After my last post I realized it might be helpful to explain exactly what a mystery shopper is. I assumed it was something everyone was familiar with and I think that's what happens after working in retail for so long.
Many customer service oriented companies, particularly retail stores, restaurants and service places like auto and other repair shops, rely on honest feedback to evaluate the kind of service and performance being given by their employees. One of the best ways to do this is to have their company mystery shopped. A mystery shopper is someone who will go to these businesses, pose as a regular customer, discreetly evaluate the service and then report their experience to whoever hired them. The shopper works as an independent contractor and is paid for each evaluation completed.
The pay is very small. Anywhere from $10 to $60+ per assignment depending on each company and your experience. Most companies reimburse you for your small purchase so you might get to keep the item for free. You are almost never reimbursed for gas. It's something many women like to do as a way to supplement their income or to just get paid for doing something they enjoy. Most of us love shopping! It's rare that anyone can make a living mystery shopping but if you can work it into your normal routine and driving routes it could work for you.
It can be fun and rewarding but the down side is that there are tons of scams out there so if you're interested in becoming a mystery shopper you need to do some research. One good resource I found is Mystery Shopping Providers Association. There is a lot of info on their site.
When I worked in retail we were often given warning that we might be mystery shopped on a particular day. So naturally everyone was on their best behaviour and the department looked amazing. I don't know if it's still that way. I think it's better if the shops aren't aware of a mystery shopper coming in. That way you get a real sense of what it's like everyday and you can give a more accurate report.
I shop and eat out by myself a lot and for some reason I have been mistaken for a mystery shopper on a few occasions. I guess I'm just aware of how employees act when they think they're being mystery shopped and if I'm feeling particularly mischievous I might use that to my advantage (he-he). So I've had service that's so over the top sometimes it's hilarious and I can go back to the same place later, act a bit more 'normal' and they wouldn't give me the time of day!
I thought about doing mystery shopping years ago but it never went anywhere. However there are so many more resources available now, even books and certifications if you're really serious (again do your homework and watch out for scams). So I might seriously give it another go. I have put in a handful of applications and we'll see what happens. I left retail over 10 years ago but once a retail girl always a retail girl I suppose.
Hope you're having a great weekend.
For all you Once Upon A Time fans don't forget the Mad Hatter episode is tonight!