The best way to save more money is to make more. So, I have created this post about mystery shopping with the help of FingerClickSaver. We both have mystery shopping experience and can tell you the ins and outs. To answer the most common question of all, yes it is legitimate! How do you know who is legitimate, who pays when, what kind of shops, and all the rest? We are going to help you out. We can’t risk our shopper status by giving away exactly where we shop or it wouldn’t be a mystery!
First and foremost, NEVER trust a company that asks you to pay cash upfront to join or do any kind of wire transfer. These are scams!
The following is advice from FingerClickSaver: If you’re a person who is detailed-oriented, who is able to be objective opposed to being subjective, who can fulfill the time requirements in the assignments, including the completion of the online report, mystery shopping may very well be for you. BUT, yes there is a but -one other characteristic that you will need to possess is being able to write effectively.
Ninety-nine percent of mystery shopping companies require their mystery shoppers to complete narratives on their reports. Some companies expect a lot of details and others will limit the narrative to so many characters. Regardless of whether it’s a long or a short narrative,the companies expect the shoppers to use the proper language, sentence structure, and punctuation marks. If your writing skills aren’t up to par, I would suggest you use Microsoft Word or another like program such as Open Office (freeware) to give you a hand. Otherwise, the time you’ve invested in completing could be worth crap to you as some companies will dock your check for a poorly written report.
Th old adage states, “it takes money to make money.” You will find this to be the case as a mystery shopper. You WILL need to have some money available that you can tie up for up to 90 days (more below).
Lastly, don’t expect mystery shopping to provide you with a full-time income. Shops are often rotated between shoppers and many shops can only be performed so many days/months after your last shop for that location. That said, mystery shopping can be a great way to bring in some extra money for something you already enjoy doing -shopping and giving feedback.
Payments: Most companies pay by PayPal. I also have two companies that pay via direct deposit and one that pays by regular check. Some companies pay within two weeks and some take as long as 90 days (rare). The most common is 30-60 days. For June I made $330.25 in cash and also received $86.48 in reimbursements. This was for 28 mystery shops. (A Goddess of Frugality)
Types of shops: Banks, retail stores, fast food, casual dining, auto dealers, cell phone stores, phone call and internet (checking the company’s website for specifics) are the most common places you will be asked to shop. Sometimes there are special shops such as entertainment venues. Entertainment/attraction shops (amusement parks, movie theaters, mini golf etc.) usually will reimburse you for a certain number of admission tickets. Those shops can be seen as being doing something you might not otherwise be able to afford, even if you don’t get paid a fee for completing the shop.
Upfront costs: Many places will ask you to make a small purchase. This is proof you were actually at the store. More often than not I only pay $2 or less out of my pocket and it is always reimbursed when I get paid.
Restaurants: You will pay out of pocket for any restaurants. Keep in mind some restaurant shops will offer reimbursement for your meal only (It is still a free meal out as long as you are willing to wait to get paid back). Many fast food shops will reimburse you for your meal and offer a small cash payment as well.
Receipts: ALWAYS get a receipt for proof you were at the establishment and to make sure you get reimbursed. Look for specific instructions if it someplace a receipt would not be involved (i.e. a bank). Often you will be asked for a business card or a photo of the location.
Taxes: You are considered an Independent Contractor. You are responsible for your own taxes. You are not an employee of the mystery shopping company (s). I am not a tax adviser, but generally speaking you have to claim $600 or more in earned income (this does not include reimbursements).
These are the basics. Anything we may have missed we will cover in an upcoming post.