Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mystery shopping

I started mystery shopping in grad school because of the flexibility and a chance for a little extra income. Over the past year and a half I’ve worked with a variety of companies and come up with a list of favorites. I’ve also set up some rules for accepting assignments and maximizing my profit.

1) Only do shops near home/ that fit into planned trips. This cuts down on unnecessary driving and keeps me from running all over town. Financially it also makes sense. For a shop that pays $10, I don’t want to spend a lot of time driving in addition to the time the shop and report writing will take.

2) If the shop requires a purchase only go to stores you’d regularly frequent. This cuts down on the clutter at home and keeps me form feeling wasteful. Similarly, if its an info digging shop I tend towards areas I need information on. For instance, choosing an electronics shop when I’m pricing something new.

3) Take the reimbursement price into account if you can’t return required purchases. There was a shop I took a few times before I realized I wasn’t making (and sometimes loosing) money. If a shop pays $10 and you have a reimbursement maximum of $5 but nothing in the store costs less than $15 there is no profit.

4) Accept shops that fund ‘date’ nights. These are shops that would usually break rule 3 but help keep the rest of our budget on track. Mystery shopping usually pays for dinner out once a month and bowling once every few months.

My top two favorites are:
ICCDS: Variety of retail shops. Pays better than most. Paypal payments, usually within a month.

: Restaurant shops, age compliance, electronic stores. Monthly checks.

I also work with:
Kern Scheduling: They schedule for a wide range of mystery shopping companies. Often you have to go to a new company and sigh up. It work though because you can see assignment details first.

The links are to their main sights. If they do referrals I don't know about them and I'm not getting paid to write about any of the companies. These are just the ones I like working with.


david santos said...

Hello, Sara!
I loved this post and this blog.
Have a nice day.

L@SpillingBuckets said...

I hadn't heard of BestMark... Thanks for the heads up.

I also really like ICCDS, they seem to have the most regular shops available.