Below you'll find answers on some general questions. If you still have a question that is not answered here, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping is the process of measuring and recording specific elements of the customer experience using pre-recruited and qualified people (typically independent contractors) who serve as mystery shoppers.
A mystery shopper is a person who visits an establishment (typically a retail store, bank, restaurant or other such places where the public does business) for the purpose of observing and measuring customer service, product quality and the environment of the establishment in general.
Shoppers are given details, by the mystery shopping company responsible for the shopping programme, about expectations for making specific observations during their visits to, or interactions with, the establishment (some shops are online and/or via telephone) and the shoppers complete reports, often using an online form, after leaving the establishment. Shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients as part of their efforts to enhance the quality of the customer experience. Many times, the information collected during mystery shopping programmes is used to help mystery shopping company clients improve training programmes, better articulate expectations they have of their staff and otherwise improve the ways in which the client serves its customers.
Contrary to what you may read on the Internet, mystery shopping is not a quick way to make a lot of money, nor is it a way to "get paid to shop." Mystery shopping is a serious enterprise intended to gather information about the customer experience in a specific environment. It requires time, attention, and effort. Mystery shoppers are in business for themselves; while they get paid for the work they do while posing as shoppers, they are not paid to shop; they are paid to gather data. Mystery shoppers know, before deciding to request or accept an assignment, what they will be paid.
Tell me more - what does mystery shopping involve?
Mystery shoppers go to specified stores, restaurants, banks, apartments, etc. (or visit online or by phone) and pose as typical customers. When they leave, they complete questionnaires or other such instruments that have been custom-designed for the mystery shopping company's clients. Shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients as part of their efforts to enhance the quality of the customer experience. Many times, the information collected during mystery shopping programmes is used to help mystery shopping company clients improve training programmes, better articulate expectations they have of their staff, and otherwise improve the ways in which the client serves its customers.
How long does it take and what does it pay?
The length of time a mystery shop takes depends on the type of assignment, but usually a shop is likely to take considerably less than an hour. The fees a mystery shopper may earn from a specific shop vary just as greatly as the time required, but often a shopper might expect anywhere between €8 and €20 for the "typical" shopping scenario. In some cases the shopper might also receive free meals, discounts and savings on merchandise, or other such benefits. However, shoppers should be wary of promises of extraordinary "freebies" that sound too good to be true. If that's the way it sounds, it is probably really too good to be true.
I have been asked to pay to become a shopper – am I right to be suspicious?
If you are asked to pay to become a shopper, you should be EXTREMELY suspicious of the offer... there are thousands of opportunities to carry out mystery shopping work that do not require the shopper to pay anything up front.
In some cases, the shopper may be expected to purchase an item (or a meal, theatre ticket, etc.), in which cases the shopper is likely to also be reimbursed for that item, within the stipulations given by the shopping company when the shopper accepts an assignment. In every case, the shopper should strive to ensure he or she fully understands the scope of the shop, the anticipated time required and the benefits, if any, that will result from doing the shop.
Why should mystery shoppers want to work with MSPA member companies?
MSPA member companies go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that they are legitimate businesses. Among the requirements for MSPA membership are: 1) a company may not charge shoppers for access to shopping opportunities and 2) members must agree to adhere to a code of ethics that includes agreeing to pay shoppers in a timely manner and not to withhold pay simply because the company has not been paid.
While MSPA cannot intercede on behalf of individual shoppers in disputes with a company, the Association can take and has taken action in cases when it learns a company makes a regular practice of failing to pay shoppers or paying late. So, shoppers can be confident that companies that belong to MSPA are monitored to ensure that the reputations of MSPA member companies are maintained.
Another reason shoppers want to contract with MSPA member companies is the fact that MSPA member companies have taken the step of affirmatively committing to the industry by participating in their industry trade association. Just like MSPA certified shoppers have taken the step to demonstrate that they are serious about mystery shopping, so have companies that belong to MSPA made the same commitment.
I got an email from a company. How do I know if they are affiliated with MSPA?
For a listing of all the member companies that we are affiliated with, please visit us on the web at http://www.mspa-eu.org/search-mspa-companies.html and for USA based members http://www.mspa-na.org/search. All of the companies listed there should have contact information and in some cases, links to their websites. If you have received correspondence from a company that does not appear on this listing, please proceed with caution as we are not affiliated with this company and do not have information concerning their business practices.
I recently received an e-mail asking me if I want to be a mystery shopper and they requested personal information. Is this a scam?
By signing up to be a certified shopper of MSPA, you are not registering to be a mystery shopper. You must still register with mystery shopping provider companies to be a mystery shopper. MSPA does not hire shoppers directly. We connect you with our member companies who can post assignments online and we offer certification to increase your potential as a mystery shopper.
If you have received cheques or communication recently concerning conducting a mystery shop for which you purchase products and send them to a specified address or wire money from cheques that were sent to you in the mail, it is a scam and we strongly suggest that you do not waste your own time and money carrying out the illegitimate assignment.
We also do not send solicitous emails to potential shoppers requesting personal information or promising payment for jobs that have not yet been completed. If you have received something like this, please note the above.
However, if you do apply directly to a mystery shopping provider, please note it is usual for them to ask for personal information so that they can ensure you receive information regarding appropriate work availability in your area, and also so that they may pay you for the work you carry out.
More information about scam assignements http://www.mspa-eu.org/shopper-scams.html
How do I get an assignment?
MSPA does not hire shoppers directly. We can connect you with our member companies by providing you with contact information on our provider search page. We offer certification to increase your skills, but you do not need to be MSPA certified to get assignments. You must register with mystery shopping provider companies to be a mystery shopper.
When am I paid? How am I paid? How much will I be paid?
This depends on the companies’ terms and conditions; it would normally be at the end of the month once all of your visits have been approved. You may receive a cheque or be paid directly into your bank account.
Can I make mystery shopping a full-time job?
It is highly unlikely that many people could make a full time living out of mystery shopping as assignments vary in location and clients can sometimes be agent profile specific (for example: a client may require a female under 25 who drives a Peugeot to go to a garage). Mystery Shopping is a great way for people who would like to earn a few extra euros in their spare time or whilst going about their usual day.