Q: Along with everyone else these days, I’m struggling to make ends meet. A lot of people have told me to look for work on the internet but I’ve been hesitant to do it. There are so many scams going on out there on the web.
Recently, one of my friends mentioned she’s always had an interest in mystery shopping but hasn’t ever looked into it. That got me thinking about how much I love to shop. I wondered, “Could I actually get paid to shop?” What is mystery shopping, anyway? And will I really get paid to do it? Can I make good money at mystery shopping?
A: You’re wise to be cautious about looking for work over the internet. Actually, you can find quality jobs online. It’s important, though, to take the time to investigate any online job opportunities you may be interested in so you can determine which jobs are legitimate.
So, you’re curious about mystery shopping.
With mystery shopping, yes, you can get paid to shop. Retailers of all types and sizes have found that mystery shopping provides them with good information about how customers respond to their stores, goods and services.
Department stores, boutiques, pet stores, hair salons, restaurants and other retailers use mystery shoppers to determine what they’re doing right and what they can change to bring in more customers and sell more products and services.
HOW IT WORKS
These retailers interface with mystery shopping companies. The mystery shopping companies handle all aspects of obtaining mystery shoppers to complete visits, called “shops,” to the stores and provide reports regarding their shopping experiences at the retail locations.
Mystery shoppers are paid per shopping experience as long as they properly complete the required online reports and forward receipts in a timely fashion. Mystery shoppers usually choose the shops they want to do from available shops listed at mystery shopping companies’ websites. Typically, there are time limits in terms of when the shop should be done.
In addition, each shop has specific guidelines to follow in order to successfully complete it. After a shopper enters the place of business and takes part in the shopping experience in the store, she returns home to complete the mystery shopping online report.
Payments for mystery shopping experiences usually range from $0 to $25 per shopping episode. Many shops require you to buy something, which takes away from your profit.
➡ For example, a recent shop offered by a hair cutting chain (through a mystery shopping website) offered $25 plus 20% for tip for a mystery shopper to obtain services at designated salons in various locations.
➡ This shop required that a receipt be submitted in order to receive payment. The shopper paid $25 for a shampoo, cut and style, plus a $4 tip. Although the shopper made no money on the deal, she did end up with a free haircut.
The reality is that you’re more likely to receive free services, meals and items rather than much extra money when you mystery shop. But if you like to shop and think it’s cool to receive free meals, haircuts and other items, you’ll most likely enjoy mystery shopping.