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Get Paid to Eat with Mystery Shops!

Sep 6, 2008
Would you like to eat for free? Get your oil changed for free? Mystery shopping is a great way to enjoy free goods and services while providing feedback on how employees treat customers. If you have the time, they have the free services!

All sizes of companies hire typical customers to visit their retail outlets, dining rooms, apartment communities or investment seminars to report on how they are served. In the current high paced consumer market, service to the customer makes or breaks a business. Multitudes of older people, disabled individuals, career girls, adolescents, home owners, or apartment dwellers set out to check customer service daily and get free items and cash. All patrons qualify as mystery shoppers.

As a secret shopper, the evaluator agrees to shop and write a narrative about the experience. Special items or requests will be specified in the assignment. Sometimes the shopper goes to the store to check on only one department or individual. He or she might make an appointment for a tour with a specific employee. The evaluator might or might not make a purchase, which they might need to return. The hiring company would either suggest a return or reimburse the secret shopper for the selection or service.

If secret shopping a restaurant, the evaluator reports on how quickly her party was seated, was the establishment clean, was the order quickly taken (they may have requirements on what to order), and how soon was the food served? How was the entree -- cold, hot? What was the condition of the restroom - dirty, needs towels, etc? Shopper compensation might be the cost of the meal for two. If it is a bar shop, costs of drinks are also included.

Secret shoppers, unlike other business owners, don't have start-up costs and only need a credit or debit card to pay for the service. The evaluator faxes receipts for repayment. Sometimes no purchase is made with the shopper filing a report on the customer service for a cash payment. (Example, the mystery shopper poses as a potential apartment resident, takes a tour of the grounds, writes the report and receives payment for $25.) The compensation varies and is usually not large, but the shopper can benefit substantially, if the consumer only accepts assignments in their community or secret shops for products they would usually buy. Some shops specify photos of the business or the product, so make sure what the assignment requires.

To find secret shopper assignments, don't buy a list of companies. Google "mystery shopper" or "secret shopper" on the Internet to find out all about the industry. Search the Internet for mystery shopping companies that are accepting applications. Legitimate companies don't charge an application fee. Complete applications online and companies will either contact you with assignments or instruct shoppers to log in for available jobs. The hiring company will train you. Be aware that these companies do have strict requirements as to what is to be checked and certain hours and days that the secret shop may be performed, as well as how quickly they must have the report. Generally, there is zero tolerance for late reports or missed shopping dates, so only accept an assignment if you can complete it. Do some homework about mystery shopping. Check libraries or bookstores for tips on how to find companies hiring mystery shoppers, as well as how to do the job effectively.

Don't go out of your way to mystery shop. Plan to do jobs in groups, and then let an assignment treat you to lunch. Remember to write your evaluations up and get them turned in on time. With efficient planning, a secret shop to a grocery nets you dinner, too! A florist evaluation gives you a nice centerpiece or bouquet!

Mystery shopping is your opportunity to write something good about the clerk who went out of her way to find you a matching sweater, or report the fellow in the hardware store who told you to send your husband in to get the items, because the subject was too complicated for your female brain! Have a great time shopping in retail America.
About the Author
Author Silver Fox has been a mystery shopper for 25 years. Get a record of her best mystery shopper companies.
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