One of my absolute favourite ways to make extra money is mystery shopping. The work can be really varied and more often than not I get a freebie as well as being paid. I also love that it gets me out experiencing new places and trying new things. Market Force are my preferred agency for mystery shopping jobs as they have such a huge range of jobs available.
So what is mystery shopping?
I’ve written a little about how mystery shopping works in a previous post. The idea is that a mystery shopper will give a warts and all account of their experience with a particular company. The companies themselves will often apply to an agency for a mystery shopper to go into a particular outlet so that they can make sure their high standards are being met. The mystery shopper will often have instructions on what questions to ask and given a specific item or range of items to buy. The company will pay the agency a fee for the work and they will also usually provide a budget for any purchases. The agency then pays this to the mystery shopper.
Examples of a mystery shop with Market Force
I’ve completed a really wide range of jobs recently, from purchasing an item for the home from a well known high street store, to buying a snack from a food outlet. One of the key rules of mystery shopping is that you don’t reveal the client, but I’m sharing as much as I can about a couple of jobs I did to give an idea of the variety of work and the kind of things that are involved.
- Mystery pub visit. I’ve completed a few of these recently. They tend to involve ordering at least one main meal and a drink and I’ve been allowed to take one adult and child with me. They usually involve reporting whether the staff member offered any extras such as side dishes and desserts, reporting on the condition of the toilets, and taking a picture of the food. There is always a budget for the food & drink and a fee paid on top.
- Mystery shop in the home section of a well-know high street shop. This involved entering the store and browsing, making a note of how long it took for a sales assistant to approach me. I had to make an enquiry about a high-end item and then a smaller item, before making a purchase. My purchase was paid for and I received a fee too.
- Recording a phone call to a storage warehouse. I had to make an enquiry as though I wanted to book a unit within the warehouse.
When you first register with Market Force, you’ll be asked to define the areas you can work in, and the types of jobs you’d like to do. I’ve got a few different areas because I travel around a little to visit family. This means that if a job pops up near my Mum’s house, I can incorporate a mystery shop in too.
I did have “airports” ticked initially, but realistically I’m never going to be able to do a mystery shop at the airport so I’ve unticked it again. There’s no point being shown jobs I know I won’t be able to complete.
You’ll also be asked to complete a short spelling, punctuation and grammar test. This isn’t anything to overly worry about, it’s simply so that Market Force can be sure that you’re literate enough to complete the assignment questionnaires once you’ve completed a mystery shop. They’ll also ask you to make sure you meet their requirements of reliability, honesty and professionalism.
Completing your first job
Once you’ve been approved, you’ll have access to any mystery shopping assignments that match your set criteria. You’ll then be able to access the assignment notes and answer a couple of simple questions to ensure you know exactly what will be required of you. You then choose the date you’d like to complete the job and book it!
When the day comes, make sure you have another read of the assignment notes before heading out. I made the mistake of not doing this once and forgot to take a photograph of the storefront as I left. Fortunately, the client was OK about this, but if you don’t meet the requirements of the job, then you run the risk of not getting paid.
Make sure you note how long you have to submit your notes after completing the job. Some must be submitted by midnight the same day, whereas others my be noon the next day. Don’t miss your deadline!
- Make a note in your diary of any mystery shops you’ve booked in, it’s easy to lose track!
- Don’t mention your mystery shopping clients, this could breach the terms or your agreement.
- Be professional. Whilst you want to appear to be a regular customer, don’t forget that you’re being paid. Many clients will use CCTV to verify your visit.
- Log in regularly, jobs are added throughout the day and they’re allocated to the first to successfully apply.
- Ask for travel expenses if you feel it necessary. If you’re having to travel a fair distance and the job isn’t being allocated to another shopper, you may well find the client is prepared to pay. Market Force will often offer travel expenses to jobs they’re struggling to allocate too, they’ll do this via email so make sure to check your emails regularly.
And there you have it, my tips for making money as a mystery shopper with Market Force.
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