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Mystery Shopping FAQ

Aug 17, 2007
Following are the top 6 frequently asked questions of mystery shopping jobs.

Q: What is the difference between a mystery shopper and a secret shopper?

A: Both terms are commonly used in the mystery shopping industry and both carry the same meaning. A mystery shopper, also known as a secret shopper, poses as a customer in order to evaluate a business's product or service.

Q: I live in a rural area and there aren't a lot of mystery shopping opportunities available to me. Is there any way that I can earn money at home as a secret shopper?

A: Yes. Today, everything is computerized and this includes many businesses. A number of companies look to mystery shoppers to help in evaluating an online business, which actually gives you more freedom as you work from home and often have time for additional jobs.

Q: Can I really make money by being a secret shopper? Why would anyone pay me to shop?

A: Yes, you can actually make decent money in your spare time as a mystery shopper. The truth is that companies are willing to pay for a professional, third-party evaluation that will offer some insight into how they can improve their business. Not only will companies pay you to shop, but you will often get to keep the products used in your evaluation at no cost. If you are instructed to purchase something during your mystery shopping assignment, you will likely be reimbursed and will still be permitted to keep the product(s).

Q: How much money can I make as a mystery shopper?

A: The answer to this question will vary greatly and is dependent upon a number of factors, including the type of job, the time spent during the evaluation, the company's policy on pay rates and how many jobs you accept within a specific amount of time. Some people use mystery shopping as a way to earn extra money in their spare time, while others have turned it into a career. These individuals are called professional shoppers and they are dedicated to evaluating as many businesses as possible, while maintaining a professional assessment and a thorough review.

Q: If I am a mystery shopper, who is my employer?

A: Mystery shoppers are independent contractors, which means they are self-employed. As such, they are responsible for reporting and paying income taxes on any income that they earn. As a mystery shopper, you may be entitled to certain tax deductions, which may include health insurance, office furniture and supplies, a computer, fax machine, internet costs, etc.

Q: How can I recognize a legitimate mystery shopping opportunity versus a scam?

A: Genuine mystery shopping programs will not promise you overnight riches and will never guarantee you a job. Mystery shoppers are hired as needed and anyone that promises you otherwise is questionable at best. A legitimate mystery shopping position will always be clear about payment rates and methods. If you have the opportunity, take the time to read independent reviews relating to mystery shopping companies. In reading another's experience or evaluation of a mystery shopping company, you may gain valuable insight and be better equipped to choose your next career move wisely.
About the Author
Brian Dolezal is a contributing editor for TopConsumerReviews.com, a leading provider of independent reviews and rankings for hundreds of consumer products. You can find out how top mystery shopping programs compare by visiting TopConsumerReviews.com today.
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