Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mystery Shopping Basics

In case you haven't figured it out by now, there were no Monday Memories this week. Not that I don't have any--actually I was having trouble deciding which memory to share. But instead I spent my time caring for sick and injured family members. Now that everyone's getting back on track, it's not Monday anymore. So I'll have memories next week.

In the meantime, I had a lot of comments with questions about my post on Friday. So I want to give you a few basics on mystery shopping.

The first thing you need to know is that mystery shoppers are independent contractors. They don't usually work for just one company. They sign up with and work for a variety of companies that offer mystery shopping services. When the company has a job that needs doing, they send out emails to their shoppers.

What do you need for the work? A computer with internet access (not dial-up). A printer and scanner are a must. A digital camera would help. You need an email address--I have one specifically for mystery shopping. You can get free ones at hotmail, yahoo or gmail. You'll also need a paypal account. It's very easy to set up, and it's free. Use your mystery shopping email address. This is a convenient and safe way to get paid for mystery shopping. Sometimes you can request a check to be mailed by the mystery shopping company instead, but payment by check takes longer, and more and more mystery shopping companies are moving exclusively to paypal for payment and reimbursement.

So where do you find these companies? Well DON'T simply google "mystery shopping" and start clicking on links. There are a lot of scams out there. And a lot of websites will offer you a list of mystery shopping companies for $25.00 or even $35.00. The first place you want to go on the internet is to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. This website can give you a list of companies that are looking for mystery shoppers. The website will also give some advice on the latest scams, and some ideas for mystery shopping.

When you click on the links for different mystery shopping companies, you'll need to fill out applications to work there. Some of the companies also ask a lot of demographic questions. The reason for this is because some shops require specific shoppers. Some are just for men. Some are for shoppers with a teenager between 15-17 (video store), etc. The more information you give them, the better your chances of getting notification on shops you qualify for. This can be a tedious process of filling out applications, but the more companies you're signed up with, the more work you'll get.

One term you may see often is MSPA certified. While you can simply mystery shop, if you go through the MSPA certification processes (silver and gold) you will qualify for more shops. And you will get higher paying shops. Many times you also get notice of shopping opportunities before others do.

You need to know that some shops require you to purchase something. Sometimes the companies want you to send the item to them. Other times you can keep the item as part of your pay.

That's the basics of getting started at mystery shopping. Tomorrow is Random Dozen, but on Thursday I'll cover a few tips to doing successful shops.

BTW, someone asked me what my favorite place to shop is. You gotta love the restaurant shops. Hubby and I get dinner out, and someone else reimburses us for a meal.

Happy shopping!


  1. sounds interesting. Looking forward to learning more.

  2. When I worked part time at Target, someone would spot the "Mystery Shopper" and word would get back to us! I got a gift card one time because I snagged her when she got to the check out line!

  3. When a shopper receives an assignment, they are looking for specific areas of concern during their “shop.” It’s important for a store or restaurant to find the problem areas before the shopper does. A job as a Mystery Shopper is incredibly important for the improvement of retail and restaurants.


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