Forum Alias: Rezteach. My alias comes from teaching on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona for 40 years.
How long have you been mystery shopping? I first started mystery shopping in 1999 as I was looking ahead to ways I could earn extra money in retirement while living in a rural area. I knew there were a lot of scams out there and was hesitant to start, but once I read an article in a national magazine that listed three legitimate mystery shopping companies’ websites, I decided to try it out.
What got you started? My first company was the predecessor to Service Intelligence. They gave really good training for mystery shopping in general and soon I was ready to check the job boards. I was shocked when I typed the zip code of my village which had only ten businesses, and got a hit. It was a revealed shop requiring photographs of a chiropractor’s facilities. I knew then that I could do this work virtually anywhere.
Does your mystery shopping fit into a certain niche? There were few franchise businesses on the reservation, an area the size of West Virginia, but lots of gas stations, so that became my specialty.
What was one of your very first assignments, and how did it go? I remember how nervous I was the first time I did a McDonald’s. There were so many timings and names to get (the drive thru was always tricky), special questions and observations. Believe it or not, it is easier now than back then.
Soon the MSCs were sending me all over Northern Arizona to do remote shops. My radius kept expanding and I was forever trying to explain to MSCs why a location was inaccessible because of mud or snow (“in Arizona?”).
What is your favorite type of assignment? Since early retirement, I have tried many different shops and grown to love the banking industry. Most of the time bankers are professional, personable and nicely dressed.
Which is your favorite MSC? I especially like working with Maritz because not only are they accessible by phone, but they are helpful and available on weekends when problems always occur, They also give more than a one day window to complete a shop, which is important if you travel.
What’s your #1 tip for other shoppers? My tip for other shoppers is to not do more than one new shop per day if you are prone to stress or anxiety. I did that and although the shops went well, I mixed up the reimbursement purchase amounts and bought a ten dollar item at the five dollar place and vice versa. But do try new shops! You may find your perfect niche. My next ventures are video shopping and getting a Nevada license to do resorts and gaming.
What’s your biggest pet peeve with mystery shopping? My pet peeve with MSing are forms that ask redundant questions or guidelines that have ambiguous directions. I took two graduate courses in evaluation which included test creation, questionnaires and directions, and could easily edit these to better fit the shop, but that is not my role.
What keeps you from getting burned out? I love to mystery shop because it takes me places I would not otherwise have gone. I have learned so much about products and available services, and what fast means to a fast food restaurant. It has raised my expectations of all businesses.
It has allowed me to follow in my mother’s footsteps as she was a spy in WWII, and it gives me a rush to think I might be discovered. It has given me enough money to live more comfortably. If you skip the lowest paying jobs, you can make good money while being your own boss.