Getting paid to shop is the promise of being a mystery shopper, and who wouldn’t want that? It’s something you have to do anyway, and if it’s things that are considered luxury items it would be a dream job. At least that is how it’s framed by sites out there that say you can make good money with it, and get lots of free stuff. Like with most anything, the reality of it is a little bit different from how it’s pitched. And if you’re getting the idea that it’s a scam, it’s definitely a good idea to do your research before getting involved with anything.
Mystery shopping isn’t a mystery to many marketing and research firms out there. For them it’s a great way to get real world, real time feedback on how an business is operating and treating real customers. Posing as an actual customer or client is a great way to see how staff are treating people on the front line, where interactions really happen. You can sit behind a computer for hours and evaluate data until your head spins, but you can collect even more data and feedback in a few minutes just by seeing how things are actually going.
The claim is that you can get paid to shop, as well as eat out at restaurants, and give your opinion on how well the transaction went. Your compensation can vary, and will be made clear at the time that you are hired on for the task. You’ll also know of any special requirements that you’ll need to perform to be paid.
The hype is that not all of us can be mystery shoppers. There has to be real shoppers as well, and there’s just not enough need for that many people to test out how restaurants and retail outlets are doing.
There shouldn’t be any cost to be a mystery shopper, but many scams out there will try to get you to pay for access to directories and databases with mystery shopping opportunities. There are even scams out there that will send you money, which might make you think that you’re guaranteed to get paid, since you’re being paid up front. Basically that will never happen with any real shopping jobs so that should be a major red flag.
Although it seems like there isn’t any commitment to being a mystery shopper, it actually does take up your time, so it’s not like you’re getting something for nothing. Of course the thought is that your time is compensated by the free food, free products, or even an hourly rate, but you still have to have a good idea of what your time is worth, and if mystery shopping is worthy of your time. It might be better to just do what you do to make money and then spend that money eating at restaurants and buying the things you want.
The idea of mystery shopping is enticing, but to be successful with this you have to take it seriously. The companies that sponsor these jobs are not joking around, and they’ve put a lot of research into the questions they want answered and the qualities you’d need to evaluate. It’s not about just going in and having a nice time, you have to be focused on the task, and also not give it away that you’re evaluating people. You might even have a specific complaint to register, or problem to bring up, in order to see how the staff handles it. If you’re lousy with confrontation, this might be something you wouldn’t like to do.
Is Mystery Shopping a Scam?
A lot of people say that mystery shopping is a scam, but actual, legit mystery shopping isn’t a scam. It does happen on a regular basis. There are mystery shoppers out there. Restaurants freak out because they worry that they’ll give bad service to mystery shoppers, and retailers are always looking for signs that someone is really a mystery shopper and not a usual customer.
Apparently there is a scam that purports to be a mystery shopping opportunity, even going as far as sending targets a check in order to complete a task, with the condition that they have to wire the difference back to the company. Meanwhile the check is fraudulent, doesn’t clear, and the mark is out whatever money they wired.
So as long as you avoid that sort of scam, and also avoid paying for access to mystery shopping opportunities, you should be alright.
Final Mystery Shopper Review
It’s important to note that there aren’t a lot of full-time mystery shoppers. In this economy everyone’s looking for a way to make some extra cash or save some money wherever they can, and so there is no shortage of people that are willing to become mystery shoppers. At the very best, this is just something that you can make a few extra dollars a month with, and that’s with giving it a lot of your attention in the form of applying to listings and communicating back and forth until you get the job.
While the idea of being a mystery shopper can sound appealing, between the time spent finding real opportunities, sifting through all the junk, and then actually completing the assignment, your time is likely better spent pursuing more worthwhile endeavors.