Mystery Shopping Explained

I know it sounds a bit too good to be true but really isn’t and I can vouch for that.  I have been doing Mystery Shopping alongside my Market Research for about 25 years now and in that time I have had free:  hotel accommodation, meals in restaurants, haircut and blow dry, supermarket shopping, eye test, admission to amusement parks, cinema tickets, contact lenses, petrol, played bingo and that’s just the assignments I can remember.

I enjoy mystery shopping because I like the variety of jobs and the flexibility.  Meals and products are reimbursed in addition to my evaluation fee.

Can I just point out though this is not a get rich quick scheme it is just a little extra to supplement my earnings – and it’s nice getting something free.

Some months are busier than others so I can’t guarantee a certain level of work but I have found that the more agencies I am registered with the more work I am offered.

What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery shoppers are the eyes and ears of the business owner and tell him how his customers see the business and whether his employees are living up to the standards he has set and following the rules.  They provide objective and factual feedback about the quality of customer service, cleanliness of the store, product knowledge etc from a customer perspective at local retail stores, restaurants, theatres, hotels, airlines, car showrooms and other establishments that deal with the public.

This information provides management with independent and unbiased feedback which is used to assist them with any further staff development and training.  Sometimes the reports are used to reward staff who have performed well.

What can you earn?

It all depends on the company and the assignments.  Payment is normally a set fee for the assignment.  The typical payment is around £10 – £20 for an average simple assignment with rewards topping £100 plus for longer, and more complicated jobs.

Sometimes, if evaluating a bank or shop (obviously not a restaurant or pub) I take on several assignments for the same day and work out the most cost effective route to complete each assignment around the area rather than just going out to do one assignment.

You are able to take family and friends sometimes too, when the scenario allows.  I had an assignment at a restaurant two weeks running where I was asked to take 5 friends with me to evaluate a restaurant – all expenses paid, which totalled over £150 each time plus an extra evaluation fee of £7.50 on top for each one.

Some agencies will only offer you assignments in your own area or within a 15-mile radius and reimburse travel expenses. Others post their assignments on the internet and you decide how far you want to travel.  You should always check when you take on an assignment as you don’t want to take it on if it is too far from home and you can’t claim back the travel expenses.

If the agency does not allow you to claim for travel then it hardly seems worth taking on the job.  There are exceptions, however, as if you are going to be in the area anyway, or you have several assignments in the same area. I recently evaluated a hairdresser’s and used the £40 gift voucher that was provided.  Although I wasn’t paid an extra fee on top, on this occasion, I was happy as I still saved myself the cost of a trip to the hairdressers that I would have made, I then went on to the next town and had a nice meal. I was allowed to take a friend with me to dine and then we finished off with a clothes store evaluation.  That was a very successful day out!

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