Paul Lamb

Insula Research

IF you’re looking for a new mystery shopping company to add to your roster, Insula Research is worth looking into. They offer low to average pay, but have a good reputation in the industry.  Some of their assignments include fast food audits and electronics retailer assignments.

Columbus, Ohio based Insula Research was founded in 2005 by President and CEO, Brian Baker. The company is a member of the Mystery Shopper Providers Association and the Better Business Bureau. There have been no complaints filed against this company through the BBB. The BBB does report that they were the victim of a check cashing scam, which is also noted on their company website.

In October of 2012 Insula Research was featured in QSR magazine for its Drive-Thru Performance Survey, which was developed by Brian Baker. The survey was also featured on most of the major television news networks. As far as I can tell, they only conduct business in the United States.

The only assignments that I have been able to find in my area are electronics retailer audits that include counting the number of a specific brand of appliance and interacting with a sales associate. The shopper must also note the condition of all appliances as well as where they were located in the store and if they were turned on and working. Although the report was relatively simple, the shop only paid $10.

On the company website the opportunities listed include truck delivery audits, credit card reader shops and age-compliance audits. Age compliance audits usually require the shopper to be between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.

The company also does a large number of fast food audits for several different chains. I have not completed any of these audits, however, from the postings on, it seems like they do not pay very well (around $9) and require obtaining prices for nearly the whole menu.

Their compensation seems to be at or below average for the same type of shops for other companies in my area. I was not able to find any shops to make comparisons for other areas of the country. Even so, I have not seen any forum posts that would imply that there are problems with getting payment from Insula Research and have not experienced any problems myself. Recently they have started using Paypal and pay on the 15th of the month following the month the shop(s) was completed.

IR uses the Prophet Reporting System. Sign up is available by going to this link and agreeing to the non-disclosure agreement. You will then be directed to a page the requires you to type “I agree” in one box and an email address in two boxes. The system will then check to see if the address is already enrolled in the system. If the address is not found, you will be redirected to the application. Once you complete the application, a confirmation email will be sent to the address provided along with your password. Shops can then be searched and requested.

Searching for jobs is as easy as logging on and clicking the “Show Me Visits I Can Accept” tab. A state search can also be done for visits outside your area. To be assigned to a shop you must apply for it and await notification. I have always received confirmation for shops within 24 hours.

Overall, Insula Research has a great reputation in the industry and seems to be a good company to work for through my limited experience. Although I did see a few negative forum posts for this company, most of those seemed to be isolated incidents related to payment. I would think those problems have been resolved with the transition to Paypal.

I would recommend giving IR a chance if looking for mystery shopping opportunities. For the serious mystery shopper, even the lower paying projects are good fillers when doing shops in the area.



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