I came across a short video on the BBC news site entitled 'More Mystery Shoppers Among Us'. It's from last year, but not much has changed.
The story is from the UK, but we can surely relate to it in North America. The recession is encouraging more companies to use Mystery Shoppers, as a way to increase business through positive customer experience. If a company runs their operations at top quality then they can maintain and build customer relations. Thus, getting a foot hold up to the level, or surpassing that, of their competition.
Also, more people are looking to work as a Mystery Shopper. There are plenty of opportunities available to get into mystery shopping, as this form of market research will only become more popular with businesses. It is a great way for companies to improve their customer service image, using an unbiased opinion from someone believed to be an average shopper. No matter where you live, mystery shopping is a viable work option for you.
In this video, Working Lunch Reporter Rob Pittam chats with undercover Shopper Janet. He also speaks to Julian Chamberlain from Retail Active, and Sharon Matton from Center Parcs.
What do you think about what they said?
Though it happened a long time ago, and has never been brought up since, I still remember the scam that my family fell for.
Back in those days, before the World Wide Web, telemarketing calls were probably at an all time high. You probably couldn't go a day without having the phone ring and the person on the other end wanting your opinion, your time, your money, your donations, or wanting you to claim a prize.
Speaking of claiming a prize, imagine my mom's excitement when she received a call that she won a $300 camera. I can't remember how much it was exactly, but back in the 80's it would have been quite the camera.
The catch was we would have to go to Washington state to claim our prize. We were living in a smaller city in British Columbia, so we had to trek over the border. So it was 3.5 hours to Vancouver, and then there was the highway border process, and then another drive to get to our destination.
I remember my family, and our relatives that journeyed with us, arriving to our destination, only to become circumvented by the handful of coupons we left with.
No camera. No expensive camera. No win. Scam. Joy.
In this day and age, what has shifted away from telemarketing scams has maneuvered into online scams. There is an abundance of junk we get in our email, on the sites that we visit, on the pop-ups we try and close. Trying to sift through what a legit win is versus a scam can leave anyone scratching their head.
Secret shopping isn't immune from the scams that are out there. There have been reports of scammers using the names of actual legitimate companies to get what they want - your money. So no wonder it's confusing and daunting when we want to start out secret shopping, but don't know which way to go. We want to avoid getting scammed, but we also want to go for the money opportunity. Trying to get one while avoiding the other is not an easy task.
Luckily, my secret shopping journey has been devoid of scams. But others have not been so lucky. There are various forms of secrets shoppers scams out there. Unfortunately, this has given the secret shopping field of market research a bad rap. You constantly here that secret shopping is nothing but a scam. It's frustrating to hear this, 'cause I'm a Secret Shopper. How am I getting those secret shopping jobs, if secret shopping is nothing but a scam? Does it mean that I'm a Scammer too? I hope not. I mean, my integrity wouldn't allow me to pursue such avenues. I assure you not all secret shopping jobs are scams.
So what is and what is not a valid secret shopping opportunity?
Bethany has had more jobs than you can count on two hands and two feet. Also known as "Queen of the Random Job", she has encountered enough lessons to know how to identify scams and find legitimate work.
Her excellent guide "I Got Scammed So You Don't Have To! - How to Find Legitimate Work at Home and Random Jobs in a Scamming Economy", is the go-to guide for identifying scams and finding legitimate work.
The book covers 4 essential areas:
Techniques of Scammers and Common Scams:
A behind-the-scenes look at Internet marketing essential for anyone who uses the Web and email. Here you'll learn not only the common scams, but also the tools needed to research companies and job offers on your own.
Making Money :
Over 170 companies, ideas, and resources to create your own business or side income from your talents, skills, and assets.
Get a Random Job :
Over 140 legitimate companies that offer flexible work environments, or hire at-home workers.
Creating a Business:
We can no longer trust our employers to take care of us! Now, non-entrepreneurs can develop a new mindset and open their hearts to the joy of small business ownership. This section goes over marketing tips, small business brainstorming, and provides resources to help get you started on the right track.
Here are some positive accolades this book has received:
"...breaks down scam information like I have never seen before."
"...gives a LOT of companies to work for, either as an employee or independent contractor."
"...probably one of the most informed and well written books for the up and coming entrepreneur I have read lately."
"I've been writing and freelancing online for years, but I found many tips and tricks in this book that were new to me."
I highly recommend her products to you, as she is a highly valuable and reputable secret shopping resource!
I've always been a big believer in doing the type of work that makes you happy. After all, if you are happy on the job, you will be happy at home too.
Often times you can figure out what type of work interests you, based on what does not interest you. Same goes when thinking about what you are good at (your skills) and what is important to you (your values).
Just like not every job out there is best suited to our interests, skills, or values, same goes with secret shopping.
I would not recommend becoming a Secret Shopper if any of the following 5 "You Enjoys" apply to you:
You are considering secret shopping as a full-time job that you can rely on to pay for your rent or mortgage, to cover all those bills, and still put money in your savings account. Heck, it would be nice to strike it rich!
-Secret shopping is for anyone that understands they cannot rely on being a Secret Shopper as their only source of income. You will have to think of secret shopping as something you do part-time, perhaps as a second or third source of extra income, or even as a hobby. There is nothing about secret shopping that will get you rich.
You really enjoy routine, you like knowing what time your shift starts and what time it ends, ahead of time. You like doing the same tasks and knowing what to expect. Predictability makes you feel good!
-With mystery shopping, you never know what you're going to get. You may be asked to shop at a certain time of day, or you may be asked to take a shop last-minute. You are essentially working "on-call", on an as-needed basis. No two shops are ever alike, so you have to be open-minded to doing a variety of shops, and different reports (especially if you are a Mystery Shopper with more than one company).
It's important for you to get a job done quickly, 'cause you feel the more you take action, the better off things will be. You feel that details slow things down. It's all about quantity over quality for you. You're a believer in getting things done, as opposed to planning in advance.
When you think of why companies trust Secret Shoppers to evaluate their customer service, it's because Secret Shoppers bring value to their observations and reports. Secret shopping is NOT about how you feel the store did, rather you are reporting EXACTLY what happened. It's up to management to then compare your observations with their goals, 'cause they know how they want to excel. You don't. This is why being very observant and detailed is important.
Having a boss available for your every question and having coworkers around makes you most at ease. You love the interaction of working with colleagues, and best of all you like having Supervisors that do the boring "financial stuff" and other paperwork.
When you're working as a Secret Shopper, most likely you will be an Independent Contractor. This is the same as saying you're self-employed. When you are working for yourself, you have to know to save for taxes, deduct expenses, and keep track of whatever details the "tax men" need. Also, you are doing reports alone from home, and have limited interaction with those you report to.
Everything but running errands and shopping.
Secret shopping is like running errands and shopping.
And of course, there are many more things you enjoy, just like there is much more to the reality of secret shopping. I feel I have provided the main things to consider if you want to get applying for Secret Shopper employment.
start secret shopping blog
Welcome to my blog on the information and advice you need to know to get started as a Secret Shopper! I love this work and would like to share my experience with you. :)