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How to Find Legitimate Mystery Shopping Jobs

Tuesday, July 27th

How to Find Legitimate Mystery Shopping Jobs

Perhaps the best way to know where to locate legitimate mystery shopping jobs is to first know where not to look. Many professional shoppers agree that newspaper advertisements and/or unsolicited e-mails should be avoided or, at the very least, used only with great caution as many are assumed to be questionable.

The best way to find a legitimate mystery shopping opportunity is through a reputable online company. Many businesses are currently hiring mystery shoppers and, like many, they realize that the best place to advertise is online. Like all work at home opportunities, a legitimate mystery shopping job can often be found through the best form of advertising available to anyone - word of mouth. Whether it's a referral from a friend or family member or an independent, third-party review from an organization that is offering their opinion on a company and its services, you can often gain valuable insight with the click of a mouse.

Because the internet is full of opportunities, including those relating to mystery shopping, it can often be difficult to find the best company to fit your needs. If you are curious as to a company's track record, you can always check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) online to learn if a business has had any complaints filed within the last 36 months, how many years it has been in existence and whether or not the track record is satisfactory according to the BBB's standards.

In addition to the aforementioned methods, anyone interested in becoming a mystery shopper should be cautious of a company that promises a job or a specific income. The financial rewards that are received are often representative of the amount of time and effort that you put into a career, which is the case with mystery shopping. The more jobs that you accept and the longer you work, the more money you will earn. Any company that promises you wealth overnight is simply not being realistic and is, consequently, a company that you may not want to do business with.

As a mystery shopper, you will learn to evaluate a business. If you have what it takes to be a candidate for this type of work, then you should also be able to evaluate a company before you sign up to shop for them. Are their statements and advertisements realistic or do they seem too good to be true? Does the company have a positive reputation with others and have they been in business for a significant amount of time? If you are to be a professional shopper, evaluating companies will become a way of life and there's no better time to begin assessing a business than now. If you choose wisely, you could be trading in your 9 to 5 job for a shopping cart and a ton of perks.

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Mystery Shopping Company FAQ

Mystery shopping, sometimes referred to as "secret shopping" , is the way that many businesses get information about how their stores, offices or locations are doing with respect to customer service. Are the employees friendly? Are the proper signs displayed for a holiday promotion? Companies contract with mystery shopping providers that send in "secret shoppers" , who pretend to be there as a regular customer but are actually taking notes on their experience. Does that sound like fun? It is!
There's really no limit to the types of "mystery shops" you might have the chance to complete. You could visit a restaurant and place a specific order, go to a movie theater and see how clean the restrooms are, or even ship a package at the post office. Some mystery shops require you to buy a product and return it later, to evaluate how well the employee handles the transaction on both ends.
You'll get a lengthy series of instructions for each mystery shop assigned to you. In order to get paid, you'll need to follow those details to the letter. Common requirements are noting the time it takes to be approached by a salesperson, how long you wait in line to ring up your purchase, or the number of customers present at a particular time of day. You might also be asked to take photos or video (as surreptitiously as possible!).
It shouldn't! Reputable mystery shopping services allow you to register as an independent contractor at no cost to you. If you see a website that asks you to pay to become a secret shopper, you'll know it's not on the up-and-up. In fact, they're probably just going to give you a list of the real mystery shopping companies that you could have signed up for without their help!
That varies widely. Some shops only pay you a small amount of money, because you get to keep the product (or eat the meal, or see the movie, etc.). If a shop is high-priority - because it's time-sensitive, or maybe another shopper cancelled at the last minute - you could get a bonus payment. It's unlikely you'll make a living as a mystery shopper, but it could put some spending money in your pockets, give you a free date night, or provide you with some fun merchandise at no cost.
Yes, most of the time. Mystery shopping is always done on a 1099 (independent contractor) basis, and most providers understand that their secret shoppers will be working with more than one service at a time. But, during the sign-up process, be sure to read all of the requirements of the company where you're applying, just to make sure there aren't any non-compete clauses that would prohibit you from working for a rival service.
You want to avoid that happening at all costs! Think of mystery shopping as an acting role: you're not really "you" , but rather someone that could be an everyday customer at the store. If you're outed as a mystery shopper before you've finished gathering the required information, it could invalidate the entire job - and you won't get paid.
While there are absolutely some scammy services and sites out there, who just want to get your money in exchange for a list of mystery shopping opportunities, the industry itself is absolutely legitimate - and used by most of the big-name corporations you know to gather insights on their many locations nationwide. There's even a certification process you can participate in, which may boost your chances of being accepted by a mystery shopping provider and then landing more shops. Check to see if a mystery shopping company is a member of the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Professionals Association) before you register: it's a good sign that you've chosen a trustworthy, established service to start your adventure as a secret shopper!
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