Mystery Shopper – How to become a mystery shopper

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What is a mystery shopper?

A mystery shopper is an everyday shopper, someone like you and me, who goes shopping, undercover. They’re asked to check things about the store. The sorts of things you might be checking are:

  • the quality of customer service
  • the stock levels
  • if up-selling questions were asked
  • if any staff approached you during your visit
  • the quality of food served in a restaurant visit

What does a mystery shopper do?

There are several different things a mystery shopper might do, and several different types of places you might be asked to mystery shop.

So what places might you be asked to visit? Some examples could be:

  • Go to a restaurant and have a meal – the mystery shopper company will tell you where to go, and how much you have available to spend that they will reimburse
  • Shop in a specific high street shop – as with restaurant mystery shopping, you’ll be told how much you’ll be reimbursed
  • Travelling – mystery shopping isn’t just limited to shops and restaurants. Travel companies, including airlines, use mystery shoppers, although these mystery shopping jobs are harder to find
  • Service based shops – you might be asked to go to a bank and enquire about a particular product, or take an eye test.

Once you’ve completed your visit, you’ll be asked to write a report about it. The level of depth you’ll be asked to go into varies and some are very straight forward tick box questions (“did the waiter ask how your meal was?”) to more thoughtful answers where you’ll need to give your opinion.

Sometimes, although more and more often now, you’ll be asked to take photos of certain parts of your visit. Brands often have standards they like all their stores to adhere to, and a photo can let the brands head office know the stores are keeping the standards up. You’ll be told exactly what to take a photo of when you accept the mystery shopper job, so there’s no guess work involved!

Become a mystery shopper

Fancy becoming a mystery shopper? Where there used to be just an handful of mystery shopper companies in the UK, there are now a fair number of them to chose from. Mystery shopping has become standard for many businesses, meaning more work for you and me!

You’ll need to complete the application process and be accepted for mystery shopper jobs…

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What do you need to become a mystery shopper?

You don’t really need anything specific to become a mystery shopper, other than some free time to carry out the job (although I always coincided it with my usual trips to town anyway!) and a smart phone to take photos etc…

Many of the companies will ask you to complete some sort of written test. This is to make sure you’re capable of writing the end report properly for their clients. These tests are not to hard, although they are a little time consuming to complete when you’re starting out.

Become a telephone mystery shopper

It’s possible that you can become a mystery shopper without ever having to step foot out of your house. Think of all the companies you might need to call: online shopping customer service or ordering lines, utilities, mobile phone providers, travel companies, the list goes on and a huge amount of them want to know what the experience is like for you, the customer, and whether their staff are following company procedures.

It’s a very flexible way to earn a little extra cash and although payment is usually not a huge amount, you can fit this in around almost anything else you might have going on in your life. These jobs are popular when they come up and tend to be taken fast. Once you’ve joined a few mystery shopper companies, you’ll get to know when they release jobs and how quick off the mark you need to be to get them!

Mystery shopper companies in the UK

Marketforce

Marketforce is a global giant in the mystery shopper industry. The sign up process is free (never pay to join a mystery shopping company!).

As a Market Force mystery shopper, you’ll get paid to eat and shop for free at loads of brands you probably already shop and eat at anyway. Marketforce has a mobile app you can download for free, meaning you can take on shopping jobs and compete them then and there through the app, whether that’s taking photos, completing the report about the job or entering your expenses.

Marketforce offer cash payments for many of their jobs, but there are some, usually the sit down meal restaurant type, that will reimburse the cost of your meal rather than pay you a cash fee but hey, that’s fine by me!

Marketforce are a long established company and they have a huge selection of jobs. Make this one of your first stops and Marketforce mystery shopping here!

RedWigWam

Although not as big as Marketforce, RedWigWam have made a good name for themselves in the UK for mystery shopper jobs. They have a good selection to choose form, although they do get snapped up fast when the jobs are released.

They seem to have a lot of supermarket jobs available, making this great for coinciding with your regular supermarket trip…and like other mystery shopper companies, you’ll be asked to complete a report after the jobs completed. RedWigWam say their jobs take between 15 minutes to an hour, so factor the time in when you’re out and about and you might just be able to earn a bit of money or some vouchers without going too much out of your way!

Serve Legal

Serve Legal is a slightly different type of mystery shopping company, although still mystery shopping! This company employ 18 & 19 year olds for what they call ‘age related testing services’. This simply means that if an establishment is selling age restricted products (alcohol for example) then these mystery shoppers make sure their asking for ID, to make sure no one under age is being served.

As the market leader for this type of work, Serve Legal sends mystery shoppers in to 14,000 places every month, meaning there is plenty of work to go around!

The best part? You get paid, one way or another! There are cash payments made (up to £45) for each job, but more often you get your drinks paid for. You also get all your travel expenses paid. As a job for 18 & 19 year olds, this might be a pretty awesome way to get a free night out! Join here!

Grass Roots Mystery Shopping (Hawk Incentives)

Grass Roots offer mystery shopping jobs for all the usual places you’d expect…high street shops and restaurants etc…but they also have hotels and leisure facilities on offer as well! As you might expect, these jobs go super fast…they’re not offered for long and so you need to be checking the website for jobs being added pretty frequently.

Although the selection is good, having to keep checking back on this site makes it a little time consuming but join up, and if you get lucky it’ll be a nice surprise! Good luck!

Assosia

Assosia is a smaller mystery shopper company, but they tend to have slightly different jobs than the rest.

Once you register and are accepted (join here!) you’ll be contacted as and when jobs in your area come up, and be warned, this isn’t always that often. This company tend to go for the more specialised jobs, maybe where a company want a one off job done or are looking for something specific…you’ll always be given training for whatever job it is, ands the pay isn’t to bad, coming in at around £10 per job.

As with most work like this, although it’s not going to make you rich, if a job comes up and it fits in with your day, it’s easy money for doing essentially, very little!

International Service Check

International Service Check (ISC) call their mystery shoppers ‘evaluators’, but that’s just the name they use, the work is the same.

ISC complete most of their mystery shopper jobs for fashion brands, so it might be an interesting side gig if you’re into fashion. Each job is assigned to the person the company feel is right for it, so they’ll come to you with jobs, you’ll be told what you have to do, how much you’re going to get paid (or reimbursed for making a purchase) and you can then decide if you want to accept the job.

There are over a million evaluators worldwide, so the jobs can be a little irregular, but add it to your other hustles and you might get a bit of work out of it! Apply here!

Tern

Tern offer mystery shopping jobs checking the customer service of companies, where you’ll record details about your visit. There are a fair few jobs on offer, and they’ll pay you weekly for your time, so there are no long waiting periods for completed jobs.

Tern also offer jobs that you can complete online and over the phone, so you can complete jobs and earn some money without even leaving the house!

GWB Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping for GWB means you’ll:

  • Registering on their website
  • Logging on to the Evaluator Portal
  • Completing the orientation and training modules
  • Searching and selecting assignments
  • Downloading, printing and reading your instructions
  • Visiting and evaluating the outlet
  • Submitting your results within 8 hours
  • Uploading your receipt within 8 hours

Each job takes about 15 minutes and you can expect to be paid 4-6 weeks after the end of the month the job is completed, making this one quite some wait until you see the cash!

On the plus side, there are loads of jobs available :) Join here!

Do you get paid to be a mystery shopper?

You do get paid to be a mystery shopper, but the way ion which you get paid can vary between jobs and between companies. Many of the mystery shopper jobs will reimburse you (up to a limit) so you end up being paid in items rather than cold hard cash.

I once did a mystery shopper job in Marks & Spencers and could spend £10 that they would reimburse…so I bought the kids school tights :) No money, but saved money on something I needed to buy anyway.

That said, there are lots of jobs where you will earn real money. It’s not going to be huge sums and I believe the average is about £7-10 per job if they offer cash, but you’ll always be told the payment amount and then it’s up to you if you accept the job or not.

How much do mystery shoppers make?

Mystery shopping is not a full time job. You might read stories about people earning full time money mystery shopping, but this is not my experience. There are simply not enough jobs to be able to earn enough money for full time work, so think of mystery shopping as a nice little side gig as and when it comes along.

How much can you earn mystery shopping? When I did this, I used to earn about £50 per month, but more in free meals and items. It was well worth me doing it and I did it for a few years when the children were smaller.

Mystery shopper do’s

  • Keep all your receipts – you’ll need these to upload to the company to get paid. You will not get paid without your receipts!
  • Apply and sign up to lots of companies – there is not a never ending amount of work, so to make sure you get work each month, you’ll need to sign up to more than one company
  • Shop/Dine as you normally would – I once worked ion a restaurant where we knew who the mystery diners were because they had to ask certain questions that no on else ever asked! Some things are unavoidable, for everything else, behave normally!!

Mystery shopper don’ts

  • Don’t let on your a mystery shopper – this sort of gives the game away :)
  • Don’t pay – Never pay to join a mystery shopper company. The idea is that you make money…
  • Send your completed report late – you won’t get paid if your report is late

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How much money can you make as a mystery shopper?

Mystery shopping is not a full time job. You might read stories about people earning full time money mystery shopping, but this is not my experience. There are simply not enough jobs to be able to earn enough money for full time work, so think of mystery shopping as a nice little side gig as and when it comes along.

What do you do as a mystery shopper?

A mystery shopper is an everyday shopper, someone like you and me, who goes shopping, undercover. They’re asked to check things about the store. The sorts of things you might be checking are:
– the quality of customer service
– the stock levels
– if up-selling questions were asked
– if any staff approached you during your visit
– the quality of food served in a restaurant visit

How can I be a good mystery shopper?

– Keep all your receipts – you’ll need these to upload to the company to get paid. – You will not get paid without your receipts!
– Apply and sign up to lots of companies – there is not a never ending amount of work, so to make sure you get work each month, you’ll need to sign up to more than one company
– Shop/Dine as you normally would – I once worked ion a restaurant where we knew who the mystery diners were because they had to ask certain questions that no on else ever asked!
Some things are unavoidable, for everything else, behave normally!!

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