honest, I don’t remember how I was introduced to it, but I MUST point out that I never spent a dime to sign up for any mystery shopping companies! There are so many companies out there asking for a fee to find mystery shopping jobs, which I believe to be a total scam. There are tons of companies out there out there you can find on on your own who are just looking for people like you!
For those of you who are looking to unveil the mystery of mystery shopping, here’s how it works:
1. A mystery shopping company will either post or send an email of specific assignments available in your area, carefully outlining what is expected of you when you perform the shop and what you will be paid or reimbursed for. You will be able to choose or apply for the assignments you want.
2. You visit the assigned store, restaurant, event, etc. and pay attention to the elements requested by the company (i.e. service quality, atmosphere, friendliness of staff, etc.).
3. You will usually have 24 hours to complete a report/survey online sharing your experience and evaluating your visit.
4. The company will review and approve your report. Your check is then on the way!
It really is just that simple, but if you are interested in mystery shopping, there are a few things you should remember.
First, you should never pay to sign up for any company who promises to “find” you mystery shops. The companies that legitimately assign these shops are always looking for new shoppers and they do not charge a penny. If you are ever unsure as to whether or not a company is legitimate, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association
is a great resource.
Secondly, unless you are able to dedicate all of your time, mystery shopping is not really meant to be a source of income, since most shops only pay between $5 and $10. The perks are the best part of mystery shopping. They will usually cover any purchases you have to make and can fund some great dinners, sporting events, and several other necessities including prescription eyeglasses! A general rule of thumb is that the greater the reward, the longer the survey. Service Scouts
, for example, is a company that works with Phillips Arena and Turner Field. They’ll give you 2 free tickets to sporting events, but the survey will also take you about an hour. Still totally worth it though!
Below is a list of legitimate mystery shopping companies I’ve personally worked with, followed by other companies I’ve found through the MSPA. You’ll just have to go to the sites and fill out the application. Once they accept you, they will start sending you different shops that are available and in your area. Remember, you are not bound to any shops unless you sign up for them! They will also ask you to fill out a W9 form and request your SSN. Don’t be scared of that; it is just so they can pay you! Some companies let you hold off on providing that info until you are ready to be paid.
Do you have any questions about saving money or making money? Ask Ari!
Wanna find more ways to earn extra cash?