Soaked To The Bone
Wordless Wednesday: So Big, Yet Still A Baby

WFMW: Mystery Shopping

Wfmwsmall  I started mystery shopping two years ago, for fun doing things we ordinarily wouldn't have the budget to do, and for a little extra money. I quickly found tons of shops in my area (not always the case; depends where you live), and hustled around doing job after job after job. I got quite well-known among certain of the mystery shopping companies and was called upon specifically to do some of the larger jobs. I've done the following many times, and more that I can't think of off the top of my head:

  • Water Parks
  • Retail Shops, everything from clothing and shoes to diamond rings to pianos
  • Fast Food
  • Casual Dining
  • Fine Dining
  • Bars
  • Photography
  • Audits
  • Eyeglasses
  • Automotive: Oil changes, car washes, etc.
  • Telephone- or Internet-Only shops
  • Bowling
  • Hotels
  • Airport
  • Grocery
  • Apartment Rental

{Never mind about the blue, it just won't go brown!}

It's a lot of fun, but it is time-consuming. There's a great initial investment of time, because you have to sign up with each company individually. To do that, start here and work your way down the list. There are two more pages!  Keep a Word folder with all your mystery shopping application "essays" so you can just cut and paste when similar ones are requested. You should also take the time to become silver certified, as you'll get a lot more jobs that way. When I did it two years ago, it was only $15.

After that, you start getting emails (set up two separate folders in your email: one for all your acceptances and site passwords, and one for all the shop emails to come in) showing jobs available in your area. You are not required to respond to any of them. If you can and want to do a job, read the email and apply accordingly. Then you'll wait to find out if you've been accepted, unless it's a self-assignment job. Keep a very organized schedule and don't miss an assignment, because you are rated, and your rating will go down, meaning fewer shops will come your way. You can always email the scheduler to ask for an extension, if needed. (It may or may not be granted, but often is.)

Now, there are some downsides. You must have a credit card or lots of disposable income, because in 85-90% of the jobs you will pay upfront and then be reimbursed up to two months later. That's right, you have to wait quite a while for payment most of the time, so keep accurate, up-to-date records of shop dates, costs, reimbursements, travel distances and any other details you deem necessary. Also, shops can be spread far and wide, and gas isn't cheap these days. If you have lots of shops available in your area, then you can afford to be choosy and pick those close to home. I mean, that's up to you, but I rarely go more than 5 miles anymore unless it's something really juicy.

Of course, I have quit mystery shopping several times, most recently because I have grown way too fat off all the fancy dining shops my husband and I have had the luck to get. There are many in our area. I thought I was quitting the whole business for good, but now I'm going to pick one up here and there for things we're going to do anyway, like get an oil change or an eye exam. This past weekend, for instance, I got a thorough eye exam, two pairs of glasses, and two packs of lens cleaning wipes, for a total out-of-pocket expense of $18.48! Why pass that up?!

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about getting started or any other step of the way. And use my name (Melanie Odette) or email ( as your referral, please!!!