A Job as a Mystery Shopper Makes for Unique Work

One of the best ways to tell if a business is running as it should is through the use of Mystery Shoppers. Also called Secret Shoppers and Mystery Guests, these contactors visit stores and evaluate the service, the product, the atmosphere, the cleanliness, and other factors that determine the performance of a business. They are usually not allowed to identify themselves as Mystery Shoppers, and a “shop” typically involves the buying of a product during the visit.

Some companies hire their own Systery Shoppers as a type of intra-office quality resource, while others hire Mystery Shopper companies who hire shoppers on a per-project basis. For chain stores, such as Jack in the Box and Foley’s, the Mystery Shop is reported to the corporate office, who then takes measures according to the result.

Mystery Reports contain several categories upon which the the shopper must rate and comment. These categories include:

– Cleanliness (parking lot, bathroom, foor, counters, etc.)
– Service (speed, efficiency, eagerness to help. Resolution of problems)
– Product Quality (for food: taste, warmth, accuracy of order; for goods: whether it works, if it includes all advertised components, if it has been accurately represented)
– Appearance of Store or Premisis (correct advertisements, working lights, appropriate facilities, stocked shelves)
– Appearance of Staff (hygeine, uniform, etc.)
– Availability of Product (for example, wheter or not a restaurant is out of Diet Coke)

The categories are sometimes rated from 1-10, 1-5, or on a percentage scale. The shopper is required to make comments on his or her observances, and to provide detailed accounts of their visit.

If you are interested in becoming a Mystery Shopper, there are plenty of avenues available. You can sign on with a Mystery Shopping company, or you can search for corporations that are currently hiring shoppers. Before you make that decision, however, you should know a little about what the job entails.

First of all, mystery shopping is usually contract work, which means that you are not an employee of a company, but rather an outsourced professional. You are required to file your own taxes, and money is not taken out of your check.

Payment for mystery shops vary depending on whom you work for and with. Some companies pay as little as $5.00 for each shop, while others might offer $50.00 or more. You are usually compensated for your travel expenses, and whatever product you might be asked to purchase will also be reimbursed.

You should consider where you live, and which territories Mystery Shopping companies are hiring for. If you will have to drive several miles to reach your destination, that should be a factor in your decision. If the company will pay for gas or mileage, then it might be less if a consideration.

I don’t know anyone who makes a living by Mystery Shopping, but it can make a great supplemental income for your full or part time job. It offers a certain amount of flexibility, though you will have deadlines to meet, and you are able to choose which jobs are right for you. Some companies require that you perform your shops alone, while others allow you to take a friend. Ask questions before accepting a job from an employer so that you can gauge whether or not the opportunity will work for you.

When looking for Mystery Shopping jobs, the Internet is an excellent source with which to begin.


This website offers certification in both Silver and Gold levels for Mystery Shoppers who wish to make a full-time career out of this line of work. They offer tips for shoppers, profiles of companies who hire shoppers, and an overview of the application process.


Volition is a source for all different kinds of venues, including Mystery Shopping. They offer a comprehensive list of companies that hire Mystery Shoppers, all of which are free to join. This eliminates any risks you might take by paying for a list of companies.


This is one of the most popular companies hiring freelance Mystery Shoppers. Interested parties can complete their online application, and once it is accepted, they gain access to lists of shops that must be completed.


This is one of the easiest websites to use for Mystery Shopping, though it can be difficult to find jobs. Most of the companies they represent are fast food restaurants, and many are located outside of the major metropolitan areas. They require shoppers to complete an online course and test for each restaurant before they can accept jobs for it.


Ace is another company like Secret Shop Net, which “hires” shoppers over the Internet to complete jobs in their local area. They have a wider range of companies than Secret Shop Net, though perhaps not as many available. There are typically three or four jobs available at a time, so the “early bird gets the worm.”


This company deals in both Shoppers and companies/businesses who need Shoppers. When you arrive at their homepage, click on “Prospective Shoppers” to gain access to their online application. They also have a very informative description of their services.

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