Edited By Ceridwyn

Featured Shopper: TowerOrchard

Forum Alias: TowerOrchard

How long have you been Mystery Shopping? I did a few shops about 4 years ago, but I seriously got back into mystery shopping during the last week of November, 2012.

Where are you shopping? I primarily shop the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, but I have done routes in Kansas, Missouri & around Oklahoma City.

What got you started? When my son was born about 4 years ago, I started looking for ways to stretch our family’s budget. I got really involved in the couponing community, and someone there mentioned secret shopping. I signed up with ONE scheduling company (I had no idea there were more!) and picked up an occasional job here and there, all with the same MSC. I enjoyed it, but it was so sporadic that it gradually fell off my radar and I stopped doing it.

Then, over Thanksgiving weekend last year, I received an email from the scheduler sending an emergency request for a shopper in my area with a highly bonused shop at a casino. They must have been desperate and reaching way back in their files, because by that point, I hadn’t done a shop in over 2 years. I couldn’t turn the money down, so I jumped back into the mystery shopping world.

I realized that this job was with a different MSC than the one I had worked with in the past, so I started wondering how many other companies were out there. That search led me to the Mystery Shop Forum, which has given me an amazing education in this field.

What was your first assignment and how did it go? My first assignment was an oil change at Jiffy Lube. It went well, but I was so nervous! I felt like I was wearing a big neon sign that said “mystery shopper”. In retrospect, it’s funny because now I think oil change shops are some of the easiest to blend in and act like any other customer.

What is your favorite type of assignment? I love casino shops! I live in an area with a high density of casinos, so I have lots of options. They pay well, they are fun, and if I bring my husband along, it is a great date night. Many of them have excellent restaurants that are included in the assignment. I do admit, some of the reports can be tedious, but I have done so many of them now I have the writing process streamlined.

What kind of assignment haven’t you tried out yet? I have not tried out a targeted apartment shop, and I don’t think I ever will. It just doesn’t suit the way I shop – I have a full time “real” job and two small children. I don’t have the kind of flexibility that would allow me to drop everything and get to an apartment because the target is available. I need mystery shopping to fit my schedule, not someone else’s!

What’s your #1 tip for other shoppers? Keep excellent records. You need them for taxes, plus having everything in writing helps you easily figure out which companies are slow (or no!) payers, when bonuses are likely to show up, what a company is willing to pay for a job, and a ton of other important information.

What is your biggest pet peeve with mystery shopping? Some of the reports are ridiculous! I get especially irritated when a report requires you to write out in a narrative something you’ve answered in a multiple choice question. “Was the sink in the restroom clean?” Yes! What else is there to say about that?

What’s your favorite MSC? Informa. I like the assignments, fair pay and the schedulers are some of the best I’ve worked with by far.

MSPA Certification: Silver

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