Mystery shopping conjures up images of someone in a spy outfit, provoking the people that work for a company to make a mistake and then giving them a bad review.
Or is it just me that always thought it worked like that?!
Thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, you will need to be undercover, but you just need to act as a normal customer would.
To thank you for doing this, the companies will pay you a fee and you may be able to get their products for free as well.
I have personally been mystery shopping for years now, and have received free food and clothing.
Let’s take a look at this awesome side hustle idea and get you set up making extra money with the best mystery shopping companies out there.
What is a Mystery Shopper?
A mystery shopper is someone who is paid by a company to undertake certain tasks that they set out for them to do.
Let’s pretend that you own a company. You can’t be there all the time but you want to know how it’s being run without you there.
You don’t want to be obvious about doing this as the staff may act differently if they know that this is happening. So what do you do?
You hire a mystery shopper! A mystery shopper will act like a regular customer and carry out the tasks that they are asked to do.
This will vary from job to job depending on the company in question and what they want to check.
If you become a mystery shopper then you will have to do a variety of tasks but you will be told what to do ahead of time.
How to Avoid Getting Scammed?
Whilst mystery shopping is legit and there are legitimate companies out there, there are also a lot of scam companies out there, unfortunately.
If you are contacted by a mystery shopper company or you do a Google search and sign up to whatever pops up, this is where you may get caught by a scam company.
The best thing to do to avoid signing up with scam companies is to sign up for the mystery shopper sites based on recommendations.
We will recommend some of the best mystery shopper sites in this article, and you can be confident in knowing that you will not be scammed.
A common mystery shop scam is to ask you to deposit a check – but it will be a fake. You won’t ever have to pay for signing up for a company either so beware of any that ask you to do this.
Be wary of any emails you receive claiming to be a mystery shopper company, using poor or broken English.
Also, be sure to check the email provider where the emails are coming from. A legitimate company wouldn’t be using emails from AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.
5 Legitimate Sites to Find Mystery Shopper Jobs
As mentioned, you will want to sign up for the best mystery shopper sites to make sure that you are with a legit company.
There are a lot of good mystery shopper companies out there, but it’s also worth looking at which ones are the best paying.
Also think, what do you want to get out of it? A lot of the time the tasks aren’t that well paid, but you can get free items such as food!
This is one of my favorite sites for finding mystery shopper jobs, and I’ve gotten a lot of free food through this company.
The type of companies that are usually on Market Force includes restaurants, cafes, banks, and other stores e.g. clothing.
They tend to offer a small fee and also a full or partial reimbursement on anything that you need to buy as part of the task.
They will usually ask you to enter the store and ask as a normal customer would, so if you are in a coffee shop then they will ask you something like buying a coffee and a cookie.
To sign up you need to:
- Create an account to be a Market Force shopper
- Answer some questions
- Sign the Terms of the Agreement, and you’re done!
BestMark is one of the biggest mystery shopper companies, so you can be sure that you will get some jobs from them!
The fees you earn will depend on the job that you do, but they have assignments at hotels, restaurants, resorts and more. Bestmark refers to mystery shoppers as ‘field representatives’.
To sign up you need to:
- Go to their ‘Become a Shopper’ page
- Click on the button that says ‘Sign Up Now’
- Enter your information
- After this, you will have to look out for an email in your inbox which you have to click on to finish your application
- Wait to see if they approve your application
Intellishop has a large variety of clients in different industries such as Fitness, Food Service, Home Goods, Insurance, Real Estate, Shopping Malls, Sports Teams & Venues, Transportation companies and more.
There are 3 main mystery shopper experiences that they do – on location, on their website or on the phone.
You will be paid for your shops approximately 30 days after the last day of the month in which the shops were completed. They normally pay on the 20th day of the month.
The pay is via Paypal, and it’s worth noting that payment will not come through individually for each shop, but all lumped in together.
You will get preference for jobs if you have worked for Intellishop before, have a high shopper rating, do not have any flake or cancel citations, have hero citations, have a Gold or Silver certification or have registered as IC Pro.
To sign up you need to:
- On the Mystery Shopping Services page, click on the top header that says ‘Shoppers’ and then the drop-down line which says ‘Become a Shopper’
- Enter your email address and then click on the ‘Go’ button
- Add in your personal information
- Complete the demographic questionnaire (this is how you are selected for certain jobs)
- Enter your tax information
- You’ll just then need to agree to the terms and you can get started!
This is a legit mystery shopper company – they have been running since 1990 and are a charter member of the Mystery Shopping Provider’s Association, the professional trade association for the Mystery Shopping industry.
The payment for each job will vary but the normal range of payments is $15 – $25. For some shops such as restaurant visits, the payment may just be the reimbursement of your meal.
They ask that you have access to a computer and either a digital scanner or printer for submitting the proof of the shop e.g. a receipt and your report.
You must be over 18 years old to sign up for secret shopper jobs, but you do not need to have had any previous experience.
All that they ask is that you are reliable, detail-oriented and ‘exceptional written communication skills’.
To sign up you will need to:
- Visit the Secret Shopper Sign Up page
- You will need to select your country and then click on the button ‘Sign Up to Shop’
- Agree to their T&C’s
- Complete the basic certification test
- Fill in your personal information
Sinclair Customer Metrics
The industries that Sinclair Customer Metrics serve include Banking, Convenience Stores, Groceries, Restaurants, and Retail.
They offer mystery shopping, video mystery shopping, and telephone mystery shopping. The telephone ones are good if you want to work from home.
To sign up you will need to:
- Visit the ‘New Mystery Shopper Sign-Up’ page
- Enter your name, email and reference code if you have one
- Review the Information for Mystery Shoppers Document
- Read and agree to the Independent Contractor Agreement
- Fill out the Secure Online Application
- Take the Sinclair New Shopper Challenge
- Take the New Shopper Survey
What To Expect as a Secret Shopper?
As a mystery shopper, you will generally have access to a job board where you can select the assignments that you wish to do.
Before you sign up for a job it will tell you what is expected and the fee – so make sure you read the job description before applying!
Every assignment will be different, but as an example we could look at a restaurant secret shop.
You could be asked to order a meal as you usually would, and perhaps ask certain questions to the waiter e.g. what would they recommend, do they have any gluten-free meals, etc.
You will be expected to act like a normal customer so that you don’t rouse any suspicions that you are a mystery shopper. You may be asked additional things such as checking out the toilet facility, if they have any particular signs up, etc.
You will need to complete a report after you have completed the task. Most companies want you to do this within 24 hours of completing the task, so make sure you’re on top of this!
I’ve seen people complain before about having to spend a ton of time on reports, but the companies that we’ve mentioned don’t have anything like that.
The report will need to cover everything that you did and noticed on the assignment, but if you are a quick typist then this shouldn’t take you very long at all. It also helps to do this straight after you do the mystery shop.
Related Opportunities to Make Extra Money
You can sign up to be a Postmates courier and get paid to deliver groceries and take out.
You can make up to $27 per hour and can set your own schedule so you can work as often or little as you’d like.
There’s no start-up fee – you can download the app, apply for Postmates and get started earning more money!
Signing up to work for Instacart entails being paid to deliver groceries or doing a grocery shop in-store for a customer.
The average pay is around $7 – $20 per hour, and you can get tips on top of this as well.
If Instacart is not for you check out Shipt.
This is a good way to make some extra money if you are handy and happy to do a variety of different jobs.
TaskRabbit is a site on which people ask for help with specific tasks. These could be tasks such as putting up furniture or running errands. The possibilities are endless!
Easy Ways to Make Extra Money
When you’re looking for ways to make some extra money, we’ve got you covered! There are so many ways that you can do this, and we will share as many with you as we can.
Swagbucks is primarily known as a survey site but they offer a lot of other options to make money on there as well.
You can make money answering surveys, watching videos, getting cashback, playing games and so on.
You get cash back on the things that you have purchased. You just need to select the items that you’re going to buy, buy them, and then upload the receipt. That’s it!
Rakuten is another company where you can get cash back on your purchases. This is a great way to save money on something that you were going to buy.
All that you need to do is click through from Rakuten to the site that you are buying from. This link is a tracking link where they will be able to see your purchase to give you the cashback.
Final Thoughts on Mystery Shopping Jobs
If you’ve been on the fence about whether to become a mystery shopper or not, we hope that this has given you some food for thought!
Remember to only apply for secret shopping gigs from a list of reputable companies.
Mystery shopping may not make you a millionaire, but it’s a great way to make some extra money and it’s fun too!