You may have heard of mystery shopping jobs and are wondering, what is it and how do I find a legitimate job? Mystery shopping, or being a secret shopper, is essentially exactly what it sounds like. You are hired by a company to go into one of their stores or restaurants and secretly evaluate your shopping experience. While it may sound like the perfect part-time job for you, there are some things to consider when evaluating if a mystery shopper job is right for you and tips to avoiding the scams that are advertised online.
A mystery shopper job can be a good part-time job for many people. It is particularly appealing to a stay at home mom who wants to make a little extra money. However, mothers should know that children are not allowed to be with you while completing an assignment. After all, this is a job and needs to be taken seriously. You wouldn’t take your child to work with you at the office, restaurant or hospital where you may work; so you shouldn’t think that a mystery shopper job is any different.
There are a variety of mystery shopping jobs available. The majority are for national retail chains and restaurants. These companies hire marketing companies that specialize in providing audit and mystery shopping services. These marketing agencies are the hiring agent for the stores and restaurants. It is the marketing company’s job is to find qualified secret shoppers, schedule the assignments, review the evaluations/reports submitted by the shoppers and process payments. Therefore, when looking for a secret shopping job you will be signing-up with these marketing agencies.
How do you find a legitimate mystery shopper job?
The best place to start is with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (“MSPA”). Their website outlines hundreds of member companies that are hiring mystery shoppers. You will be able to gather information on the companies, find links to their websites and see their primary contact information. You can then sign-up with any of these marketing companies to become a mystery shopper. You will be considered an independent contractor, which means that you will not be eligible to receive benefits and all taxes will be your sole responsibility. The MSPA claims that they represent over 250 companies worldwide, so there are plenty of potential companies for you to find jobs.
Is any special training or eduction required to become a secret shopper?
The simple answer is no. However, many companies will have hiring requirements and may be interested in people who are high school graduates, have a college degree, or are certified as a mystery shopper. Certification is available through MSPA. Their basic Silver certification costs $15 and can be completed online. Their more advanced education program is their Gold certification, which costs $99 and requires attending an all day workshop. They hope to have this program available via DVD in the future. While the silver certification is not a requirement for being hired as a mystery shopper, it can give you an edge over other shoppers. It also is a good way to learn the industry standards for this profession and understand the expectations of the hiring companies.
What type of job can you expect to find?
There are a lot of factors that can affect your ability to find mystery shopper jobs. First, most retail establishments have a particular customer they service. For instance, a store may be geared towards women age 30-50. Or, perhaps it is a store targeting parents. To receive the most effective evaluation of their store, a retail chain will want mystery shoppers who match their customer profile. Therefore, all of the hiring mystery shopping companies will require demographic data on their shoppers so that they can properly screen shoppers. You will not be eligible to complete an assignment if you don’t meet the requirements. After all, if you are a single person with no children, do you really have the proper background and experience to understand the needs of a store that caters to mothers?
How much money can one make as a secret shopper?
This will vary depending upon a number of factors. First, it will depend upon where you live. Areas of the country that have a higher concentration of retail establishments will probably have more jobs available. Second, your demographic information will contribute to the types of jobs available for you. One of the pros and cons of becoming a mystery shopper is that the work fluctuates from one week to the next. The benefit of this is that you can choose jobs that fit your schedule; the downside of course is that you can’t expect to receive a steady stream of income. The typical pay for mystery shopping assignments is between $7-$15 per assignment with purchase reimbursements included for some.
How do I avoid the mystery shopping scams?
The best way is to follow the steps outlined above and to sign-up with companies that are listed on the MSPA website. You do not want to fall victim to the Craigslist scams and misleading positions listed on other websites. So the best thing to do is steer clear of those sites and stick to MSPA. You should also note that a legitimate mystery shopping job will never send you a check to cash and ask you to send part of those funds back to the company. If you see this type of job listed you should avoid it altogether as it is definitely a scam.
A mystery shopper job can be a fun way to earn a little money. While you won’t get rich as a mystery shopper, the scheduling flexibility can be invaluable to a mother or anyone who is looking to use this is an opportunity to supplement other income.