Get Paid to Eat with Secret Shops!

by Silver Fox

If you want lunch for free or a free oil change, mystery shopping is a great way to inform employers how their customer service employees treat customers. If you secret shop, they will provide the services!

All sizes of companies hire typical customers to visit their retail outlets, dining rooms, apartment communities or investment seminars to report on how they are served. In the current high paced consumer market, service to the customer makes or breaks a business. Multitudes of older people, disabled individuals, career girls, adolescents, home owners, or apartment dwellers set out to check customer service daily and get free items and cash. All patrons qualify as mystery shoppers.

As a mystery shopper, the individual accepts an assignment to be a regular customer and report. The hiring company will detail any special requests or scenarios that you are to perform. For example, if you secret shop a luxury clothing establishment which specializes in footwear and handbags, your role might be to select a shoulder bag as a present. The business will want you to report how the staff member made suggestions and how he or she finalized the sale. The secret shopper could do a two-part shop and return the handbag to check on return policies, or the company would pay for the item and let the consumer keep it.

If secret shopping a restaurant, the evaluator reports on how quickly her party was seated, was the establishment clean, was the order quickly taken (they may have requirements on what to order), and how soon was the food served? How was the entree — cold, hot? What was the condition of the restroom – dirty, needs towels, etc? Shopper compensation might be the cost of the meal for two. If it is a bar shop, costs of drinks are also included.

Mystery shoppers have no start-up costs and very little out-of-pocket. The secret shopper pays for the service and then turns in receipts for reimbursement. Sometimes the mystery shopper also receives additional cash for their opinion, especially if no merchandise is purchased. (Example, the secret shopper poses as a prospective apartment renter, takes a tour of the property, fills out a report and receives a check for $25.) The pay varies and is usually small, but the amount can add up, if a mystery shopper only shops in their neighborhood or secret shops for items they would normally purchase. A digital camera may be required for some mystery shopping, so be sure to check the qualifications of the job.

Try a few mystery shopper assignments. Just search for hiring companies on the Internet under “secret shopper” or “mystery shopper”. Hiring companies will have you fill out an application. Follow their instructions and no fees are involved. Read all instructions on the website for training. Make sure you understand what is required and when the data needs to be turned in. No excuses are allowed, so make sure you can follow through. The secret shopper industry is well respected and wants to hire all types of shoppers. If you do a good job, assignment coordinators will be happy to schedule you for many jobs. Typically there are many more jobs than shoppers, so sign up with several companies to obtain the number of shops you want to perform.

The trick is to mystery shop in sets. Spend the morning shopping at 2, 3 or more shops, finish with a shopping lunch, and then head home to write them up. Don’t be tempted to drive too far, as you will “eat” up your cash profit. Speaking of eating – many secret shoppers evaluate a couple of grocery stores per week and receive free groceries. (A way to have your cake, and eat it, too.)

Secret shopping can earn a bonus for the sales person who gives truly good service. Those staffers who provide somewhat less service will also be recognized. Management wants to know about the male clerk who advised one secret customer to send in her spouse to select the items, since his product was just too complex for her to understand. (Which way did that employee go?) Shop America for fun and profit!

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