Monday, May 12, 2008

The Buzz on Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping, also known as secret shopper and performance evaluations, it is about helping companies evaluate their customer service, customer experience or quality of products and services. As the name implies you should not reveal that you are a secret shopper, you should act as a typical customer. When performing a shop you will make straight forward observations on what they want you to assess. You should not let personal bias or a previous visit influence your report. This is really important! You should stick to the facts in your reports. Do not tell the company what they should do, just report the facts based on careful observation. Mystery shopping is highly confidential, be very careful about posting too much information on forums, blogs or any other type of public media. You will be signing confidentially agreements.

Different companies have different types of clients so you should sign up with many companies. As an independent contractor you do not owe loyalty to any one in particular. This will give you more work opportunities and the choice of which to work for. You will find that there are companies which you may not like as much as others. Their forms may be too long, website not easy to navigate, etc. It is up to you, you are your own boss!

Be reliable!! Canceling shops is looked upon very poorly. You may of course have an emergency, but be guaranteed that if you cancel often you will not be offered many shops in the future. Make sure that if you can not perform a shop you contact the scheduler immediately. Before accepting a shop make sure you understand the commitment! Some shops only pay reimbursements for a purchase you are required to make. The compensation may be only be $5, if any at all, so you must consider how much you are willing to travel for the payment offered. Do not forget when considering the shop it is not just about the time needed for travel and to perform the shop, but also to report the shop! Providing a detailed account of what transpired is essential. My experience has been that I need about 45 minutes to submit the report. When I first started out it took me a lot longer! Understanding the difficulty of the task at hand will help you determine how much time to allocate for its proper completion.

All mystery shopping companies have a rating system for your completed reports. Reports are submitted online on their website. I always open up a Word document then copy and paste unto the companies forms. Preparing the text in Word gives me two advantages: first, Word has a spell and grammar check. It is very important that your report is grammatically correct and every word is spelled correctly. Second, it allows me to save the document for later reference. If your report quality is very low, filled out incorrectly or incomplete you may be denied pay and not offered any more shops. First impressions are absolutely crucial. Make absolutely sure you understand what is required of you before performing the shop. Read the instructions thoroughly and carefully. Follow all directions to the letter.

Mystery shopping will provide you with a little extra income. It is not a full time job! Availability of shops to perform is sporadic. You will be your own boss, an independent contractor, and will need to file taxes accordingly.

You will need first-rate communication, observation and written skills. Must know you’re way around a computer, not expertly, but you will need to scan or fax, take digital pictures and upload these and other forms to the company’s site. E-mail is essential. If you can do this and like shopping this could be the niche for you!

Good luck! Happy shopping!


You may see ads for Mystery shopping on this site, unless I specifically mention that I use a certain company you should do your homework first! Follow the ‘Safety First’ guidelines.


Safety First:

  • You can check registration data here such as name, address and phone number.
  • Updated link to The BBBOnLine "Check out a Business or Charity"
  • Check it out with the Federal Trade Commission
  • Google the site name or registered domain owner and check out the buzz!
  • Leave a post about the site you are curious about and I will do all the work for you! Chances are I already have checked it out.

Related articles on WAHB:

Location and Mystery Shopping
Silver/Gold Certification Buzz
Ready to Mystery Shop?
Mystery Shopping Necessities

Mystery Shopping and Scams

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