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Five Mystery Shopping Companies for Beginners.

(Foreword: Patricia has invited her cousin Alice, who is visiting, as guest on a restaurant mystery shop. They are leaving the parking lot after the shop.)

“Did you enjoy the meal?” asks Patricia as she drives out of the parking lot.

“It was awesome,” says Alice. “Especially because it was free. Thank you for inviting me.”

“It was my pleasure,” responds Patricia. “I needed a guest after my friend canceled.”

Alice inquires, “Can you tell me more about mystery shopping?”

“Sure,” Patricia replies. “What do you want to know?”

Quickly, she says, “Can you really make money doing this? Can anyone do this? What places are shopped?”

Patricia chuckles as she replies, “You want to know everything, don’t you?”

Alice pauses and says tentatively, “Well, I just found out you are doing this and would like to know a little more about it.”

“Of course,” Patricia responds. “With some effort, anyone can do it and make money. I’ve been doing this for a few years and love it. I like to think of it like a job that has some perks, like a good meal.”

Alice points to a fast food restaurant they are passing. “For example, is that place shopped?”

“Yes, it is,” answers Patricia as she stops at a traffic light.

Alice then indicates a gas station across the intersection. “How about that gas station? We have them where I live.”

Patricia smiles slightly as she replies, “Yes, that one is also shopped. I’ll tell you what. There are a lot of stores on the road home. I’ll point out all the places that are shopped along the way and you can count them.”

Alice perks up as she replies, “Sure. I can do that. Two places are on the list already.”

“That’s right,” says Patricia as she accelerates from the light.

A few minutes later as the car turns onto a highway entrance, Alice exclaims, “Wow! Forty-four stores in just a three or four mile stretch! That’s a lot of places. All sorts of places are mystery shopped. Even the post office!”

“Yes. That’s right,” says Patricia. “That was an area with lots of strip malls and retail stores. It isn’t like that everywhere. Typically, the more built up the area, the more mystery shops there are.”

Alice says, “There are plenty of stores where I live. Tell me where to sign up.”

“Sure,” replies Patricia. “But it isn’t quite that simple. There are more than one hundred mystery shopping companies (MSCs) that operate in this country alone.”

Alice says, “Can you tell me which companies shop a few of my favorite stores?”

“I wish I could,” sighs Patricia as she responds. “You see, when I signed up for the companies they had me sign an agreement that prohibits me from disclosing what stores, we call them clients, are shopped by which MSC.”

“OMG!” exclaims Alice. “I had no idea. Why would they possibly do that?”

Patricia responds, “I think it has to do with reducing fraud. Keeping that information secret tries to prevent employees from having their friends sign up and give falsely positive evaluations.”

“Hmmm. I get it,” says Alice as she slumps in her seat. “But you had to get a start somewhere. How did you do it?”

Patricia responds, “I signed up with lots of MSCs from a list I found online.”

Alice exclaims, “Oh my! That sounds like a lot of work.”

“It was,” replies Patricia. “It took a lot of time, but it really is the best way.”

Alice says, “How did you know which ones to sign up for? How did you know if they have work where you live?”

“Those are excellent questions. Let me think about it for a moment,” replies Patricia as she passes another slow moving car.

After a few minutes, Patricia resumes the conversation. “Alice, I’ll tell you what I can do. I can give you five MSCs to get you started. They all have lots of shops around the country and anyone can apply. When we get home, I’ll enter the restaurant report and you can fire up your laptop and sign up for these companies.”

“Great!” says Alice. “Can I get some shops scheduled for next week when I go home?”

Patricia replies, “There’s a great chance you can do that because these companies have lots of shops around the country. I know for sure you can get some for tomorrow around here. You can borrow the car and go.”

“Awesome!” replies Alice. She looks at her lipstick in the mirror and asks thoughtfully, “Only five? What makes these so special?”

Patricia says, “These are probably the five largest MSCs in the country. Their clients are lots of chain restaurants, gas stations, cellphone stores, etc.. So they have lots of shops nationwide.”

Alice slowly and thoughtfully says, “That makes sense.”

Patricia continues, “In addition, you can self-assign many of their shops.”

“Self-assign?” Alice interjects, “What’s that?”

Patricia replies, “This is the ability to simply pick a shop from the job board for yourself instead of asking a scheduler to award you the shop. That way you don’t have to wait for an answer and possibly be denied because an experienced shopper also applied and was chosen over you.”

Alice says, “That sounds good, but as a beginner, I might need some training. It’s hard to remember all the stuff you had to do in the restaurant.”

Smiling, Patricia replies, “You’re right. Training is important. One of the five uses a sort of interactive virtual reality that visually takes you through the steps of a shop. I think it is terrific training for a beginner.”

“That sounds great,” says Alice. “So you think that with just these five I can get started?”

“Absolutely,” answers Patricia. “Let’s review. With these five you get lots of shops, locations that are probably all over the country, the ability to self-assign for many of them, and you can sign up and get shops for as soon as tomorrow in this area. I think that about covers it. Oh, and you can also check to see what is in your city to line up some for when you go home.”

“Awesome!” Alice says. “I can’t wait to get started.”

“Well, we are just about home now.” Patricia smiles as she pulls into the driveway. “I’ll tell you the names inside.”

List of Five Mystery Shopping Companies (MSCs) for beginners

1. Market Force

2. Stericycle/Expert Solutions (has interactive training) http://audit.stericycleexpertsolutions.com/

3. Bare Associates International,

4. MaritzCX

5. GFK

Author’s note: The selection of these five companies is solely the opinion of the author.

Your Comments:

  1. Rita Abramson says:

    How excited Patricia was to show her friend the many opportunities. She enjoyed it so and was ready to go.

  2. Ceni says:

    Interest an desire to work and gain experience in this type of work .she express interest in learning . Keep on with it

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