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How to Become a Mystery Shopper

By: Jeff Schuman

“Like this shirt? I got it at the mall, free. We’re going to
dinner tonight, free. Oh look, another check in the mail and
another PayPal deposit. C’mon kids, we’re going to BurgerLand,
free. This new hammer, free. A bouquet of flowers? For Me? How
beautiful and free.”

Nothing in this world is free, right? Correct. But how about
almost free, or free with little effort? Ah ha! Now that you’re
paying attention, let’s talk about how to become a mystery

In its simplest form, Mystery Shopping, or being a secret
shopper, is merely evaluating a product or service, and then
getting paid to do it. The only stipulation is that you must be
covert about it. The list of assignments is literally endless.
You could be asked to go to a fast food restaurant, a clothing
store, an employment agency, a car repair establishment, receive
a bouquet of flowers, get your eyes checked, be a potential
renter in an apartment complex, or eat out at a fine dining

Many will reimburse you for the item they required you to
purchase and also give you a small bonus ($8-$15) on top of
that. Sometimes you’re allowed to spend $40 for dinner and
you’ll get an extra $10 if you submit your report on time. Other
times you will be reimbursed only for what you purchased and
that’s it. Each company compensates differently.

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Like everything,
there are a few downsides. Perhaps “areas of consideration” is a
more appropriate word to use here. What is your time worth?
Sometimes you’ll be offered a gig where you have to stay in a
store for 20 minutes and interact with different employees. Then
you need to come home and fill out a three page report detailing
every single tidbit that happened. You may have driven 40 miles
round trip and you’ll get a check for $10 when all is said and
done. Consider how much your time and a tank of gasoline is
worth. The assignment may fit your situation just fine. Also you
may be asked to go to a boatload of fast food restaurants and
purchase Crabby Patties. Now suddenly you need an entire new
wardrobe because it appears your dryer is shrinking all of your
pants. You just need to evaluate where you want to go and
determine if you are willing to do the assignment for the agreed
upon compensation.

Becoming a Mystery Shopper is simple. Google the words “Mystery
Shoppers” or “Mystery Shopping” or “Secret Shopping”. From there
you’ll see a plethora of companies that work in this arena.
Visit each site to sign up to become a shopper. They’ll ask you
for basic contact information. Some will ask why you want to be
a shopper. Others might ask for a sample of your writing. This
is to insure you can complete an evaluation report. It could
take 4-6 weeks before you hear back from some. Some will phone
you, some will send you emails and some will send assignments in
the mail (note: most have done away with snail mail
assignments). Register with as many companies that interest you.

Word of caution: You may find some newspaper ads offering you a
GUIDE on free mystery shopper jobs. Do not ever pay for a guide.
All the information you need is easily available online... Free!
Free! Free!

So what are you waiting for? GET SHOPPING!

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