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      31.12.2010 17:07
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      My view of becoming a mystery shopper

      After reading pages and pages of reviews on mystery shopping I began to get really excited and immediately signed up to Retail Eyes. I found them superb and within a couple of hours which involving setting up an account and providing them with a profile of myself I immediately had access to their portal.

      I did not have access to jobs straight away and was beginning to wonder that maybe it was not worth the effort. However after logging on a few times to see 0 jobs available I waited until the next day and checked at seven when I got up. To my amazement there was 102 jobs available. It seems that the earlier you check the better as it seemed to me that many of the jobs got uploaded overnight. As the day goes up there are less and less jobs. The jobs usually left are pubs, and airport ones where you need a boarding pass to be able to complete. Its good though if you are planning a holiday in the near future.

      I loved searching through the jobs but as I am on probation I can only pick 1 job before I can be accepted as a shopper. I will be carrying this out shortly. I wanted to click on all of them. It seems that once RE are happy with the completion of my first job this will then mean I can access them all and choose more than one.

      I have since signed up to a few other mystery shopping agencies but they have not been as efficient as Retail Eyes.

      After a few days I am now live on two other companies but no jobs are available as yet. Which I fee a bit strange as I live in a big city and expected there to be alot of assignments available. I guess time will tell.

      On many of the other sites I have signed up for there has been lots of tests involved which are very time consuming. I also have to complete a test for each client and 100% is the passrate. Its quite easy to get one wrong although you have usually three chances to get 100%. If you still dont get 100% then you can not carry out assignments for this client. I tried one half hour ago and failed the practice test. Will try again but seems like a lot of effort.

      I am looking forward to being an active mystery shopping.. As to whether it is worth it I guess time will tell.

      I have now completed two mystery shops and fully enjoyed them. Before accepting online I viewed the spec to see what the task is and whether I was able to complete. Once satisfied I gave the company a date I would carry out the task and I carry out. On my first visit I felt like I stuck out and that they knew who I was, but to them I am just another shopper.

      I completed the task and two a photo of the purchase as well as the receipt as requested and uploaded onto the available report on the website. I also had to complete a questionnaire on my experience. This in total took 20 minutes to complete. The payments then shows up as pending while with proof reading.

      If there are no queries, after a couple of days the payment goes from Pending to a date given when the payment will be sent. Payments are sent twice a month, usually the middle and end of month.

      I look forward to doing more Mystery visits soon..

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        12.08.2010 10:12
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        See text.

        I would just like to write a review on Mystery Shopping, having been on both the receiving end whilst working in a shop and the giving end (or whatsoever else the term for it is!) for a major shopping chain which I shall not name during the course of this review.

        What is Mystery Shopping?

        Well, as the name would suggest in a roundabout way it is somebody who works for a company (either directly or indirectly as we shall soon see) and goes and pays visits to their various stores or outlets to check up on a number of different areas that include some of the following:

        1. Staff attitude/ knowledge/ etc.

        2. Queues and/ or waiting times.

        3. Presentation of the shop.

        Who can become a Mystery Shopper?

        Anyone can!

        How can I get to become one?

        Well, there are two ways in which this can be done (and I have done it both ways). There may well be other ways to do it, but I have to apologise now as I do not know of any other way!

        The first is when I actually worked for a retail company on the shop floor, this particular company had various stores in different locations around the area. Some of us from different stores were asked if we wanted to become 'internal mystery shoppers', and visit other shops to judge their standards - this is what I meant by the above comment, when I said about directly being employed by a company to do this work.

        The other way I did it was through having a store card (for a different shop to the one that I worked for), and got an invite to become one of their mystery shoppers - so in effect, I was indrectly employed by the company as although it was done for them and in a way by them it was actually in fact conducted on their behalf by an external company. In order to join up, I had to go on to the website that they gave me; fill in my details, and then wait for 48 hours for it to be verified then they would e-mail will a list of shops that were in my area that I could conduct a visit on. Now, as the store in which I had a card from was a part of a much larger chain and group of shops I had a whole host of ones to choose from.

        Of course when completing the visit, you are nto allowed to take anything that would give you away such as a clipboard for writing things down on! What I used to do in order to remember things was to make out I was sending a text message (which in effect I was), but either save it to one of my files or re-send it back to myself again! Nobody is going to question you sending a text message, but some people (as in customers) may give you dirty looks if you keep on waking in to them!

        Once I had completed the visit, I then had to go home and and write a report after having been given a set format in which to do it and then submit it to the company for further examination. The findings of my report were then fed back to the shop in question for them to work on, although my identity was never revealed in case I had to do a repeat visit!

        What incentive is there to do this?

        Well, I got a small renumeration for each visit I made in order to compensate for them having taken up my time in order to help them improve their services. If you completed a certain number of visits, then you were also given a small bonus by way of high street shopping vouchers (normally around £50).

        I enjoyed doing this, and would do it again like a shot. I do believe that there are websites on the Internet that you can visit in order to join up and do this sort of thing as well, so if this grabs your fancy then I would seriously suggest that you look in to it.

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          19.05.2010 15:15
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          A good pocket money job.

          When my husband was made redundant a few months ago, I went into overdrive looking for jobs on the internet. It was while on the internet that I noticed an advert on the website of a nearby town council, for members of the public to register as mystery shoppers. Intrigued by this, I got in touch and gave my details, not really knowing much about what would be involved. To my surprise, a few days later, I was invited to a meeting to discuss mystery shopping assignments in the town.


          The company had recruited about fifty local people, all from different walks of life to mystery shop local services and organizations. We were given lots of information about the sort of work involved and what we would be expected to do. Our mystery shops could take one of four forms: Face to Face, Telephone, Postal or Internet.


          We were given assignment sheets with basic information about what they wanted us to do. This could be something simple, like popping in a local office for a leaflet, or more involved, like acting out a scenario. The scary part of the latter assignments was keeping "in character" and remembering your fake name and details. All very "James Bond"!


          We then had an evaluation sheet to rate things such as helpfulness and friendliness of staff, and how well the staff answered our query. The feedback from our research was used to improve public services and identify areas where staff training was needed.


          The nice thing about the mystery shopping was that I could fit it around my daily routine. It was fun to do, and made me a little bit of pocket money. I was paid in high street vouchers, and we earned £3 for face to face assignment, £2 for telephone and postal and £1 for internet assignments. We also were reimbursed any travel costs. The assignments were easy and quick to complete, only taking a couple of minutes, so it was quite a fair rate for very little work.


          After the project was finished, we were invited to a special meeting to show how the results of our research was to be implemented. It was a really good feeling to know my work was going to benefit people.


          The project I did has led to further work opportunities, which I find exciting and enjoyable. Mystery shopping is ideal for people who work part time or are retired or like me, stay at home moms, as the hours are so flexible. The training I have received looks good on my CV and I am hoping that my experience will lead to a career in research.


          I think mystery shopping would appeal to a lot of dooyooers. Just make sure that the company you register with is reputable, or get a recommendation from a friend or family member first. Have fun!

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            20.03.2010 01:18
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            Great way to earn some fun cash so do it

            A bit about myself:

            A victim of the recession I found myself being made redundant from my job at a bank and thinking what to do next. I needed something that was enjoyable and flexible and would generate some income. I've always been into looking at alternative incomes and mystery shopping had caught my eye a couple of times. In the past I've worked as film extra and been paid to attend focus groups so I thought why not give this ago.

            What is the catch?

            It's one of those jobs where most people think it's a great idea and are interested but never really do anything about it. The reason I find most people don't take it to the next level is because they think it sounds too good to be true or think there is a catch or they simply think there is a lot involved in apply for it. If it is something you're interested in doing let me start by putting your mind at ease and tell you there is no catch and anyone can do it.

            Of course you need to do your research as there are reputable companies out there but there are also scams or companies that will take money off you simply to supply you with a list of mystery shopping companies you could have got for yourself from the Internet. These days you can use sites like this or You Tube to get the dirt on a particular firm before making a decision. The golden rule is if a company asks you for money I normally find it's a con or a bit dodgy. I'm with multiple companies and I've never paid any of them one penny.

            What is Mystery Shopping?

            A tool market researching companies use to gather information and measure quality of services and products so it can be fed back to their client in order to improve their clients business and help with future training requirements.

            What is a Mystery Shopper.

            A Mystery shopper is normally someone who is employed by a market research company to pose as normal customer and to undertake various tasks like purchasing a service or an item. The results are fed back to the client via the market research company in the form of a questionnaire/report.

            How to I become a Mystery shopper?

            Although most companies allow you to pick your jobs if you want regular work you'll need to be flexible. This job normally suits a student, housewife, retired person or self employed. No experience or qualifications are required although most companies will ask you to take a test that normally involves answering questions on information provided on their website. This is normally followed by a dummy visit and feed back questionnaire, essentially it is to see if you can do the job.

            Most Mystery shopping companies have there own website so you can normally apply on line and you will have to fill out some sort of application form to register. Most of the time these just ask for basic information but there are companies that have more complex application procedures so it does vary.

            The best way to find a mystery shopping company is through a recommendation but failing that use the Internet to do your research. Like anything once you're registered with them it is hit or miss as to the amount of work you get. This will often be determined by your flexibility and the area you live in. If you travel into London in particular the city you'll find there are regular jobs but if you are rural or have time restrictions you might not get any work. Although some companies will email you when jobs are available most have a website where the jobs are posted and it's on a first come first served basis so the emphasis is on you to check the website regularly.

            What makes a good Mystery Shopper?

            You need to have good written English as most companies are very strict about grammar and spelling because your report will be seen by their client.

            You need to be reasonably good at role play and be a good liar but don't worry this comes with practise.

            You definitely need to be very observant and have a great memory. A big part of the job is remembering multiple details and sometimes complex scenarios.

            You have to be fast thinking and adaptable as sometimes even though you have a set brief to follow you might be thrown a curve ball and need to react quickly.

            You need to be able to blend in and not stand out so a bright green Afro and metal studs through your nose is probably not a good look for a mystery shopper.

            You need to be super organised as you may have several jobs for several different companies so you'll need to keep track of everything from doing job to sometimes chasing up the payment.

            You will need to have good attention to detail and be very accurate. Mistakes can lead to not getting paid or having them come back to you for clarification.

            You need access to a reliable computer, Internet, land-line, be reasonably computer literate and have the use of a digital camera and a scanner as often you'll need to take pictures and scan receipts.

            What is the pay like?

            Unfortunately it is not a highly paid job and it's is not really something you could do full time but it is possible to make a part-time living if you are registered with a lot of companies. The pay varies depending on the type of assignment and the company. The general fee is about £10 to £15 pounds sometimes this will include a reimbursement for a compulsory purchase and your travel allowance.

            Other companies can be more generous and pay your travel costs in addition to your fee. Sometimes you might not get a fee and it's just a reimbursement for of anything up to £50 for a restaurant of Casino night, very rarely will it be more than that unless it is a special assignment. You need to view this job as a hobby and it is great for subsidising your social life and a bit of pocket money but at best it would only provide a part-time income.

            Mystery shopper - Positive:

            Interesting and exciting work, you feel like a spy.

            A bit of extra cash and a great way of subsidising your social life.

            Allows you to experience things you never would have i.e. going to a casino.

            Sounds good when you tell your people.

            Some assignment will allow you to reward a staff member who has in your opinion offered you exceptional service. You will normally disclose your identity as a mystery shopper and hand them a coupon which they can redeem for gift vouchers. Believe me when you see there little faces light up it gives you a warm feeling in your belly.

            If the service is really bad the job allows you to give your opinion and hopefully change thing for the better. Again if someone has been really bad it really gives you satisfaction knowing that your report will probably get them into trouble.

            Mystery Shopping - Negative:

            The pay is not very good and sometime when you factor in travel costs and doing the mystery shop and filling out the report/questionnaire you can find yourself either out of pocket or earning below minimum wage.

            If you make a mistake and do not follow the brief this sometimes will result in you not being paid and even your reimbursement will not be covered.

            The reports/questionnaires can be very long and tedious.

            It is not easy work and you sometimes find you've got so much to remember that it take the fun out of the job.

            Sometimes Mystery Shopping companies will keep coming back to you for clarification on various question you have answered in the questionnaire and this sometimes can be weeks later and can be very annoying.

            Mistakes or not following the brief can lead to you not getting paid.

            My Final Thoughts.

            I've now been a mystery shopper for just short of a year and have registered with a few companies. As you can see in general there are more positives then negatives so it is a definite thumbs up from me. I've personally never had problems being paid on time and only on one occasion was I not paid for a job but that was down to my error. I've previously posted my opinion on Retail Eyes one of the companies I work for and will be shortly posting reviews on other companies that I work for so look out for them and have a read of my Retail Eyes Review and I hope this all helps you make a decision.


            I'd really appreciate it, if you could grade this review and feel free to give me any feed back or email me if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

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              21.11.2009 23:32
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              Fun work that will make a difference for companies and yourself.

              I have done mystery shopping now for the past few years and I enjoy it a lot. The main benefits of mystery shopping are:

              Extra earnings:

              Jobs typically pay between £5 to £100 or sometimes more. This is obviously dependant on what the task is. The best paying jobs tend to be in banks when you have to apply for accounts/mortgages/insurance etc but the applications always get cancelled by the company. The best paying job I have seen was a bank job for £90 and I once did a job for £75.

              When doing mystery shopping, please note that you have to pay tax on your earnings and therefore need to let the tax man know that you are doing self-employed work within 3 months of doing your first job.

              Freebies:

              Some jobs have fees only, however some have fees plus an amount to spend in the establishment which you can claim back. Therefore, the scope for freebies is great and it is always wise to buy something that is useful to you and that you may have purchased anyway. The supermarket and clothes shop jobs are the best for this. Sometimes you can also get your parking and/or mileage reimbursed. It is always best to read what the job includes in terms of payment as you don't want to overspend and end up with the job costing you. You can also get free meals by doing jobs at restaurants, however these don't usually include fees.

              You can choose your own work:

              Most of the time, you can view what the job involves before you accept it. It will also tell you when you can complete the job, how much it pays and any other info you may need. You can therefore decide if the job is worth the fee, if you can make it to the destination and if you are comfortable with what they are asking you to do before you accept it.

              The work is easy once you get the hang of it:

              Mystery shopping is simple once you get the hang of it. You need to make sure you always wear a watch so you can record accurate timings, read the briefing and questionnaire fully before you go so you can remember everything that you need to complete the job, remember all of the information that you need without writing it down whilst at the location and keep any receipts or other documents as you may need these to prove that you have completed the job as required.

              So, those are the main parts of mystery shopping. If you have some spare time and feel that you could complete work for some companies successfully then give it a go for some extra cash. And remember, it all gets easier after the first job.

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              04.11.2009 22:05
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              A great way to bag some extra cash, and maybe bag a free bag!

              I started mystery shopping about 6 months ago now and have loved every single "mission"!

              I do assignments for 4 different companies - Retail Eyes, GFK, Gap Busters and Grass Roots.

              All mystery shop companies work to the same premise. Basically you will be given a set of instructions that you will have to carry out. Maybe purchase something or ask a specific question, then complete a survey reporting you experience.

              - Retail Eyes -

              This is my favourite company as they always have a large selection of clients.

              * Who *

              With retails eyes I've done shops for Subway, Pumpkin cafes, Republic, Mortimers Bars and Pets @ Home to name a few!

              * Example shop *

              For my Republic (clothing shop) assignment I had to enter the store and browse the special offer sections and wait to be approached. If I wasn't approached within a certain amount of time I had to ask for help. You are normally given a set amount of time that you have to browse for before you approach a member of staff.

              I then had to try on a couple of different items in the fitting room, and whilst in there I had to ask for a different size or style.

              I then had to make a purchase.

              For this shop, I didn't receive a fee, but I was reimbursed £10 towards the purchase, so got a £14.99 top for a bargain £4.99!

              * Surveys *

              The surveys for retail eyes are always quite long and involve alot of typing work rather than just yes or no answers. So you need to make sure you pay plenty of attention to what is going on in the environment around you, and get your timings correct!

              * Fees *

              The fees with retail eyes are pretty generous. For most you will get the reimbursement for the item you are buying and a fee of between £3 - £7 for doing the assignment.

              You will have to upload a picture of your reciept to receive payment, and sometimes a picture of the shop you have visited.

              You are paid twice a month on the 10th and 25th straight to your bank - although they are not always reliable with payment and I sometimes have to chase.

              - GFK -

              * Who *

              I have mainly done banks - HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland although at the moment I'm doing a postal job where I have to make sure a letter arrives in time!

              * Example shop *

              Both of these have been a case of going in and asking a set question and making sure the place is clean and tidy and displaying the correct marketing material.

              * Surveys *

              Very much like retail eyes, with alot of detailed questions so make sure you pay attention!

              * Fees *

              GFK are pretty generous with there fees, £15 for wandering into a bank and asking a few questions! And the postal one is a small £1.50, but all I have to do is check my mail!

              These are normally paid on the 25th of the month, but I have been paid early on a couple of occasions.

              - Gap Busters -

              *Who*

              Mainly fastfood such as Pizza Hut and McDonalds (KFC also, but I don't like KFC)!

              * Example shop *

              With a Pizza Hut shop you have a list of things you have to order. In the past I've been in with the hubby and we've had a large pizza of our choice, a side and two drinks. There are certain things you can't have, such as pineapple on your pizza - have no idea why!

              With gap busters you have to pass an exam before you can shop for their clients, and this will show you things like a Pizza Hut picture guide, where they will show you examples of what they think is a genuine smile (as you have to rate this later on in the survey)! It also shows you the acceptable amount of sauce and "spreadage" on a pizza! All very technical but these are things you will have to take note of during your dinner.

              With gap busters as well they are hot on timings! They will give you various timing points and they have to be exact! I use a stop watch application on my iPod, so it looks like I'm just texting someone!

              * Surveys *

              The surveys for gap buster are very straight forward. Normally multiple choice with a couple that you have to comment on. But there are normally quite a few questions and they will have involved you paying close attention to a number of things during you shop!

              *Fees*

              You will always get re-imbursed for you meal, but the fees for doing the shop are very small - pizza hut is nothing and McDonalds is only a few quid, but hey, you get a free meal!

              - Grass Roots -

              *Who*

              I've shopped New Look, First Choice and some banks.

              *Example Shop*

              One of my latest was First Choice travel agents. I had to enquire about a holiday with a set budget. This seems quite easy but I was in the travel agents for about 40 minutes, so you have to be prepared to answer alot of questions about your likes and dislike and be prepared in cases like this to make stuff up! Like I've got £2k to spend! I wish!

              *Survey*

              Most of grass roots surveys are a mixture of multiple choice and comments. But they are nice and short compared to the other companies!

              *Fees*

              Fees are pretty low for grass roots when it comes to clothes shops. I was reimbursed £8 for a new look shop before which doesn't buy you much, but the travel agents was £12!

              -----

              So if you love shopping and giving your opinion then why not sign up to some mystery shopping companies.

              You just have to make sure you have a good eye for detail, a good memory and have to be prepared to "act" sometimes! But if you're looking for a bit of easy cash, give it a go!

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                27.05.2009 13:53
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                Checking out service offered by big companies.

                An opportunity for making money over the internet made flesh ... usually.

                The function of mystery shopping is to check out what its actually like to be a consumer of the goods/services that a company sells. You're commissioned by a mystery shopping company that you've applied to, and their client is the company that you then check out.

                I started doing mystery shopping about 18 months ago, as I realised that I had a bit of a shortfall in my finances. I've kept doing it for several reasons:
                - the money. Its not much, especially if you have to travel out specially to a place to do a shop - but you can often bunch shops together on one trip.
                - some, the phone calls for instance, are actually very well paid. When there's a big campaign on, an experienced shopper can actually make something like £20 an hour from these. They're few and far between, however.
                - the sheer weirdness of some of the things I've done. Want to pretend to be a destitute single mother? Want to enquire about cosmetic surgery? Want to pretend to work in a shop and go and set up their displays? Interview members of the civil service about their job?
                - a few of my jobs genuinely are pleasant - go try on clothes in a shop where the jackets cost £200 a throw, for instance; go sit in a really nice cafe and eat their food. Those are quite fun!

                It isn't really the breeze that the companies make it out to be. They will *not* pay you if you break any of the rules - those nice cafe jobs, for instance, I didn't get paid for the first one, although I'd done a very detailed report, I forgot to get a receipt. Its clearly stated that you must do this, but even so, a newbie will find the whole thing very difficult to remember, and then the thing has quite simply *cost* you money, not earned you any.

                Every job has notes - the scenario, which is who you're supposed to be. You have a list of what to check for - tidiness, cleanliness, stock levels, greeting, queuing, service, chattiness, efficiency, all sorts of things. And there isn't just one question in each of these categories - when you're asked about a queue, its often this sort of thing:
                - when did you join
                - when did you reach the head of the queue
                - were you acknowledged
                - how long did you queue, in minutes and seconds
                - did anybody leave the queue in front of you
                - how many people were ahead of you in the queue.

                How anyone can think its *fun* to answer questions about what is often a two minute queue is beyond me!

                The notes to a job have to be printed out; so does the questionnaire - the site will check their records on this. And you need them, of course, with this level of detail expected. You have to fill them in as quickly as possible - phone texts are recommended, if necessary, but personally I scribble on the back of an envelope, as if I was writing a shopping list. And if its a cafe or a bar, then the most natural thing in the world is to sit down and write at the table, no one would remark on that.

                And then there's the inputting. Each mystery shopping site has its idiosyncrasies. They all want you to use the 24 hour clock, for instance - but some sites want you to put a colon between the hours and the minutes, and won't let you progress till you do. You learn! Or you don't get paid, quite simply. You get used to the same questions being asked over and over again - what did we do that was right, that was wrong, summarise your experience, how did you feel, did anything exceptional happen - you can be asked all those questions about the same ten minute visit to a bank.

                Would I recommend it? Yes I would, even give the above review, which isn't exactly glowing. If you need extra money and can choose your own times, if you're computer literate with a fairly good memory, then the income can make a fair difference - my income for this month has been £60, for instance. It does add up.

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                  22.04.2009 21:37
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                  A great thing for extra income and to stop boredom!!!!!

                  I am unemployed at the minute and finding it very hard to find a proper job other than my agency work which is rare and hard to get, so any extra money really is a God send to us!! An extra £10 here and £5 there adds to our income and comes in very handy sometimes!! So when I was told about Mystery Shopping I thought I'd give it a go and sign myself up to some websites like Grass Roots, Quality Eye and Retail Eyes.

                  There are more sites than this, and if you go to MoneySavingExpert.com you are likely to find a large list of the sites! But only do it, if you really will enjoy the jobs, and your not only in it for the money...of course the money is a big part of the reason you'll do it, but, you need to be interested in what your doing and be aware that your going to be writing very detailed analysis of the visits you do!!!

                  Ok what is Mystery Shopping? I hear you ask...well....

                  Mystery Shopping is where a third party company (such as a pub, shop, restaurant) will employ a Mystery Shopping website, and give them "jobs", which are to be done within a certain time frame, to find out if their Customer Service is up to scratch, if their staff are polite, if their shops are kept clean, and if protocalls are been followed.

                  The Mystery Shopping site, will then post this "job" up on their site for all those who have been accepted to the site (many sites require you to pass short and simple tests to ensure your up to the job!) and you then get to choose which jobs are in your area and suitable for you- and they give you a brief which you need to follow; these are basically instructions of what you need to ask/buy etc.

                  You then visit the shop between a specific time and on a specific date, and do the job you've been told. When you've done this, you imput your answers (normally in the form of a questionnaire), this normally needs to be done within 24 or 48 hours of the visit, and you have to give evidence usually that you have been, in the form of a receipt or the names of the shops on either side of the location your visiting.

                  Once you've done this, your answers will be assessed by the client, and then all been well you'll be paid (either through BACS or cheque), payment varies, its normally £10- and you get a reimbursment (this is around £5 depending on what you have to buy!).

                  The jobs can sometimes be few and far between, but at times you'll get a few in one week, and they add up!!! But you can sometimes wait weeks before something comes up in your area!!! But I suppose it depends on where you live!!!! :-)

                  I have been on around 4 mystery shoppings assignments now, Specsavers, Vodaphone, a local pub, and Bodyshop...they've all been successful and I've recieved all payments on time! Both from GrassRoots and Retail Eyes (I haven't done any with Quality Eye as of yet as none have been in my area!!!) so I know those two sites are reliable!!! From what I remember, they both pay via BACS straight into your bank account which is good!!!!

                  I recommend Mystery Shopping to people who enjoy shopping, and enjoy reviewing!!!!!!!!! :-)

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                    04.02.2009 11:01
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                    Choose your jobs and companies carefully

                    I have been Mystery Shopping for about 12 months after following the advice on Money Saving Expert to make a bit of extra cash. I also spent a huge portion of my working life in retail so I consider myself to know what I am talkign about. Also this kind of work helps me keep my hand in the industry and use those grey cells to keep my skills fresh. I am signed up to a number of sites of which some are better than others. I will do a quick review of each.

                    GrassRoots

                    My facvourite mystery shopping site with the best rates and the most suitable jobs I think. So far I have mainly done high street banks through Grass Roots and have been paid £10- £40 for each visit. Grass Roots email you to let you know there are jobs in your area and I always find them pretty spot on, a lot of these sites consider your area to be anywhere within a ten mile radius which in London can be another world away! Grass Roots always offer me jobs within the village or the next town and give the choice of a couple of further afield ones. One issue I find is I don't think they have a quota of shoppers per area as lately I have found a lot of jobs going before I can access the site - I assume there is someone in my area who takes them all! Also you must be careful about meeting their quality control - I missed one once as I asked the 'wrong' question in a bank - nevermind that the question I was supposed to ask was ridiculous (ask for your balance at the counter? Who does this exactly?!) - I did the job but I didn't get paid for it. So watch out for that.

                    GAPBuster

                    Again I have belonged for about 6 - 12 months but this is a site I rarely use. They have hundreds of jobs and tend to email you to let you know there are numerous jobs available but it is more general than Grass Roots. You also have to complete an online training course before you can do some assignments such as Macdonalds. GAPBUster would be great if you wanted a free meal from KFC, Pizza Hut or Maccy D's but they don't pay a lot - they just reimburse you so it doesn't boost your income. I don't eat at those places so I don't bother. A money saver if you do though.

                    Retail Eyes

                    Again have belonged for a while but never done an assignment. They pay about £5 per job and reimburse your expenses up to a set amount. Most jobs I have seen on here are pub ones like Wetherspoons, and they are never in a convenient area for me so I don't have time to do them. Also they don't email you - you have to go onto the site and search for jobs each time which can be annoying as you can miss the good ones which come up.

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                    27.10.2008 16:05
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                    An enjoyable way to earn some extra cash

                    Mystery shopping is where a third party company asks you to come into a shop, perhaps, purchase and return an item and report back to them either via an online questionnaire or phonecall about how the members of staff dealt with you, and any request you might have made, what level of customer service you received and how clean and tidy the store was.

                    Being a mystery shopper is not a full time job. Often, you get assignments once or twice a month depending on who you are mystery shopping for and you can earn around £5-£15 per shop.

                    Its a good way of making extra cash and if you google Mystery shopping you should find several companies you can sign up to.

                    To be a good mystery shopper you need to have a good memory, recall names, features, record times and be able to stick to the brief you have been given and be as discriptive as possible.

                    I have mystery shopped for around a year now, I only mystery shop for companys which pay me the highest rate as a lot of my personal time gets invested into a mystery shop and I dont always think some payment incentives are worth it.

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                      19.10.2008 21:53
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                      Get paid for shopping, get paid for eating, get paid to be a mystery shopper!!

                      I have been a Mystery Shopper for 4-5 months now and I enjoy every aspect of it. Its great experience, especially if you want to work within retail or work in retail now as you can pick up a lot of things about customer service, etc.

                      ****What is a Mystery Shopper?****
                      A company pays you to go into a shop and makes enquiries and possibly a purchase (like any normal customer) and you then have to report back, mostly by web form or sometimes by telephone on the quality of the customer service you received. This company then reports back to the retailer with their findings, etc and they look at this to see how they can improve their customer service and who is not giving good customer service. Companies sales can drop due to a lack of good customer service, this is why companies pay people to pretend to be a customer to ensure the staff are giving out this customer service, which help's sales.

                      ****How did I hear about Mystery Shopping?****
                      I was looking for a new retail job and on a job search under the job search category I came across Mystery Shopping. I decided to have a look but there were no job vacancies available so I decided to go to Google and type in Mystery Shopper in the search bar. It came up with lots off different mystery shopping companies whom you can apply to become a mystery shopper with.

                      ****Why Did I Apply for Mystery Shopping?****
                      My job wasn't full time and I was also looking to earn some extra cash. The freebies weren't the most important factor to me. Working in the retail industry for over 5 years and receiving training on Customer Service Care, I know how important it is to customers to receive good customer service. I also know how customer service can affect sales to the business!

                      ****What does the job involve?****
                      You can accept/apply for any assignments you wish. Most companies will e-mail you, or send you a text when there are new assignments in your chosen area. You can then choose whether you want to accept the assignment or not. Its up to you what assignments you accept! You will get sent a brief and a questionnaire about the assignment, such as what time and date it has to be carried out on. The brief will tell you what to purchase (if necessary) and what questions/products you will need to ask/enquire about. For this job you need a good memory and you must be reliable, honest and work professionally. You must never reveal to anyone that you are a Mystery Shopper, you must act like any other normal customer. You normally have to submit your answers within 6-8hrs of the shop/restaurant visit!

                      ****What assignments could I get & how much do I get for them?****
                      I've been signed up as a mystery shopper for 2-3months and I have carried out assignments within clothing retailers, fast food & night-clubs. Prices can vary for each assignment, you can receive as little as £5.00 or anything up to £12.00! If you have to make a purchase for your assignment, they will reimburse the cost of the item or they will send you something so you can send them the item with the receipt. You may also get the chance to stay at hotels! My last assignment I got paid £12.00, you may think that doesn't sound a lot but I'm on about £5.00 an hour at my other job. To do this mystery shop assignment took me about 15-20mins, so I earned £12.00 in 15-20mins where normally in my retail job it would take me about 2hrs to earn that!

                      ****How many assignments will I get?****
                      This varies. Some assignments require people from a specific age group or maybe even someone with a family. This isn't full time work. Some companies you can look on their website and search and accept any assignments when you wish and when you please, but its on a first come, first serve basis, so you have to get in there quickly! I check websites every 2 days for any new assignments!

                      ****Do I need any qualifications to apply?****
                      You don't need any qualifications, it's a job virtually anyone can do, how-ever some companies require you to take a test before you are accepted as a Mystery Shopper.

                      ****Overall Impression****
                      Don't choose to this job just for freebies, it doesn't work like that! Yes, so you may get a free night out at a club or restaurant, but whilst you are on an assignment as a Mystery Shopper you need to remember everything so this means no drinking (if you have to purchase an alcoholic drink it will state how many, which is normally just 1), as alcohol can effect the memory as you all probably know and have experienced! This is a great job to earn some extra cash.

                      I enjoy doing this job very much, whether its eating at KFC or purchasing a jacket potato I enjoy every aspect of it. I'm currently signed up with about 3-4 different mystery shopping companies to help me get more work. Retail Maxim is a good company as they ring/text you when they have new assignments in your designated area. Gap Buster is also another good company as you can log onto their website and look for assignments and choose whether you want to accept them or not.

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                        21.09.2008 18:01
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                        ****Mystery shopping in general****

                        This is not a way to get rich but it does have its advantages.

                        You can earn money on things you would have done anyway. I often go out to lunch at places i have a mystery shop for and not only do i get lunch for free but i often make money out of it as well.

                        It is flexible so you can fit it around work or if you have children.

                        Employers love it!!. Saying that you have done mystery shopping on your CV looks great. It shows you know what mystery shoppers look for in terms of customer service etc and in theory you will do it yourself.

                        Other good things include direct payment into your bank account and the chance to try things you wouldn't normally.

                        Like all jobs out there it also has disadvantages

                        The money is not that great.On paper it can look like you are losing money
                        Most of the jobs have to be done during the day so it is not as suitable for those in full time employment trying to make extra cash.

                        You have to register as self employed within 3 months or face getting fined from th inland revenue.

                        Some jobs have to be payed up front and you get reimbursed later.Which means if you don't have the money you can't do the job and get your shopping rateing higher.

                        Some companies limit the jobs you do at first so you might have to do some rubbish ones.

                        This is not a full list but includes some of the more common mystery shopping companies .
                        Grass Roots
                        abai
                        retail eyes
                        bare
                        amber arch
                        abai
                        optimumcontact.com
                        gfk
                        GAPbuster WebXpress
                        I can't mention jobs but they include hotel visits,plane trips,banks...
                        One thing i don't like is that some of them send emails when there is a job available so if you are not in you miss out.

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                          14.09.2008 23:59

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                          I have done mystery shopping for a few months now!! I can get paid between £20 to £100 per week and have to travel around. It can be fun and a nice day out.If any one could tell me how to join up to a mystery shopping company that deals with cimemas?The company im with our Retaileyes, Retailmaxim, Gapbusters, bare, grass roots and GFK.join up with as many companys as you can, if i have missed any companys out please let me know.shaun.

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                          03.06.2008 23:39
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                          I rather enjoy getting paid for my shopping!

                          No-one ever got rich mystery shopping, just as no-one ever got rich on dooyoo, but that doesn't mean that both don't provide valuable extra cash.

                          Mystery shopping is basically what companies do to check how their customer service is doing. Get someone to pose as a customer and bring back notes on whether they're behaving correctly, and bingo! You know what needs to be fixed.

                          You get mystery shopping in all types of places, from cafes and hotels, to grocery shopping to customer service lines. I've got to admit, I like grocery shops best as usually I'm going anyway, and usually as well as paying you they'll give you a bit off your shopping as well (as you're buying it to test the service!). I do know people who've gotten stays in hotels and the like for free, although honestly my 9-5er makes me travel enough that I don't want any more!

                          The way to get jobs is to sign up with one of the mystery shopping companies - grassroots for instance. Most will then ask you a questionaire to see if you're suitable (some may want references - they are paying you after all!) and then either they'll contact you about available jobs or you'll check on a website to see what's available.

                          You will need a fairly good memory - the reports can be fairly long, and you can't fill them out in front of staff. With most companies you'll also need some way to either scan, fax or photograph receipts so they have a copy.

                          Be aware that a good score won't always be what your gut tells you. If a company is pushing promotion of a particular product and the representative doesn't plug it, you HAVE to report that, even if they were otherwise wonderful and you don't agree with hard sell tactics. You can SAY that oh, hey, otherwise they were great, but yes, they will probably get collared for the nonpromotion and you need to square that with your conscience.

                          On the other hand, with a truly lovely representative there's a great warm fuzzy feeling from knowing they're going to get a good score.

                          You do need to be able to go to workers and ask questions or return items. If you feel all awkward and shy about doing that, find a different job.

                          As I said at the beginning, you won't get a fortune for this. Usually it's about £10 - although I have seen a particularly complex job stretching over three months that offered over £100. As always, when bringing cash in, do make sure you've registered with the tax office. Even for small amounts, while they may not make you pay tax, they need to know you're making it.

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                            08.01.2006 14:57
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                            Mystery Shopping, earn an extra income

                            I first began Mystery Shopping a few years ago when I lost my job, I thought it would be a great way to earn some regular money, after all everyone has to use a bank, a supermarket, retail stores etc so you may as well get paid for it.

                            Companies need Mystery Shoppers to ensure their Customer Service Standards are up to scratch and any feedback you give will be passed on to the store.

                            Most companies don't charge anything for signing up, i've found a few that do so have avoided these, if you do a search under mystery shopping on any of the search engines then you will come up with loads of companies to work for. All you need to do is fill out an application form, give some details of your experience and they'll contact you when work becomes available in your area. Don't worry if you don't hear straight away from some of them. I've just heard from one company a year after I applied.

                            Rates of pay will vary according to the complexity of the job. It can be anything from £4 for a few minutes on the phone or £15-£45 for other jobs, most of which take less than an hour.

                            I wouldn't suggest it as a full time job as the workload sometimes varies and isn't always regular but if you are looking for some extra money, have a car and some spare hours it's a good way of earning an income.

                            Payment is usually by BACS, i've had a few pay me in cheques and vouchers (which I sold on eBay for nearly face value). Companies I've worked for include NOP, who offer the most regular work, Maritiz, Gapbuster and i've just started TNS.

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