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How to Become a Secret Shopper

Have you ever wanted to become a Secret Mystery Shopper? Have you seen ads telling you that they can tell you how to become a shopper if only you ...

How to Become a Secret Shopper article provided by wikiHow. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Have you ever wanted to become a Secret Mystery Shopper? Have you seen ads telling you that they can tell you how to become a shopper if only you would send them a bunch of money just to send you info? Well, don’t believe those ads. You do not have to pay to begin your new career in this exciting field. With a few simple steps, you can start Mystery Shopping today!

edit Steps

  1. 1
    Get organized. You will soon have many shopping assignments and if you keep track of them from the very beginning, you will do a better job, feel more in control and be able to take on more assignments. Use whatever means that work for you – computer, PDA or a simple notebook will do. Make it a simple system but include columns for Company Name, Shopping Assignment Name, Due Date, Shopper Fee and Paid Date.
  2. 2
    Understand the difference between Independent Contractor vs. employee. Mystery Shoppers are Independent Contractors. If an individual is an employee, then any costs of workers' compensation, social security, and unemployment insurance, as well as federal income tax withholding and state income tax withholding are the responsibility of the employer. If an individual is an independent contractor, these costs and tax withholdings are the contractor's (i.e. YOUR) responsibility.
  3. 3
    Make sure you have the right equipment to get the job done. You will undoubtedly need a reliable computer and Internet Access. Most companies prefer you to have a high-speed internet access account but it isn't absolutely necessary. They are not paying your expenses, so use whatever you can afford or are comfortable with. You will also need reliable transportation to get to each assignment. Finally, you will need to have the proper attire each assignment calls for. Most are casual but some shops are in upscale restaurants, apartments or retail outlets and you will need to dress the part to blend in.
  4. 4
    Sign up with many different Mystery Shopping Companies. Do a search for Mystery Shopping Companies and you will find many you can apply to. Almost all of the mystery shopping companies have applications on their website. Sign up with just a few to start and then add more as you become more comfortable with the process. Never pay to sign up. Mystery shopping companies will not charge you to apply.
  5. 5
    Create a mystery shopping profile of yourself. Keep a list of all the zip codes you are willing to shop. You can then just copy and paste this info into the application. Also, keep a sample of your writing in this file. Most companies will want you to provide them with a paragraph or two describing a recent shopping experience you have had. This is to make sure you know how to write, spell properly and are proficient at grammar and punctuation! Everything counts here, as it is the only way you can show them that you can do the job. When the time comes to fill out applications, you can just copy and paste these paragraphs into the form.
  6. 6
    Create a Company List. This is a form or file on your computer of all the Mystery Shopping Companies that you have signed up with along with your user name and password. Make a column for notes to keep track of anything out of the ordinary that each company requires.
  7. 7
    Sit back and wait for the assignments. When the time comes to begin your first assignment, record it into your log, print out the instructions for the shop from the company’s website and print the form that you will need to fill out about your experience. You will actually fill out the form online, but you will need to know the questions so you can find the answers as you shop and not have to scramble for information if you forgot to get it!

edit Tips

  • Mystery shopping requires you to buy something and oftentimes you won't get paid for 30-90 days. [1] Once you factor in variables such as gas, paper and ink cost to print assignments (which can be several pages long), plus any fax or postage costs, you may find it not worth doing that shop. You are also responsible for your own taxes. Some companies will pay extra for gas mileage, while others do not. Choose carefully. Make sure you can spare the money to buy something and cover other expenses before you agree to become a mystery shopper.
  • Don't expect to get rich quick - especially in the beginning. Most assignments pay between $6 and $15.00. The higher paying gigs are usually only given to people with experience. [2] Not a great amount of money but remember: it's fun and $15.00 for about an hour or so of your time is nothing to sneeze at!
  • Pay attention to every detail including names of every employee you come in contact with, what they are wearing and what the products are like. Forgetting details could result in not being reimbursed.
  • Remember that you will spend much more time when you begin Mystery Shopping than you will later when you are more experienced. Take the time, do your assignments carefully, and don’t worry about the time. You may feel that the money is not worth the time but it will get better!
  • Join Mystery Shopping message boards and websites. This will give you an idea of who pays well and who pays on time or who is slow to pay. is one of the best sites to check out. It has links to all of the Mystery Shopping companies and gives a little info on each one. It also has a daily checklist, which comes in handy to check for new assignments.
  • Take Mystery Shopping training to become Silver or Gold Shopper. MSPA Shopper Certification does cost money but can be rewarding. Although you do not need certification to be a Mystery Shopper, if you are going to make this more than a passing interest, it might be nice to get a professional designation.
  • Strive for perfection on each and every assignment. Check spelling, punctuation and grammar. Schedulers like to work with people they can trust to turn in a quality product and you will get more assignments.
  • Always take notes after each assignment especially if you are visiting more then one place. The last thing you want is forgetting details or confusing them.
  • Be punctual and reliable. Make sure your assignment is in well before your deadline. If you miss your deadline, some companies will delete you from their system automatically.
  • Follow the directions of the assignment to the letter. If the directions say, "purchase a small drink" do not order a large or you may not be paid!
  • Do not expect to get assignments where YOU want them. It doesn't work that way. Although you will get assignment for great places, they may be at places you don't usually shop or eat at. It's a great time to try new places!
  • Remember the most important tip of all is to have fun. This is what you have wanted to do and now you have the tools to do it.

edit Warnings

  • Do not speak badly of any of the companies you work for. You can certainly relate any experience you have had with them but do so in a professional manner.
  • Do not refer to how much you are paid for an assignment. It is tempting to compare with other shoppers but it is not professional conduct.
  • Do not disclose any information about clients or shops of any of the companies you work for. This is not only unprofessional, it is most likely mentioned in the Independent Contractors Agreement that you signed.
  • Never tell anyone at the shop that you are a Mystery Shopper. The key to a good Mystery Shopper is in their anonymity.
  • If you receive a cashier's check in the mail claiming to be part of a mystery shopping assignment, do not cash it and wire the money. This is a scam. The check is not valid, and you will be responsible to your bank for the amount of the fraudulent check.

edit Sources and Citations

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