Everyone loves easy money…and I’m no exception. When I first heard about mystery shopping I was intrigued. I would get paid to go to different locations, interact with some people, and get paid?! Awesome!

I joined my first mystery shopping company over a year ago, and since then I have completed a few assignments but not a whole  lot. Why? Because I’m picky. First of all, I don’t take every job that comes my way. I sometimes question this…shouldn’t I be taking every opportunity I can get? I can’t tell if I’m being lazy, or if I am really working this well. Either way, there are several things I look at when accepting a shop.

1. Distance. For example, I’ve received at least 8 offers in the past to do a shop for a particular client. One of the stores happen to be at a mall that is less than 2 miles away from my house (I always pick this one if its still available). The other store is in mall that is closer to 10 miles away. I’d need to disrupt my schedule to go to the mall that is farther away, and for that reason I haven’t accepted them. For a $15 shop, is that reasonable?

If I must get technical, lets say I get 25 miles per gallon. At $4.10 per gallon that is $.164 per mile. So I’d be spending $1.64 to get there, leaving $13.36 as my take home amount.

2. Requirements. I remember I got an offer for one shop a few times that was for $20. I thought that was pretty good since I was getting mostly $15 shops. However when I read the guidelines I saw that there was a whoooole list of things you had to memorize (mostly questions) and you had to have some kind of technical understanding of the product you were asking about (too technical for me). The shops I’ve done in the past are about observing the surroundings and how an employee treated you, or looking for a particular display in a store. This just seemed like too much for me. For $20 it didn’t seem like much of a payoff.

3. Purchase Required/No reimbursement. I’ve done a few breakfast shops that required me to purchase a meal, however they reimbursed whatever I spent. That I’m fine with. I’ve gotten several offers for a client though that require you purchase something, but they only reimburse $3 and they pay $10. In the description they don’t say what you have to purchase, so I don’t know how much it is going to set me back. I don’t feel comfortable with accepting these shops. 

There’s also a certain mystery shopping company that requires purchases on ALL their shops and they don’t reimburse. That means you’d have to go back after 30 minutes and return it. I hate returning things when I actually need to, much less in this situation! Plus that eats up into the time required to complete a shop. They are no longer $15 for a 30 minute shop….it turns into $15 for an hour or more, plus the hassle of explaining to the shop why you changed your mind 30 minutes later, lol. Nope, not worth it in my book.

Now, if you were planning on shopping in these stores anyway that’d be a great deal! Get paid to go buy something you needed anyway? Nice! However I don’t need any of this. One store was a sneaker store, another is a regular shoe store (no cute heels), another is a brand-name purse store (I don’t need a $300 bag). Lately I’ve also been getting offers to do high-end retail. However they require a $300 purchase, and only pay $15. The other day I also got an offer for a designer clothing store that paid $75…but they required a $1500 purchase!!!!! Thats a lot of money! Plus that mall is a good hour away.

4. Insufficient information. This is one of my pet peeves. Some companies only give you the date due, the pay, and the location. I very much dislike it when I can’t read the guidelines for the shop before I can accept it. How do I know its not going to involve an insane amount of work? lol. I haven’t accepted any of these yet (most of them require purchases and returns), but if I do I’m going to just have to take a leap of faith and try one out. If I get screwed, then I guess I won’t do it again, lol. I think I’ll be ok though.

Don’t take this post the wrong way, I actually really like mystery shopping. I’ve gotten to know my way around the city a little better, I look at customer service differently, and I’ve made a few extra bucks. I could definitely be making more money, but up until now I’ve been pretty selective. Companies vary from one to the other (in the type of shops they offer, and how often), and it varies a lot by your geographic location I’m sure. So try it out, like Krystal you could possibly find some sweet deals! I also know that at Spilling Buckets they’re also giving mystery shopping a try.

One of the questions I do have, for those of you who have tried it, do you give your SSN to every company? For some reason this is something that I’m nervous about (what with identity theft everywhere), and so its limited the number of companies I’ve signed up with. What do you all think about that?

Also, how selective are you with choosing which shops you accept? (Or how picky would you be if you did any mystery shopping?)


[FYI: A factor that some people would look at is the amount of time they take to pay you. For some reason I haven’t really looked at this. Some companies pay really quickly (1-2 weeks) and others take over a month. I don’t seem to mind either way. ]