What is mystery shopping?

Go undercover to get free meals and more as a mystery shopper.

There are some topics I think will be interesting to you, but I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on them. So once a month, I’m asking a select few money bloggers to write guest posts for you.

This first one is by the lovely Emma Drew from EmmaDrew.info who knows mystery shopping inside out. Over to Emma.

Mystery shopping explained

Mystery shopping is a great way to earn some extra money and grab yourself some freebies along the way. It makes up a nice chunk of my monthly income and keeps my days varied.

Here is everything that you need to know about mystery shopping, and how it can help with your budget.

Mystery shopping is a tool used by companies to evaluate the quality of the service, or products, that they provide. Whilst companies can be visited by managers and other members of upper management, it doesn’t give them a true understanding of what is going on.

That’s where mystery shoppers come in. These shoppers act like regular customers, looking at certain aspects of the service that they receive. The shopper then completes a report after the assignment, and they are offered a payment for doing so, and often a reimbursement for purchasing items.

There are so many different mystery shopping opportunities out there, and some of them can also be completed over the phone or online. Some of my favourites have included:

  • Staying overnight in a hotel and having dinner and breakfast.
  • Ringing to upgrade my TV package
  • Checking to see if a major supermarket had a product in stock, as well as seeing how well it was displayed.

How much money can you make with mystery shopping?

I do mystery shopping every single month, and the money I make can really vary. I have been paid as little as £2 to check if an item was in stock (I was heading to the store anyway) and as much as £50 for taking out a new credit card and reporting back about the process.

The length of time it takes also varies, and some of the reports can be really long to complete. If you completed one mystery shopping assignment every fortnight you could earn yourself around £240 over a year.

There are tons of freebies too

Mystery shopping assignments will often give you a reimbursement for items purchased. Sometimes you have to buy specific items, but other times you will get to choose anything you want (usually gift cards, fuel and lottery products aren’t included). I use these reimbursements to buy items that we need and will use.

If I am shopping at a store where there’s nothing we need, I look out for items I can give as gifts or donate to a charity. Mystery shopping is not only a great way to make money, you can also save on your regular household spending.

How to get started with mystery shopping

Getting started with mystery shopping is really easy. You will have to register for mystery shopping companies – I suggest that you register for a few to increase your chance of getting assignments. I have a full list of mystery shopping companies I use and can recommend.

Most of the applications will ask you to write up a sample report or outline why you would make a good mystery shopper. Make sure that you copy this and save it so you can use it for other applications.

You will also need to declare your mystery shopping earnings and pay relevant taxes on your earnings. This is a really simple process, and remember that you can offset your travel to and from assignments.

Emma’s tips for mystery shopping

  • Never pay to register with a mystery shopping company. Genuine mystery shopping companies don’t need you to pay.
  • Check the reimbursement and requirements carefully – sometimes you are asked to buy a particular item that costs more than the reimbursement you receive. If you were planning on buying the item or dining at that restaurant anyway then great, you’ve saved some money! If not, you could be left out of pocket.
  • Keep detailed records
  • Read, read and read the brief very carefully so that you know what you need to do.
  • Negotiate fees and travel expenses if the mystery shopping company is having difficulties getting an assignment completed.
  • Do not talk about your assignments or mention the clients by name – definitely not on social media!

Are you going to give mystery shopping a try?

You can follow Emma on Twitter and Instagram (where those pics of her mystery shopping in the main image are from)

One thought on “What is mystery shopping?

  1. Pingback: Cash Chats podcast Ep05 with guest Emma Drew | Be Clever With Your Cash


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