Becoming a Mystery Shopper

What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery Shoppers are used by various research companies in order to find out how the customer service is performing at various retailers, restaurants and other high street or online service providers. It can also be used to see how well particular products or services are doing.

Normal people from all walks of life are used as secret shoppers to pose as real customers whilst at the same time assessing the customer service that is being provided by the particular retailer or organisation.

Secret shoppers in the UK are most often paid generously for their time which can be as much as £50+ per assignment for as little as 1 - 2 hours work, this usually includes writing up your findings. On top of that any products or services that are bought or tested during the assignments are given to the mystery shoppers to keep.

What Skills do I Require?

Become a Secret ShopperTo become a mystery shopper you should have a good memory, possess good writing skills, be extremely observant, be very honest, have good communication skills, be able to pay close attention to detail and be professional. You must be able to work to tight deadlines, be reliable, be flexible and be 100% committed to the job. You should be able to spare some free time in the day, be fluent in English, have good letter writing skills and have access to a PC, Internet and e-mail facility. You should also be able to travel to various locations in your local area.

Most mystery shopping companies require you to be aged 18 or above, however some will accept under 18's as long as parental permission is given.

What Kind of Assignments Will I Be Expected to Complete?

You may be asked to visit a high street store, make a purchase, ask the sales staff particular questions, check the store's cleanliness, check current promotions or make sure an order is put through the till correctly. On other assignments you may be asked to make telephone calls, visit company offices, send e-mails or letters, complete a survey on a website, conduct a home visit, visit a restaurant to try out the food or even take a flight on a plane where you will be accessing the airline. The list is almost endless, all tasks that you could be asked to perform will be based on each client's specific needs.

It's also possible that some companies may recruit you to carry out exit surveys or custom interviews. With an exit survey customers of a particular shop will be asked to fill in a questionnaire when they leave the store, Custom Interviews are very similar but will be done in the shop, at home or by phone, for both of these you would be targeted to complete a certain amount and be paid accordingly.

How Do I Get Involved?

To get started you need to sign up with numerous market research sites and mystery shopper agencies. Most of these companies have thousands of people on their databases, so to have a chance at being picked you must register with lots of them, fill in any profile information that is requested, complete any training that is offered, login to your account and check each site regularly for new jobs that may be available.

List of Free Mystery Shopping Companies

The following are the most popular mystery shopping companies in the UK. Each site listed below is free to join and offers you a legitimate way to earn money in your spare time by secret shopping or eating.

Product Testing UK - Product Testing UK are currently recruiting for secret diners to eat in either Pizza Express, Frankie and Benny's, Cafe Rouge, Wagamama, TGI Fridays or Strada. To be in with a chance you must register and complete the short survey in full. If you are selected you will receive £70 to eat in a restaurant for free. After the meal simply write a short review telling them about your experiences. This will then be posted to their blog which restaurants look to for feedback.

Helion - By applying to become a Helion evaluator you will be expected to act as a normal customer and perform certain tasks which could include asking questions, purchasing products, making complaints or doing other specific tasks. The clients they work for could include anything from airlines, supermarkets, bars or everyday high street shops. Once you are registered you can search their jobs board to see what is available, if you see a job you would like to complete then you can apply for it straight away. Once you have completed each assignment you will be paid via bank transfer, Paypal or Moneybookers on the 20th of the following month. The amount you will be paid does vary and depends on the time you spend in each shop, the length of the questionnaire and whether you have to make a purchase. Any purchases you do make will usually be yours to keep.

JKS - JKS are one of the UKs oldest and most popular mystery shopping companies with over 15,000 members on their books. To apply you must fill in the application form on their site, if you do not hear back from them within 7 days then unfortunately you have been unsuccessful. They desperately want shoppers in East London and from the Bracknell Forest area, they are also looking for people who have trade experience or have recently moved house, other new members may also be accepted.

Marketforce - Marketforce are one of the biggest customer experience companies after acquiring Retail Eyes in September 2011. If you have a little bit of spare time and want to earn some extra cash then Marketforce would be a good site to register with. They offer a wide variety of assignments in many different areas around the UK. Some of the assignments you could take part in here includes going to the pub, taking a flight or staying in hotels. You will be paid £5 - £10 on average per assignment you complete and be reimbursed for any products you buy, on occasion you may be reimbursed and still get to keep the product.

Mystery Shoppers Ltd - This company was set up in 1991 and now has 3 offices around the UK and over 140,000 people on their database. Once you have registered with them you will be added to their database and contacted when they need someone in your area who matches your profile. You can also check to see if any projects are available by logging into your account area.

Mystery Customer Evaluations - To apply to become a customer evaluator here you must complete the application form listing any previous or similar experience that you have. If you are accepted then payments for completing assignments will be sent straight to your bank or Paypal account.

Retail Maxim - Retail Maxim was founded in 1993 in order to provide retailers in the UK and Southern Ireland with mystery shopping services. To date they have over 10,000 people on their database. To join you must be at least 18 years old, answer their six questions and complete a short test. If you are accepted you will be paid per assignment and the amount will be dependent on the complexity of the visit.

Quality Eye are always looking for people from all walks of life to take part in their groups or mystery shopping projects. Your money is sent by BACS within 30 days of the completed study.