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Pocket Tips: Have you tried mystery shopping?

Mystery Shopper
Mystery Shopper

Okay, so this might not earn you untold fortunes, but in a time when ever dollar counts – it’s not a bad deal. Mystery shopping. You’ve heard of it. Store owners, organizations, individual employers etc. pay a fee for normal Joes to go into some select establishment, act like a regular customer while visually observing whatever it is the employer is trying to research, then either report what they purchased or the customer service or lack thereof, etc. , and upon successful completion they are promised some type of payment. Obviously, you won’t get rich, but it can certainly serve as a supplemental income; and who among us couldn’t use a little extra mullah.

One of the biggest challenges with becoming a mystery shopper is being able to recognize the scams. Oh, I didn’t tell you; yes there are scammers out there. They serve to fool you into believing that if you pay a certain fee they will give you access to a database of mystery shopping opportunities and they guarantee you will get an assignment. Sure, you might get one, even two assignments, but the truth is by the time you’ve spent your own money either by driving to the designated location and/or purchasing whatever it is you are supposed to purchase and then trying to recoup payment for your losses, you’ve spent more money than you were promised and then you have to hope that you actually get paid; therein lies the scam.

Know this, reputable market research firms will NEVER ask you to pay for anything up front either to become a mystery shopper or to complete an assignment. Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) is the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources. They make it a point to educate potential shoppers on how to recognize scams.

So, why even bother? There is no guarantee that you’ll get an assignment and most certainly your email will be overrun with assignment notifications that you either never qualify for or you’re not interested in.  My response to that is, why not? You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. And who knows, maybe you will become a permanent mystery shopper – stranger things have happened.

Whatever you decide just be sure you do your homework.