Cathy Stucker is the author of “The Mystery Shopper’s Manual” and in that book, she offers these answers to commonly asked questions from those considering taking up mystery shopping.

What is mystery shopping?

Mystery shoppers are paid to act as customers in businesses that have hired a firm like Customer Perspectives to evaluate their customer service and how their employees are doing.  The shoppers interact with employees, perhaps make a purchase and/or return some merchandise, and then they fill out  an evaluation form describing what happened during the visit. 

What kinds of businesses use mystery shoppers?

All types of businesses use the services of a mystery shopper, including retail stores, restaurants, auto dealers, banks, movie theaters, and hotels.

How much will I earn?

The fee you’ll be paid varies depending upon the hiring company, but can range from $10 or $20  up to $50, $100 or more. Your pay will depend on how much time will be required, the difficulty of the assignment and the difficulty of the evaluation you will be asked to provide. Many mystery shoppers do this work in their spare time, earning a few hundred dollars a month.   Some may do it full-time and earn a living at it.   It’s not easy to be a full-time shopper, however. You’ll have to juggle a lot of assignments with varied requirements and in different locations.  To be full-time, you’d have to be very organized and disciplined with your time.

What are the requirements to be a mystery shopper?

First, you have to be an adult. After that, you can be male or female and just nee to be observant and able to follow instructions.  You must be reliable and, most likely, have a reliable form of transportation.  Good writing skills are important so that your written evaluations are clear.  You don’t need special training, bu the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association offers a Certificate.

Mystery shopping companies such as Customer Perspectives use the Internet to recruit shoppers, make assignments, and complete reports. Therefore, it will help if you have Internet access.

How do I become a mystery shopper?

Apply to Customer Perspectives here:  Be aware that a legitimate mystery shopping company is hired by legitimate businesses to perform these tasks. They will never ask you to pay to apply to be a mystery shopper. Beware of such scams!

After getting an assignment, be sure to complete it on time and do a great job. That will ensure you will offered more assignments.