If the mall is your second home but you haven't heard about mystery shopping yet, you're seriously missing out. Getting paid to buy things and write about your experiences? Now that sounds like a pretty good gig to us! But before you jump into the world of mystery shopping, there are a few things you should know, like all the best mystery shopping companies and how to tell if you're being scammed by impostor sites.
What is mystery shopping?
First things first, let's start with the basics: What is mystery shopping exactly? Basically, it's a job that requires someone to visit a store or business posing as a customer, purchase an item or service, and report back to their employer about the experience. The mystery shopping company usually wants to know things like how friendly the staff was (or wasn't), and whether the store was dirty. Businesses can hire mystery shopping companies to evaluate their performance, so your feedback is especially useful.
And don't worry about shelling out your own money when you're on an assignment. Mystery shopping companies typically will reimburse you up to a certain amount — so you can practically enjoy a shopping spree for free!
Mystery Shopping Scams: How to Spot Them
Unfortunately, there are some unsavory individuals out there looking to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting people. Lucky for you, there are a few red flags that will tip you off to mystery shopping scams right away. Those are:
- If a company asks you to pay in order to join, walk away or click out of the internet tab. Legitimate mystery shopping businesses won't ask for your money.
- Some mystery shopping scams will ask you to pay to see their list of jobs; do not send them money! There's no shortage of jobs out there for wannabe mystery shoppers, and agencies don't usually withhold their job lists.
- Your last option is to check whether the mystery shopping company you've seen advertised is registered with the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association (MSPA). The MSPA is in charge of regulating this industry, so it's a safe bet to work with any of its members.
The Best Mystery Shopping Companies
BestMark is a huge mystery shopping company with a stellar reputation; the Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives it an A+ rating, its highest ranking. Because BestMark has partnered with companies from many different industries, including retail stores, banks, restuarants, and casinos, there's a good chance a mystery shopping position near you is available through the company.
The requirements to be a mystery shopper with BestMark are simple: You must be 19 years of age or older, have reliable transportation and internet access, and must be able to focus on details and have good communication skills. Depending on the assignment, BestMark will pay you in cash, reimburse you for purchases, or offer some combination of the two.
2. Market Force
Whether you're a stay-at-home parent, a working mom looking for extra cash to put a kid through college, or a retiree who wants a bit more spending money, Market Force is another great option. The company was awarded the 2018 MSPA Shoppers Choice Awards, marking it as another legitimate mystery shopping company to work for.
Like BestMark, Market Force pays its shoppers, reimburses them for purchases, or does both. The company works with businesses like gas stations and drug stores, in addition to retailers and resturants, so Market Force may be a better option for people who don't want to go out of their way to stores for assignments.
3. Sinclair Customer Metrics
The BBB has also awarded Sinclair Customer Metrics with an A+ rating. The company's been around since 1976, so it stands to reason that it's doing something right. How much you'll get paid by Sinclair depends on the job, but Sinclair will reimburse you 60 days after you've sent in your evaluations.