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Get Paid to Shop – Be a Mystery Shopper

Do you shop at a grocery store, at a department store, have your car serviced, stay at a hotel, or even eat at a restaurant? I know, it is a silly question. Things you are already doing, you actually can get paid for it. It is called Mystery Shopping.

What is Mystery Shopping? Mystery Shopping is when a company contracts people to be an undercover customer. Companies contract Mystery Shopping companies to make sure their employees are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Mystery shoppers are a company’s eyes and ears when they cannot be present.

Have you ever went to a restaurant, and the service was horrible? Maybe the food was not prepared correctly? Maybe you went to a department store, and there was garbage clutter throughout the store or clothes off the racks?

How do you start mystery shopping? You need to be someone who is organized and pays attention to detail. If you have ever completed a marketing survey or attended a focus group, it does help getting mystery shopping jobs. If you have not yet started mystery shopping, but you have completed surveys or attended focus groups, I think it will help you on your application. When I filled out my first mystery shopping application; I wrote down I have done marketing surveys, attended focus groups, and also shopped apartment complexes through my employer. To help you get a mystery shopping job, including everything related to marketing or giving your opinion about something will help you.

When starting to apply with Mystery Shopping companies, I recommend only filling out a few applications at first. Why? Well companies like people with experience and if you fill out too many applications and do not get any responses, it will make it harder to resubmit to the companies you already submitted too. You do not want to waste your time. I would start off by applying at a few companies and get established as a shopper before filling out several applications. If you get called by several companies it can be overwhelming too. I can tell you once you are completing mystery shopping jobs and applying with more companies, your phone will ring off the hook.

Being a Mystery Shopper, you are considered an independent contractor. An independent contractor is not employee of a company. You will not receive any benefits, a vacation or even sick time. The benefits of being an independent contractor is you can work your own hours and you work when you want. Being an independent contractor, you will receive a 1099 at the end of the year if you made over $600.00 with a particular company in a year. Taxes are not taken out of your checks, so you do have to report the 1099 to the IRS at tax time.

Mystery Shoppers must be detailed, observant, a neat writer, and creative. Mystery Shopping companies have contracted you to check out a particular store or restaurant and depend on you to provide as much information as possible. The mystery shopping company has to receive enough detailed information so they have the feeling that they personally shopped the store themselves.

When you get your first assignment, you must read over everything a couple of times. You have to make sure you know exactly what the company wants you to do and what information you must collect. If you forget to do something or forget to record something, the company may possibly deduct a little money off your check or not pay you at all.

When you visit a store, do not carry paper or a pen where people can see it. You have to be secretive about taking notes. You cannot let a store or restaurant know you are a Mystery Shopper. You must not tell anyone at the store or restaurant you are a Mystery Shopper, because you will not be paid in most cases. It would defeat the purpose of being there, right? When I have shopped grocery stores, I would make notes on my grocery list. If I shop a restaurant, I secretly make notes under the table. If you need a stop watch to record how long you were standing in line, how long your food was served, etc.; I recommend using your cellular phone or a watch. If I am not able to secretly take notes than I immediately write everything down when I get into my car.

When you get home you need to complete the evaluation form as accurately and complete as possible. Again, make sure everything is detailed and complete. Make sure you keep all your receipts because a mystery shopping company will probably ask for them. If you have to mail in your evaluation forms and receipts, make sure you keep a copy for your records. I think most companies have online submission forms, accept submissions by fax or accept forms by phone.

Mystery Shopping companies usually pay-out on the average two to six weeks. Companies do require your social security number otherwise they won’t pay you. They will also need it for tax purposes.

Mystery Shopping is not a get rich opportunity. It does take work and the pay is not huge. If you are looking for a way to make extra, legitimate money, then you may want to consider mystery shopping. Mystery Shopping is fun! Getting paid to eat and shop is great! You do learn a lot by being a mystery shopper.

It is simple enough to find companies to work with by spending a little time searching for them. You can search for independent companies by going to or and typing in the search box: secret shopping companies or mystery shopping company. If a company requires you to pay to mystery shop, I would not sign up. Legitimate companies do NOT charge mystery shoppers. There are people and companies who put together directories and company databases and charge a fee. It is up to you if you want to pay for information you can find yourself for nothing.

To find companies to work with, go to a search engine and type “Mystery Shopping.” You will get a lot of results. You can always join message forums or groups to find what what company is the best one as far as pay and reliability goes.

Have Fun! Be Safe! It is a great learning experience.