Mystery Shopping

One way of making money online is to act as a mystery shopper.

Many firms use people to visit their shops and premises to see how well their business treat customers.  They may be looking for how well the shoipper is greeted, the knowledge of the staff, how they react to unusual requests, it could be any aspect of their customer facing operation.  For instance if you run a chain of restaurants how would your staff reat if a customer said that they were lactose intolerent?  Would they even know what that means?

The mystery shopper is then paid for doing the research and reporting back.  There are numerous stories of how much can be made by being a mystery shopper.  One often quoted story is that a woman in Ney York was making $7,000 a week as a mystery shopper.  If you search the back issues of the New York Times you find that story from the June 2003 archives.

It sounds wonderful, being paid to shop would seem like the ideal job to my patrner Jane, but is it all that it seems?

First. I would steer away from any company that requires you to pay a sign up fee.  There is no guarantee of work or earnings.  Do they make their money from putting you in touch with real opportunities or from the sign up fees?  Instead look at the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.  Follow the link for shoppers and look for assignments in all parts of the world.

Second. You have to understand that if you give a bad report of a shop it may affect the staff.  Ethical businesses use negative feedback as a trigger for improvements and training, some may not.  Be aware of possible consequences when choosing who to work for.

Third. The best opportunities will be in cities.  If you live in the highlands of Scotland (you lucky thing) then your mystery shopping opportunities are likely to be restricted……

Fourth. Do not underestimate the amount of time you will need to devote to this.  After visiting the shop you will have to fill in a detailed questionaire and there is likely to be a fair amount of work beforehand making sure you understand everything that you need to do and observe.

Having said that, if you want to go for it I would love to hear about your experiences.

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