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About Face vs Secret Shopper

Friday, February 23rd

2024 Mystery Shopping Company Reviews

About Face Review 5 Star Rating

About Face

5 Star Rating
  • Over 200,000 mystery shoppers and panelists
  • Jobs available for both mystery shopping and shop editing/scheduling
  • Payment made via PayPal 30-45 days after shop is submitted
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business for over 20 years
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

AboutFace is the first place to turn for an excellent experience as a mystery shopper. There's lots of helpful information to get you off to a great start, from best practices guidelines to FAQs, and you can preview many current jobs right on AboutFace's social media channels. Plus, you've also got opportunities to be an editor/scheduler, focus group participant, or even a product demonstrator here. AboutFace remains our top pick among mystery shopping companies.

Secret Shopper Review 4 Star Rating

Secret Shopper

4 Star Rating
  • Millions of mystery shoppers and evaluators worldwide
  • Payments made via check on the 20th of the month after you completed an assignment (for example, in March for all February jobs)
  • Most jobs pay between $15-$25
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business for more than 30 years

Secret Shopper is a worldwide mystery shopping company, contracting millions of individuals to evaluate numerous industries from retail to real estate. Their application process is straightforward and transparent, and you can also look at their social media accounts to see featured, current assignment opportunities. We like Secret Shopper's mobile apps that make it easy to see what jobs are available nearby too. This mystery shopping company could improve by offering electronic payments (like PayPal) instead of old-fashioned, monthly checks, but overall Secret Shopper is a solid option for mystery shoppers new and experienced.

Where Should You Sign Up as a Mystery Shopper?

In today's economy, everyone's got a side hustle, from making crafts to sell on Etsy to delivering people's takeout meals. What if you could get paid to eat at your favorite restaurant, get your oil changed, or scope out the newest coffee shop in town? That's what hundreds of thousands of mystery shoppers have been doing - for decades.

This is no "here today, gone tomorrow" gig: companies have relied on the intel gathered by mystery shoppers to get first-hand perspective on their signage, customer service experience, product quality and more. What does it take to be a "secret shopper" ? Attention to detail is crucial: some evaluations may have just a few aspects to track (like cleanliness of an entryway and a particular ad's signage), but others require more.

The Best Mystery Shopping Companies Compare Mystery Shopping Companies Compare Mystery Shopping Company Reviews What are the best Mystery Shopping Companies Best Mystery Shopping Company Reviews

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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Continued from above...

For example, some mystery shopping programs require you to keep track of specific times and names of salespeople while discreetly snapping photos and not blowing your cover as an everyday customer. And yes, a little bit of acting skills can go a long way when doing a mystery shop, since you may have to pretend to be very interested in that new cell phone plan, hot menu item, or fancy new construction home. Other than that, as long as you look at mystery shopping as a fun way to make some money and not as a career, you should have no trouble succeeding as an evaluator.

A word of caution: mystery shopping companies' names are often used to target victims in money laundering scams. Most of today's secret shopping platforms make payments via PayPal, and never in advance of doing a shop; you won't be "invited" to be a mystery shopper with a $1900 cashier's check in the mail. If you receive anything like that, you should contact the company through the toll-free number on their website and ask how they would like you to go about reporting it to the authorities (such as the Federal Trade Commission or the police department). And, whatever you do, DON'T CASH THAT CHECK.

It's also important to realize that you should never be asked to pay to be a mystery shopper. In the past, some less-than-reputable websites have offered to "unlock the secrets" of mystery shopping for a membership fee or one-time payment - when in reality, all you get is a list of secret shopper companies (like the ones we've evaluated here, for free).

Enough about the tricky stuff: let's move on to choosing a mystery shopping company to get you started. Here are several factors to help you pick where to begin:

  • Upfront Information: How much does the company tell you before you fill out an application? The best mystery shopping services give you a lot of information to consider first, usually through FAQs, videos, or even screenshots of their shopper apps.
  • Ability to See Available Shops: How much personal information do you have to give the company before you can see what shops they have in your area? Some applications require everything from your Social Security Number to your height and weight, while others will let you in with just a name, address, and email (though you'll have to complete your profile before you can be assigned to a shop). We appreciate mystery shopping companies who post some of their current shop openings on social media as well.
  • Shops Near You: the most amazing mystery shopping companies around won't be of any use to you if they don't have assignments where you live (or work, or travel, or - you get the idea).
  • Payment: how often will you get paid and in what way? Most companies today use PayPal, so if you're unwilling or unable to create an account there, you'll have to look for a service that also offers direct deposit or traditional paper checks. The usual payment timeframe is the middle of the month following your completed shops; a small number of mystery shopping companies pay more quickly (within two weeks) and more frequently (twice a month).
  • Reputation: the most reputable mystery shopping companies are part of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) and will proudly display that membership badge on their site. Also check to see if they've been rated by the Better Business Bureau, how long they've been in

TopConsumerReviews.com has sorted through today's most popular mystery shopping programs, to give you the information you need to get started on your new side gig. We hope this helps you choose a company that's the right fit for you. Have fun being a "secret shopper" !

Compare Mystery Shopping Companies

Select any 2 Mystery Shopping Companies to compare them head to head

  • About Face
  • Market Force
  • IntelliShop
  • Second To None
  • Elite CXS
  • Secret Shopper
  • Shopper's View
  • Sinclair Customer Metrics
  • Mystery Shopping Service
  • Service Evaluation Concepts
  • BestMark
About Face vs Market Force About Face vs IntelliShop About Face vs Second To None About Face vs Elite CXS About Face vs Secret Shopper About Face vs Shopper's View About Face vs Sinclair Customer Metrics About Face vs Mystery Shopping Service About Face vs Service Evaluation Concepts About Face vs BestMark Market Force vs IntelliShop Market Force vs Second To None Market Force vs Elite CXS Market Force vs Secret Shopper Market Force vs Shopper's View Market Force vs Sinclair Customer Metrics Market Force vs Mystery Shopping Service Market Force vs Service Evaluation Concepts Market Force vs BestMark IntelliShop vs Second To None IntelliShop vs Elite CXS IntelliShop vs Secret Shopper IntelliShop vs Shopper's View IntelliShop vs Sinclair Customer Metrics IntelliShop vs Mystery Shopping Service IntelliShop vs Service Evaluation Concepts IntelliShop vs BestMark Second To None vs Elite CXS Second To None vs Secret Shopper Second To None vs Shopper's View Second To None vs Sinclair Customer Metrics Second To None vs Mystery Shopping Service Second To None vs Service Evaluation Concepts Second To None vs BestMark Elite CXS vs Secret Shopper Elite CXS vs Shopper's View Elite CXS vs Sinclair Customer Metrics Elite CXS vs Mystery Shopping Service Elite CXS vs Service Evaluation Concepts Elite CXS vs BestMark Secret Shopper vs Shopper's View Secret Shopper vs Sinclair Customer Metrics Secret Shopper vs Mystery Shopping Service Secret Shopper vs Service Evaluation Concepts Secret Shopper vs BestMark Shopper's View vs Sinclair Customer Metrics Shopper's View vs Mystery Shopping Service Shopper's View vs Service Evaluation Concepts Shopper's View vs BestMark Sinclair Customer Metrics vs Mystery Shopping Service Sinclair Customer Metrics vs Service Evaluation Concepts Sinclair Customer Metrics vs BestMark Mystery Shopping Service vs Service Evaluation Concepts Mystery Shopping Service vs BestMark Service Evaluation Concepts vs BestMark
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