Mystery Shopping – How to Become a Mystery Shopper

Mystery shopping job opportunities are plentiful for those wanting to become a mystery shopper. What is a mystery shopper? Mystery shopping, or secret shopping, is where “undercover customers” get paid to shop and make money evaluating customer service, cleanliness, quality, product availability and other company details, according to your own schedule. A paid shopper?!

Yes, you can make money at home by being a mystery shopper, secret shopper or shadow shopper, doing performance evaluations, service checks, front-line evaluations or any of the other common terms for mystery shopping jobs.

A few years ago, I had become a Mystery Shopper and got paid to shop by a variety of mystery shopping companies, also referred to as “mystery shopping providers” and I enjoyed it immensely. Shhh, don’t tell anyone because the whole idea behind being a mystery shopper is keeping it a secret! The only person that knew anything about my being a mystery shopper is my husband, and no one else had a clue.

If you are thinking of becoming a mystery shopper, it’s important that you keep that information between you, your spouse or significant other, and most definitely don’t tell your children. I’ve read many mystery shopper stories where friends, children and other relatives ruined many mystery “shops” by saying “Are you a mystery shopper here today?” Being a good secret shopper means keeping it a secret from everyone and anyone who might unwittingly blurt it out in public, destroying your “undercover” shopper status.

Mystery shopping is not hard by any means, with both men and women of all ages discovering how to become a mystery shopper and make money from home (usually part-time) as a secret shopper, shopping at retail stores, restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations, financial institutions/banks, service providers, manufacturers, hotels/motels, as well as travel and entertainment companies just to name a few.

How to Become a Mystery Shopper

There is no limit to legitimate mystery shopping jobs in the U.S. or other countries, including the U.K. A word to the wise, from a former mystery shopper to current secret shoppers or those wanting to become a mystery shopper: Watch out for mystery shopping scams, as there are some dishonest companies claiming you have to pay them a registration fee in order to get mystery shopping jobs, and lessons to teach you how to become a mystery shopper step-by-step.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides helpful tips and advice on becoming a successful mystery shopper and not getting scammed:

  • Becoming a mystery shopper for a legitimate company doesn’t cost anything
  • Search the Internet for mystery shopping companies that are accepting applications
  • Legitimate companies don’t charge an application fee, and many accept applications online
  • Do your homework about mystery shopping. Read mystery shopping books for tips on how to find companies hiring mystery shoppers, as well as how to do the job effectively.

Mystery Shopping Book

Recommendations for those interesting in the mystery jobs industry:

Mystery Shopping Scams:

  • Be skeptical of mystery shopper “help wanted” emails or newspaper ads, as these are most often scams pitching unnecessary, dubious “mystery shopping services”
  • Legitimate mystery shopping companies generally do not require certification, so beware of anyone selling secret shopper certifications
  • Avoid buying mystery shopping directories of companies providing mystery shoppers, or anyone charging a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities

Whether you decide to become a mystery shopper part-time or full-time, being a good, effective secret shopper requires effort on your part. I don’t believe in the make money doing nothing philosophy, because the amount of time and effort you put into learning how to be a mystery shopper and using that knowledge to be the best mystery shopper possible, will help make you be the one mystery shopper companies are looking for.

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2 Responses to “Mystery Shopping – How to Become a Mystery Shopper”

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  1. hey Lin,
    Nice post but I’m not sure what it is about? 😉
    Seriously though, since I pretty much hate shopping, I don’t think I’d be a good mystery shopper, even if I was getting paid to be a mystery shopper. That is, unless there was a job being a mystery shopper at a hardware store…
    ~ Steve, aka “displays”
    PS. Has your garage door unfrozen yet?

    • Lin says:

      Hi Steve,
      I really think you should become a mystery shopper. Your sense of humor would help you when dealing with obnoxious employees at stores during a mystery shop. The garage door opener whatchamacalit thingamigig is actually broken, not frozen, and is being fixed this weekend. In the meantime I’ll just have to put up with driving my truck instead of the vette. 🙂