Mystery shopping has become an increasingly popular method for businesses to assess the quality of their customer service and gather insightful information to improve their offerings. This practice involves hiring individuals, known as mystery shoppers, to pose as regular customers and visit businesses to evaluate various aspects, such as employee performance, product quality, and overall customer experience. Mystery shopper companies specialize in providing these services, working closely with businesses to ensure accurate and reliable results.
A few well-established and legitimate mystery shopping companies have emerged over the years, offering their expertise across various industries such as retail, automotive, restaurants, and more.
These companies often hold high standards for their mystery shoppers, ensuring they possess the necessary skills and follow ethical guidelines to provide valuable insights to their clients.
As businesses continue to recognize the significant impact of customer experience on their success, the demand for reliable and professional mystery shopping services continues to grow.
What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping involves a job in which companies pay you for the chance to look like a regular customer. You’ll provide helpful information for companies – from cleanliness and worker interaction. In exchange for your input, they’ll pay you fees and usually ask for your purchase and refund you up to a specified amount of money. Those figures are known by purchasing them.
Many mystery shopping tours are free food often undertaken in shops, restaurants, and phone shops. But, during gigs, you might visit a local restaurant (free of charge!) and maybe a park. Some phone mystery shopping services offer a way to contact a call center to get a good idea of what they’re doing.
How can I become a Mystery Shopper?
There is also a job search option on the company websites and job boards like Indeed.com. Once an application has been completed and the approval has taken place, a user may go to your job search page and select the job they need.
These companies give you instructions, and after you finish the shop, the customer must send their comments through their website. A few people pay through credit cards, and most send checks monthly.
The company’s rates differ, but you must usually be over 18 years old to apply to the mystery shop. To complete a job with a beverage, the person must reach the age of 21. How will one become successful in a mystery store? Mainly because you need to obey the rules to pay your bill.
How much money can you get paid for a mystery shopping job?
It can vary according to the company and the task assigned. Mystery shoppers in the United States earn about $775 monthly from their purchases. Gigs range from $12 for an appetizer to a $100 flat fee and beyond.
As mystery shoppers, you are an independent contractor. So the taxpayers are required to pay the taxes themselves. You can record deductions to help reduce your tax liabilities during your next tax year. Many companies need that the consumer signs a contract with an independent contractor (versus signing the W2 employee agreement).
Could you tell me the best way to get paid?
Like a salary, each employer determines how much and what is spent. Often, mystery retailers are paid by Paypal, while others are debited with direct cash and credit cards. Some also provide gifts as alternatives for cash payments.
Easy ways to make money
Mystery shoppers can quickly get paid for their services, so if it’s time to increase your income, we can help! It’s easy for anyone to earn an extra dollar here or there without gaining a job. Our top picks are the best poll websites and excellent cashback apps – both easy to earn and use. How do I save money?
Capital One Shopping
You must know about cashback when you want to make a fortune by doing mystery shopping! Some programs may reduce your costs through cashback and coupons; Capital One Shopping helps decrease our store trips. When you buy a thing online, they offer discounts to save you time and a Rewards system that you can use to purchase excellent gifts for your friends.
Swagbucks is most famous for survey sites, but there are many other ways to earn money through the area too. You can earn cash on Swagbucks by responding to surveys, watching videos, earning cashback, and playing games. We have made some cash in less than an hour and believe everything counts. It’s an excellent way to earn money while playing games on the computer.
InboxDollar is one of our favorite survey sites, and uses it daily. You can also take part in games to earn money by answering questions or watching videos for extra money. It is very intuitive, and there are many ways to rapidly make money on your smartphone.
Related opportunities to make money
Mystery shops are easy to find. It is hardly a long day, so plenty of free stuff is available for your attention. If you are interested in earning more money by completing mystery shopping jobs, this is the most efficient way.
Steady Freelancing (And More!)
All people have different talents, so Steady is the perfect job for you with a specific background. From working-at-home jobs such as being an author and transcriptionist to full-time jobs, Steady offers thousands of jobs. The free version of Income Booster allows you to track your earnings using a simple and powerful system.
TaskRabbit Odd Jobs
It will help you make a lot of money if you’re good at various jobs. You can use any skill to run a business or perform other duties. TaskRabbit is an online forum for seeking assistance with a specific task. This can involve the installation of furniture or running errands. There’s so much potential!
Postmates. Food delivery
Delivery of food can be quite lucrative. You can become a Postmates courier and earn money for groceries and takeouts. You may earn $20+/hour with a personal schedule,e and you can work whenever you want. It doesn’t have any initial costs,s so you can download, apply for Postmates and begin earning money today!
Instacart Grocery Shopping
Instead of mystery shopping, you can go shopping every day with somebody. You can help someone grab a grocery. Insta Cart employees are paid for delivering food to the store for customers. The typical hourly wages range between 7 and 14 dollars, and tips are available in these areas.
See Related: Best Online Jobs for Teenagers to Make Money
How can I become a secret shopper?
It’s easy for mystery shoppers to become shoppers. Register with Mystery Shopping firms in your neighborhood, choose the assigned task, and go shopping immediately. It is possible to get mystery shop services whenever you want. The more businesses you join, the more excellent the opportunity you can earn quick money.
One secret shopping assistant worked for 75 companies at his height earning $14,000 annually based upon the mystery of shopping trips he performed at weekend lunchtimes or on his way home from work.
Intellishop offers Mystery Shop Services to many businesses. Those services include fitness, food service, house goods, insurance, real estate, retail centers, sports clubs, facilities, transportation companies, etc.
They offer three significant mystery shopping experiences — in person, at the site, or in person. You are expected to get your refund on mystery shopping within 30 days of completing the mystery shopping gig. The payment is usually due 20 days a month. The payment can be made through Paypal, but the price will not come directly from the shop to the shop but will be consolidated together.
Secret Shopper is an authentic mystery-shopper company that has operated since 1990 and is a charter member of Mystery Shopping providers’ associations. Depending on the job, the pay is different if a job is paid $15-25 an hour.
Occasionally, a shopping trip to restaurants is billed as merely a reimbursement for a meal. It’s a requirement for you to be equipped with a computer or an electronic scanner. You must be a teenager to join Secret Shopper Jobs; you have yet to gain prior experience.
Market Force is a favorite mystery-shopping company, so I got many free meals from the firm. The companies typically in Market Force are restaurants, café, banks, and other shops such as clothing shops. Mystery shoppers get more freebies with these mystery shop jobs, if not the higher salary rates. The company typically offers a small salary to go find mystery shopper jobs for consumers.
Top Mystery Shopping Companies
In this section, we’ll discuss some of the top mystery shopping companies in the U.S. known for their excellent services and rewarding opportunities.
BestMark is one of the leading mystery shopping companies in the U.S., with over 30 years of experience in the industry. They operate in a range of sectors, including retail and transportation. BestMark is well-known for its professionalism and high-quality service to clients and is the largest mystery shopping company for shoppers.
ARC is another prominent mystery shopping company that offers services across multiple industries. With a focus on customer experience, ARC ensures that the feedback obtained from their best mystery shopper or shoppers leads to meaningful improvements for their clients.
Market Force is a popular choice among mystery shoppers, especially due to its extensive network and diverse opportunities. Catering to industries like retail, hospitality, and financial services, Market Force helps businesses evaluate and improve customer experiences.
Sinclair Customer Metrics
Sinclair Customer Metrics is a reputable mystery shopping company known for its attention to detail and thorough reporting. They have operated for over 40 years, providing valuable insights and actionable feedback to clients in a range of sectors.
IntelliShop is a trusted mystery shopping company that partners with esteemed organizations such as J.D. Power. With over two decades of industry experience, they work in more than 30 industries, including retail and automotive.
iSecretShop is a user-friendly platform that provides mystery shopping services through mobile applications. It offers a modern approach to traditional mystery shopping while catering to numerous sectors.
Confero is known for its personalized approach to mystery shopping, with over 30 years of industry experience. They offer services to businesses in various industries, ensuring top-notch customer experiences are delivered through robust evaluations.
Amusement Advantage is one of the few mystery shopping companies specializing in the amusement and entertainment industry. This unique focus allows them to provide high-quality service and tailored client feedback.
Yardi Matrix operates in the real estate industry, offering mystery shopping services focusing on rental properties. Their services provide crucial information to property managers and owners to improve renter experiences and satisfaction.
Call Center QA
Call Center QA is dedicated to mystery shopping for call centers, helping businesses evaluate and improve their customer service quality. With a targeted approach, they provide valuable insights into telecommunication customer experiences.
Ath Power Consulting
Ath Power Consulting is a well-regarded mystery shopping company focusing on the financial services industry. They deliver valuable insights and strategies to help their clients excel in customer service and operational efficiency.
Bare is an award-winning mystery shopping company, having received the Shopper’s Choice award from MSPA in 2019. They provide in-person and over-the-phone customer service evaluations, making them a popular choice among mystery shoppers.
Pinnacle is a reliable and reputable mystery shopping company with over two decades of experience in the industry. They strongly focus on the hospitality sector, helping clients improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
A Closer Look
A Closer Look is a mystery shopping company specializing in the hospitality industry. Their dedication to providing targeted insights has made them a favorite among clients seeking to improve the dining experiences of their customers.
Becoming a Mystery Shopper
To begin your journey as a mystery shopper, research reputable mystery shopping companies and select the ones that best suit your interests. Many companies provide online applications where you’ll fill out personal information, work history, and any relevant experience.
After a review of your application, you might be asked to complete an online test or participate in a phone interview to evaluate your communication and observational skills.
The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) is a professional trade organization representing the interests of mystery shopping companies and their shoppers. While not mandatory, obtaining MSPA certification demonstrates your commitment and professionalism as a mystery shopper.
The certification process typically involves completing online courses and exams intended to improve your understanding of the mystery shopping industry, customer experience, and the ethics behind the operation.
Independent Contractor Agreement
As a mystery shopper, you’ll likely be hired as an independent contractor rather than an employee. You’ll manage your taxes, schedule assignments, and maintain records. Before you begin working with a company, they may require you to sign an Independent Contractor Agreement. This document outlines the terms and conditions of your relationship with the company, including payment details, confidentiality requirements, and your role as a secret shopper.
In summary, pursuing a career as a mystery shopper involves researching, undertaking relevant certifications, and understanding the importance of Independent Contractor Agreements.
Mystery Shopping Assignments
Mystery shopping assignments vary across different industries, providing secret shoppers with various tasks. This section covers some popular assignment types within the mystery shopping industry.
Mystery shoppers often perform assignments in retail and grocery stores, too, assessing customer service, store layout, cleanliness, and more. Tasks in this environment may include:
- Interacting with sales associates
- Making a purchase and evaluating the checkout process
- Taking note of product selection and pricing
- Observing store promotions and displays
Phone shops involve mystery shoppers contacting call centers or businesses via phone to evaluate the company’s customer service. Tasks can include:
- Inquiring about product or service details
- Assessing call wait times and the representative’s demeanor
- Testing the company’s issue-resolution capabilities
The automotive industry also has a place for mystery shoppers, where they can be tasked with:
- Visiting car dealerships to assess sales and service teams
- Evaluating the vehicle purchasing process
- Monitoring automotive repair shops for quality and customer service
Real estate mystery shopping involves secret shoppers posing as potential home buyers or renters. Assignments in this area may require the following:
- Attending open houses or scheduling property tours
- Interacting with real estate agents and assessing their professionalism
- Evaluating the overall home buying or renting experience
Mystery shopping assignments in theme parks are focused on customer experience and safety. Tasks may include:
- Testing ride safety and employee attentiveness
- Evaluating food and beverage offerings
- Observing cleanliness and maintenance throughout the park
- Assessing customer service interactions with park employees
Earnings and Payments
Mystery shopping can provide a decent source of extra income for individuals who enjoy shopping and observing retailers. The average pay for mystery shoppers in the United States is around $14.13 per hour. The actual salary depends on the specific tasks, the company they work for, and their experience level.
Some of the top mystery shopping companies among which mystery shoppers can make money include:
- Macy’s: $29.01 per hour
- MYSTERY SHOPPER: $25.00 per hour
- Secret Shopper: $10 to $15 per task
- Sinclair Customer Metrics
Mystery shopping companies offer a range of payment methods to their workers, including:
- PayPal: Many mystery shopping companies, such as Sinclair Customer Metrics and IntelliShop, send payments via PayPal, which is a popular and convenient payment method.
- Direct deposit: Direct deposit is preferred by some mystery shoppers, as it involves sending payments into their bank accounts.
- Checks: Some mystery shopping companies can offer physical checks for payment.
- Gift cards: Sometimes, mystery shoppers can be compensated with gift cards instead of cash.
- Reimbursement: Along with the payment, some companies may offer refunds for items purchased during a mystery shopping task.
Phone mystery shopping is another exciting opportunity for shoppers. They perform their tasks via phone calls instead of in-store visits. The payment methods for phone mystery shopping are similar to those for traditional mystery shopping assignments.
Mystery Shopping Tips
Expectations and Requirements
When looking to become a mystery shopper, it’s crucial to know the expectations and requirements of the role. You should be objective in your evaluations; your feedback should be unbiased and free of personal biases, emotions, or assumptions.
You should also be able to conduct in-person visits, online assessments, and telephone inquiries. In addition, having a reliable means of transportation, such as a personal vehicle or access to taxis and public transit, is a must.
Before signing up with a mystery shopper scam other shopping company, you can check their Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating to ensure you work with a reputable organization. Unfortunately, legitimate companies won’t ask you to pay a fee to become a mystery shopper, so please avoid those that do.
As a mystery shopper, it’s crucial to keep your finances organized. Most mystery shopping companies hire evaluators as independent contractors, which means managing your taxes is your responsibility.
Set up a separate bank account dedicated to your mystery shopping earnings to make things easier. Keep detailed records of your income, expenses, and any deductions related to performing your mystery shopping assignments, such as mileage, meals, and incidentals.
Working with Multiple Companies
Working with multiple mystery shopping companies can help maximize your opportunities and income. To stay organized, create a system for tracking each company’s assignments, deadlines, and contact information. This approach will help you avoid missing deadlines or losing track of which company you’re working with on particular projects.
By following these tips and staying organized and professional, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful mystery shopper.
Mystery Shopping Scams and Red Flags
Mystery shopping scams can be challenging, but there are a few red flags to look out for. Scammers will often:
- Ask for upfront fees, which is always a scam since legitimate mystery shopping jobs do not require payment to work.
- You can use unsolicited emails, texts, or social media messages to offer you a mystery shopper job.
- Could you send you a check with instructions to deposit it and wire a portion back to them, which is likely a counterfeit check?
To avoid mystery shopping scams, you can:
- Research the company offering the mystery shopper gig by looking up their name along with words such as “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.”
- Could you check the job against the online list of reported scams maintained by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA)?
- Could you verify the issuing bank listed on any check you receive before depositing it?
To ensure you are working with a legitimate mystery shopping company, it is crucial to:
- Choose MSPA member companies, as they meet specific standards and operate according to a strict code of ethics.
- Opt for well-established companies, such as Secret Shopper, which has been operating since 1990 and is a charter member of the MSPA.
- Please be on the lookout for companies that offer different types of tasks, such as in-person, online, and over-the-phone mystery shopping, to increase the number of assignments you can take on.
Reliability and Transportation
A reliable mystery shopper must have the following:
- Reliable transportation, as many assignments, require you to travel to different locations to complete tasks and evaluate customer service.
- A clear understanding of the competitor landscape in the industry, as some mystery shopping tasks may involve comparing services and quality between competing businesses.
- The ability to work accurately and independently, as your reports and feedback, will be used by companies to make informed decisions about their business practices and improvements.
Trust your instincts and be cautious when applying for mystery shopping jobs. Stay informed about potential scams and protect against fraud while pursuing a rewarding mystery shopping career.
Benefits of Mystery Shopping
Side Hustle and Perks
Mystery shopping has become a popular side hustle for many people, as it offers flexible work hours and the opportunity to earn extra income. Secret shopping often comes with perks such as paid-to-shop, free meals, or other free items.
Typically, a mystery shopper would receive compensation through cash, gift cards, or reimbursements for purchases made during the evaluation.
One of the main benefits of mystery shopping is the ability to evaluate customer service on a granular level. Mystery shoppers can provide valuable feedback on employee performance and the overall customer experience. This insight helps companies improve customer service and create a better experience for regular patrons.
Some of the aspects that mystery shoppers evaluate include:
- Employee friendliness and professionalism
- Responsiveness to customer needs or requests
- Efficiency and speed of service
- Product knowledge or training
- Store cleanliness and presentation
Mystery shopping also plays a significant role in market research, allowing companies to gather insights into their target audience’s preferences and habits.
By examining buying patterns, customer demographic information, or brand perception, businesses can make informed decisions about their market strategy or adjust their product offerings.
Some other mystery shopping companies, like MSPA, offer additional tools and resources to help companies do more extensive market research. These may include mobile apps for collecting data, editors for analyzing information, and FAQs for better understanding the mystery shopping process.
By leveraging the insights gained from mystery shopping services, businesses can drive improvements in their operations and meet the evolving needs of their customers.
Regional and Industry-Specific Mystery Shopping
Canadian Mystery Shopping
A few mystery shopping companies in Canada cater to the market’s specific needs. These phone mystery shopping companies offer tailored services to clients in Canada’s various industries, such as retail, hospitality, and financial services. Examples of reputable Canadian mystery shopping companies include:
- Premier Service: Established in 1991, Premier Service focuses on providing top-notch mystery shopping services to clients in the retail, hospitality, and healthcare sectors. They offer in-person, online, and telephone mystery shopping options.
- Shopper’s Confidential: As a Canadian mystery shopping provider, Shopper’s Confidential offers services to various industries, including automotive, food service, and retail. They use mystery shoppers to evaluate customer service, product quality, and store appearance.
Education and Training
Mystery shopping companies often provide education and training opportunities for their mystery shoppers. This ensures that the mystery shoppers document and are well-equipped to carry out their tasks effectively and provide valuable insights to the clients. Some examples of education and training initiatives include:
- Mystery Shopping App: Several mystery shopping companies offer apps that provide necessary training materials and support to mystery shoppers. These apps may include video tutorials, quizzes, and other educational resources to help shoppers improve their skills.
- Telephone Mystery Shopping: Education and training might also cover specific types of mystery shopping, such as telephone mystery shopping. To ensure high-quality results, companies may provide instructions and guidelines for effective telephone evaluations, such as communication tactics and protocols for documenting the calls.
See Related: Ways to Get Paid for Leaving Your Computer Running
Mystery Shopping Companies’ Policies and Standards
Mystery shopping companies are committed to safeguarding the personal information of their mystery shoppers and clients. They typically have clear privacy policies outlining their data protection practices to achieve this. Some critical aspects of these policies may include:
- Collect only the necessary information for job assignments, client reports, and shopper payments.
- Ensuring secure storage and transmission of personal data
- Limiting access to personal information to authorized personnel only
- Not sharing personal information with third parties without consent or a legal requirement to do so
- Job opportunities: Outlining the process for application, assignment selection, and job completion. This usually includes shopper responsibilities, communication protocols, and report submission guidelines.
- Conduct and ethical standards: Stipulating the expected behavior of mystery shoppers, adhering to MSPA guidelines, and maintaining objectivity and professionalism during assignments.
- Payment terms: Explaining the compensation structure, payment schedules (e.g., paid via PayPal on the 20th of the month), and any conditions tied to payment eligibility.
- Intellectual property rights: Detailing the ownership and usage rights of reports, findings, and other materials generated during mystery shopping assignments.