Nowadays, all industry sectors employ mystery shoppers – retail, automotive, financial services, hospitality, property, call centres, public services, travel and even the voluntary sector – so there’s a huge range of work available.

If you become a mystery shopper you could be enjoying a weekend break one month and phoning a call centre to complain about your gas bill the next. You don’t need any formal qualifications to be a mystery shopper – but you do need to have good observational skills and a good memory.

Most mystery shopping agencies ask that you don’t write notes or make what you’re doing obvious while you’re ‘on the job’, as it can affect the way you’re treated by the staff. The company’s main objective is to get an impartial experience. Mystery shopping is very flexible and not usually suitable as a full-time job, but it can be good to fit around other jobs in your life.

 

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DIFFERENT TYPES OF MYSTERY SHOPPER JOBS

Report-only mystery shopper

This is the most common option. You’ll be given a brief and a checklist of things to look out for. You need to follow your instructions (without letting anybody know you’re testing them), evaluate the response and then provide feedback, usually by way of an online questionnaire.

Telephone mystery shopper

If you don’t trust your acting skills you might prefer to stick to the phone – there’s plenty of work available. You’ll be given a company to call with a host of questions that a typical customer may have. Again, you’ll need to assess the response and provide feedback.

Postal monitoring
This one requires minimum effort. Your home address is simply used for receiving brochures and other promotional material. You return the items, and the content and speed of delivery is measured.

N.B. don’t be conned by ‘mystery shopping’ scams that get you to receive money into your bank account and then send most of it on to a foreign account to ‘test’ the money transfer company. These are totally bogus and should be avoided and, ideally, reported to Actionfraud. Be careful only to use the mystery shopping agencies we mention on Our site so that you are not scammed.

Email

You’ll be sending specific enquiries to websites and monitoring the speed and content of the response. Again, you’ll need to assess and then pass on your findings.

Covert video mystery shopper

This is specialist stuff and only for well-trained shoppers. Essentially, you’re given a brief; you enter the premises as a customer, and then you record the entire process using covert video cameras. Companies need clear pictures, so don’t go for this if you record your feet at family events!

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HOW TO GET INVOLVED AS A MYSTERY SHOPPER

Step 1: Find the right mystery shopping agency for you.

Sign up with a few of the many mystery shopping agencies around. Details are on our Higher Paying Page.

Some specialise in specific industries, others are more general. You could try investigating the major department stores – Selfridges for example has its own mystery shopping panel.

You should be looking for the ones you’ll get the most out of, whether that is the pay you receive for the jobs you do, or the freebies you get from the places you inspect.

Step 2: Go out in the field.

Once you’re accepted to your chosen agency, you can begin looking for jobs on their website.

This is the hard part! You need to go and shop – or eat – or enjoy a show – but the main objective is to follow your instructions exactly, without having the instructions in front of you.

You’ll need to report on products and services, which can include anything from aspects of the decor, cleanliness, atmosphere, how the staff deal with other customers, how many staff there are and what they’re all doing.

Step 3: Reporting on your mystery shopping experience.

This will usually involve filling in a questionnaire with short or longer answers about your experience as a customer.

You’ll only get reimbursed and/or paid after you’ve reported on your job. This is usually done within 24 hours of your assignment.

Pay rates differ from company to company and depend on the complexity of the work.

Generally, you can expect to earn £5 – £35 per task plus expenses (but as little as £1 – £5 for phone work).