How long have you been mystery shopping? My first assignment was in April of 2005. I decided it was too much work (as many newbies do!) for the amount of money I made. I did not do another until 2013 when I had some spare time, needed some extra money and decided to start back up. I added more MSCs and then got addicted to it. My boyfriend now says all I think about is shopping.
Where are you shopping? I am shopping in Indiana. I usually stay in Indianapolis, and the surrounding suburbs. My boyfriend does live in Kokomo so I go there a lot on the weekends and will pick a few shops up there (especially the date night ones for us!). We do like to go for drives so will venture out an hour or two from Kokomo for a place we really want to go or that offers us enough fee/reimbursement.
How were you introduced to mystery shopping and what prompted you to begin? I was introduced to mystery shopping as I was heavily doing the online surveys at the time. I was up late after my son had gone to bed (he was little at the time) and had found myself on a free stuff forum. Someone there had started talking about mystery shopping and it was a way to make extra money so I decided to try it out. I just thought of it as another type of survey. The technology part of the shopping was easy for me as I have worked in IT for 20 years.
What was your first assignment and how did it go? My first assignment in 2005 was a payday loan shop. I found it was more work than I wanted at the time (even though I completed it successfully). Since it was my first one, I decided to wait until I was paid to see if it was a scam or not. It was totally legit; however, was for a MSC that we know as being a good company to do work for but the payment terms are 60-90 days. By the time I was paid, I had started doing other things and my heart just was not in it anymore so I took years off from it.
What is your favorite type of assignment? My favorite type of assignment is always changing but currently is one of those cell phone audits that can be completed on my mobile phone (fits with the IT side of me!). I especially like them when they start bonusing them due to other people not completing them correctly. I like them as they take me about 20-30 minutes to complete, are numerous around my area, have no purchase required, and pay quickly. The only problem I have with them is that they are assigned quarterly (so I only have a limited amount of time to get them), and the rotation for me almost always needs to be waived (so I usually cannot self-assign).
What kind of assignment haven’t you tried out yet? I have not tried out one of those expensive hotel shops yet. Mostly, I am scared to do one and I do not have the money to spend up front in order to be reimbursed. I keep waiting to win the lottery from buying tickets on gas station shops but it has not happened yet.
What’s your #1 tip for other shoppers? My #1 tip for other shoppers is to keep an online calendar of when your shops are. I use Google calendar but any will do as long as you can access it from your computer as well as your phone, tablet, etc. List every shop you pick up even if it is a range of dates (schedule it with yourself and put in the notes of when it really needs to be done so you can move it around if necessary). This way if a scheduler calls or emails you with a nicely bonused shop, you can easily look at a future date and see if you can fit it in. Nothing worse than having two great shops and cannot fit both in at the same time.
What’s your biggest pet peeve with mystery shopping? My biggest pet peeve is needing to wait to get my money back. I try to combat this by diversifying the MSC’s I shop for. Since they all have different pay periods, etc., I can get money coming in almost every day (at least a little bit).
What’s your favorite MSC? I really do not have a favorite one MSC but I do have list of favorites. Currently my favorites are Market Force, Maritz, GFK, and A Closer Look (for date night shops). For the phone apps, my favorites are Easy Shift, Field Agent and Gigwalk. Even though they typically do not pay as much as traditional MSCs, they pay VERY quickly (pay ranges on these from just a few minutes to no more than a week).