Edited By Ceridwyn

Featured Shopper: Topaz74

Forum Alias: topaz74

How long have you been Mystery Shopping? Since January 2008.

Where are you shopping? Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

What got you started? When I was in college, all the way back in 2000, one of my business professors in college mentioned mystery shopping to us and told us there was good money in it for anyone who put a lot of effort into it. I blew it off at the time because I had no clue how to get into it.

Then after I left my office job to become a stay at home mom, I got bored. I did an internet search for mystery shopping companies and got signed up with Corporate Research International. The jobs didn’t pay well, but I figured that if I did a few shops for them every month I could get my feet wet.

What was your first assignment and how did it go? Honestly it was so long ago that I’m not sure. It was probably a gas station assignment or a shop at a young adult clothing store at the mall. I didn’t have any issues with it and found it to be pretty easy and painless. I liked getting to buy merchandise at some of my favorite stores and getting reimbursed for it.

What is your favorite type of assignment? My favorite assignments are video shops with minimal reporting. I also always loved automobile sales and service video shops. My favorite “filler” shops are bank shops, because they don’t require a purchase and usually have minimal reporting as well (notice a theme here? haha) Then, of course, I love doing the occasional hotel and considering it a mini-getaway.

What kind of assignment haven’t you tried out yet? I have never shopped a salon or spa. I would love to but I’m not sure which companies shop them around here and I’m not even sure the ones in my area get shopped.

What’s your #1 tip for other shoppers? Be willing to do favors for schedulers, but not so many favors that you are not making money. Offer to do the shop that is 50 miles out in the middle of nowhere for the regular shop fee in exchange for some shops that have more competition close to home.

Remember that even if you make $100 in a day, it is not necessarily worth it if you had to drive 100 miles in an SUV with gas at $4.15 a gallon. I put probably 60,000 miles on my car in JUST mystery shopping, so I have to plan on making enough money in a few years to replace a car.

Keep detailed records and analyze your spending vs. profits frequently. Make sure you log all those miles and use them as a tax deduction as well, or you will be paying too much in taxes.

What is your biggest pet peeve with mystery shopping? I hate getting emails that say shops are “fun” and “easy” because those are inevitably the ones that have a 100 question report. I also hate redundancy with questions, and asking for someone’s weight to describe them.

Probably my biggest pet peeve, though, is waiting 2-3 months for payment, depending on the company, especially after shelling out a lot of money making purchases and putting gas in the car to go do the shops.

What’s your favorite MSC? Its a tie. Automotive Insights and Instant Replays.

MSPA Certification: Gold. I’m video certified as well through Undercover Essentials.

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