Author Topic: Secret Shopping  (Read 5479 times)

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SamiHami

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Secret Shopping
« on: April 06, 2013, 03:07:34 PM »
I think I'm posting in the right place; if not, Mods, please forgive me & move!

I'm always looking for ways to make an extra buck here and there, and to that end I've been doing a little secret shopping. Not making any significant money, but I do get a couple of free meals a month out of it plus occasionally a little bonus money as well. I thought it might be cool if we listed mystery shopping/secret shopping companies that we know to be legitimate. For my part, the two companies I currently shop for are:

National Shopping Service
Sinclair Customer Metrics

I've also heard (somewhere else on ehell) about Bestmark, so I've just signed up for them today.

What about you? Know of any that are legit that you'd like to share? Could be fun and give us all (that are interested) a chance to make a few extra bucks.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Syrse

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2013, 06:29:27 PM »
I have absolutely no idea what secret shopping is. Can someone give me the footnotes?

Luci

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2013, 06:44:43 PM »
I know what secret shopping is, but I would like details!

Do you have a list? Do you pay for stuff and return it, or do the companies give you a credit card and return it for you? What about consumables? Restaurants? How long and detailed are the questionaires you answer? Do you name the service people?

So, you want help, and here we are asking questions of you!

JD5351

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2013, 07:54:35 PM »
I use Shoppers Critique. I've been with them for a long time. I do shops here and there. Not a ton of money, but it's extra spending money.

I do apartment shops sometimes. They'll tell you an apartment complex to go to and pretend to be shopping for an apartment. You'll tour the apartment..Ask questions and then report on the professionalism of the associate you speak with.

I also do phone shops..Where I'll call specific businesses and make sure they're giving the proper information. Example, one shop I called was to price tires for my car. They were required to give me the price, including extra services, tax etc. There were certain questions they were required to ask me, etc.

Sometimes they'll have shops where you have to buy something, and then you get reimbursed up to a certain amount.

I am doing a shop soon where I'll go get my oil changed, and then I'll be reimbursed for that.

It's kind of fun..It can be a lot of work filling out the reports, but the extra money and free goodies is nice.

WillyNilly

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2013, 09:58:27 PM »
I was the one who mentioned BestMark :)

How it works:
They have a list of "shops" in my area I can peruse online. If I see one I want to do, I click on it. The details are then sent to me.
Often its something like "go to Specific Store. Go to the camera dept and browse the digital SLR cameras. Note how long it takes for an employee to approach you. If no one approaches in 10 minutes, you must seek help. Did the employee seem knowledgable? Did they have a name tag on? Did they offer you any accessories? Did they try to close the sale or offer you a store credit card? " etc.

If a purchase is required its often specified, and is reimbursed. If I buy more, I will only be reimbursed what was offered (so if it says buy a beverage up to $3.00 and I buy a drink and a snack, I will only be reimbursed for the drink). Jobs pay about $15-30 on top of the reimbursement.

photochick

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2013, 01:02:05 PM »
BestMark is good. I also use Corporate Research International (they were my first) and MarketForce. I love MarketForce's mystery shopping but I'm not currently very thrilled with their merchandising side of the company.

I also love phone shops, they are great for when I have the kids home. Just close the door and tell them to be quite.

WillyNilly answered how it works but I just want to point out that all your expenses are your own and you have to wait to be reimbursed. Most questionaries are between 5 and 10 minutes long (maybe 15 minutes when you first start out?) and usually about 5 minutes in my car filling out the survey right after the shop so I don't forget.

Just remember you are an independent contractor so all expenses are your own.

My tip: Only take shops that are either worth the product or the fee. If you don't cook don't take a shop at a kitchen supply store that includes a low fee and high reimbursement. If it's a food shop make sure it's a place you like the food because you do have to eat it. Make sure you add up the reimbursement and shop fee and set a level you feel comfortable at. I won't shop for less X dollars because that will cost more for gas my time. (Think of it as I'm worth X dollars an hour.)

FYI you are an independent contractor so you are supposed to pay taxes on this money. I'm not going to say if you should or not but I do run it like a business and if anyone wants tax/organization tips just PM me.

twiggy

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2013, 03:31:28 PM »
This is a neat thread. What are phone shops? Are they just jobs available with various companies, or are there specific companies that only do phone stuff? That sounds the best to me since I've got the kids at home, but I'm usually returning calls during naptime anyway
In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Szasz

JoW

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2013, 06:45:48 PM »
Be very very careful when you look for Secret Shopping jobs.  There are some good ones, but there are also some scammers. 

One scam, they send you a check to deposit in your bank, then test Western Union by wiring most of the money back to them.  The wire clears instantly.  The check bounces and you have to give all the money back to your bank and you have to pay a bad check fee.  The scammer cannot be found.

Another scam, you buy merchandise with their money and ship it far away.  Again their check bounces and they have vanished. 

SamiHami

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2013, 09:06:03 PM »
Yeah, that's why I started this thread; I thought if we posted companies that we actually know to be legit we could help each other out & avoid the scammer companies. I know it's nothing to get rich on, but a few extra dollars or some free merchandise is always welcome. I know my DH and I both enjoyed the freebies we already get from the companies I already shop for. I'm hoping to make enough, maybe, to set aside and save up for something special. What that would be I don't know...maybe put it toward Xmas or maybe for some little luxury.

I've signed on for the companies listed here so far...I hope we all are able to do some happy shopping!

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

WillyNilly

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 11:33:32 AM »

RebeccainGA

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 11:39:43 AM »
The ones photochick mentioned are the ones I use (BestMark, MarketForce, Corporate Research International), and I also do TrendSource, GapBuster, and Second To None. They all have their pluses and minuses - so totally agree that you have to either get a great shop fee or really like the product - I was doing so many Sonic and McDonalds shops for a while there, I was SO burnt out on the food, and there are a couple of shops I won't do anymore (too many photos that have to be *just so*, even if the condition is impossible to get in a photo, and shops rejected unpaid because of it). I've done just about every kind of shop these companies offer - phone, internet shops, e-mail shops, buy and return, consignment sale, eating, etc.

Other tricks I've learned (we used to do a LOT of shopping - haven't had time to do it much since we moved to Atlanta) - try to group your shops geographically, and ask for distance bonuses if it's a long way away. I used to get a distance bonus for a shop in City A, another bonus from another company for City A, and a third bonus for City B, which was on my way home from A, from a third company. Sometimes it meant I spent all weekend in my car, bouncing from shop to shop, but when the pay came in, I'd have made $200-300 in a month, had lunch on the company twice, bought groceries and reimbursed for them, had a new sweater and some lawn fertilizer, and all of it essentially free to me.

Also - remember that this is a JOB and not just for fun, so take it seriously, or you risk not getting paid. print out your questionnaires, and fill them out in a parking lot nearby after your shop. Get a folder and clip receipts/notes  to the questionnaires. Take twice as many pictures as they as for. Get names, even if you're not sure you'll need them, if you can do it without getting 'caught' as a shopper. Have a convincing back story for your scenario.

I loved shopping professionally. I wish I had time for it again. We had a friend that lost her job, and using some savings for 'seed money' for her first month's shops, and saving part of each month's shop money for seed money for the next month, she was able to make enough to cover her salary. She was working 8+ hours a day, 6+ days a week, though.

Good luck if you get started - and feel free to PM me if you have any questions. 

Sweet_Thang

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2013, 02:23:12 PM »
I don't do any secret shopping, but I do participate in PineCone Research, which you get paid for doing surveys.  And sometimes you might receive product to test.

I have available invites if anyone wants one.   just message me.   

blueyzca01

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2013, 02:25:24 PM »
I agree with MarketForce.  I've stop doing them because they seem to be stuck on McDonald's shops (at least in my area).  I ate so many Quarter-Pounders w/ cheese that I physically got ill.
But the company was very good to me for a few years.
No one ever says, "Why me?!?!" when something good happens.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2013, 03:03:23 PM »
I tried it for a while, but decided it just wasn't worth it.  I worked through two legitimate companies, but one only paid me after seval months of hassle and the other never paid me at all :-/ (Most shops require some proof you actually showed up - a photo of your receipt, a product number from a particular display, a photo of the store in a specific way, etc.  The one I never got paid for was because the clothing store was a huge mess and didn't have the correct items out in their display.  I gave an honest review - including the fact that their display didn't have the product the store said it should - but they refused to pay me because I didn't include the product number from a pair of shorts that *should* have been there but weren't.)

I still get the emails from the one who did pay eventually, but the only secret shop they do near me is an upscale restaurant.  It is good food, but since I can't bring my kids along with me, I'm not going to sign up.  A secret shop is too much work for a fancy night out!

Both companies did go to prepaid debit cards - when you do a shop, they reimburse you electronically onto the card.  If you secret shop a lot, you could just use the card for all your purchases and you wouldn't be out of pocket after the first one.

In my experience, though, very few of the shops actually paid enough to be worth the time.  Papa Johns has secret shops available all the time - but you have to take a zillion pictures, cut the pizza a certain way, let it cool, cut it again, take more pictures, and THEN you can eat it once it's cold.  and IF they decide your pictures are the exact way they want them, you get reimbursed for the pizza (and nothing else).  Each new secret shopping store also requires you to watch a video and take a quiz before you're even allowed to see if there are any available shops in your area or what they pay - meaning you will spend several hours watching videos for shops you only later find out pay peanuts.  The apartment and the restaurant shops were the only ones that really looked worthwhile in a time-for-money way.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 03:07:14 PM by Slartibartfast »

SoCalVal

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Re: Secret Shopping
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2013, 09:51:55 PM »
I just signed up for one of these as a result of this thread and looked at one of the available assignments.  It sounded promising (pays $15 on top of reimbursement) until I saw that the secret shop cost could be up to $100 (you have to park in a commercial pay lot and pick up a multi-day voucher in advance from the home office).  You are also not to ask for a receipt (you may accept it if offered one).  I could see why the assignment is still available.  I'm certainly not willing to (nor can afford to) front as much as $100 and not get a receipt, not knowing if I'd get reimbursed for sure.