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Thursday, May 4, 2017

How to Mangle Your Monkey: Mystery Shopping

In our last post, we mentioned several ways to increase your income.  The idea is not to find a new career,
although that might happen.  The idea is
to help you find ways to supplement your income and get you out of a financial
hole.


One way is mystery shopping. We did this for several years.  We are still asked from time to time to
mystery shop a location for which one of the mystery shopping companies is having trouble finding a shopper.



A word of warning:  No legitimate company is EVER going to send you money upfront to mystery shop for them.  It just is not going to happen. 


So, if someone offers to send you a check which you will cash and then send some of the money somewhere, run.

You can find legitimate companies via the Mystery Shopper Provider’s Association (MSPA) or via places like Volition or Sassy.

We started out with bank shops.  We would go in and act like we
were inquiring about a particular kind of account.  Sometimes the bank we were visiting conducted the mystery shop and sometimes it was their competition. 



There are also shops for grocery stores.  These are great because
you are given a limit of how much the shopping company will reimburse you for
your purchase.  You can conduct your usual shopping and even use coupons for your shop.  You scan your receipt in and you will get back the amount they agreed to reimburse you, but also your shopping fee.  It is like getting a very big coupon.

One we found very amusing from the other side of the mystery shop was when we worked for a convenience store.  One particular shopping company
pays very low fees for their mystery shops. 


The shopper would get something like $3-5 in fees, plus get reimbursed for $1 worth of gas and an instore purchase of $1.

Without fail, each shopper chose the 2 for $1 canned sodas as their purchase.  Most would walk in, announce very loudly that they needed to use the restroom (because they needed to take a picture of the restroom).  Then, they would head
directly to the 2 for $1 sign on the sodas and get two. 

Although they were supposed to look to see if certain items were priced, etc., they would head straight to the front counter and pay for their purchase. 

They would always ask for a receipt, which is not unusual in a convenience store, but would then almost always tell us the receipt was for tax purposes.  The thing is that most convenience stores have gotten out of the habit of automatically giving
receipts because most people just leave them on the counter.  So, it is not unusual for someone to ask for a receipt.

There are some mystery shops that are conducted via the telephone.  Sometimes
companies want to see how well their phone representatives present the product.  Some of these shops are recorded.  Once we conducted a telephone
shop of an insurance company and ended up switching our insurance to that
company.

When choosing to accept a particular shop, the mystery shopper must determine if the fee given and the reimbursement are worth the time and travel involved.

We had one company that wanted us to mystery shop a car dealer in a town over 100 miles away.  This particular car dealer has a reputation of getting a prospect and keeping them there for hours until the prospect says yes.

We offered to conduct the shop for $100.  The company accepted the
offer and then we found a fast food shop and a bank shop nearby.  This meant that we could conduct those shops for their usual rate and get our food free (reimbursed) as well as pocket a nice chunk of change.

Mystery shopping worked well for us.  It may be something that will work for you as well.





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