Book Questions

Dear Subscribers,

I’m writing you for a simple reason.

We are a working on a brand new book for mystery shoppers, and we want your feedback. Why? So we can write the best book possible.

The book will be a short guide to mystery shopping. The goal will be to make it easy to get started as a mystery shopper.

We have a lot of ideas about this, but we do have two questions.

1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle?

2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?

3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?

We want to write the book with you in mind — so that we can help our readers as much as possible. Your answers to these questions will help us write the best book we can.

Thank you for your support. Please leave your comments here on this page. Your emails are welcome as well.


Jacob Jans

Your Comments:

  1. Carol Blackmore says:

    I’ve been mystery shopping for almost three years now and my old stand-by’s haven’t got new clients so most of theirs I have exhausted. I’m trying to find more MS companies to shop for. My biggest complaint is when you comment on problems with the food or service, they say not to include an opinion. That doesn’t make sense! Do they want to know the score or not?

    • Pamela J Oleary says:

      I would do more shops.But the pay is often to low to make it worth it .Looking at all the time, gas and questions you have to answer.And mileage to get there.

    • Pamela J Oleary says:

      Also there are not enough jobs listed in my area.I would like to see more weekend jobs too. My work hours conflict with some shopping.And the restaurant jobs want you to take another person with you.this is inconvenient and not possible sometimes.And they want you to buy two entrees and two drinks and appetizer and dessert.Come on who buys all that when they go out.They should make restaurnat jobs for a solo person.And they want you to remember so much.And then they can find aloop hole to not pay you if you dont do it actually like they say.

    • Michele says:

      I do shop but the money I have to put out and the length of time it takes to get paid make it difficult to continue. I like the different types of shops out there. I didn’t realize what a big business this was. It would be nice if they all paid the same way and in at least a 2 week turnaround.

    • Rhian Smith says:

      I would do as many shops each month but there are such a limited number of new clients, it is difficult to get shops that I can do.

    • Mary says:

      Hello From NC I’ve been mystery shopping for over 10 years, but not a lot. I pick what I can fit into my schedule and only the ones that benefit me as well as the company, meaning they pay enough to make it worthwhile. My favorite is the USPS I now have a bone to pick with them,I’ve made it clear in my reports,, so others can be helped That is why i started to MS

  2. Lonna Higgs says:

    What deters me from doing more Mystery Shopping is the time involved in doing the detailed reports and the often low fees. I could do many more shops, but the fees do not justify the time involved to do a good job.

    • Tiffany says:

      I agree!
      I was shocked when I did my taxes this past year.
      Because mystery shopping is considered your own business, I claimed gas expenses….after putting these expenses and my total pay for the year….I BARELY BROKE EVEN! So then, where’s the pay for the actual shop AND for the report writing??
      And same as Lonna said, I hate doing a crappy job, but they don’t pay enough to make a good job worthwhile!

    • Leanora says:

      I think more MS company’s should pay by PayPal, I’m with a lot of MS company’s, and this way I get paid for what I’m doing first and then the base pay after, so if I were to get a meal somewhere and the reimbursement was say 10 bucks I would get that first to pay for my meal, and the job was done per the guidelines I get my pay. This way is so much better all MS company’s should be this way.
      My other thing would be not enough shops in my area or when I can do a shop, like on the weekend.

    • Mary says:

      I do not make enough to report on taxes

  3. Patricia Son says:

    For many mystery shops, you must perform them during the day (9 to 5pm) and I work during those hours. I would love to see more weekend and evening opportunities.

    • Mary says:

      Restaurants have evening shops, you get to eat and get paid for it. Most offered are the one I do not go to. Pizza is always possible.

  4. Bob Engleman says:

    #2-Pay consummate with the amount of time and work required.


    I wasn’t able to locate the mentioned article for comment.

  5. George ONeal says:

    I do as much shopping as I want to. I was self-employed for 30+ years as a CPA and Real Estate Developer. I retired over three years ago and took up Mystery Shopping just to keep my mind active. Over these past two years, shopping has become almost a full time job. I find the myriad of activities very welcome. They challenge my mind and my observation skills. Both of these are beneficial to keeping my mind sharp as I age. The income is welcome also since I lost so much of my retirement fund and net worth during the real estate crunch. I can see myself being active in the field until no one will assign me shops because of my age.

    • Sharyn says:

      George, I agree with you about keeping my mind active. It also gets me out in the community and interacting with new people.

    • Mary says:

      Agreed shopping keeps the mind sharp, and it can help prevent/delay alsheimers possibly, great benefit of M Shopping/

  6. SunnyDays2 says:

    1. I do mystery shop. The biggest obstacle for me was remembering all those names out in the field. I associate with movie actors/actresses when remembering names. For instance, if you the associate’s name is John, then I remember you as John Wayne. If you work in produce, I remember you by John Wayne working with pineapple. It works!

    2. I mystery shop 7 days a week. The only thing that keeps me from accepting shops is when I sleep, lol!

    3. Human interaction but most importantly, there is such a great dis-service to clients by employees who just don’t care. That is why I am out there, because I DO care about great customer service, THAT is why I do what I do, besides the variety and the ever-changing landscape, people and no BIG BOX jobs for me!@

    • Sharyn says:

      SunnyDays2, I finally purchased a cellular phone which I can take notes on. It appears I am texting someone. This has helped me when timing each course of the meal besides the names.

  7. michael burack says:

    I have been mystery shopping full time for ten years and plan to continue for the next fifteen. The most pressing problem that I find is the amount of money that has to be advanced on so many shops, which is very serious because MSCs are very slow pay. My schedule has to regularly be adjusted for my receivables outstanding. Other than that issue, the job allows me flexibility, creation of my own hours, no payroll, taxes and demanding employees. I ran my own consulting company for thirty years and love the freedom I now have. One thing that could be changed is the pressure on schedulers. One recently wrote me that “scheduling is not for the faint of heart”……Hope this info helps…..Michael

  8. Cheryl says:

    I would say most don’t mystery shop because they don’t believe it is real. Some don’t because they are lazy. Some don’t because they don’t need an income. I shop because I do need an income. I like the flexibility and the chance to get out and socialize while making money. Traveling is a viable option if one has the desire to do so and has the necessary tools – ie laptop, digital camera, ability scan, etc.

  9. Sarah says:


    I have been a Mystery Shopper for over 5 years. What used to keep me from completing a lot of assignments was the fact that most Mystery Shopping companies have a rotation period which means you cannot always complete assignments for them every month because they like to rotate their shoppers. Also, there are times when there are not any shops in any of the areas that I shop. You just have to apply to as many companies as possible and do great work.

    • Sharyn says:

      Sarah, The rotation can be a killer. Some companies I work with will call/email me when they cannot find someone for a shop and they overide the rotation and assign to me.

  10. Ben Williams says:

    I would shop more if the pay was better.

    I like mystery shopping because I can work when I want.

  11. Laura says:

    I have been mystery shopping for six years. This has become a full time job. This work is flexible, so I can work a part time job elsewhere.

    Sometimes I buy merchandise I do not need because I got wrapped up in sales pitch! I bought a mattress with the adjustable base, VitaMix, Dyson, cosmetics, open checking accounts, and many other purchases. I have been tempted to purchase some of the cars I have shopped. Good thing the light bulb went off! I could have lived without all the items purchased, but heck those sales people are good.

  12. Cynthia Lucas says:

    I love mystery shopping. However, when sent to an inventory site, or check to see items – It should be mandatory that you check in with the manager. It is not fair to you or the employees that you are there checking on prices and act mystery at the same time.

  13. patty ziburski says:

    Time and money stop me from doing more. You definitely need money to mystery shop—anticipating you will be reimbursed in the future some time. And time is a huge factor because mystery shops usually do NOT pay much but will give you free food and oil changes. MY ADVICE IS NEVER DO A MYSTERY SHOP WITHOUT REVIEWING THE FORM FIRST BEFORE ACCEPTING AND WHAT YOU THINK WILL BE EASY NEVER IS.

  14. Victoria Pearse says:

    2. I have been ms for a few years and have become very picky about which I do. At the beginning I tried every shop that came my way but soon found out what I liked and which I never wanted to do again.

    I prefer shops where I would not normally shop but love the products. This gives me a chance to get those products.

    I also do restaurant shops so that my husband and I can have a pleasant outing.

    It is preference that prevents me from doing more shops.

    3. I am a retired teacher and I love ms because I can pick and choose jobs and days to shop. It provides me with products and outings that I would not normally experience. The grocery and gas shops save me money. I find that it keeps my mind sharp as I have to recall details and fill out a variety of different reports. A 10/10 is a rush.

    I love mystery shopping.

  15. Jannie Bryant says:

    I have been a mystery shopper for 3 years in the south Texas area. It is my part time job in addition to my full time job. I have learned the hard way to not do more than 7 shops a day, and wait until they are bonused. In my opinion, it is not realistic to make enough money to do it full time. If it were I probably would. I average 350 per month and that is taking a large percentage with bonuses, but I only do it on the weekends.

  16. Anthony Ibarrola says:

    1. One thing that keeps me from doing more is time constraints sometimes the time frame is not flexible enough to fit in my schedule. Another obstacle is the amount of compensation sometimes the shop is not worth your time because it costs you more to do the shop than not.

    2. I enjoy mystery shopping because I control my time and the amount of work that I do. I also get benefits such as extra money and it cut’s my household expenses on food, gas and other services.

  17. Donna Sharpe says:

    I am a Mystery Shopper, and have been for several years. The only things that keep me from performing more shops than I do is that I work a full-time job, so I do the Mystery Shopping in my spare time, and many of the shops that I am eligible to perform are usually a good distance away from me, and they don’t pay enough to cover my mileage, let alone my time.

    I thoroughly enjoy performing the Mystery Shops, because I feel like I am helping the business learn how it’s employees perform when they are not around. I definitely enjoy giving the good remarks, to show how good employees are, but quite often, do have to give bad remarks, when employees fail to do something, or are just rude and not performing their job properly.

  18. Cynthia Acabá says:

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?

    A part-time job in my time and gave me benefits like jewels, food and cloth free.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?

    Because is a part time job in my time and I could make critical opinion about the service. My benefits are the money and the free stuffs.

  19. Arch Stanton says:

    The one thing keeping me from doing more shops is my full time job.
    Book Suggestions: How to write a mystery shopper desription on a resume would be a monumental help for people doing ms who are unemployed and seeking a return to their regular job fields. None of the other ms books covered this…
    Also a brief history of ms would be of interest and also mention about the length of ms contracts and how clients will swich msc’s at times.

    Many Thanks and good luck to you Jacob!!!

  20. Carole Robinson says:

    I mystery shop here in Nova Scotia Canada but there are not a lot of shops and getting shops assigned to you is quite competitive. I would love to do more, and find out all the companies that work in Eastern Canada. Also the distance to travel to get shops can be a hinderence adn not worth it expense wise. I am retired and Mystery Shopping offers me extra money and a chance to keep my brain memory alert.

  21. Lesli says:

    1. I have mystery shopped and I enjoy it.
    2. Trying to plan the day to get the most jobs done in consecutive order. In that way it is economically beneficial. Trying to go out multiple times takes the monetary benefit away.
    3. When I shop or go to dinner I evaluate my service without being paid. Being paid helps to expand as a consumer and learn new products or find a new Company to do business with because of there good service without loosing economically. If the service is exceptional or the product is superior it will become a new place to do business.

  22. Alice McCann says:

    I want to know which companies cover my area geographically, which companies are the most reputable and pay the most, and I want to know how to recognize what skills could make me a “right fit” for certain mystery shopper positions. I am seeking to find out about areas of mystery shopping at the present time I don’t know exist. I need, as a rather new mystery shopper, to know what I can do to improve on what I already know. Thank you.

  23. Syed Azam says:

    It is a suitable part-time work provided the income is reasonable. Sometimes, there is assignment with a shop fee of $8.00 which involves 5-10 miles of driving a 30 minutes report writing. This means a total of 2 hours time plus gas.
    Obviously, I select only those shops where the fee is good.

  24. Andrew Soerens says:

    Realistic expectations – I think this is something a lot of newbies need help with. Because of scams, many come in thinking this will make them a ton of money. When I started I didn’t have that expectation. I thought the fees were the fees and they seemed reasonable. I had no idea that it used to pay more money. It’s not rocket surgery, so $6-$7 plus reimbursement to shop a burger joint seemed reasonable.

    Strategy – Now that I have shopped for over a year, I see more and more need for a good strategy. My strategy, simply put, is to sign up with everyone, do one assignment at each location for shops I want, and then sit back and wait for the bonus offers. My average shop fee is over $16 now and that’s not including the reimbursements that save me money I would have had to spend otherwise. If we could get more shoppers to hold out for higher fees it would benefit everyone.

    Proficiency – One thing we see often on the forum is new shoppers irate that an MSC didn’t pay them for a shop they did poorly. We can’t emphasize enough the need to follow guidelines, write professionally, and submit reports that are client-ready.

    That’s my 2 cents for now. I look forward to reading your book.

  25. Jacque Holliday says:

    I am currently a Mystery Shopper, and have been doing so for the past two years. I’m retired and it is perfect for me because it gives me great flexibility, the choice to work with businesses I like, or want to become familiar with, and the opportunity to stay connected to people without being obligated to a schedule. I moved a month ago, so right now I am on hiatus; however, I know that when I am settled, I’ll be able to return to the same MS companies and the businesses I had worked with. Additionally, Mystery Shopping is something I can do wherever I relocate. I also like the fact that I can unsubscribe from any company I am not satisfied with.

    So, anyone looking for additional income – Mystery Shopping is a great option.

  26. Victor says:

    2. The assignments available don’t usually pay enough to compensate for the distances that I would need to drive or the time that they would take.
    3. I enjoy being able to take some assignments on my own schedule and to be able to pay attention to the customer service details that are important. I like being able to schedule myself and manage the assignments that I take and I like being able to eat at restaurants I wouldn’t normally eat at.

  27. Laura says:

    Q2: 50% availability, 50% low pay.
    Q3: I know I’m qualified. It plays to my strengths. Extra funds really help.

  28. William McConnell says:

    Hello… Yes I have Mystery shopped before.
    What keeps me from replying is that the distances from my home are just too far away. With the price of gas what it is,there is sense in going ten to fifteen miles to do a shop that only pays $5.00
    My home is in Rancho Cucamonga,9609 Baseline Rd. #105,71730

  29. Pamela says:

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle?

    The biggest obstacle for becoming a mystery shopper for me was the idea that it was a scam.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?

    The thing that keeps me from taking more shops is the reports. Sometime the narratives are so intensive that it makes it difficult for me to do a lot of shops in a day because I want my reports to all be thorough and correct.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?

    I love mystery shopping, I am able to set my own hours and pick my own assignments. I get to choose how I want my day to progress and I have learned a lot by working as a mystery shopper.

  30. Joan says:

    I would like to know how to send in reports while travelling. I read about others doing shops while on the road or doing certain routes, but I doin’t know how they are sending in reports. I presently use my desktop computer and scan the reports in. Away from my desk, and I am lost as how to do it.

  31. Kelly OToole says:

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle?
    I currently do shops.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?

    Pay is too low especially considering the cost of gas.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?

    I prefer doing restaurant shops. Can’t beat getting paid to eat! I like that I always have the option to ask or decline a shop offer.

  32. Barbara Luke says:

    Hi Jacob, The biggest obstacle I run across is the description of the shop will say one “easy shop” or “no narrative” and you go and do the shop thinking I don’t need to observe what color the clothes were the person was wearing etc. and then when you go to write up the report there are 50 questions regarding all sorts of things that were never mentioned in the shop details, so it is important to make note of “every detail” keeping in mind you just might need that information. The pay is sometimes an issue, especially with gas hovering near $4.00 a gallon again. I enjoy being a mystery shopper and earning a few extra dollars is always nice. As you have said before, make sure you check out the company who offers the shop, because I did two car wash shops and was never paid. I wrote verbatum what took place and they denied the shop saying there was a tape and that did not happen. I started to go to the car wash and ask to see the tape; however, it wasn’t worth the time just for the free car wash which was like $7.00. It is discouraging when this happens as I spent an hour and one-half at the car wash, but these things do happen. Good luck with your book, I’m sure you will do a good job. I always enjoy your newsletter and keep up the good work. Barbara

  33. Becky Cafouros says:

    Just an observation – isn’t this Three questions instead of Two?

    We have a lot of ideas about this, but we do have two questions.

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle?

    Fear of the unknown.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?

    Time constraints.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?

    I love meeting new people and doing new things. Plus, free movies, meals and purchases help.

  34. Patty Poorten says:

    Thanks for asking for input. I love mystery shopping. I have been doing it for 2 years. What I love most is I can do it when I want to. It’s so flexible. It’s not going to make us rich, but it’s nice to get extra income. My husband makes a good salary and it would be silly for me to work. I always make below the $600 per company so I don’t have to report it. It’s hard not telling people, but I don’t. We live in a small town and not many shops come my way. (Please don’t print my name for tax purposes.)
    I love your magazine and have learned about new companies from it. Thank you.

  35. Marty Smith says:

    I have mystery shopped a number of times and it’s been all over the map from fine dining to hamburger stands to hotels to oil changes. The one obstacle that keeps me from doing more is that sometimes it’s just not worth it. If you are going to pay me for my hamburger (up to $10) and $4 for shopping – it better be an easy shop and sometimes they have a 10 page questionnaire – just not worth it! There has to be some value – I take my shops very seriously and sometimes will put in two hours in prep work and writing the report.

  36. Janet Jankel says:

    I would do more, but I am bound by Social Security limitations. I can only earn a certain amount before they start taking away the SS.

  37. Yvonne Royal says:

    1. There are many types of shops out there. Some are easy to report and some are hard to report. If a first time shopper got one of the harder companies to report a shop, I feel that they would be very disappointed in Mystery Shopping. I have told several people about Mystery Shopping but not one person has stuck with it. It is a hard job, especially reporting the jobs after a long day of shopping. It is a demanding job especially if the hours and dates are given with a short span.

    3. Personally I love Mystery Shopping. I like the acting part and I feel that I am helping to make better customer service. I am retired and have been at this for over 12 years and sometimes I think that I am not too much of a mystery any more, so I do a lot of audits.

    Hope this helps, Yvonne

  38. Sandyf says:

    Hi Jacob,
    I am a part time shopper as I have a regular job which pays much, much better than mystery shopping. What keeps me from doing more is mostly a time factor but even if it was not for that I am appalled at the low fees attached to most of the jobs. Personally for most jobs I do not think I would even earn minimum wage if I did the job correctly. I live in a large city where traffic and parking are a nightmare. Unless the job is within a block of where I am going anyway I would spend too much time and effort getting there for it to be worth the fee paid. I also cannot figure out how the job expects someone to have a good computer, preferably a smart phone, a scanner, a camera etc on the wages paid. I believe most full time shoppers must have come from a former life with a much better wage or have another bread winner in the house to pay for these items. Someone who has earned even $7-8 an hour all their life cannot afford all the requirements plus have a fabulous command of grammar etc. which the msc seem to say they want.

  39. Kat Hensley says:

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more? payout amount for many of the shops is too low for the amount of work that is required.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you? I do them for the type of shop, oil change, car wash, groceries diner out. I do not do them to suppliment my income, rather for the shop service itself.

  40. Yvonne Royal says:

    Hope this helps and keep up the good work.

  41. Debbie Lenz says:

    I have mystery shopped before. I didn’t have a car for a few months so I couldn’t do them but am starting to again. The benefits are extra money for the month.

  42. Teri Raia says:

    I started to mystery shop when I needed to increase my income after becoming disabled and could no longer physically do my other occupation. I started by reading the Mystery Shopper Forum to get some ideas on how to increase my monthly income.

    It has increased my income by the amount that I needed so I am very grateful about that fact. What I find annoying about mystery shopping is the amount of time it takes to get paid by the MSC. You cannot start this business without an initial period of time where you use your own money. You also need transportation – I cannot ever see mystery shopping while using public transportation – at least not in California.

    I enjoy the fact that I can be my own boss and set my own hours. I have never been a 9 to 5 type of person so that works well for me.

    I think the most important aspect is that this is your business and you have to be responsible for it. There is no one telling you to take a job if you do not want to.

    For me this is extra income and it would be very difficult to do this full time, my hat is off to those of you who can.

  43. Jennifer Dobbins says:

    I enjoy mystery shopping and would love to do more of it. I would like to do grocery stores, fast food or casual resturaunts, hotels and cruise ships, and travel transportation such as airlines whether commercial or private, bus train, car rental etc. i have mystery shopped before bit i haven’t done it in quite a while because of my lack of money. I wish there could be a way that you work somewhere without spending money.

  44. Irene Eichel says:

    I have been Mystery shopping for six years, and being a senior, started after retirement. Having been married to a developer and in the building business for years, retirement
    was not a plus. Finding Mystery shopping allowed me to once again be productive, involved, use my brain and travel a bit. I love getting out to eat and helping business better itself. I have my Las Vegas (Nevada) license and work there about twice a year, doing Timeshares, Hotels and
    great restaurants. The plus’s are, income supplementing, being productive, doing a variety of shops and last but not least, working from home, being my own boss (so to speak).

    I highly recommend Mystery shopping for seniors, it really keeps you on your toes, and gives you purpose.

  45. Nancy B. White says:

    I started mystery shopping in 2004 or 2005. I can’t find a record of my first shops. When I lived in a metro-area, I did many small shops, and a few significant ones (primarily with financial institutions). I now live in a rural are, and do about 15 shops per month. I regularly do four telephone shops per month. My location prevents me from doing dozens each month. However, in my travels, I often pick up shops in distant locations.

    Benefits are $200/month income, sometimes more. I also have a few meals provided while traveling via mystery shops. Almost all of our oil changes are reimbursed because I have committed to evaluate the oil change businesses. I regularly shop a convenience store chain, and to make it easy, I always get the same snack item. I pass it on to my elderly father who enjoys the snacks in the afternoon. It is more fun for him to eat them knowing I will be reimbursed.

    I have written accounts of some of my most interesting experiences. I fictionalized locations and business names to maintain confidentiality, and they are written in third person.

  46. Teri Dunn says:

    I get e-mails from offers of different companies, but i do not give out my personal information to anyone unless I know who they are. I do not know these people or their reputation so I am not comfortble with this.

  47. Susan says:

    I truly love mystery shopping and would love to do more of it. It does seem that the same jobs keep coming up over and over until you can’t do them anymore for fear of being recognized. I am registered with a lot of companies, over 100. I wish there was a way to find out all the companies that offer shops in your area so you could mix it up.

    I love the benefit of free merchandise or a free meal out for very little work. I feel like I am doing the company a service by objectively reporting how the employees treat me, what improvements can be made, etc. I have even started to frequent companies I have mystery shopped that I have never been to before based on my experience.

  48. William Tomasso says:

    money is my biggest obstacle.I wish I had the money to travel places assigned.Being of assistance and getting paud for it,I could use the extra money.

  49. Bob Keimach says:

    1. I am a mystery shopper now and for the last 10 years.

    2. I would do more if there were more available within 20 or 30 miles from where I live.

    3. I’m retired and it keeps me busy. Also, the extra money is useful.

  50. Dell Taylor says:

    1. N/a
    2.I have completed shops for several companies,but after you complete the shop they find minor reasons compensate you for the
    completed shop.I feel you should be compensated for completing the shop even if they deduct a few dollars for errors.Some companies want a detailed task for a little bit of pay.
    3.I love to shop.I have over 30 years of customer service ,therefore I feel this makes me an expert shopper.
    The benefits are a flexible schedule,variety and extra income.
    I love mystery shopping.I would love to be a scheduler also,

    • Dell Taylor says:

      Correction: 1.I have completed mystery shops for several companies,after the shop is completed I don’st like that they find
      minor reasons as to why they won’st compensate you for that shop.

  51. Debbie Hatmaker says:

    I have done mystery shops in the past and the only thing that keeps me from doing more is the distance I would have to travel and the cost of gas. I enjoy being a mystery shopper and the benefits to me are that I visit some new places that I have never been in before and have found that I tend to return to them.

  52. susan kidd says:

    I do mystery shops, and love it because of the lack of time restrains (within reason), the variety of shops to do and the freedom to choose those I want. My obstacle about doing more jobs is that I have a regular job that sometimes cuts into the mystery time. I do as many as I can without getting burnt out on a regular basis. There’s always room for one more shopper!!!

  53. Sue Ohanlon says:

    I have mystery shopped and have been doing since 2005. What keeps me from doing more is, for the most part, time. Money is a factor at times as well. I would move forward and video shop but I found out, months after purchasing the PV500 “lite”, that it was not good enough for these shops. It was to late to return it, plus I had also invested in the long life battery as well. It took months to pay that off only to find out it “wasn’t good enough”.

  54. Mary Quinsland says:

    I have been mystery shopping for over 5 years and love tpo do it for certain companies and not others. When starting out, I would have kept better records than I used to to ensure that I got paid. I would have also applied for a Tax ID number first thing, so that mystery shopping/merchandizing jobs can be separate from everything else. I wouldn’t hesitate to let the mystery shopping companies know how they can improve. For example, some have computer generated reminders a day or two before the shop and/or send a confirmation after you have applied. Some don’t. Some have very advanced technology (Eg. Marketforce), that sends VERY clear instructions, has very clear questions that really won’t allow you to make many mistakes, and prompts you if there was a question that might have been answered inconsistently.
    This has been important to me, because some shops take a VERY long time to enter, and depending on the pay, it is not worth several hours of my time to get paid minimally.

    I also live in a rural area, so once a month I try to plan a trip to the city just to shop. I plan out an agenda and sometimes can earn quite a bit of money, but also get free meals in-between other types of shops. I LOVE the freedom of mystery shopping, but it is difficult when the mystery shopping companies are disorganized or structure the shops poorly. There are a LOT of newer companies out there (I believe I am currently registered with over 20 and just need time to register for more!

  55. jack doyle says:

    i hate low pay especially if i have to drive. i love setting my own hours. some shops have paperwork that takes way too long vs. the pay for the shop

  56. Brenda Coddington says:

    #2. I am fearful of taking shops I am not familiar with. So many of them have many, many questions to answer, and only pay you $10.00. That is not worth my time.

  57. Alisa Coleman says:

    I have mystery shopped before, and the one thing that keeps me from doing more is time – time to do the shops and writing a thorough report. I want to be a mystery shopper because I enjoy seeing different business and how they operate. I like seeing how great businesses treat their customers. The benefits to me are extra income doing something I enjoy and experiencing different places of business I might not normally visit, particularly with high-end shops.

  58. Thomas Bernaske says:

    The thing (s) that keep me from doing more shops as an experienced shopper are twofold…first the length of the paperwork or number of pictures versus the pay rate for a shop.

    The benefits of mystery shop are many from free products, extra cash and the ability to provide an important service. In some cases will lead to audit type revealed shops.

  59. John Funkhouser says:

    Why I like to shop is I know what it is like to service the public. I did so for 25 years. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. When I am not treated that way I let my fingers do the typing on my mystery shipping report

    Why I don’t do more that is simple the pay is not worth the trouble on some of the reports I would have to do.

  60. Theresa says:

    Hi Jacob,
    I really love and appreciate your newsletter and message board. Here are my answers
    1) N/A shopping for almost 20 years
    2)I’ve cut down drastically. I used to do this full time. However I the fees have gotten ridiculously low that it’s insulting. So this would be the biggest reason I don’t do more shops.
    3)I initially started MS’ing because I wanted to make my own hours and be home for my daughter during non school hours. I continue to mystery shop, albeit very little, for the most part so I can make a little money without having be in the same place at the same time, with the same people every day.

  61. Billie Bryant says:

    I have been a mystery shopper for 5 or so years and I enjoy the diversity of assignments. I have a regular part-time job which is a limitation to the number of hours I can do per day. The length of time to do the online portion of a shopping assignment is just as important as the onsite evaluation. Some, of course, are simple and quick; while others are lengthy narratives. The shoppers pay is a factor in the number of assignments. When the assignment is close, the pay can be lower; however for me to drive 20 miles for one shop that pays $5 is not profitable to me.

  62. Debbie says:

    Don’t have one
    never been one
    thought I would like to try

  63. Marti Embry says:

    I have been a mystery shopper for over a year and hope my information will be useful to you! My biggest obstacle in mystery shopping is knowing how long a shop would take; PLUS filling out a long report for a minimal bonus, if any. I learned the hard way, and it was an expensive lesson for me to learn because with mystery shopping – TIME is money. Receiving only $10 for a shop that took over an hour to perform and then to fill out a questionare that took just as long? Lesson learned.
    The one thing that keeps me from doing more is my full time job. If I could do mystery shopping full time, I would; but only if the bonuses were higher.
    I joined mystery shopping because I knew it would be fun, allow corporate offices to see what goes on at the retail level, and to be able to make a difference. I love the reimbursements, bonuses, and ability to give opinions and suggestions for improvements.

  64. Tricia Bowman says:

    I enjoy the freedom of self-employment. I do not enjoy some companies’ perception that we will work for low wages, so I am picky as to what shops I accept. The $7 shops for me are long gone, and these companies should be embarrassed that they even offer these paltry sums. I would like to see a protectionist union -type organization for shoppers where minimum, viable pay standards must be adhered to.

  65. Caryn Malone says:

    I have never mystery shopped. I always look at it, thinking I should, but I really wonder if it’s financially beneficial for me. I have another part-time job, with crazy hours, and I wonder how much I can actually contribute. However, I believe it would be fun to do some of the mystery shopping jobs that I have read about in your online magazine.

  66. Ville Köykkä says:

    Hi Jacob!
    Wow, your news about the book really blew me away! You know, i’m actually working on a book/booklet/guide about mystery shopping as well.. I have a blog about mystery shopping that has really become quite popular. In the Finnish audience, that is. Being from Finland the whole MS scene is a lot smaller here, yet pretty lively. My blog about MS attracts lots of curious readers and i have had the privilege to share invitations from MSC’s to all the soon-to-be MS’s.
    What i have started to compose together would be a sort of an E-book, i guess. All i know is that i would most certainly like to put together all that i have to share about starting a MS career and how to make the job worthwhile.

    Are you going to make your book commercial? Or would it be available / downloadable for everyone for free?

    I personally had the idea of maybe somehow monetize the book. I mean that is the Mystery Shopper in me thinking that you should make the best out of everything!!

    If you’re willing to share some ideas or plans of your coming book, i would be more than happy to hear from you! Maybe, just maybe there could be something of a intercontinental collaboration here..

    Hope to hear from you!


    • Ville Köykkä says:

      Btw that message was not supposed to be a public comment.. Somehow thought i was sending an e-mail…


  67. Cynthia says:

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle?

    Misunderstanding that you shop at food shops for little pay and that you have to go to bad places and portray yourself in a bad light. The myth of the TV situation.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?

    Mystery shopping is successful when I can set up routes. Limitation on specific days that shops have to be done don’t allow me to group them up easily.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?

    In the beginning it was a way to go out and do things on someone else’s “dime”. Nice restaurants, fast food restaurants, bowling, a movie out. Then I had to do it for money since loosing my job. Since then I have had to look more at the bottom line of trying to make money shopping. It a whole new shopping world when it is about “Making money” more then just not spending my own money.
    This division is two books.

  68. Marianne Alfano says:

    The biggest obstacle would be getting work off the Internet from a company I did not know and was located in another state. I would not trust them. 2. Working for companies that don’t pay when they say, and pay small fees and a lot of questions, tests and requirements. 3. The freedom, independence, a pay check, and it’s fun!

  69. Roger highers says:

    What company does shops in my state? That’s something I struggle with in finding a good co that shops in my state

  70. Teresa says:

    I have only mystery shopped once and I liked it, but I am having problems with the mystery magazine finding mystery shopping jobs. I do want to mystery shop. I also get alot of scaming mystery shops,which i do avoid. I hope someone will give me some information on how to use the mystery shop magazine.

  71. Rebecca Dahl says:

    I guess the one thing that keeps me from doing more mystery shopping is some of the loooooooooooooooonnnnnnng reports that are required to complete the shop. I don’t mind writing out the details, but when I have to rewrite them a number of times that is when it gets so frustrating to sit at the computer and work on that report when the fee is just very minimal or not much… just does not seem worth all of that work. That is probably one of my main obstacles.

  72. Janelle Jackman says:

    1. I have mystery shopped for almost 20 years.
    2. I mystery shop all the time. I do as many as I can.
    3. I like being able to work my own hours and shop and get paid for it.

  73. Billee Pike says:

    I’ve been shopping for 10 years now. I enjoy the flexibility it offers. I also like feeling like I am helping to improve customer service in the places where I shop. There are a couple of reasons that I don’t choose particular shops. One reason is if I think the fee is too low. I realize that being a mystery shopper doesn’t require a lot of education or training, however, those of us who work hard to be really good at it spend a LOT of time going over the instructions, performing the shop to the best of our abilities and then writing and submitting an excellent report. These things take a lot of time. The fees are based on how long the actual shop takes and don’t seem to take into account the time spent before and after the shop (not to mention travel time). I can spend an hour and a half on a shop and get $8.00. That’s just a little over $5 an hour. I feel I am worth more than that. Another reason I don’t choose specific shops is because they seem to make it so obvious that I’m a shopper. For instance, a food shop where I do both dine in and drive through shops, or when I have to ask a knowledge question (about a hamburger!). Or when I ask to have copies made of something I had to download from the shop site. I have no doubt that store managers/employees have friends/relatives signed up for different shopper sites so that they can find out what the shops are about. It’s pretty hard to remain anonymous when you’re asking for copies of an obviously generic document. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. Also, be sure that you add a chapter about being organized. I don’t want to brag 🙂 but I consider myself very organized and have come up with some great organizational procedures. However, not everyone has been blessed with organizational skills and, as I’m sure you know, it can get pretty confusing when juggling many shops and many companies all with different deadlines, fees and instructions. Also, I recommend everyone take a keyboarding or typing course. As an ex-secretary, I can type very fast and it helps to speed up my report writing. Thanks again!! Good luck with your new book!

  74. Bob Wiley says:

    I refrain from doing more mystery shops because of the pay and narrative. Many time the company wants so much narrative it takes as much as two to three hours to complete. That is OK if the company wants to pay for that time.

  75. Marlys Shomber-Jones says:

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more? the small town I live in does not offer many shops or if they do, I do not know how to find them.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you? As a former manager, I know you cannot always be at the store and you need an unbiased and “secret” report on your store. It is especially important that this report be anonymous.

  76. june ross says:

    Haven’t mystery shopped lately because of health issues. Hope to get back to it.

  77. Marilyn says:

    I mystery shop on occasion. At this time I have not mystery shopped due to restriction of having a full time job. Some of the mystery shop I need to bring someone between the age of 21 and 26, I do not have someone available. My son and I share a car, I do not have access to the car. The benfits are the extra cash and or free items. I have received free meals and car maintanance.

  78. Albert Gittrich says:

    I am a retired business executive and bored out of my mind. Would like to have something to do 10 to 20 hours a week to keep busy. Have never been a mystery shopper. Have a friend that works retail and he’s always talking about them checking in the store where he works.

  79. Doris Smith says:

    The reason I hesitate to do mystery jobs is the time it takes to do the reporting, with all the details required plus opinions etc., for the amount of pay offered makes it not profitable. Okay if only doing it as a hobby sort of business.

  80. Barbara Sullivan says:

    and also to get some time for myself I do not do more because some of the jobs don’t seem to be worth the pay. I feel it is too much work for too little money. i mystery shop to improve customer service

  81. BOB says:

    Thing that keeps me from doing more is attitude companies sometimes have. One makes a small error, they reject the work. Yet they probably still use your report and are paid. You challenge them, they will drop your name for future shops. Happened once to me. Can give you details if interested.

  82. Pat Gaydusek says:

    The one thing that keeps me from doing more assignments is the low cost of some jobs. I only take jobs that I feel compensate me at a reasonable rate. I don’t expect to get rich just make some money.
    I love the flexibility with hours and jobs I want to preform. I like being an independent contractor.

  83. Karen says:

    2) Time is the biggest obstacle for me. The ability to self schedule with flexible or changeable dates would allow me to complete more shops.

    3) I enjoy interacting with people. I appreciate the flexibility that mystery shopping offers. I can work as much or as little as my schedule allows. I appreciate the increased income I can make in my spare hours, as well as receiving free goods that I would be purchasing anyway.

  84. Deborah Maruk says:

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle?

    I have mystery shopped before and continue to do it so this question does not apply to me.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?

    I have done over 130 shops since I started in January 2013. I would do more except that I run out of disposable cash or room on my credit card before I get paid by some of the companies. The delay in payment leaves me in a cash crunch situation every couple of months. I am on a limited income so when in this situation I have to wait until an assignment appears where no purchase or expense on my part is required. This gets frustrating at times but I have always gotten paid and am getting better at dealing with this circumstance.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?

    I want to continue to be a mystery shopper because I am on limited disability income and have ongoing medical treatments that take up time and energy. I am unable to commit to a full-time job. Mystery shopping provides the flexibility to accommodate my energy levels, doctor appointments and treatments. It is also enjoyable, interesting and uses many of the skills I developed over the years as a teacher. I really enjoy it and it has improved the quality of my life. My only concern is that there are so many low-paying assignments on the boards some days. I hope the mystery shopping companies start to realize the worth of the services we provide to them and raise the fees accordingly. Until then I will continue to be choosy and wait until these jobs have a bonus or I will not take them at all.

  85. Pat O'Shea says:

    The instructions for missions are very confusing sometimes. It makes the mission look so much harder than it really is. Another thing, for Canadians, is signing up with company after company and finding out after that they don’t have assignments in Canada. It would be nice to know what companies have shops in Canada before signing up first.

  86. Deborah Maruk says:

    Good luck with the book. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product!

  87. Marcey Carabajal says:

    I am a Shopper and have been for over ten years. So am I the right person ask. I enjoy being a mystery shopper but if only they paid a little more. The job is nice and clean and I work when i want to,

  88. Cheri Sanders says:

    all i can say is go to jobslinger, they list sooo many jobs there!!

  89. Linda says:

    I have mystery shop before and the only obstacle that I have found is that, I have had to wait a long time to get a shop assignments.

    I enjoy mystery shopping because I like the freedom of working any hour of the day and I enjoy having control over when to shop.

  90. Linda says:

    no more comments

  91. Tom Mayse says:

    Like to know covert and revealed shops.
    Like to know what the highest paid shops are.
    Uploading photos should get more pay, takes more time
    to edit and upload. Give us the links to signup with, not
    just the company names. Let us know how they pay – paypal, direct deposit, prepaid card, check, etc. Points don’t get it, show me the money! Does company give travel incentives if shop is over so many miles? have us rate the companies and publish the feedback.

  92. Tina Thorwaldson says:

    When I think about mystery shopping I think of well, kind of like being a spy. I would feel in full control and my confidence level would be extremely high. My most biggest fear would be, how do arrest a person who is young, or old? And how do I go about doing it. My benefit would be feeling secure and in authority like a police officer. The accomplishment of just being able to do that would be great.
    My biggest obstacle would be, getting to and from my place of employment being so I do not drive. Another great obstacle that I would have would be where do I start, how do I shop and look, and if there is a shop lifter, maybe I would be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The pay also would be beneficial to me.

  93. Charlotte Colby says:

    2. I have been a mystery shopper for probably 20+ years. I don’t do more shops than I do because of time vs. pay in most cases: while some shops are simple and easy to do for $5-20, too many of them are too time-consuming, between the shop itself and the report writing.

    3. I like being a mystery shopper because it is interesting, and it gives me an excuse to visit places I might not ordinarily visit, including eateries and retail establishments. The pay is acceptable; when a shop’s pay is too low, we have the freedom choice NOT to select it, so I tend to take issue with the forum writers who shriek their complaints about low pay. The perks include deeply discounted consumer goods and meals, along with the thrill of being paid to visit a brand new restaurant or shopping spot.

    ADDITIONAL NOTE: is this book going to be for sale?? Would you like some editing/writing assistance?? Not that I think I am God’s Gift to Writers hahahaha but I do notice mistakes in your writing that I long to amend…….

  94. LA Brown says:

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more?
    A: What keeps me from doing more shops is not having enough time. Currently, I am working full-time but will retire next Spring, which will provide me with a much more flexible schedule! I am looking forward to performing more shops in my favorite areas and investigating new types of shops that might take a bit more time to complete.

  95. Peggy says:

    I started doing mystery shops after I retired. I do them to give me something to do. I would do more shops if more were available in my area and some of them paid more. I do some when I travel out of town to go see the kids. I continue to do shops to help with write offs on taxes. I enjoy doing shops like auto service, retail, fast food restaurants, fine dining restaurants and auto sales.

  96. Larry Arnold says:

    Never shopped before, because it does’nt pay much for the time involved.

    The proff readers are to critical. If they want perfect english writting, let them pay for it. We spend 4 or 5 hours for $15.00 and get low scores for grammer mistakes.

    Meeting people, low pay.

  97. Cyndi Beagle says:

    1. I am a regular mystery shopper registered with approximately 60 companies, fifteen of which I shop for on a frequent basis.

    2. Low commissions for the effort required is the main thing that keeps me from accepting more assignments.

    3. I am naturally observant with a good memory, so it suits my talents. The benefits are making my own schedule and choosing which assignments I find interesting that are within a reasonable driving distance. Plus, I get free stuff that I can use.

  98. Carole Nantel says:

    1. I think that if someone had never did any mystery shopping they would be unsure of what they need to do to become one. Scams would be other reason as to why people don’t. They assume they have to pay in order to do so.

    2. The reason some of us don’t do more shops could be the distance to travel if you don’t have a vehicle or another reason is money. I sometimes do assignments that you don’t have to pay because I can’t afford to do other assignments. I have been told by some people they think for the amount of work you have to put into the assignment that it’s not worth the amount being paid for it.

    3. I enjoy being a mystery shopper because I like interacting with people. I have over 20 years in customer service and sales so you know what you need to do to make the customer happy and you have to know your products. Of course, money would be the other reason. You learn something new each day and that would be the main benefit to me.

  99. Cyndi Beagle says:

    This is a great idea, but it scares me a bit because I really don’t want to encourage any more competition in my area for the choice assignments. It’s bad enough all winter when the snowbirdshoppers come to Florida where I live year round.

  100. Kasmira Lawson says:

    I have mystery shopped for over 12 years, and the one thing that keeps me from doing more shops is the inability to find rounds or routes of shops where I can visit several locations in an area while I am out running errands. I do an average of 12 shops per month, but I would do one or two a day if I could find them consistently. I shop for a number of companies, and often there are only shops available at the first of the month, then nothing til the 18th-20th, when schedulers have to find someone to cover missed shops. Thank you for doing a book! Great idea!

  101. Cyndi Beagle says:

    This is a great idea but I have misgivings about encouraging more competition for the choice assignments. It’s bad enough when the snowbird shoppers come to my area in Florida in the winter.

  102. Ray Finfer says:

    1. I have done mystery shopping for three years and I generally enjoy it.
    2. The low pay and lengthy reports required (for example: Jack In The Box shops pay $5 and require a report that takes 30-45 minutes to complete); the tests required to qualify to do certain shops; some of the reports require a bar visit and I do not drink so it is uncomfortable going to the bar. Also some of the people who grade my reports make statements that I know for sure are not correct and they will not respond when I ask about them–i.e. grammatical mistakes (I have two degrees in journalism and English and I know for a fact that my spelling and grammar are correct). Some mystery shopping companies are very slow pay and I do not care for that. Finally some mystery companies have unrealistic expectations for the amount they pay.
    3. The benefits to me are the opportunity to eat at some of my favorite restaurants and a portion of it reimbursed—eventually. Also oil changes are relatively easy and pay for the oil change, but not the report.

  103. Linda Noel says:

    I love your publication. I have found the information extremely valuable, and the book you are working on will just add to that wealth of information.

    The reason why I don’t do more is that while the area that I live in is not rural, most of the jobs are at least 50 miles away. Unless they offer mileage pay or I can do a few shops while I am there, it’s just not worth it to travel that far for a shop that pays $10 and have to make a purchase which I don’t really need and may not be reimbursed. I do an average of 5 per week but I would like to do more.

    I worked as a nurse for 25 years, but now have physical issues that keep me from doing much of anything. Mystery shopping allows me to make about $50 per week, be my own boss and set my own hours. I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose the ones that I take, although in the beginning I took the ones that nobody else wanted just to build my reputation with the companies as a responsible shopper.

    Thanks for the great job you do.

  104. Bill says:

    I started it as a source of additional income. I did not want a full time job after I had retired. I do it when I want some extra money and have the extra time to put into it.
    In doing some of the shops I made comments as to how the clerks would walk by you and not even act if you existed. I have noticed that some of the places I shopped and went back that the clerks at least say hello to you even if they are just walking by.
    I pick the ones I want but pretty much stay away from restaurants as they do not cover your expenses. Unless my wife and I want a nice meal in a good place for small extra price that I pay out of my pocket.

  105. Sandra Stephens says:

    I laughed when I saw there was actually three questions. :}
    I have been mystery shopping on and off since 2005. I enjoy mystery shopping when the pay is reasonable. Most companies I have checked out do not take into consideration the time involved to do the shop and the report and the cost of gasoline. When the mileage and time are figured into the equation the pay is an insult. There are companies that pay more reasonably and those are the ones I seek out. Also, you might let people know about he MS Bible. It is great for keeping track of companies, jobs, etc.
    The biggest benefit to me is that I can work when I want. The downfall is no reasonable health benefits that I am aware of.

  106. Bill says:

    It is an easy way to pick up some extra money. As I said before they do not pay enough for restaurant meals. In some sense I get the feeling of maybe helping the store out as no one knows who you are.

  107. Harry Leach says:

    2. The main thing that keeps me from doing more mystery shopping is the pay rate for available jobs. Having been shopping for 30 months now, my assessment of the value of my time has gone up. When I started, I took very low paying jobs because I had time to do so and found it interesting. As I have continued to sign up with more mystery shopping companies, I have become aware of even more variety as well as better paying jobs. It now takes more money to “get me out the door” solely to shop.
    3. I enjoy the variety of jobs available, the ability to set my own schedule, to work more if I want more money or to step back if I want more time for myself. I also enjoy taking my wife out for reimbursed meals.

  108. Kristina Mooney says:

    I’ve been mystery shopping for a year and have done a couple hundred shops. I have scaled back my shops recently and am only doing the multiple-choice shops. They pay about $5.00 less than other shops, but save me an hour of time, so I win out at the end.
    I live in an area that has a lot of hotel and restaurant shops, but writing essays for each shop is not cost – effective. Last summer, I made $3000.00 working full time and it was A LOT of work.
    Basically, if I am already going to be in an area or can combine a few, then I will fit in a shop to help pay for the gas and time. Also, I really enjoy it, as a hobby.

  109. Virginia Foltz says:

    I am a relatively new Shopper and I find it very demanding, It seems as though I can’t do enough and then…nothing.

    I enjoy being a mystery shopper, I like the little things like going out to eat or going to look at apartments you would never think of looking at normally.

  110. angel plant says:

    I have never worked before as a mystery shopper because I never had the chance. Then My legs got uclers and I could barely walk. Now they are okay. I would like to try it for some extra money.

  111. Robin says:

    I would do more mystery shopping but towards the end of the month and sometimes the first week there is no work. So I do a lot in the 2 and one half weeks there is work.

  112. Sabrina Burkhead says:

    I can not locate all of the companies that require shopping and I have signed up with several that do NOTHING in my area. So, Lack of information and company information is the #1 reason. I like mystery shopping and it gives me something to do.

  113. Marie Ehlenbach says:

    !.I have mystery shopper before. Money keeps me doing it.
    2.Money keeps me from the shopping.
    3.Its fun! Going over the manager head.

  114. Diane Heslin says:

    How about the gas mileage that you get, and for the use of your car, your time in doing this shop, the time in doing the survey. When you add up all of these factors, which I may be lacking in some areas, and you add them. Now look at what the pay is. What number is higher, your profit or loss. That is the first step–your costs. Second is your pay and the last, which number is bigger. If you live in a big city and you can walk, bus, or bike to work, it is all money that counts. If you live in the country like me, I have to line my shops in the same day and then I cut my costs. This is how I figure a shop, I do these steps and see which is higher. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. Try it a few times and practice when your in the grocery line ahead of you, behind you, what time was it when your transaction was finished. Write a practice survey. Make it believable and state actions, do not lengthen the conversation. State what happened. EX: When I walked into the store, the music was loud but not that distracting. There were three employees. One was 5’6″, blond curley hair, thin, blue eyes, glasses. Second one was dark brown hair tied in a bun on top of head. Brown eyes with lots of makeup on her face, 5’3″. The third woman, she checked me out, was brown long hair tied in pony tail, green eyes, glasses, 5’9″.
    This was an opening where you started, what was said, and ended. How was bill handled? Usually about 50 questions so you really have to concentrate and remember. If you want to write something, use facts not opinions.
    How did I do?

  115. phoebe says:

    I have been a mystery shopper for 13 years. I have made it into a very nice business. I love going to the upscale stores, lingerie shops, accessories, jewelry,banks, shoe stores, supermarkets,banks and all the other shops I get to go to as a shopper. I get free frozen yogurt, free sushi, hamburgers and fries, smoothies and more. I get to shop for expensive jewelry, designer clothes, high end bags and shoes, luxury cars, apartments, make up and more. I go to malls and local stores. I drive around Connecticut daily doing my shops, coming home and reporting them and getting checks by mail, quick pay or pay pal. I am a model and actress. I do commercials for TV. The mystery shopping keeps me busy when I am not going to the city for shoots or auditions. I can choose which shops I want and decline those that pay too little. I also do phone shops. It is a great way to spend time, meet nice people try on beautiful clothes and get good treats to eat. I love it! Phoebe

  116. Diane Heslin says:

    I think I gave a general idea of what happens in a shop. I forgot something, it is what they wear. That is usually on the survey amongst other ideas that are stuck in my brain.

  117. Marcia Smith says:

    I am a veteran mystery shopper with 13+ years under my belt. I have also participated in audits and price checking, as well as stocking inventory and conducting quality control. The biggest thing that keeps me from conducting more mystery shops is that the older I get and the more valuable my time becomes, it seems as though companies are wanting to pay less and less for shops that require a lot of time, plus take even more time for inputting that does not get reimbursed at all.

    I like mystery shopping because I once was employed as an investigative reporter and assistant editor for a newspaper. I took on mystery shopping to supplement our household income. I love a good challenge, and I also love to write. Mystery shopping has provided both, and it is always interesting to see the variety of shops that are available.

  118. Robert Atkinson says:

    The thing that keeps me from doing more mystery shops is the low pay for the time involved, no mileage paid with high gas prices, and difficulty getting paid by some companies or the delay in payment.

    Benefits to me is trying a number of new restaurants that I might not otherwise utilize. And my partner enjoys these shops. For retail shops the inability to set up a route and do a number of shops in the same day for the same company or retial chain. I also get a feeling that I may be helping companies to provide better and more professional service and better customer experiences.

  119. Edward Walsh says:

    The one thing that keeps me from doing more is a combination of rotation requirements and fee structures that do not allow me to make a fair profit.

    I enjoy mystery shopping because I pick my hours, generally experience new projects and the additional income is a big plus.

  120. Anne Goodrich says:

    My account told me that I am essentially working for NOTHING because my earnings are added to his income for tax purposes. Accountant would not let me deduct all the miles I drove last year.

    Finally, Market Force dropped last year for no apparent reason. On the day they dropped me, I got an e-mail offering a shop based on my record as a shopper. Go figure!

  121. Thomas says:

    The one thing that bothers me about Mystery Shopping is a company will call you for help and says it’s an easy job that should only take 15 minutes and once you accept it, you find out that 15 minutes take one hour and 15 minutes and the pay isn’t worth your time.

  122. Judy Davis says:

    I have been mystery shopping for 17+ years, but I have been a consumer advocate since I was a child so I really think that plays a part in it for me. Businesses need the feedback and a lot of regular customers either can’t be bothered to give the feedback or don’t want to give it, especially if it is negative. I enjoy the extra money, eating out and items I purchase as part of a shop. I only make purchases I can use or give away.

  123. James Daniel Bishop says:

    1. Currently a shopper.

    2. I am not a creative writer nor a good typist. Doing the reports takes a lot of time that is not compensated. I really don’t like buying something and returning it an hour later. I really don’t like shopping for something I really don’t understand.

    3. I started Mystery shopping to supplement my Social Security and small pension. I do enjoy doing Trailer Checks at theaters.

  124. Alice Hammond says:

    I do shops accordong to what my needs of the moment are. For example if my son needs new glasses I try and find a shop for Lenscrafters. I wish there was a site where I could look at the shops from all mystery shop companies where you could pick shops for the categories. My cat needs his shots right now, any shops for that available?
    A lot of times the pay is too low for the amount of time required for the report.

  125. Michele says:

    Michele says:
    I do shop but the money I have to put out and the length of time it takes to get paid make it difficult to continue. I like the different types of shops out there. I didn’t realize what a big business this was. It would be nice if they all paid the same way and in at least a 2 week turnaround.

  126. Sheron Archibald says:

    I started shopping about seven years because I needed to make some extra money. I started off doing HSBC banks and found it exciting and challenging to sit with bank managers and more or less speak to them at their level , without them knowing what I was doing. I enjoy mystery shopping and continued doing it for many years, because I received emails from all over the world from companies asking me to work for them. They claimed that I was referred to them by companies who told them that I was good at the job. I haven’t done any job in the past year because I had surgery done on both of my knees. Someday, when I feel better I will return to it

  127. Pastor Ron Ramaglino says:

    By the time I reach this area of your survey, I have totally forgotten what your questions were. I have Mystery Shop for many years and (1) what I will be paid is most important, the second is (2) what I need to do to earn it. It appears to me that several new compines are wanting more and offering less than an hours wage!

  128. Dawn Medley says:

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle? I do mystery shop.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more? There are a few things that keep me from shopping more. One is availability of shops in my area. I am signed up with over 90 companies but only about 30 of them consistently have opportunities in the Nashville, TN area. Another thing is that there seems to be quite a bit of competition in my area for the shops that are available. The last thing is some of the pay offers are very low in comparison to the amount of work expected.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you? I’ve always said if I could find someone to pay me to shop, I’d be all set! I enjoy learning about the standards that companies have for their products and employees and I like interacting with people. Back in my younger days, I used to do community theatre so I like shops where I have to pretend to be someone else or act like I want to attend a trade school. It’s fun for me to have to make up answers on the fly and stay in character. But the main reason I do mystery shops is to earn extra money. My husband and I have both gone through job changes in the past 2 years and we’ve taken huge pay cuts. We don’t mind tightening our belts but it’s nice to have extra money in our budget.

  129. Philip Herbert says:

    I have been a MS for more than 6 years, I started it since my uni life. The biggest obstacle would that the unreasonable requirements and expectation by the moderator of the project. For example, he wants you to put in details or inputs that even the manual did not mentioned, I guess this is to let him look good with the agency. Thus this has make the reimbursement of the project does not worth our effort anymore.
    The second thing is that, there were limited projects in my area. Most properly is that MS do not have the information on where to apply for these project. For example, I still do not know which agency is the mystery shopping company for Burger King in my area, we do not have the access to apply for these jobs.
    well, The biggest benefits of becoming a mystery shopper is that my past time are well spend onto some activities that helps me learn more and earn extra. Beside that, also with the great feeling that I am helping to keep the quality of service industry up to standard.

  130. Eliza says:

    2. I really enjoy shops I’ve done in the past. I don’t see them anymore. And companies I really liked working with aren’t participating in the program now. That what keep me from doing more.

  131. Eliza says:

    1. I am currently a shopper.
    3. I really enjoy mystery shopping. it fun, and required work, yes, then what doesn’t? And it challenged my ability and patience. I do it on my time schedule. Plus,I get paid.

  132. salome says:

    I too, have been doing these shops for the last 6yrs. love it. I also, wish that I could do more in an area. With gas price going going, I tried to do 2-3 in a day, so the next I can fill out the questionnaire. Sometime it hard when they hold up on requests. And then you are stuck with time on certain ones.. I would like more flexible audits and up the paid on some in my area. Things are more expensive now.

  133. Cindy S says:

    I have been mystery shopping (off and on) 11 years. When I first started I signed up for many companies and worked what I could. I have not been doing many the past 7 years because:
    1) they do not pay enough (based on travel, time to do shop, time to do report, gas)
    2) I do not want to use my credit card to buy an item and then have to return it the next day and then wait for the card to be credited back
    3) I do not want to buy and item and then return it (at all)
    4) I do not want to go through drive through in my little town who has little business and then after a short time go in and order again. They get suspicious
    5) I get $25 for dinner for 2 but then after you buy everything you are supposed to the bill comes out to $60-$75.
    6) I don’t like getting ripped off by companies (especially when you do hotels every month and rack up $500 and never get paid)
    7) I paid to get certified and it never paid me any better for jobs I was offered.
    and finally – all the research you have to do to make sure you will be paid and all the paper and ink you use to print out the info – is not worth it to me much anymore.

  134. Leslie Mathis says:

    I have been shopping for about three years, and for the most part I really enjoy it. I wish most of the companies paid a bit sooner, especially if you have to spend money on the shop. I would live more information on video shopping.

  135. Julie Cruz says:

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle? I wish I had known about mystery shopping when I was still holding my very stressful job. It would have been my equalizer. I started shopping in 2004 when my late husband contracted an incurable disease. Mystery shopping saved my sanity. I was not aware there was such a thing until an MSC recruited me. I was too busy just deleting emails I was not familiar with.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more? I do not appreciate receiving my reimbursement 60 to 90 days after. And because most of the MSCs I work for are US based, most do not have the ability to process Direct Deposit for Canadian shoppers. This delays the fee by about 10-15 days more. Some even charge for the check which is actually not the shoppers’ fault. As well, whether the USD is higher or lower than CanD, the Canadian shopper always loses in the exchange in fees and reimbursements.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you? I really like mystery shopping, and that’s about it. Although it is not my main source of income, I really miss it when I do not do it. It is challenging and empowering. I am very picky at what I do and tend to do the shops that I enjoy and are provided by MSCs which I respect and in turn respect me. If we have a symbiotic relationship, I would bend backwards to please them. I feel mystery shopping has made me more detail-oriented, patient and actually, more charitable. It has given me some kind of photographic memory which is less selective and more lasting. Most of all, it has enabled me to transfer my skills and hone them farther as I gain more skills which I wasn’t aware I had learned to develop. I intend to mystery shop until I drop. As my sister has told me, “You will not have Alzheimer.”

  136. Bena says:

    Why do I mystery shop?
    I enjoy making a difference to customer satisfaction. I find myself often giving an establishment a ‘free evaluation’ when I see something, good or bad, that I feel the manager would want to know about. I also enjoy interacting with people and practicing my skills of subterfuge and imagination.

    Why don’t I shop more than I do?
    When I first started I took every job I could find. It didn’t matter what kind it was or how much it paid. I needed the experience. Well now I have the experience so I feel I deserve more than trainee wages now. Most jobs do not pay enough for me to bother with them. I believe I’m worth $20/hr (maybe $15/hr if the job is a lot of fun).
    I don’t consider getting a free meal that I wouldn’t eat otherwise, i.e. fast food, as a benefit. I expect to get travel time/expenses unless the job can be combined with enough other jobs to make it worthwhile. I don’t like having to make returns so P&R are almost always scratched off the list. Given these constraints there aren’t too many jobs left that will get me out the door.
    The jobs I do take, I enjoy and they pay well. Granted I sometimes have to wait a lengthy while to get paid, but when I do, it’s worth it. I enjoy fine dining and hotel shops the most I think, although the payday loan shops pay the best on a per hour basis.

  137. Cynthia Baumgardner says:

    I have mystery shopped for over 2 years. I love having a fun way to make some extra cash. I would do more if there were more jobs in my area. I enjoy when new clients are acquired by the companies I shop for, therefore I stay interested. I always mystery shop to get a free oil change, haircut, and occasional dinner. I will probably never quit.

  138. Barb Allen says:

    1. I have been a mystery shopper for over 5 years. I do it because of the flexibility of hours and the ability to set my own schedule.
    2. I don’t do more because of the small geographical area I live in and the high cost of fuel to branch out to larger areas.
    3. My biggest complaint is the low pay some agencies offer. I refuse to do any shop for less than $10.00 and those only if they are very simple with a minimum report required.

  139. Rosemary Janisch says:

    I have mystery shopped for the last 5 years. I have cut back substantially due to the cost of gas. When I started, gas was $2.50 a gallon, but now it’s pushing $5.00 a gallon. Shopping is less lucrative as it used to be. I work in Chicago, so there are many shops I can do over my lunch hour. However, I have stopped shopping in the suburbs and will only shop if the locations are nearby. I do not like shopping for merchandise. I will only shop if I can make a profit. Also, I have seen many businesses where I have shopped go out of business. The economy has dramatically affected the types of shops, as well as the costs

  140. B. Turner says:

    I have been mystery shopping over 12 years. In that time I’ve seen the fee drop about 40%. People are so desperate for money they take the shops that pay very little allowing the MS companies to lower their payments. Living in the Chicago burbs doesn’t help. I would do a few more higher paying shops but by the time I get online they are all taken. They seem to be swallowed up within minutes of being posted. If you are out working then you’re out of luck.

    I have a few pet peeves about mystery shopping. In order to be able to shop for a company you have to provide all sorts of personal information. However, when you first sign up for a company you don’t know if they have jobs in the area you live in. They now know all sorts of things about you. Who knows what they do with the information.

    Say you get lucky enough to get a shop. You can’t see the form until you are actually assigned to the shop. The form is considerably more detailed than you expected. And, you are only getting $8 – $10 for the shop. If you change your mind, you are black listed with the company.

    I am one of those people that declare everything I make. After paying double social security tax, small business tax, income tax, state tax, county tax, copying, gas (and the Chicago area often has the highest gas prices in the country), I come out making about $2.50 on a $10 shop. Then factor in time doing the shop, writing notes in the car, pre work, coming home and writing commentary then entering the data, I often feel like I am paying the company to mystery shop for them.

    In all the years I’ve been mystery shopping I have been removed from only one company. I wrote a bad review on a bank shop. Everything I wrote was the truth. Three days later I get a phone call telling me the other locations I have for the month are being removed from my to do list. That makes me wonder if the company would rather I lie and give credit where credit is not due.

    Finally, I started mystery shopping because I could not find a job when my position was phased out. I took a few jobs since losing my job about 13 years ago. Mystery shopping then supplemented my income. Today, I find myself laid off again. All money earned is how I support myself.

  141. Becky says:

    Why do I not do more mystery shops?—I have been a mystery shopper and merchandiser since 2004. I am MSPA Silver and Gold certified. When I began mystery shopping, the pay was about twice as much as it is now. I have seen accounts for my favorite retail companies switch hands from one mystery shopping company to another. Each time this happens, the pay decreases and the reimbursement decreases. It is depressing. Therefore, I have stopped completing as many shops and cling onto my favorite companies hoping that their clients will remain true to them. If you really want to write a book about mystery shopping, you ought to write it from a mystery shopper’s point of view and how unfair some of the practices are of some of the conglomerate mystery shopping companies—how they outsource and underpay. That’s my two cents worth.

  142. Shannon Sharp says:

    2. Knowing what companies are legit. Too much to remember for me. So much work for little pay.

    3. I like setting my own schedule.

  143. Carol Lynn says:

    The biggest obstacle to doing low paying mystery shops is the cost of transportation and time–especially to do the final reports. I have always been a temporary clerical worker so I was accustomed to jobs that offered me a couple hours work for minimum wage. These days the editor and scheduler want professional reports completed but only want to pay for 10 minutes of the work involved. The cost of a new camera, cost of Internet Service, cost of a new printer, cost of tires and gasoline, cost of printer ink, cost of printer paper,etc. are mine alone. Those are the obstacles.
    The only reason I have limited the assignments I take is that I have a limited amount of transportation available to me. I am unable to get to and from many mystery shop locations rarely or never served by public transportation. Today I had to walk 20 minutes down a road that had no sidewalk after I got off the last of the six buses I had taken to get to the location.
    The benefits I get from doing mystery shopping are I get money in the bank on a regular basis; I have the opportunity to visit parts of this large metropolitan area normally I would never know exist. I get to experience some rather exciting people and places. I used to sit by the telephone waiting for an assignment as a secretary and now I can choose the date and time and location where I want to work. As a person who in the past was not even allowed a coffee break in many of the secretarial jobs I was assigned, being able to control my time to do such as to take time to visit a library, drink a cup of coffee, have lunch or meet with friends is a joy.

  144. Raeanne says:

    I enjoy mystery shopping. I do a lot of it. What I don’t like is having to put out a bit of money to do them, then wait for up to 8 weeks for reimbursement. Most of the shops I can do in my area are either that I need to spend a sum of money that is later reimbursed or I need to spend a small amount that is not reimbursed. I do appreciate the shops that just require me evaluating customer service.

    That being said, at times the rate they will pay for this is absolutely ridiculous. I often have to travel 50 miles or so to get to the destination I need to go to, then spend money there, not to mention gas and time for $12 and a lengthy exhaustive survey, I would not work a real job for the amount of time spent on it. It works to roughly .85 cents per hour spent.

    I am always looking for new companies to shop for that have assignments in my area. It is unlike the rest of the United States in that we don’t have timeshares, restaurant shops other than fast food, or events we can observe.

    I would like to do more mystery shopping with companies that pay faster, direct deposit and that have fun types of shops to do. Not that I mind the mundane, but to travel 100 round trip to spend 1/2 an hour in a plumbing shop, then fill out an exhaustive survey for $12 is ridiculous. I have asked them to up the fee and yet it goes on month after month because nobody will do it.

    I appreciate the magazine for the insights and the different outlets it gives me. I have found a few that I like to do business with, but they don’t have a lot of shops available. I feel like I know where NOT to shop, where to shop and what level of service I will receive.

    Please tell readers to measure the payment to time, money spent, distance traveled and never be afraid to ask for more money if you feel it is worth it.

    I feel like I am making customer service come back again. I appreciate that. It is lucrative enough that I don’t have to work a real job for 6 months of the year. It is not enough if it were my only job with the amount of money I have to spend and wait to be reimbursed for, to live on. But it pays for many of the ME thins in my life and my husband pays the bills.

    It is a wonderful opportunity and I’d tell anyone to give it a try, you may just like it.

  145. Brenda NaQuin says:

    I enjoy doing mystery shopping and agree that most shop fees are low and not worth my time. Also the reimbursement for meals may not always cover it especially when they want you to bring someone. I would like to find companies that have shops in my area. You can apply for so many companies and most don’t have any in my area.

  146. Dawn says:

    There are several reasons that people don’t mystery shop. One is that it is a scam. Two is the hardship of the initial financial outlay with reimbursement being at the discretion of the company. I did a shop in which I and my companions spent over 100 dollars; only to have my report which was extensive and repetitive rejected. Hence, no reimbursement. Surprisingly it is always on the shops with a major outlay. Enjoy shopping, meeting new people and flexing my acting skills. It can offer great flexibility and it assist me with maintenance on my car, and supplements recreational activities.

  147. Julie says:

    I have been mystery shopping for about a year now. I collect a small disability pension and mystery shopping supplements my income as well as giving me free items, lunches, etc.

    I would do more mystery shops but some of the fees are too low. Even if its at the mall 10 minutes away from home, I won’t do it for some companies that pay $10 and a want long, detailed report. Not worth my time. With the price of gas lately, I don’t like to drive more than 15-20 minutes from home unless it pays over $40.

    I live in Canada and am always looking for mystery shopping companies that post jobs here. I have signed up with some US Mystery shopping companies that claim to have jobs in Canada but even after 1 year, there has been nothing posted.

  148. Loraine says:

    I have been mystery shopping for 3 years on a part time basis. At first, I did most jobs that came up. Now I just do the ones I like and that don’t have such time consuming reports. I do a lot of food shops and telephone shops. I used to do more, but many companies cut back in the last year. I noticed that one food shop I normally do cut it’s fee by a dollar for August.
    Let’s face it…money is important. We spend our money and don’t get it back for anywhere from 2 weeks (and that’s good) up to 2 months. We still have to pay for gas and car necessities.
    I have been checking into hotel shops, but haven’t tried them yet. I don’t like the car shops; I feel guilty taking up so much time when I know I’m not going to buy!
    Mostly I do these because I enjoy letting people know they did something good in their job. Many times they don’t hear it otherwise. Unfortunately, I also let them know if they weren’t so good.

  149. RiverSong says:

    #1 – Before I started shopping seriously, my biggest issue was knowing where to find trustworthy MSCs. I wanted to know that it wasn’t a scam before I input all my personal information. I found the MSPA and Jobslinger, and then your forum. Now I use your forum to research and “vet” new MSCs before signing up with them.

    #2 – Many of the reasons already stated:
    – I work days so can only perform shops after work and on weekends. Likewise, I often can not input my reports until later in the evening, and staying up too late working on long ones impacts my health.
    – Pay seems to be going down rather than going up, even in the few months that I have been shopping, and it isn’t worthwhile for me to run myself ragged for nothing.
    – I often need some flexibility on my shop dates do to health issues.
    – I like restaurant shops, but my dining partner works different and variable hours so it can be difficult to schedule times when he can join me. I would love to see more restaurant shops that can be performed alone.
    – While I use Paypal, I have had negative experiences with them in the past. I would like to see more MSCs using Direct Deposit, as well as the growth of more viable Paypal alternatives, such as Amazon payments.

    #3 – My budget is tight and getting tighter all the time, so it allows me to be reimbursed for some things that I need, like gas and groceries, and to treat myself to dining out, etc. Since I use rewards cards whenever possible, I earn cash back on them more quickly, as well as earning fees which can go toward my other expenses. I like to think that I am helping to ensure better service for everyone while also making a little extra money for myself at the same time.

  150. Sarah says:

    I’ve heard such positive feedbacks about mystery shopping that I would love for my husband n I to look at what it has to offer.

  151. Cathy says:

    I’ve been doing mystery shopping for more than 20 years and have noticed a tremendous change in customer service since then. Many times, when I first started, I wouldn’t be acknowledged at all doing my shop, but now I am greeted by someone in every place I go, and are even approached and offered help. I find that if I’m somewhere that gives me wonderful service and I’m not doing a shop I make a point of complimenting them on the incredible service. I wish I could do the same when I received horrible service, but mystery shopping gives me a chance to let companies know how their investment in their employee training is resulting in communication with their customers.

  152. Sharyn says:

    I have been mystery/secret shopping since 2011.
    In the beginning I took it slow and let my payments go to a separate bank account. I built up enough funds to allow me to do more and have a cushion without having to go into my monthly expense money. I am retired on social security.
    I live in a rural area and thus not many shops less than 35 miles away from me. In order for me to accept a shop the fee must pay for my gas mileage and then a meal, reimbursement etc. The reimbursed meals help my food budget and other shops help me pick up small gifts to have on hand when an occasion arises. I would accept more shops if it was at least a break even shop after mileage. I enjoy being a voice to companies to improve their customer service. If the gas is an issue, I try and schedule errands I would need to do anyway near the mystery shop. My least favorite shops are the new automobile shops. It feel guilty taking up so much of the salesman’s time knowing I am not really interested in purchasing a new car. I did several and the guilt took over. I wish there were a way to know what companies represent what businesses. There are many restaurants in my area and have not been able to appy as I do not know what companies represent them. I would like to do more if the fees compensated for the travel expenses. I really like mystery/secret shopping.

  153. Sharyn says:

    I forgot, I wish all the companies would let you know how your report scored. When my 10/10’s come in it really lifts my spirits.

  154. Jeanne says:

    1. If you’ve never mystery shopped before, why? What is the biggest obstacle? I have been shopping on and off since the late 1990’s.

    2. If you have mystery shopped before, what is the one thing that keeps you from doing more? Finding decent jobs in my local area. I am also discouraged by the payment process. The msps tend to offer small amounts of money for a job they say should take 5 minutes, but they do not account for the time to get there, the visit takes 30 minutes, and then they expect a lengthy , well-written report. Once you have completed the assignment, and discovered the two hour cost to you, there is a two month delay for the small payment offered. We are not required to take these jobs, but avoiding them reduces our work load tremendously.

    3. Why do you want to be a mystery shopper? What are the benefits to you?
    I enjoy the variety of work as well as the flexibility offered. It is also a service that benefits all consumers.

  155. Dennis Reed says:

    Hello from Kansas, I’ve been doing mystery shopping for 14 months. I am signed up with about 20 companies. At first it was different but after a while the new wore off. I live about 27 miles away from where most all the shops are. That means that I have to drive 60 to 65 miles with no gas money. And to go get yogurt for $10.00 it’s not worth it. The fact is that the apartment shops give you the most money but there are only so many then you are just stuck because you can’t do them for a year. I understand that you can only come up with so many results. I think that if the clients would pay more and had more to do in the same areas the program would be better for all. When you go to a restaurant and they want you to buy all the items and the cost is greater then the fee they give you then, that is just wrong. They say then don’t do the shop. That’s not good feed back. Anyway it is what it is and if you like it then I’ve been told to just go do something else. “HA,HA,HA” For the most part you can learn some new stuff. But you shouldn’t have to go in debt for the client who I know has plenty of money. Dennis Lawrence KS.

  156. Danna Humphries says:

    I have been mystery shopping for over five years. I love the flexibility and being able to set my own schedule. I wish I had a book to help me out when I was first starting. It took awhile for me to realize that if you do some favors for schedulers that need last minute help you get called when it is time to bonus the shops. I love the end of the month!! I do think that you should not be bullied into accepting shops. I have had schedulers call and act rude when I don’t want to drive an hour to do a shop for $10.00!! Good luck with the book. 🙂

  157. Carl says:

    The reason I do not do more of it, the lack of communication and the length of time to write a narrative. No matter how hard you try to cover everything there is always more that the editors would like. It also takes way to long to get paid for your time. When the company needs something immediately they will pay five times the rate published; sometimes the software asks questions that do not apply to the job, over and over again.

  158. carol thornblad says:

    I have done myatery jobs at some stores and banks and it gives me a little extra money and i enjoy doing it

  159. Patricia Jaracz says:

    I agree with the shoppers who comment that most of the time mystery shopping just does not pay enough to make it worthwhile. There are very few exceptions. Along with mileage, time, and let’s not forget printing out the paperwork on a home printer that can cost 25 cents or more per page, it’s not making me any money. I’ve been breaking even or even losing money for the past four years. I now do only restaurant shops. The pay, plus a free meal, can be very worthwhile. But if I’m only allowed to spend $5.00 and they want my fee to be $4.00 and then they expect a long narrative that takes me two hours to complete, forget it! It’s a shame, because mystery shopper can be fun and edifying. But too many companies want us to spend three-five hours total time for a small fee.

  160. Karen Duhart says:

    I literally stumbled upon mystery shopping last year after retiring from my federal service career of 42 years. Like others have already mentioned, I enjoy keeping my mind active and it gives me something to do when I’m not traveling. I do dread the lengthy reports that have a lot of narrative blocks. If I figured my time spent completing a good report I would probably be losing money. I enjoy doing bank shops because the reporting is simple. However, I think there’s only so many times you can go into a bank and ask the same questions. I happen to live in an area that has a lot of jobs so I can stay as busy as I want. Due to rising gas prices, I am going to limit the distance I drive to perform shops. I have schedulers calling me to do more than I can handle sometimes. It helps to take time off (i.e., husband and I are traveling all this month) so I can refocus when I return to shopping.

  161. Arlene says:

    Some companies are very slow in paying. When you get an email about jobs they are taken already. I would like to find more companies to work for. One company asked for a picture, which I sent, then she wanted a colored picture, what does it matter. The pay is low on some jobs that it is not worth going to. Also some of the surveys are so long that it takes a long time to fill them out for only $5.00

  162. Lisa says:

    The fee is sometimes not worth the time and effort to do them. Other times, they are just too far away to even make gas money to and from. There just isn’t enough work in my area.

    I mystery shop as a second income. I need a full-time job for benefits, but I depend on mystery shopping for entertainment (eating out) and extra income.

  163. Barb says:

    I am signed up with many many mystery shopping companies. I use to do a lot of shopping up until a couple of years ago for a few reasons…

    1. Mystery shopping is job that everyone must take serious. If you don’t capture everything and report on everything asked, you won’t get paid! The information that majority of these companies ask for, is not worth the time spent on these shops.

    2. It’s nice to be able to go out to eat at a nice restaurant and have your bill reimbursed. But, when I go out to eat with my husband I like to spend quality time with him. We talk about different things, plan things, etc. You can’t do that when mystery shopping. You have to be focused and pay attention to all the surroundings, testing the food, the drink, the host/hostess, the waitress/waitor, the bartendar, the manager, cleansiness of the restaurant, and whatnot. And, some of these reports are ridiculous. They want you to write essays, for what? A reimbursement of your dinner. It get’s old after a while.

    3. I use to do a lot of last minute shops for DSG Associates. Bonus pays made the shops well worth my time. I am talking a shop that originally pays $10.00, I would tell them how much I wanted paid to complete the shop. I waited until they were desperate to find a shopper to complete the shop. They would eventually call and give me the pay I asked for. I am not talking $20 or $25, I am talking $150 – $200 for a job that took me 30 minutes to complete from start to finish, not including travel time. Tack another 3 hours on for travel time, I averaged $45 – more than $60 an hour. When I found out the company offshores their scheduling to Pakistan, I stopped mystery shopping for them altogether. There website indicates everything is done in the US, that is wrong because I asked the one scheduler and he told me all the scheduling and all the calls originate in Pakistan. That’s why I would get 3 and 4 calls a day for the same job, from different schedulers! We need to keep the jobs here in the US…companies like this, we need to BOYCOTT!

    To sum it all up. I no longer will do a $5, $7, $10, $20 mystery shop. I will wait for the bonuses, unless it is a mystery shop I can do without leaving home, depending on what it consists of, I will do it.

    For the most part, what the companies want to pay us for our hard work is tasteless in my opinion. My time is more valuable and my unbiased opinions are worth more than most are willing to pay.

  164. Alice Ann says:

    I Mystery shop because I like good customer service. I’ve been a shopper for over 30 years & Love it.
    Some companies make you use an alias which is OK except in Dry cleaners, those people make it a habit to get to know their customers. I have been pegged as a shopper because of this!
    Some companies want pictures of your food before you eat!
    How can you be discrete & do this?
    I wish they paid faster.

  165. Paula says:

    I have only been mystery shopping almost a year now & the biggest obstacle for me is “getting paid”! It seems that some companies are prompt to pay (although very few that I’ve found”) and some have almost looked for excuses not to pay me. And a lot of the assignments are too time-consuming, for not much money. What I like about mystery shopping is, it’s flexibility, not to have to adhere (all of the time) to a particular work schedule. Such as always working 9-5! However, I actually started mystery shopping because I needed supplemental income each month.

  166. kim says:

    I would like to just say I am very interested in becoming a mystery shopper but I really don’t no how to get into it I wish some one would just call me and get me started then just email me the jobs 6072329434

  167. joyce bosco says:

    I have been mystery shopping now for quite awhile. I really do enjoy it however I wish they would pay more on some assignments. It is really nice to praise the employees and also to improve on the businesses if they need it.

  168. Patti says:

    I have been a shoppe for about 5 years and have enjoyed it a lot. The last two years I worked a lot and got burned out. One of my main complaints is that some MS companies have very long reports for us to fill out, while others are quite short and easy – for the same amount of pay. I no longer work the ones with ridiculously long reports, but I would be willing if they were more reasonable.

  169. Becki bozart says:

    Yes, I am a mystery shopper. It was on my bucket list to do it once and now I am sort of hooked. My limitations are the cost of gas driving around my rural area, and having a caregiver for my adult daughter (disabled) when I go. Some shops I can bring her but others are adamant I just go alone which I think it’s stupid. Having my daughter with me in a wheelchair helps me be incognito.
    I do it for Christmas money so the length of pay doesn’t matter. I don’t pull my upfront out of that and it helps me force-save for the holiday. I set a goal, say 1,000.00 and just keep letting it sock away.

    I would like to read more people’s bios, “how I done good” stories, strategies and tips, more details on which companies rate the highest with shoppers, stories about unique types of shops, such as how to get started in video or travel segments or how to set up a route. More info on certification and more stories of why it may or may not e worth it. Tax suggestions and strategies…do people form small businesses as independent contractors? What type? LLC. Pros and cons.

    Are their groups or clubs for networking?

    For companies, my advice besides to pay more which everyone says, is to create more drop down and radio button surveys so you can get away from lengthy narrative which takes more time. The quicker the report the more likely the shop will be accepted. I love that marketforce calls me and then says what else can I give you in your area per the same time period and helps me fill up the day to make my gas worth while.

    Great idea for books, count me in!

  170. karen leon says:

    I have mystery shopped before, and done over 200 shops. I would do more shops if there were more variety in assignments, and definitely if they paid more than just reimbursement.

  171. Marj says:

    I have been a mystery shopper for 10& years. I began mystery shopping as a way to make extra money.
    At first I took on many assignments,until I earned a good reputation with the schedulers. After that I was able to get better shops.
    My complaints with MS is that most of the assignments take a lot of time and slow pay. I got frustrated with the time spent on the quizzes, tests and forms to fill out. I also found that the better jobs would stop.
    I did stop MS for awhile because I worked a full time job with a changing schedule.
    I now work a different job and want to start back with MS to earn extra money. I do not have a lot of availability so I will not be able to do a lot.
    I want to continue mystery shopping in the future. It will be a supplement in retirement.

  172. Gary G says:

    I’ve been mystery shopping for about 7 years. I also have a full-time, low-paying job. I mystery shop for the income. I also prefer it to my FT job. There used to be a lot of variety , but companies go away. The area around me is not rife with opportunity. Slow pay is a bugaboo with me. One company paid me in two weeks. I HAD to comment to them.

  173. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been mystery shopping for about 7 years. I enjoy the flexibility and it is a job where I can take care of my husband and hang out with my kids (all teens). The hard part is finding jobs that fit in well with a route that you’re going on to pick up some extra money and not being assigned them at the last minute and having your route messed up. I wish that more companies allowed you to self assign.

  174. Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this paragraph i thought i could also create comment due to this brilliant piece of writing.|

  175. Cheryl Rosen says:

    I used to mystery shop all the time (started about 15 years ago). Do to the fact that this was not a business to make money in, I would choose shops that I could get something for free in like a decent meal, or a free movie, etc.
    One time I didn’t receive payment for one of my movie assignments. After a huge disagreement with the company, I never got paid. Then they refused to give me assignments in the future. These were the assignments I liked the most as I could take someone with me, see the show, and get some food and drink for free.
    As to the restaurants, the ones I regularly got, they either started to get assigned to others or the restaurants were no longer in the program as I wasn’t seeing them out there.
    I would always see offers to submit my name for amusement parks and aquariums, but would never get notified. I ended up always being offered fast food and donut shop assignments that were definitely not worth my time and money.
    So as my personal and work schedule increased, I opted to watch for a great assignment instead of taking anything. It ended up being a “watch all the assignments” but “not partake in any” over the past few years.
    I would love to mystery shop again but things really need to change.

  176. Susan Stoltze says:

    2) The only thing that prevents me from taking more shops is my very demanding full-time job. If the shop is near my work location, I will take it during my lunch hour. To me, that’s a bonus!

    3)The biggest benefit to mystery shopping is to try goods and services I would not normally do. For example, I take a lot of shops for smart phones. I don’t have one, but I in the market for one. So, I am being paid to research the perfect smart phone for myself. Some businesses and restaurants have impressed me so much, I have returned as a regular paying customer. Performing shops has also given me the opportunity to weed out businesses that are less than professional.

  177. Shawn Spiers says:

    My name is Shawn, and I have been a mystery shopper in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area for around one year now. I would like to add my comments, both positive and negative, on my experiences as a mystery shopper, to help you with your efforts…

    First of all, I decided to become a mystery shopper after I was laid off from my COBOL mainframe computer programming job, and my unemployment ran out. I didn’t feel like returning to the office environment. One day, I received an unusual text message from one of the services that charges a monthly fee to subscribe to a list of mystery shopping jobs, and I called this organization to learn more about this opportunity. After a brief discussion with them, I signed up, and very soon I started receiving my first shopping assignments.

    Very quickly, I was advised by several MSP schedulers that I did not need to pay any service fees to any organization, as this same information was available for free. This is when I learned about Jobslinger, Volition, and the MSPA websites. Soon after this, I read about MSPA Silver and Gold certifications, and I found it quite easy to apply for and pass the online test to become MSPA Silver Certified. I cancelled the membership to the original group selling me that list, and I have never had issues using any of the free websites to look for and find shopping assignments.

    I have performed perhaps a couple hundred shops over this past year. And this is without putting in the maximum time I have available for this endeavor. I am happy to report that out of all the assignments I have attempted, I have only failed at 2 of them!!

    Mystery shopping can be a lot of fun, although there are some things that can be frustrating about this type of job.

    I really enjoy the capability to set my own schedule, and be free certain aspects of the “rat race”. I know my earnings potential is limited to a large extent by the time and effort I am willing to put into mystery shopping. I have also realized that I probably won’t get rich by doing this, but I have convinced several skeptical friends that mystery shopping is not a scam, and I have been paid 100% for every shop I have successfully completed!!

    Let me say that after a couple months of shopping, I purchased a voice recorder for around $60, and I consider this to be one of the best investments I have made related to mystery shopping…I never leave home without it when I am going on an assignment!! To tell you the truth, mystery shopping is fun if you have an “inner spy” lurking within you, but it is important to report objectively or subjectively, according to your assignment guidelines, and always remember your goal is to help improve a company’s customer service, NOT to do harm to employees!!

    I have made many positive connections with MSP schedulers, and these folks are your best friends, as well as your virtual “bosses” in this industry. Listen to them, follow their direction, and always maintain clear communications with them. When in doubt, ask, and ask before starting your assignments. I have never encountered a scheduler who is not willing to help me prepare for a shop, and they usually appreciate a shopper who takes the time to plan well. Your other virtual friends are the editors who review your completed reports, although these folks tend to remain in the background. They are the MSP employees responsible for critiquing our reports, to make sure we shoppers are turning in valid and useful data. It is important to read any feedback they offer, and to learn from our mistakes. Remember, an editor’s job is quality control. One of my first lessons was not to take any negative remarks personally, but rather listen and learn from what they are telling me. With common sense, good computer and typing skills, and the ability to clearly observe and report, there is no reason any shopper cannot make some money in this field.

    As you might expect, the most fun aspect of mystery shopping is usually, well, the shopping!! I find that I tend to gravitate toward certain shops, and as I have gained experience, to avoid other types of assignments. This is going to be very personal, and depends on your own individual taste and personality. You might find you love evaluating banks, but hate evaluating restaurants. A lot is going to depend on the assignment pay and complexity. You have to try different shops to find out what you like, what you don’t like, and what scenarios come the most naturally to you to roll play.

    This brings me to one of the main areas of frustration I have as a mystery shopper. I have found that the different MSP’s perform at different levels when it comes to providing information regarding assignment scenarios BEFORE I actually accept an assignment. I have learned to avoid certain MSP’s altogether that simply don’t want to release enough information for me to make an informed decision about an assignment before I hit the “accept” button. I have stopped feeling guilty for cancelling an assignment that sounded great at first, but once I read its details, I decided it was not worth the effort. To these MSP’s, I ask that they improve pre-acceptance information so we shoppers won’t waste schedulers time as much!! Other MSP’s do a great job of letting me know what I am in for, so I can easily decide whether or not I want to accept their missions. These are the companies I have chosen to associate with. Again, your experience will vary based on what MSP’s are operating in your own geographic area.

    I think the two concepts that embody the most tedious part of mystery shopping are “narrative” and “data entry”. After my fun day of taking an enjoyable water taxi ride, or discussing hair replacement therapy, or pretending to be in the market for a $10,000 watch, I have to go back home and get the information related to my experience transferred to the MSP, so they can report back to their client. I have found data entry to be the most boring part of this process, yet it is essential!! I have found that good language skills are invaluable when writing about my shops. If you are not a good communicator, then mystery shopping is not for you!! But if you can translate your experience into words fairly easily, then this “boring” part of mystery shopping won’t be too bad. You need to have a good vocabulary, and you need to have good writing and grammar skills as well. Treat each report as if you were going to be the employee reading it. You want to keep your remarks factual and professional. Usually, you are expected to keep your remarks objective, but when ask for your subjective feelings, do be honest and report on the negative, neutral, and positive parts of your experience.

    And this brings me to the concept of the narrative. Very quickly, a shopper will learn that reports requiring narratives are the most time consuming when it comes to data entry time. Any assignment that wants “a detail narrative discussing my shop from start to finish” is going to need to pay me accordingly for my time!! I think any book about mystery shopping should discuss the time required to perform assignments and enter the required data, as it relates to the pay for these jobs. It is an old phrase, but it is true: time is money. Through my own shopping experience, I have learned which types of shops I like, based on a combination of higher payouts, and less narrative requirements. Don’t be afraid to try different assignments, and do your best at each report, but don’t feel bad if you find out you never, never, never want to do a particular shop again!! On the flip side, if you find you really love an assignment from start to finish, do an incredible job on your report, and don’t be shy about sending personal emails to the MSP that gave you the job, letting them know you are ready and willing to do similar assignments in the future. Many times schedulers will contact their favorite shoppers privately, in advance of public job board postings, to offer preferred shoppers repeat jobs.

    Recently, I have entered the world of phone shops. From a pure profit point of view, these assignments don’t require any travel expenses. They can be an easy way to make some money as a mystery shopper, especially when the weather is bad outside!!

    I hope my comments here have been useful, and if anybody wants to give me some feedback, then chat back with me, and I will reply to you as soon as possible. Happy shopping to everybody, and remember as shoppers, we are doing our part to make customer service better for everyone!! 🙂

  178. Shawn Spiers says:

    I forgot to mention one other area of frustration for me as a mystery shopper. And this would be as follows: One of the biggest mysteries from a shopper’s viewpoint is trying to find out who shops whom. For a while, I was on a mission to find out how I could shop a certain retail store, but I found that MSP’s and their shoppers are bound by confidentially agreements not to discuss their actual clients until you actually shop for them. (Yet I can refer my non-shopper friends to an MSP as potential new shoppers, and I tell my friends exactly what type of job they would be doing…Go figure!!) I still have not found a solution as to how to shop for a specific brand, but I have managed to keep busy enough with the shops I do take that this targeted type of shop has become less important to me. If you want to write about how mystery shoppers can find out who shops whom, then that would be a great subject to focus on in your book!! 🙂

  179. Paul L. says:

    I would mystery shop more if the some of the companies would pay faster. I am on a tight budget, so it is hard to keep up with how much I can spend when it may take 45-60 days to be paid and reimbursed for required expenses. Anything less than 30 days would be great.

  180. Gail says:

    Slow pay, low pay and some of the schedulers/editors don’t seem to know the shop instructions or maybe they just don’t care. I don’t consider $15.00 to be enough for some of the shops. I sometimes feel like a delivery person, a secretary, an editor and all for $15.00. Sometimes you are required to get a business card,stand in line and get a receipt, and to take a photo. The money that you paid for the item is included in the sometimes less than $15.00 fee. If I mistakenly take a shop that calls for too much work for the money I will not do it again.

  181. Jene' says:

    I live in NV, which has COMPLETELY different rules than any other state (i.e. you have to pass a background check, get fingerprinted and obtain a card from the state Private Investigator’s Bureau–all on YOUR OWN dime!),you must apply for each company–which has to be licensed through the PIV Bureau–just like applying for any other job, sign a W-4 have an I-9 notarized, etc. therefore the companies take taxes out of the shop fee, which is usually not all that substantial (FYI: I used to MS back in the pre-internet days when the company would call you w/an assignment, state the fee and if all agreed would send all instructions and survey/report to fill out upon completion, along with a pre-paid envelope. Ironically, the current shop fees are commiserate with the fees “way back when”.
    I have siged up with 2 MS companies here in NV, because I don’t know exactly which ones ARE licensed–NV rules state that if you shop for a company NOT licensed in NV you can lose YOUR work privileges. I’m having trouble playing catch up and since a computer is not human, the reports often don’t like my answers, time out, etc. Additionally, I live approximately 40 miles outside of Reno (where the majority of shops are), so I need to be assigned several to cover gas and make it worth my while. Additionally, my 2 MS companies continually email me, asking if I’d like to perform Las Vegas shops, but don’t wish to pay much travel cash–something to the tune of %35.00 gasoline reimbursement.
    I would GREATLY appreciate a section in your book covering NV MS laws (i.e.; if shoppers in NV are not Independent Contractors, as they are considered in other states, WHY are the companies NOT required to pay hourly and/or travel/gas expense? Anybody I’ve attempted to contact, who would know–at either the companies, OR the NVPILB, OR through other state offices–aren’t responding), as well as listing those companies licensed to operate in NV, rating from best to worst.
    As an aside, I have ALWAYS enjoyed the shopping experience, because I can play a role, and if I’m good at it, the rude/bad employees never know and I can assist with Quality Control, which I believe is DESPERATELY neglected and as a consequence, way below average. But the time spent going to and from and the online report fill-out time (which averages 1-1/2 hours for me-when back in the day I could type-write, or hand-write it out in 1/2 hour or less) and the lack of shop fee increase–ironically back in the ’90’s I was paid the EXACT same fee for Chevron shops as they are offering today, with a heck-of-a-lot more material, testing and requirements (i.e. min. 10 digital photos; detailed explanations; AND a Safety Vest which must be purchased by–guess who–Yours Truly!) and higher gas prices as well!
    So I guess the major points I’d like to see addressed, would be a chapter/section on NV–their laws, requirements and licensed MS companies, as well as WHY shops fees are so low–not increased since the ’90’s, with little-to-no mileage reimbursement.
    Thanks for asking for my thoughts and for undertaking the book. I believe it could be a valueable, moneymaking tool–for us shoppers as well as yourself!

    P.S. If you’d like to respond to me personally, I’d bevery happy to hear from you. Thanks, Jene’ (pronounced “Juh-Nay”)

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