You are probably all too familiar with the extreme couponing craze that has many house-holds frantically cutting coupons on Sunday afternoons, and has even become the premise of a popular reality television show. But some extreme savers are starting to move beyond slashing just their grocery bill by becoming what’s known as a secret, or ‘mystery’ shopper.
Mystery shoppers submit written reviews of stores, restaurants, venues, and more. Companies use mystery shoppers as an under-cover way to check up on their locations to make sure they are providing good customer service, clean facilities, and excellent products, and to ‘get into their customers’ shoes.’ In return, mystery shoppers receive reimbursement for restaurant bills, highly discounted purchases, free tickets to amusement parks and theaters, or cash.
Some jobs may require you to write extensive reviews of a particular shopping location, but many times you will simply be asked specific yes and no questions about your shopping experience. Consequently, your writing skills do not have to be spectacular in order to land mystery shopping jobs.
Many people are leery of Internet advertisements for mystery shopping businesses, and there is reason to be. There are hundreds of mystery shopping companies to choose from, and not all are legitimate. One good way to tell if a potential company is a scam is if they require you to pay a fee in order to apply. Applying to become a mystery shopper should be totally free. If you want to make sure you’re not getting scammed, check to see if the company you want to mystery shop with is a part of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). There are honest mystery shopping companies who are not affiliated with the MSPA, but if you stick with those in the association, you will have added security.
Also beware of anything that sounds too good to be true (something for nothing) or promises of by-the-hour payment. Most mystery shopping companies pay per job, and the amount varies to nothing but reimbursement to a few hundred dollars.
Mystery shopping can be highly competitive, since many companies award jobs on a first-come, first-served basis. To gain a competitive edge, be sure to do the following:
- Turn your reviews in on time
- Proofread your reviews for misspellings and other errors
- Be willing to make purchases in order to review products and services (Look at it as bargain shopping).
Although you may not make a lot of outright cash being a mystery shopper, if you were to calculate the dollar value of the services, venues, and products you’ve received at discounts or for free simply by reporting your experiences, it adds up to a lot of savings.
If you are willing to do a little work, mystery shopping can save you tons of money on entertainment, dining, hotels, products, and much more; not to mention, it can actually be quite fun if you are someone who enjoys shopping and new experiences. Mystery shopping is a great way to eliminate the guilt of expensive shopping trips or enjoying a nice restaurant, because you are getting paid to do it.