Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mystery Shopping

I have been a secret shopper for more than 20 years. I started doing it because I wanted something fun to do. Over the years I've done a lot of shops, everything from fast food, eyeglasses, eye exams, gas stations, hotels, bars, restaurants, retail, movies, and more. Sometimes I go long periods of time without doing any shops, and sometimes I do a lot of shops.

Right now I'm doing lots of shops. You will never get rich from mystery shopping, but you can eat and be entertained for free, and get a little cash with it, too.

If you want something fun to do, too, here is some information on the companies I shop for most frequently.

It's also, sometimes, a little bit of an acting job. You can be an entirely different person on some of these assignments, and some of them even require you to use an alias. Back in the early 1980's a friend and I had made up a fake name for me or Loretta Pomegranate. Unfortunately, I have never been able to use that for a mystery shop 'cause it's too obvious. I told Jim that he should be Pete Moss. That one cracks me up! (Jim doesn't think it's all that funny.)

How this works:
You sign up as a shopper. The company collects information from you, such as your name, social security number (they need it to pay you), address, your age, etc. Some also ask you about the equipment available to you (i.e., cell phone, digital camera, fax, scanner), and about your likes and dislikes, or your shopping habits or preferences. Some will ask you to provide a writing sample.

There is also a certification process from the MSPA -- Mystery Shopping Providers Association, the professional association for mystery shoppers.
That's also a great Web site to look for to learn the basics and what to look for so you don't fall victim to a fake shopping company or other scammers.

The MSPA also offers a certification. Becoming certified also lets companies know that you are not just some random person, and it adds credibility to your skills. You can get the silver certification online fairly quickly, and you can get the gold certification at a workshop or you can get the DVD from the MSPA and do it at home. Be sure to save your receipts for your taxes!

Okay, now on to my list of favorite companies to shop for. I get brownie points or $5 for some of these referrals, so please say that I referred you. (Kathleen Noland, and my email address is kathleennoland @ Or send me an email and I can send you a referral link for some of these companies.

Jancyn -
then click on the "Shop for Jancyn" tab or on the Shopper FAQ
For this company, I have done fast food and casual dining shops. They also have retail shops. This company reimburses quickly, so you will only wait a few weeks to get reimbursed and paid.

Bestmark -
then click on "Become a Shopper"
I have done clothing retail, fast food, casual dining, and fine dining shops for Bestmark. I have also done Web inquiries and phone inquiries for them. They also pay/reimburse quickly.

MarketForce -
MarketForce has a large variety of shop-types, including fast food, gas stations, audits for compliance, merchandising, movie theater checks, promotional materials installation, retail, etc. They can keep you busy, and their reimbursement and payment process is also quick. In addition, they offer direct deposit, which makes it even faster.

I am signed up with 36 additional companies. You can find a list of legitimate companies on the MSPA Web site. There is also a lot of information on the industry there, so you can educate yourself.

Be sure to read your shopper agreement and look at the FAQ's. You'll get a lot of information there.

If you want referrals from me, just email me and let me know!

Today, we are having a free dinner, and I'm having a free massage. That's how we're gonna do it!


  1. I like eating for free, so does the isle of belly.(It shows.) Not to sure about the free massage. Course, maybe the isle of belly could use a good belly rub.

  2. I'll have to check this out, Kathleen! Thanks for the heads up!!

  3. Liz, if there are places you want to shop, let me know and I'll see if I know which company shops them.


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