A Gazillion Dollars Mystery Shopping?
Written by Linsey Knerl
Ok, so we've all heard about the lady who earned a gazillion dollars in a month for doing mystery shopping, or surveys, or even points programs. Can you really get rich doing these types of things? NO WAY!
But you can slowly get yourself a few extra perks that every mom enjoys while having fun learning about new products and doing the shopping that you would already be doing.
Please, whatever you do, don't EVER pay any money to gain access or get mailing lists to be a mystery shopper! There are many great free resources to get you started in the business of shopping! And if you have never been a mystery shopper before, don't give any attention to those pesky spam emails in your bulk folder that promise a $250 gift card to your favorite store for mystery shopping. It just can't happen...
I mystery-shopped for a few years, and before becoming completely burnt out, (and finding out that dragging three kids along with you just isn't possible) I learned some hard lessons along the way:
1. Shopper's fees are simply an hourly wage + possibly a partial to full reimbursement for the product you buy. This means that you won't expect to earn more than $6-12 for an hour's worth of work and a little extra for compensation of your purchase. You may be reimbursed for the price of a lunch or a dress shirt. You may even have to purchase a large item, such as a washer, carpet cleaning service, or auto-detailing. You will never be paid hundreds for your time --- ever.
2. You can't make money if you don't have money. This is not a part-time job for someone who can't pay their electric bills. You need a car, gas to get there (and we all know how spendy that is getting), and money to buy the item you are requested to purchase. Reimbursement never comes sooner than a week from the time you complete the shop, and most companies don't pay you until 30 days from the last day of the month you did the shop in. So if you can't afford to part with this money, please don't.
3. It takes time to establish yourself as a reliable shopper. Companies will not be beating down your door to get you so shop the local burger joint. There are hundreds of folks trying to break into the business, and they all want free stuff.
Understand that in addition to filling out countless applications for each company you are interested in, you need to be prompt with your shops, capable of filling out sometimes very lengthy reports, and willing to jump on those job postings ASAP. It also doesn't hurt to get yourself certified as a mystery shopper by the association (which I'll get to below.)
Now that you understand the depth of this phenomenon, I will let you in a little secret:
Mystery shopping is fun! If you don't expect to quit your day job, and you like to pay attention to every detail of your shopping experience, you may enjoy yourself. I have dined at some really nice restaurants, stayed at super hotels, purchased gadgets and clothing, and used domestic services that I would not have been able to afford if it weren't for the generous reimbursement.
Just remember that mystery shopping companies are businesses that are trying to make money, too. If it sounds absurd that they would pay so much for a job, it probably isn't legit. They will lay out their expectations clearly on the front-end, and you must comply. There is no reason, however, that you can't use this new business venture as an opportunity to have some fun!