Tuesday, December 9, 2008

WFMW - Mystery shopping

We've come to another Wednesday, and that means another amazing list of tips and tricks over at RocksinmyDryer!

This week, I thought I would talk a little bit about mystery shopping. For some, I know this is an exhausted topic and you've already mastered it; however, I'm also sure there are folks out there who have wondered about it, but don't know how to get started.

I'm certainly no expert, but I've been mystery shopping off and on for about 12 years. There have been times it's been very much a part-time job, and other times, like now, that it's just a great way to get some new clothes or a nice evening out. Recently, I've done a shop at a nice restaurant in town, gone out for a night of bowling and snacking (and netted a payment, as well as reimbursement), and gone clothes shopping! Some of the reports are quick and simple, with minimal comments required, while others, like the restaurant, require quite a bit of essay writing.

If you have a good memory, are discreet, pay attention to every detail, and love to make your opinion known, mystery shopping might be right up your alley (pun intended). It can be a fairly profitable venture, since you only pay Federal income tax on your earnings after you've made a certain amount (I think it's $600, but not sure), or it can be just a fun thing to do to make a little spending money or pay for a date night with the hubs.

The best advice I can give you is NEVER NEVER NEVER pay for a company to "find" you jobs. You can certainly find all the information you need online and not pay a dime. I have found one of the most informative sites out there to be Volition . This site gives you overall information on mystery shopping and a huge list of companies with whom you can register. I also advise you to sign up with many companies. It might seem time-consuming, but there are many companies, and not all of them likely have jobs in your immediate area.

Another great place to register is with Kern Scheduling. These folks schedule with many companies, and all the shops are found in one central location. Once you sign up, you can visit the job board and search by zip code, state, etc. They also send you emails detailing shops they are needing to fill in your area. They get a wide variety of shops, and I've done several assignments for them.

One key component of being a good mystery shopper is definitely discretion. You can't discuss with anyone what you are doing, or for whom. It is a given that you can't discuss the shop while you are in the location (unless it is a "revealed" or "rewards" shop, in which case you tell them who you are at the conclusion of the shop), but you also can't tell friends, family, or blog visitors which companies shop which businesses. Your identity is a precious secret and once you've lost your discretion, it will get harder to get assignments. I probably don't have to tell anyone this, but it's always good to mention.

It's easy to get started mystery shopping with the aid of the internet, so why not get your "feet wet" and give it a try? You might find that you really enjoy it, and eventually start bringing in a bit of income. Or, you might not find that it's something you want to pursue, but at least you've got a free dinner or new shirt to show for your efforts.

If you're new to mystery shopping and give it a try, please come back and let me know if you liked it. Or if you have any questions, post them in comments and I will do my best to answer them. Mystery shopping is fun, and it has worked for me for years!


calista said...

I have really been interested in this, but quite intimidated. I signed up with a company once and they emailed me wanting a credit card number. I deleted it and did not pursue. I guess I am afraid that the old saying "nothing in life is free" is true.....

Suzann @ Lavender and Roses said...

Mystery shopping - hmmmm...something to think about.
Good morning from Chicagoland my fellow SITSa!

Annie Jones said...

I mystery shop for companies other than the ones you mentioned. I find it's a great "hobby" for me. :) I love the flexibility to work a lot or just a little.

KC Mom said...

Great advice! Thanks for dropping by my blog today and telling me how to make...°! Wish our schools were cancelled too!

Michelle said...

Dont be scared! If you can blog, you can mystery shop.

Just make your way to Volition.com and start applying. You chose the shops you want to do. Just jump in.

Start with something that excites you. I found it easiest to get a recorder. But the phones nowadays make the micro recorders obsolete. The phone can do everything and it looks like you are texting if you are really taking notes.

One lame thing recently at Outback was that it seemed I was texting instead of dating my DH. But oh well...free EXPENSIVE meal for little to no time.

Go for it!

AutumnFawn said...

Thanks for posting. For years I have wondered and tried to find info on this, but was leary of scams.