I was bestowed with the privilege of writing about Mystery Shopping in response to a comment from Theresa Knoll asking about mystery shopping in general and specifically, SecretConsumer.com.
A Google search brings the SecretConsumer.com home page as the first result with the majority of the remaining listings linking back to ads. Now I’m curious what’s up so I go to the home page—a good pre-sell page that really makes it seem harmless to the untrained eye. It sounds great and the pay looks good; they even claim you can make up to $4000 a month!
My eyes narrowed for the catch that inevitably follows any claims to making such money for a task so seemingly simple and so varied in requirements. As expected I see a gold Pay Pal certified badge at the bottom of the next page and as I skim through the, text I see, “For a one time only fee of $19.95, you will be given unlimited online access to hundreds of Secret Shopper companies, constantly looking for Shoppers to perform shops on their behalf.” Now, that’s just horse spit!
Save your money and go to the Better Business Bureau Consumer page and search, “mystery shop” and find a varied list of companies registered that you can explore further—and that can be trusted. See the results I got.
And it’s free, unlimited online access!
There is no need to pay for listings of mystery shopping companies, no matter how miniscule the price seems to be. In the case of SecretConsumer.com its $19.95, which is not a lot of money, but you could waste it on something more fun for sure.
If you’re really serious about mystery shopping as a part time income you can go to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website and register as an Auditor/Mystery Shopper and have access to free training resources, and even become certified through them. Paying as low as $15 to get Silver certified puts you a head above the rest with the companies working within the MSPA network, a network that is 26 countries strong around the world.
If there were one company I would recommend, it would be Corporate Research International. It has by far more opportunities than any other company I’ve signed up with, even phone mystery shops sometimes, and are the most likely to have retailers that you frequent anyway. And if Abercrombie and Fitch is cool with working with them, I am too.
Wherever you live, you may find a different company that works for you and has opportunities in your locale more frequently. Check them all out; it’s free and you aren’t forced to take jobs. You sign up and volunteer for the ones you want to take. There’s no obligation, so sign up with several companies to see which one will have your favorite types of shops to do. The pay is varied with different companies; there is not a simple way to explain the pay structure for mystery shopping, because each company is different, but let’s face it, you’re not going to get rich being a mystery shopper.
As with any company you work with, look through the frequently asked questions for answers to any questions you may have, email the contact person on the contact page if you have further questions about the process. Do not however; be scammed into paying for information that is free elsewhere. You just have to know where to look, or who to ask :).