Back in my days when I worked in retail for a number of years I wished I had a job where I would evaluate sales associates on their customer service skills. We had comment cards available to all our shoppers if they chose to comment about our service, but it wasn’t quite the same thing because once the shopper filled out the comment card it was given back to the sales associate to hand in at the end of the day with the cash deposits. One day I overheard the supervisor say to one sales associate she was secretly shopped! It was the first time I’ve heard of mystery shopping.

What is Mystery Shopping?

A lot of retailers hire marketing research companies to anonymously evaluate their employees for quality of service. Mystery shoppers are given instructions on what is required for their assignments. This involves going to ABC Store and making a purchase or ordering a particular food item/s. It doesn’t stop there; as part of an assignment, one may have to check the cleanliness of a restroom. The mystery shopper will make mental notes and are required to fill out a form to report the experience. Most times the shopper will be reimbursed and can keep the product.

If Mystery Shopping is something you’re interested in pursuing then here are ten tips to help you get started.

1. You should never have to pay for a list of mystery shopping companies. You can find a list for free.

2. Legitimate companies don’t charge an application fee and many accept applications online. In most circumstances many companies are free to join, but if a company offers different types of membership, for example, free and paid make sure it is a legitimate company before you pay.

3. You may be required to have the following equipment scanner, printer or fax machine to submit receipts or payment invoices.

4. Visit the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (MSPA) at Here you can search for assignments and mystery shopping companies.

5. It’s known for companies to ask you to fill out a W9 form or issue a 1099 form for income tax purposes, provide your SSN/SSI or bank account/routing number, but don’t give out personal information to anyone unless you know for sure it is a legitimate and reputable company.

6. Make yourself available, but don’t overwhelm yourself with too many assignments.

7. It’s important to submit your reports in a timely manner. Make sure you make accurate reports and be specific.

8. Don’t bring children while you’re working unless it is specified in your assignment. Children can be a distraction and you want to be focused on completing your job as accurately as possible and small details are still important. Remember, it is a job.

9. Check the sites daily for new shop assignments.

10. Mystery shopping is a part-time job and a good extra income earner.

Reprinted from 24/7 Online Shopping