Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Six things you gotta have to be a shopper...and two more you should have

Alright, there are some things that mystery shoppers just need to be successful. I'll let you know what you need and why you need it. If you don't have these things you might want to aquire them before you start mystery shopping. Here we go in no specific order...

1. Computer with Internet Access

This seems like an obvious thing right? Well, I would definitely recommend that mystery shoppers have their own computer with internet access to do mystery shopping. I mean, you wouldn't want to have to go to the public library to do your mystery shops. Mystery shoppers have to input reports within a specific period of time. I recommend having high speed internet access in case you have to send in scanned copies of receipts, business cards, or other work related paperwork. Which brings us to our next necessity...

2. Scanner

Now there are some mystery shops that you can do without a scanner but...actually I can't think of any that I've done without a scanner. If you are thinking about becoming a mystery shopper you need one of these. The faster the better in my book too. I have an ole dinosaur scanner but I'm stuck with it until it dies. It gets the job done though.

3. Printer

Now this is another important thing for mystery shoppers. You have to make copies of paperwork constantly. And, in the beginning it is important that you print out your specific instructions to make sure you don't miss any part of your shop. Once you've been shopping for a little while you can print less and less of your paperwork. Can't do without this one. You might want to go ahead and get one of those printer/scanner/copier in one deals.

4. Reliable Transportation

If you have reliable transportation you can make good money mystery shopping. This only makes sense because you can travel further if you want and take more jobs.

5. Timing Device

Now I'm not really a watch wearer but to be a mystery shopper you definitely need a time keeping device. Many shops ask for time down to the minute and second. It would be a good idea to get an inexpensive stopwatch or maybe a digital watch that can keep track of minutes and seconds.

6. Good Organizational Skills

For this gig it definitely pays to be organized. You could get a PDA if you're not one of the few people privileged enough to be super organized and on top of everything. You'll want to get something to help keep you organized. You'll want something to help you keep track of your scheduled shops so you do them when you are supposed to. Also a good idea to get something to help you keep up with what you are supposed to be paid. You should always look out for yourself when it comes to keeping your pay straight. Don't get upset if it takes a little while longer than you think it should to get your first paycheck. That's pretty much just how it is. I just jot my info down the old fashioned way with a piece of paper. Whatever works for you.

Nonessential but nice to have

1. Digital Camera

You will want to invest in a digital camera for your mystery shops if you are serious about it. Some companies want pictures uploaded to go along with the report. Read about one of the companies I shop for that requires pictures here. Some companies will allow pictures to be taken with a camera phone but some specify that camera phones should not be used. These are really not that expensive anymore and once you get one you'll find lots of use for it.

2. GPS System

This is another one of those things that you can do without but it would be nice to have. You can set up your shops and have your GPS system tell you how to get to them. This would be of benefit when you go out of town on vacation and want to pick up a few extra shops. Of course you could just do good ole mapquest. Just a thought.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Casual Dining Shops

Well I just had to share this little jewel of a company for mystery shops. I have done a mystery shop for a company that has a variety of different shops available: telephone shops, free oil change shops, fine dining shops, video shops, apartment shops, restaurant shops, and probably others that I don't know about. I did a shop for a casual dining restaurant. It is one that is very well known, let me tell you.

Now this one didn't offer a fee but to me that's okay sometimes. For me it is okay not to be paid a fee when my shop is reimbursable up to $50. Yes, fifty dollars! That means you can take a friend/spouse with you and treat them to dinner and get fully reimbursed. Got your attention?

For this particular shop I went in looking for the usual things like service and cleanliness. I started off with drinks. Then, I had the choice of choosing an appetizer to share and soup or salad. Then of course there were two entrees. Finally we got to cap it all off with dessert. This was one sweet shop. The report wasn't even that long. There was so much food my husband and I had to bring home the leftovers and we are serious eaters.

The company that offers these shops also offers two to three hundred dollar banking shops. I've not done one of those. I haven't qualified because those shops are more concentrated in cities and I live in a pretty rural area. Those shops aren't limited to large cities but definitely a larger city than where I live.

Click here to visit the website of the company that offers this variety of shops.

Monday, July 14, 2008

High paying apartment shops

Mystery shopping apartments... How does that work? If you ever wanted to be an actor of some sort, this is a great gig for you. You pretend that you want to move in to an apartment and take note of how the employee treats you. You are, of course, looking for specific things depending on what the company wants. My husband does these all the time. The pay averages between 30-40 dollars each.

The basic apartment shop consists of calling the apartment complex either trying to shop a specific person, or whomever answers the phone. The latter of the two is the easiest to do. You basically set up an appointment to meet with the person that you talked to so that he or she can show you an apartment. You have to make sure that you are at the shop when you say you will be!

They take you into their office and talk with you about the apartment. There are some questions you are required to ask. There are some things that the employee is supposed to tell you or do so you have to be observant. Notice things like if the employee opens all the doors for you. Does the employee tell you that there is no specific type (old, young, etc.) of person that lives in the apartment complex because anyone is eligible to live there? Those are some of the questions that companies want answered. Companies also want to know if you would consider renting an apartment if you were a potential customer. Of course, just like any other mystery shopping assignment you have to make sure you read the shop guidelines before you go on the shop.

Another option to make more money on these types of shops are video and audio shops. For the video shops you wear a little video button camera that the company will provide you. For the audio shops, you will receive a small recording device. The only thing about these types of shops are that you have to be able to do the shops within one or two days of receiveing the recording devices and you have to send them back in right away.

The potential to make good money with this type of shop is great. Imagine doing 3-4 of these shops in a day. My husband has done it so it's definitely possible. You might not even have to travel very far to do these shops if you live in a decent sized city. You would have to make sure that you don't end up doing the same apartment complex more than once within a certain amount of time (eighteen months, but the time may vary depending on the company). If you live in a large city, there are endless opportunities to shop apartments.

When you do your reports, you will have to write some narrative. You'll have to type up some of the things that were said. If you type regularly, it won't be difficult at all. If you are a hunt and peck typer, it'll take a little longer.

This company is good to work for. You can definitely implement this company into your mystery shopping company list and you'll stay pretty busy. Before you know it you'll be getting steady checks. There is nothing nicer than a big fat mystery shopping check in your mailbox!

It seems to me that jobs here are a little slow right now during the summer. I think there are probably other teachers and students who are out of school right now doing this for a little spare cash. You might not be able to get 3 or 4 in a day right now, but if you do even one combined with other shops it's a great payday. Click here to go to the site.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Super easy & Super quick-great pay

Okay, so this is one of my favorite shops to do. It's quick and easy and of course when you consider that it only takes about 15 minutes from beginning to end the pay is great. The shops are tobacco compliance shops. That means you pretend to be a customer who wants to buy cigarettes or some other tobacco products. You ask for the product and see if the cashier requests your driver's license, as is required to purchase tobacco products.

I did two of these last week. Not counting the travel time, it took me about 30 minutes to do both of these shops. When I actually got to the station, I had to pretend to purchase the product and see if the cashier asked for the driver's license. I revealed that I was a mystery shopper and asked for the cashiers name. Then, I had to check and see if the bathroom was clean. Next I checked to see if the windshield wiper stations had enough fluid in them. Finally, I had to take pictures of the coolers. Right before I leave I gave the cashier the pass or fail certificate.

The actual report that you have to do only takes about 5 minutes. There are very few questions. The part that takes the longest on the report for me is uploading the pictures because my desktop computer is super slow. I made $25 for those shops. That's like $50 an hour if you think about it! Now, it's usually $10/shop for this company but one of these shops must have had bonus money. Still, $40/hour is alright by me!

I've probably done ten of these shops before. I had an interesting experience on my last shop. The cashier failed and he came out of the little booth and begged me not to turn him in. He said he had a really good day up until that point and he was the manager. I told him that I was only doing my job and I would have to give him the failure certificate. He said that he thought I was someone else that had already purchased a pack of cigarettes from him just a few minutes ago and he thought I was just coming back for more. He assured me that he did card that woman. Actually, there was a male in front of me who bought tobacco products without getting carded too. I always try to listen discreetly and see if the cashiers card other customers or not, if possible.

I almost felt bad, but I realized that if he didn't card me, he may sell cigarettes to someone who is too young to legally buy them. I figured that he must have been in trouble before because of not asking for the driver's license since he got as upset as he was. Anyway, don't feel bad if a cashier doesn't pass. That's not your fault. I don't know what happens if they don't pass but on the certificate it makes it seem as if it's just a warning. Click here for the company to sign up with.


*You'll need a digital camera and you'll have to be able to send those pictures in. I usually just do two or three.

*Do the shops during the day. I wouldn't advise doing any kind of convenience store shops after dark. But then again, I'm just super careful.

*Bring a notepad to jot down a description of the cashier before you leave. Also write down the time and the name of the cashier.

*Line up several shops in one day if possible. These are quick and easy.

*If your are going out of town, line up a few of these shops to help make your trip profitable!

My shopper rating for this company 4 out of 5
My shop rating for these shops 5 out of 5

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What is Mystery Shopping?

Well, I realize that many people have not heard of mystery shopping and I thought I should give a little more insight into what this actually is. Mystery shopping, or secret shopping, is when an individual is paid either a fee, or is reimbursed to try a good or service for a company while remaining anonymous. Some mystery shops require that individuals remain anonymous the entire time. Other shops require the mystery shopper to do a reveal at the end. Either way, the mystery shopper is providing a service for a company.

In order to start off mystery shopping, an individual will have to find a company that has listings in his/her area. While it sounds easy enough, often there are individuals who want to charge for this information. I've never purchased any kind of list to find out, I've just done research. I'd advise anyone to avoid mystery shopping lists. From what I've heard, a lot of them have useless information and there are scams out there too.

Be careful for mystery shopping scams. One scam I've read about is when a shopper is sent a bad check and is asked to deposit it into his or her account. The next step is to wire a portion of the check through a wire transfer. Basically, in the end the shopper is tricked out of his or her hard-earned money.

My blog will focus on mystery shops that I've done AND received payment for. I'll also give links to the websites so readers can sign up. I'll list the companies that have the quick and easy shops as well as the more in-depth higher paying shops. You'll be surprised. From my experience, you can make up to $40 dollars an hour if you do a few short quick shops. Sign up to receive updates when I write a new post and feel free to ask questions or post comments about your experiences.


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