You can become a mystery shopper to receive free meals at restaurants, hotel stays and drinks in bars.
Many mystery shopping companies offer different assignments depending upon who their clients are. Here are some tips to help you get mystery shopping jobs.
How do you get involved in mystery shopping?Jasmine’s mystery shopping experience
What is mystery shopping?
Today, mystery shoppers are employed in all industries – automotive, financial, hospitality, property and call centers, public services, travel and even the voluntary sector.
You could find yourself a mystery shopper and be taking a vacation one month while complaining about your gas bill in the next.
To be a mystery shopper, you don’t have to hold any formal qualifications. However, you will need to have excellent observation skills and a good memory.
The practice of mystery shopping, also known as secret shopping, has been in existence for 60 years. It is highly regulated in the UK. The Market Research Society created a code and standards that are maintained by trade organizations such as the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.
Good part-time work
Although mystery shopping is not a job that can be done full-time, it can work well with other jobs.
Remember that mystery shoppers are considered self-employed so you will need to declare your earnings at HMRC. Learn more about tax and how to pay it if you earn extra money.
Get a FREE MoneyMagpie eBook on how to become a mystery shopper. You can download it HERE…
Jasmine’s mystery shopping experience
Here’s Jasmine’s opinion on mystery shopping, based on her own experiences.
Get even more freebies by reading our article.
Mystery shopper for reports
This is the most popular option. This option is the most common. You will be given both a brief description and a list of things to watch out for. Follow your instructions without letting anyone know that you are testing them. Then, evaluate the responses and provide feedback via an online questionnaire.
Covert video mystery shopper
This is a very specific area and should only be attempted by highly-trained shoppers. You are given a brief and you then enter the premises as a customer. Then you film the whole process with covert cameras. Clear pictures are important for companies, so do not attempt to record family events.
Two things may be required of mystery shoppers in order to pass a site inspection. One option is to visit a particular store to purchase specific items. This is done to make sure customers get what they paid for and ensure stock availability.
Staff may ask the mystery shopper to interact with them when they are searching for or purchasing items. This is done to see how staff interact with customers. The mystery-shopping company will receive your feedback.
How about getting paid to work in restaurants? It sounds like a dream. If you are interested in mystery shopping, this could be an opportunity to make your dream a reality.
Many chain restaurants employ mystery diners to make sure their customers get great food and excellent service. They will pay you to visit their restaurants and have you report back to them. You may be paid for the meal, while in others your meal might be covered. In other cases, you will get paid for your time and your meal.
Be aware that not all agencies will give you the exact amount of money you need to eat in a restaurant. It may not be sufficient to cover the cost for the meal so make sure to verify.
Cinema chains, like restaurants, want their customers to have the best possible experience. This job is ideal for cinephiles and movie-lovers.
You will be able watch films free of charge, and agencies may allow you to buy snacks or drinks. You can interact with staff and enjoy the delicious snacks while you watch the film.
The staff’s friendliness, helpfulness, availability of snacks, prices, and comfort of the seats will all be evaluated. You will also be asked about your overall experience. Remember that agency reviews can take some time, and they may require detailed responses. This is something you should keep in mind as you apply.
Phone mystery shopper
This option is for you if you are more comfortable playing a phone role than you are in person. There’s lots of work. A set of questions will be asked by the company. You’ll need feedback and to evaluate the responses.
Monitoring postal records
This one is easy. The only purpose of your home address is to receive brochures and other promotional material. The items are returned and the delivery speed and content is measured.
N.B. N.B. These scams are completely bogus and should not be taken seriously. MoneyMagpie does not recommend using mystery shopping agencies. This will ensure that you aren’t being scammed.
Mystery shopping via email
You will be sending queries to specific websites and watching the speed and quality of their responses. Writing emails can be easier depending on your personality than speaking to businesses face-to-face or by phone.
You’ll again need to evaluate and then communicate your findings.
Online voice your opinion
Although it’s not mystery-shopping, you can give your opinion about products and services by participating in online surveys.
This is another quick and easy way to make extra money in your spare time.
Be careful about which online survey companies to join. These are the ones we love:
Nielsen Online Panel InboxPoundsThe OpinionPanel CommunitySwagbucksLifePoints
Before you sign up for any of these, make sure to set up a separate email account. This separate email address should be provided to the contact person when you ask about your details. It will ensure that your inbox doesn’t get flooded with ads and offers (that’s how they make money).
Learn more about online surveys, and how you can make the most of them.
How to become a mystery shopper
Step 1: Choose the best mystery shopping agency
You can check out the following list and sign up for one of the mystery shopping agencies. This is not an exhaustive list. The full list of legitimate agencies can be found within our mystery shopping eBook, which is completely free!
Some specialize in particular industries while others are more general. You might try looking into major department stores. Selfridges, for instance, has its own mystery shopping panel.
Make sure you check out…
ESAiShopFor IpsosGrass RootsJKS Mystery ShopMarket Force
This list includes some of the best mystery shopping agencies in Britain. The complete list is available in our Mystery Shopping eBook.
Many agencies will require you to pass a test before you are allowed in. These tests can be very difficult so it might take you several times to get them right. Do not be discouraged!
You can find a company by yourself.
You should verify that they are located in the UK and have a UK telephone number and an address. There are many dodgy companies that could be found. You can try the search engine to find out what other websites have to say about them. You can also check the forums to see what others have to say about them. Many mystery shopping ads are found in local papers and recruitment agencies. They should not cost you anything to join a company.
Step 2: Get out on the field
After you have been accepted by the agency, you can start looking for work on their website.
You must go shopping, eat or see a show. However, the main goal is to follow the guidelines precisely without the instructions.
Reporting on products and services is required. This can include aspects such as cleanliness, atmosphere, staff interaction with customers, staff numbers, and what they are doing.
Many mystery shopping agencies require that you do not make your work visible while on the job. This can impact the way the staff treats you. The main goal of the company is to provide an impartial experience.
At the time of writing, the UK was under lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. You should limit your shopping for essential groceries and make only minimal trips to the shops. However, you can make a note about the mystery shopping opportunities in person and apply for them once life gets back to normal.
Step 3: Write a report about your mystery shopping experience.
It will often involve filling out an online questionnaire that includes short or long answers about your customer experience.
You’ll receive payment/reimbursement after you’ve reported on your job, which you’ll ideally do within 24 hours of completing the task.
The complexity of the work and the company’s pay rates will affect the rate of your salary.
You can generally expect to earn between PS5 and PS25 per task plus any expenses, but less than PS1 and PS5 for telephone work.
Money Magpie Mystery Shopping Experience
Marc Crosby, our Publishing Editor, joined a mystery shopping agency in order to find out how easy it was to make money. He shares his experience with us:
“I signed up for one of the mystery shopping websites and after filling out a few details, I was asked to mystery shop at a local fast food restaurant. The job was offered quickly and the company paid PS20.
It was like being undercover. I didn’t realize that the staff knew I was following their every move. It was instructed that I should keep track of the time it took for me to place my order and receive my meal. This meant that I had to use my phone as a stopwatch. It’s not easy to do when you have your wallet in a knot.
After I had fumbled for my’stop’ button and the meal was being handed to me, it was obvious that they knew what I was doing. This might explain why one of the staff members held the door for me as I left the restaurant, wishing me a good morning. Good service, and I got a good score. It took me less than 30 minutes to answer the questions.
Within two weeks, I received my payment and was offered mystery shopping work. It could have been a good little income if I had more spare time.
If you are unsure, give it a try. It’s easy to make money mystery shopping, and the company will usually pay for your food/item.
No matter what you do, our number one article 10 quick ways to make cash is still relevant. It features the best money-making strategies available, including mystery shopping.
You can become a mystery shopper to earn money shopping and eating out MoneyMagpie.