Special Report: Mystery Shopper
"It's very interesting," this mystery shopper said.
This mystery shopper has been on the job for fifteen years. She's gone on cruises, gambled in casinos, gone out to eat and to movies; all on assignment, all on someone else’s dime.
"Basically I just go into an establishment as a regular person going about my regular business," mystery shopper said.
Mystery shopping companies hire individuals to go into businesses under cover.
"We measure everything from car dealerships, grocery stores, restaurants, hotels," Mystery Shopping Providers Associations Mike Green said.
The secret shoppers evaluate the service, write up a report and turn it in for a check.
"You have to be really observant. Take good notes," mystery shopper said.
Getting paid to shop, does it sound too good to be true?
Well, there are some drawbacks. The first is availability. There's lots of willing shoppers, not as many assignments.
"Currently we have about 100,000 people in our database. We use approximately 5-6,000 of them a month," Tom Mills of Service Sleuth said.
And while you do get paid to shop, you don't get paid all that much.
"We have retail shops where you might have to spend two hours of your time for fifteen dollars," Mills said.
However, some assignments have added perks such as cruises or hotel stays or dinners.
"If they want their restaurant evaluated, they're going to provide the dinner for free," Mills said.
Interested in signing up? Well before you do, you'll want to watch out for mystery shopping scams.
"You should never ever pay to be a mystery shopper," Green said.
Experts say watch out for online sites that ask you to pay a fee to obtain a list of mystery shopping companies.
"There are companies that charge you like $19.95 and what they're going to do is send you a list of mystery shopping companies with their addresses and phone numbers," Green said.
Instead, go to the Mystery Shopping Provider's Association website and you can get the same list for free.
"All of our companies are listed on the website so they can go and apply at each one of the companies," Green said.
Once you sign up, you just wait for an assignment and then start mystery shopping.
While you may not get rich, according to one fifteen-year veteran shopper, you may have a little fun.
For more information on becoming a mystery shopper, check out the links below.
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