by Robert G. Yetman, Jr., Managing Editor, The James L. Paris Report
Are you familiar with mystery shopping? While you may have had no direct experience with it as yet, it has been around for a long time, and is something that can provide a way for you to earn reliable “side” money. With mystery shopping, you are essentially working as an undercover shopper for the benefit of a given retail establishment, so that the customer experience can be evaluated and improved upon by that same business.
Mystery Shopping Provides Valuable Feedback To Businesses
Each of us has, at one time or another, been lured to a store or restaurant on the basis of reputation, a great sale, whatever…only to have the in-store customer experience prove less (in some cases, much less) than satisfying. Retail corporations know the bit of “inside baseball” that says that the vast majority of customers who leave a store or restaurant dissatisfied with the experience…will never say anything, will never voice a complaint, nothing; they will simply decide not to return. This is where the great value of the mystery shopper comes into play for the business, where compensated undercover shoppers are deployed for the specific purpose of providing that feedback. Now, in these cases, the shopper will not interact with the sales clerk or store manager to express his or her approval or disapproval with the experience, but will, instead, submit a report to the company for its evaluation. One of the particularly great things about becoming a mystery shopper is that you only need be yourself to be able to do it; that is, if you have ever shopped for anything in a store, you’re qualified!
Sign Up For Mystery Shopping Gigs While You Are Traveling (Source: USA Today)
Why on earth would you want to spend your vacation mystery shopping? Because mystery shopping companies often have mystery shops in airports and trouble getting them filled. Sinclair Customer Metrics is almost always looking for people to mystery shop major airports. You might even make more money per shop, too, because retailers are so desperate for the feedback. If you have a long layover, you might even be able to earn as much as $100 on mystery shopping gigs. You could end up scoring some free food, too.
Don't Fall For The Mystery Shopper Scam
Now, one of the “knocks” against mystery shopping is that it’s something that can lend itself to seeing scammers try to co-opt the opportunity in a way that puts money in their pockets…without leaving you any benefit, and perhaps saddling you with a significant financial loss, to boot. For example, one of the more “popular” mystery shopping scams involves being solicited to mystery shop on behalf of places like Western Union, where you will be sent a cashier’s check and told to cash it for the purpose of using Western Union or another “like” service to wire the money back to the entity supposedly in charge of conducting the mystery shop for the money wire service; your benefit comes in the form of keeping a portion of the funds for yourself. In cases like this, what typically happens is that after you’ve sent the wire, the cashier’s check bounces, and so not only do you not receive your cut, but you’re also fully responsible for the amount you transmitted. Also, unsolicited emails you receive for mystery shopping opportunities can often be fraught with risks, as well – you’re smart to avoid answering any of those.
*** Jim Paris recommends the mystery shopping program below, and asked me to pass along that he personally purchased the training and completely checked it out himself. He suggests that you start with this site first if you are interested in finding a legitimate mystery shopping gig. What is especially useful is that they provide 187 companies that you can sign up with for legit mystery shopping gigs. Click Here
All of this said, mystery shopping, in general, is quite legitimate, so long as you’re using due care in evaluating any mystery shopping opportunities that come your way. One of the ways to put yourself in a solid position to engage mystery shopping is through a comprehensive service that not only gets you started in the right way, but is, itself, very proactive in warning you about mystery shopping scams.