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Mystery Shopping: Can You Really Get Paid to Shop? Grad Money Matters

™Part fun, part spying – mystery shopping has held its allure on the masses since the 1940′s. ™What started as a means for companies to keep tabs on employee integrity has evolved into a $600 million dollar industry in the US alone.

™If you would like to explore one of the most intriguing money making ideas where you can get paid to shop, then this series of articles is for you. y

™In this first segment, we will help you determine if y you are cut out to be a mystery shopper.

™If you think this is the right option for you then check out the other articles in you, the mystery shopping category to learn more about avoiding g scams,, finding g legitimate companies and much more. ™Prerequisites you really y want to become a mystery y y ™If y shopper, you’ll find these qualities advantageous as you build your reputation –

™The ability to manage your time, money, and records effectively ™The ability to write clear, grammatically correct reports reports, using correct spelling. spelling ™The ambition necessary to seek out shopping assignments, rather than waiting g for them to come to y you ™People skills

™A good memory; you can’t take notes during a mystery shopping trip ™A credit card; although you can usually pay for your purchases with cash or check, some (particularly those in higher-paying g p y g jobs) j ) may y be expensive. p As you may have to wait a couple of weeks for your company to reimburse you, a credit dit card d could ld prove useful. f l ™A computer, or easy access to one

™A cellphone or watch with a stopwatch function to time transactions when function, required ™Silver or Gold certification from the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers’ Assoc.). Again, g this is not essential, but it will g give you the advantage when it comes to landing assignments ™Clothing that will allow you to “fit in” at the places you shop

™The ability to give an honest, accurate assessment of your transaction, transaction without worrying that you’ll hurt someone’s feelings. g ™The ability, on occasion, to pretend to be someone y you’re not ™Patience and perseverance: it takes time and experience to work up to those posh shops ™A PayPal account

™Initial Investment ™Mystery shopping is a very affordable idea to try out. ™Assuming you have a computer and a couple of nice outfits already, already you will only need to spend money for certification from the Mystery y y Shopping pp g Providers’ Association (MSPA).

™Although certification is not (currently) required the MSPA materials provide required, valuable training, and the fact that you are willing g to invest time and funds into getting the certification shows potential employers that you’re serious, knowledgeable, and reliable. ™ At the time of this writing, Silver C tifi ti Certification costs t $15 $15, while hil the th Gold G ld Certification program runs $99 plus shipping and handling handling, as well as applicable taxes.

™How Much Can You Make? ™As with other money making ideas, ideas mystery shopping incomes vary widely, according to the type of assignment assignment, the quantity of assignments a shopper decides to take on, and the area of the country in which she is shopping.

™Most assignments pay between $5 and $15 for retail and fast food, food $20 $20-$40 $40 per shop for more expensive companies ((think car dealerships p and apartment p complexes), to as much as over $1,000 for evaluating an entire mall. ™If you are required to purchase an item (sometimes you’re not), you’re often given i a price i range; you will ill be b reimbursed for it later.

™Most shoppers make a few hundred per month not something you can live on, month, on but enough to claim that you get paid to shop. p ™Occasionally, in large urban markets, an experienced, motivated mystery shopper might be able to earn between $1,000$3,000 per month.

™When you consider the time spent, for a beginner mystery shopper, shopper the hourly rate of earning usually translates to less than the minimum wage. g ™If you don’t enjoy shopping then this may y not be the best money y making g idea for you. ™Advantages to Working as a Mystery Shopper ™There are many reasons why mystery shopping is a popular part-time occupation:

™You can set your own hours. ™ You can often shop with your children. children ™It takes very little monetary investment on your part ™Your efforts determine the amount of money you make. make

™Nice dinners, small items, and occasionally trips and amusements occasionally, amusements, all reimbursed ™The chance to go to restaurants and businesses which you may have overlooked ™You can often work as much or as little as you like. ™You may be asked to role-play by taking on another identity. ™Did we mention you get paid to shop?

™Disadvantages to Working as a Mystery Shopper ™Of course, as enjoyable and convenient as it sounds sounds, being a mystery shopper does have its drawbacks: ™You can make a nice supplementary income from mystery shopping, but you will not be able to support your family on it. ™The volume of assignments you’ll need to do to bring in good money can lead to burnout.

™Constantly eating out for assignments can lead to weight gain. gain ™It may be difficult to find high-paying, or a large volume of, of assignments in small cities, towns, or rural areas. ™Competition for jobs may be steep, as many people find the idea of mystery shopping intriguing.

™You will need to keep detailed financial records for tax purposes. purposes ™There are many mystery shoppingrelated scams out there; you you’ll ll need to be smart and savvy not to fall prey! ™If you are a shopaholic, this job is not a way to feed your addiction for free. Find something else.

™Services Offered ™Your mystery shopping job can take any form you wish. ™You can specialize in restaurants, restaurants clothing, retail, residential services, or other areas (although you may have to prove your abilities doing low-end work before you can move on to high-end companies).

™You can become a scheduler for a mystery shopping company, company managing other shoppers. Mystery shoppers have gone on to form their own companies, g p , to writing mystery shopping guides, and to run websites and training programs to help those who want to enter the field. f Mystery shopping is one of those money making ideas that can turn into a full blown dream career.

™urther Info ™To get started as a mystery shopper, shopper start by visiting the websites of MSPA member companies. companies ™Then follow their (reputable) links in order to register with company websites. Be sure to register with more than one; it’s allowed, and you’ll be able to pick up more assignments than you would from one company alone.

™When you do go to register, follow this cardinal rule: never ever register with a site that asks for money, either to list you,, or to provide y p you y with “valuable materials.” p ™The MSPA code of ethics prohibits agencies for asking for payment to provide listing services or job i f information, ti and d you can find fi d the th “valuable materials” for free online.

™Remember, too: if it sounds too good to be true, true it probably is is. Don’t Don t believe an ad that promises large pay for very little work. Mystery y y shopping pp g won’t make you y rich, but for a part-time job that allows you to provide useful services for a little money and a lot off fun, f it’s a great choice! ™G d money matters ™Grad tt ™

Mystery Shopping Can You Really Get Paid to Shop