How Mystery Shopping Works And What To Expect
By Connie Violette
Many people are intrigued by the idea of being a Mystery Shopper or Secret Shopper. In a way it's like being a “Secret Agent”. Mystery shopping can be a lot of fun and a great way to help businesses deliver superior customer service and allow you to make some extra money.
One of the first things you will need to learn is how to tell the difference between a real Mystery Shopping company versus a website that claims you they are looking for Secret Shoppers but what they are really looking for are people to try out various offers.
Real Mystery Shopping companies will never send you a check in the mail out of the blue and ask you to go cash it, keep a portion and send the rest back to them. So if you are here because you recieved such a check. Tear it up or turn it over to your local Post Master.
Secret Shoppers will also never be asked to “complete an offer” in order to get paid. If you are unsure of a particular Mystery Shopping website, look at their FAQ's. If you see anything that mentions “offers”, you are not at a real Mystery Shopping site.
Now that you know what to look for let's move on to what Mystery Shopping is all about.
There are a lot of great Secret Shopping companies out there, one great place to start is at the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association. They have links to a lot of great companies.
At all of the real Mystery Shopping companies your first step will be to apply to be a Secret Shopper. You can usually find a link to the application through the companies website. Look for a link that says “apply to be a shopper”. During the application process you will probably be asked to give an example of a time you were shopping. This is a pretty imporant part of the application. You will want to make sure you give details such as the names of each person in the store who helped you and why you needed assistance and how they resolved the situation or didn't. If you are going to be applying to different companies, it's helpful to save this example for the next application.
After you submit the application it can take a few days or even a couple of weeks to be accepted. Make sure you use a valid email address and phone number so they can contact you. On that point, many people are afraid to share their social security number. It's important to realize that since you will be working for this company they will need your social security number. If you are uncomfortable submitting it over the internet you can always call the company and give it to them directly.
Once you are approved each company has their own way of assigning shops. Some companies will send you an email when there is an available shop in your area, others will require you to log into the shoppers section of their site and check for shops. When you find a shop you want to accept you will either bid on the shop or you can just grab it, again depending on the company.
Before accepting the shop you will have seen all the details, such as how much it pays, when it needs to be done, etc.
One more thing to talk about is training. Typically from what I've experienced and this could vary from company to company is that you will need to complete the online training courses before you can accept shops. Some companies have training based on each place you will be shopping and you will need to complete each one before you can bid on a shop with that retailer. Other companies have generalized training that you will need to complete to accept jobs with them. The training is usually pretty easy and can be done at your convienence. Don't worry, if you don't pass, you can try again.
After you complete a shop you will be required to submit your report. This will all be explained in the training.
Now that you have completed your training and accepted your first shop, you are ready to go! Go out, have fun, follow the rules and you will do great!.