Photo Credit: Tomasz Trojanowski – Fotolia.com
I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Growing up, I remember telling everyone: "If I had to choose between having a career or having a family, I would choose family". Well, my wish came true. However, due to current economic conditions, it was (and still is) almost impossible to live on one income. Thus, began my search for different ways to make money while staying home with my kids.
The thought of being a mystery shopper intrigued me. But, every time I did an online search for companies to work for, they wanted me to pay a fee. You should NEVER have to pay someone to work for them. They are supposed to pay you. I finally came to the conclusion I should just contact my favorite retailers directly hoping that would generate some leads.
It worked! Each reply I received included the name of the mystery shop company the retailer was affiliated with and minimal details on the program. They were all FREE to register, but each one was different when it came to the application process. Some approved me almost immediately while others wanted extensive background information and required a longer waiting period to start working. Some paid weekly, others monthly. Payment was usually in the form of reimbursement of a product/service/meal purchased or "shopper fee". In some cases, I received both!
You should definitely keep in mind that mystery shop companies use shoppers on a rotation basis, for obvious reasons. If the same individual continued to visit a store, eventually the staff would catch on.
Discretion is key when it comes to being a successful mystery shopper. You absolutely CANNOT disclose any information to anyone that is not directly connected with your assignment(s). You should also possess good organizational skills and be able to pay very close attention to detail in a very short period of time.This job is a great way to make some extra spending money or maybe pay your phone or gas bill. Unfortunately, it will not likely earn you enough to pay rent or mortgage. At least, it didn't for me.
Types of shops I performed ranged from reporting the quality and service of a meal at a restaurant (either fast food or casual dining), cell phone, book, pet, electronics and clothing stores, banks, ice cream shops, etc. I even had the chance to do pricing/inventory audits and simple shops by phone. I am no longer an active mystery shopper. One of the reasons is because of the common "restriction" that children are not allowed on most shops.
Following is a list of mystery shop companies I worked for and the links to their sites. I am also including a link to a mailing list you can join if you want even more info. It usually contains other potential assignments or companies you can look into including freelance work. I hope this helps. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any specific questions. Good luck! Sign up for a separate e-mail list FREE by clicking here. This does NOT come from me, but I am subscribed to it.
- Ann Michaels & Associates
- Bare International**
- Beyond Hello
- Customer Impact
- Feedback Plus
- Kern Scheduling**
- Mystery Guest
- Service Sleuth
Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post whatsoever. I was under no obligation to write it nor was I obligated to provide a positive review regarding this industry. I am a former mystery shopper and merely sharing my personal experiences. All thoughts and ideas expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.