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      January 18, 2019

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Best Mark vs Second To None

Best Mystery Shopping Programs

To help you find the Best Mystery Shopping, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Best Mark and Second To None.

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Who wouldn't love to get paid to shop, eat out, or go to the movies? That may sound too good to be true, but thousands of mystery shoppers across the US and Canada are doing just that: getting paid to visit restaurants, retail stores, and even theme parks in order to provide a customer's perspective on the cleanliness, service, and overall experience at the location.

How does mystery shopping work? Most "secret shoppers", as they are also known, are hired by third-party companies that specialize in helping businesses evaluate their performance. These third-party providers maintain a database of all of the current opportunities in your area, allowing you to apply for the jobs you'd like to do.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2019

Mystery Shopping Reviews

4 stars
Best Mark

BEST MARK Visit Site

Types:

Automotive, Banking/Financial, Entertainment (theatre, theme park), Gas Station/C-Store, Grocery, Health Care, Insurance, Lodging (hotel, motel, inns, etc.), Restaurant F&B (casual & fine dining), Retail - General, Restaurant F&B (Casual & Fine Dining)

With more than 10,000 mystery shopping opportunities per month, it's no surprise that BestMark is a popular choice among secret shoppers. This provider has over 500,000 contractors working as mystery shoppers, doing observations and evaluations at hotels, restaurants, and many other locations.

We love how much information BestMark provides prior to signing up for a mystery shopping account. There are clear descriptions of the qualifications you need in order to apply (be aware that this is one of the few companies that require mystery shoppers to be at least 19, not 18). You can even click on the link for your particular state to see if they typically have shops near your location.

Where you'll find the bulk of the information you're looking for is on the BestMark FAQ, using the link on the right side of the mystery shopper main page. There you'll find a very detailed list of the kinds of specifics you'll need to include as you evaluate restaurants, hotels, gas stations and more. Pay close attention: one of the most common complaints about BestMark - and many other mystery shopping providers - is that they expect perfection in the evaluations submitted by their secret shoppers. The FAQ also spells out the compensation process at BestMark, one of the few companies in our review that does not use PayPal or another electronic form of payment delivery but rather uses traditional paper checks that are sent 3-4 weeks after a shop is complete.

For that reason, we were surprised to see that BestMark allows shoppers to join their team either by entering an email address or by connecting using Facebook. Whichever route you choose, be aware that you'll have to verify your information (e.g. clicking on a verification link sent to your email), so you won't be able to enter fake details just to get a look at their application process or shopper portal.

Another aspect that makes BestMark more appealing to mystery shoppers is that they also offer the opportunity to work as an Exit Interviewer. If the "cloak and dagger" of being a hidden evaluator doesn't appeal to you, you may prefer this style of evaluation: gathering information from customers as they leave a store rather than sneakily observing what goes on inside.

So, what do experienced mystery shoppers have to say about working as a contractor for BestMark? Overall, comments are positive and include praise such as "fast pay", "clear requirements", and "great way to get oil changes and tire rotations for free". Many contractors said that yes, car dealerships are one of the most frequent types of shops available. On the downside, we saw several people with the same comment that there weren't always many jobs to choose from in one's local area, making it more likely that they had to travel farther than their preferred location if they wanted to do any mystery shops.

Generally speaking, BestMark offers a good amount of information prior to the signup process and has a strong reputation in the mystery shopping industry for paying quickly and being very clear with their shop requirements. If you choose to sign up as a mystery shopper with BestMark, with luck you'll be able to find many of their 10,000+ assignments in your local area!

Visit Site

3 stars
Second To None

SECOND TO NONE Visit Site

Types:

Automotive, Banking/Financial, Business-to-Business, Fast Food, Gas Station/C-Store, Government, Grocery, Health Care, Home/Apartment, Insurance, Lodging (hotel, motel, inns, etc.), Restaurant F&B (casual & fine dining), Retail - General, Shipping/Freight/Postal, Telephone, Tourism

Based out of Ann Arbor, MI, Second To None has been in business since 1989 and has worked with leading brands in the US and Canada to improve their customer experience.

On Second To None's main mystery shopper page, you'll find a general overview of what makes a successful mystery shopper and the benefits of doing this type of work. We found most of the information to be too generic to be useful; most people interested in mystery shopping already know that it allows them to earn extra income according to their own schedule, and that they're expected to have excellent skills with respect to observation, writing, and speaking. We would have liked to see more specifics about Second To None's approach to secret shopping: do they use an app for job notifications and evaluations? What does the shopper portal look like? How often do they pay their contractors? None of these questions are answered on the shoppers' info page.

While you can enter fake details to create an account if you'd like to see what the signup process includes, along with the independent contractor agreement, you are required to click on a link that is sent in a verification email. So, at the very least, you'll want to provide an accurate email address to see what STN has to offer. Fortunately, in creating that "placeholder' account, you will not have to include a Social Security Number.

We would have loved to rank Second To None higher, because we found many positive comments from current and previous mystery shoppers. But, in comparison with other secret shopping providers, this company has much less information to help a prospective contractor make the decision. We'd easily move them up in the rankings if their site included more in-depth details, such as a video showing the shopper dashboard or an FAQ page explaining their payment schedule/process, any use of mobile devices for their shops, or even access to a live list of shops in a person's area.

Visit Site

Continued from above

Sometimes, if there's a high-priority shop near you, you may even receive a direct invitation to do the assignment. Of course, in order to be eligible, you'll likely have to fill out an application to be accepted as a mystery shopper for each provider that interests you.

Payment varies by company; some mystery shops pay you for your time, while others reimburse you for making a purchase that you get to keep. In either case, you'll be expected to fill out some kind of survey or evaluation regarding your experience in order to get paid. Most mystery shopping companies make payments via PayPal, though some still use traditional paper checks for their contractors.

No matter which mystery shopping company you choose, however, you should never have to pay to be a secret shopper: though you can opt for shopper training and certification to increase your chances of being selected for certain jobs, joining a reputable company's shopper database shouldn't cost you anything.

When considering the many different companies that specialize in hiring mystery shoppers, there are several aspects to keep in mind. Some of these include:

  • Selection. How many businesses does the company work with? Do they have any businesses that you'd enjoy reviewing?
  • Transparency. Does the company offer plenty of information upfront about their process for hiring mystery shoppers? Or do you have to give them your information first?
  • Reputation. Does the mystery shopping company have a good track record for quality jobs, on-time payments, and support for their secret shoppers?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best mystery shopping providers available today. We hope this free information gets you on the road to your secret shopping experience right away!

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