Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is Mystery Shopping Worth it?

 Amanda asked if mystery shopping takes a lot of effort.  The answer is- YES.  Some companies will make you jump through multiple hoops for the privilege of requesting a time-consuming shop with little reimbursement.  Other companies may make the forms very complicated and send your reports back for revisions multiple times for obscure details.  Still worse, some companies are known for creating excuses to avoid payment.  Those are the companies to avoid!  The companies I am listing here I have personally worked with and have found to be reputable.  Before signing up with a company you haven't heard of before, do some research.  Mystery Shop Forum is a great resources for checking out companies.

Mystery shopping takes more time and effort in the beginning, but after you have done a shop a few times it is quick and painless.  Here is my weekend's shop recap to give you an example:

Ben ordered Ribeye & Ribs - Yum!
Ben and I went to a local steakhouse for dinner on Friday.  It was our 5th time performing this shop, so I scanned the guidelines beforehand to make sure there were no changes.  During dinner, I took down some notes and times on my cell phone.  For the most part, though, I was able to enjoy the dinner and conversation with my husband while keeping an eye on the service and timings.  After, it took me 45 minutes to fill out the report - a little longer than usual because the service was lacking and that required explanation in the comments.  So, for about an hour of work we enjoyed a dinner out.

Yesterday, we had lunch at a fast food place that we shop several times a month.  I am so used to this report it takes me only about 20 minutes to fill out.  For dinner we went to a nice local pizzeria with a $50 reimbursement.  The report took me about 40 minutes to fill out.

Basically, the first time you do a shop it will not seem worth the time.  Just think of it as an investment.  As you begin to find the good assignments and repeat them again and again, it will be a much better deal!  I have had some bad shop and report experiences, and I've had some great ones.  Try some out- make note of the ones that work and the ones that don't.  For us, eating out isn't in the budget unless it is a mystery shop, so I'm happy to put in the work. 


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