Personal Finance

Mystery shopping exposed – The other side of the hype

You’ve seen the ads touting how you can make a part time or even a full time income doing “mystery or secret shopping.” Some say you can make between $10 – $60 an hour or more. That is technically true. But it’s stretching the truth a bit. There’s another side of the story that most people neglect to mention. I believe everyone should know this side as well.

According to Mystery Shopping Providers Association website: Mystery Shopping is the practice of using trained shoppers to anonymously evaluate customer service, operations, employee integrity, merchandising, and product quality. You can mystery shop for practically any service or product you can think of.

First and foremost, there is NO need to pay for mystery shopping information. Mystery shopping information is available for FREE online. You just have to know where to find it.

Mystery shopping on any sort of regular basis is really for stay at home Moms, people who have plenty of spare time or someone with an extremely flexible schedule. Lots of notifications are for “emergency” or “urgent” shops which may need you to do it the very next day.

You MUST have internet access. You also must be intelligent. You will need to write out your reports and you have to be able to articulate your observations well.

The hardest part about getting an assignment is to get that FIRST one. The trick to getting selected is to SELL YOURSELF in your reply.

With many shops you must pay out of your own pocket first then wait to be reimbursed. That’s not always the case, but it’s quite common. Many companies pay you the following month and it can take up to 45 days. So if you need the money you’re spending to do a mystery shop to pay the bills, DON’T do it.

The most time you will spend associated with a mystery shop is in filling out the report/survey afterwards. It will take you over an hour to complete the survey if you are just starting out. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not being truthful. Something very important that gets conveniently left out is if you don’t fill out the survey ‘correctly,’ your report may be rejected and you will NOT get paid.

Those stories about people making over $7,000 in a month doing mystery shops are anecdotes. They are few and far between. The truth is that you will earn far less. It is true that you can make $10 – $60 an hour doing mystery shopping. But…you may not get more than one job a week or a month for that matter. The reality is that you might make between $50 – $100 a month when you first start out. If you stick with it, you can make several hundred dollars a month or more by doing multiple shops. To make any decent money, you’ll need to do multiple shops in a day. And the longer you stay with it, the more money you’ll be able to make.

You’ve heard all the hype, now you have the other side of the story. It’s easier to make an informed decision when you look at the whole picture. You’ll now know what to expect going in, and you won’t have to learn through the school of hard knocks like so many others have.

About the author
Cynthia Alexander has been mystery shopping for several years. She has written a detailed report on the subject. In the report she reveals insider tricks, tells where the highest paying jobs are and gives a website that lists hundreds of mystery shopping companies and best of all, it won’t cost one penny to sign up. Go to to download the FREE report.