Paul Lamb

GfK Mystery Shopping

By far one of the oldest market research firms in existence, GfK was founded in 1934 by Professor Wilhelm Vershofen as a scientific institute known as “Gesellschaft fur Konsumforschung,” or Association for Consumer Research. The company is still headquartered in Nuremberg, Germany and it’s mission is simply, “Make the consumer heard.” According to their corporate website they now have over 13,000 employees in over 100 countries. Their U.S. operations are based in New York City.

They started mystery shopping about 15 years ago, and conduct shops in over 100 countries throughout North America, Europe and parts of Africa. GfK conducts mystery shops and revealed audits in nearly every industry, including automotive, fashion, health, retail, technology and travel and tourism. The shops in my area are mainly casual dining and wireless service audits.

The shops I have found seem to pay about average, but in some hard to fill areas they do offer some very good bonuses. The last shop I did for a popular casual dining restaurant had a $45 bonus on top of the normal $5 plus reimbursement. The revealed cell phone audits start at $15. These audits look complicated at first, but as long as you print out the survey form and use it, they are no problem. They do require several pictures.

For all of their shops, you must complete a quiz before performing the shop. Only three attempts can be made. This seemed to be a main topic of discussion on and I had trouble with it myself. I ended up taking the quiz for the cell phone audit six times (after emailing the scheduler to get it reset) before figuring out that one of their questions actually required the wrong answer. I copied and pasted the question along with the instructions from the guidelines and emailed them to the scheduler. She agreed that the question was wrong and said she would let her supervisors know. I don’t know if it has been corrected yet. But I was able to snag a great bonus for my efforts.

The schedulers and editors that I have had contact with were very helpful and communicated quickly. There are several complaints on the forum about the company having new editors that have been rejecting a lot of shops, but I have not experienced anything negative.

Payment is made by Paypal within three weeks of the shop being accepted. I have not had a problem with payment and most of the payment discussions on the forum seem to be positive, with only a few exceptions.

Interested shoppers can apply to GfK by going to and completing the standard Sassie platform application, which is only one page. Paypal is the only payment method offered and you must provide your Social Security number before being paid. Jobs are found by searching a specified radius from your home or any other address. As I mentioned previously, there is a required quiz for each type of shop, but once you have passed the quiz jobs can be self-assigned in most cases.

Completing the report is very straight forward and do not require much narrative, or none in the case of the cell phone audits. I have only completed three shops for them but have not had any contact from editors after submitting the report and none have been rejected.

I think this is great company to work for and highly recommend it for new or inexperienced shoppers. The quizzes really do a good job of highlighting the areas that need extra attention for an acceptable shop. Despite the problems I had with one of the quizzes, the scheduler was very patient and understanding and went out of her way to get me through the process. If there are shops in your area, give them a try. Happy shopping!

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