Originally Posted by jhelanee
I am looking for something to do to give me a little personal income, and was considering doing some secret shopping or paid surveys. I know that some websites for this type of thing are scams, so I am being rather cautious before signing up. If anyone has done this type of thing, I would love hearing about your experiences (good or bad) and any pointers you may have on good, reputable sites.
Thanks in advance!
I was a secret shopper for about three years. I did everything from cell phone shops, bank shops, grocery stores, to restaurants, to clothing shops, to investment meetings. I've even heard of people going on cruises, although it is very hard to get these jobs. I haven't mystery shopped for about four years now, but I doubt a whole lot has changed. Here are my pointers!
An intro to how it works first...
Mystery shopping companies are companies that bid on the right to work for other companies. Shoppers are considered "contractors," which means that you don't get any benefits. Most don't take taxes out of your payment; some do though. Basically, though, you don't officially work for the company you are spying on.
First of all, when I first got started, I found this
web site. I read through the forum and did my homework on the companies. I started making a list of which companies were slow to pay, which were great to work for, etc. Then, I went to the links provided and started signing up.
is the company I first started doing work for. The way they used to work is that you would sign up first. They would assign you a username and password. Then you had to pass an exam before you could accept an assignment for a new company. Once you passed the exam, you were good to go.
This company was on the low end of the pay scale, but they paid in a timely manner (4-6 weeks is average), and they had lots of jobs to choose from, so you got a lot of experience.
Believe it or not, you do build a reputation in this industry. You have to have good observation skills and the ability to remember things without writing them down. Note-taking is a no-no in most cases. At least, until you get into your car...as long as no one can see you.
I created a spreadsheet that had each company I worked for, the job I did, when I did the job, the payment I was to receive, etc. I found that I had to follow-up on payments sometimes, and this spreadsheet proved invaluable. It also helped once we started claiming my income on our taxes. Keep track of mileage. You can use it off of your taxes as well.
If $$ is a concern, open another bank account just for expenses. After the first couple of months, you'll start getting checks and can pay for meals and other expenses out of your account. When you get reimbursed, you just deposit the money right back in. When I did mystery shopping, we were on a very fixed income and simply could not afford the extra $$ out of our account for my expenses. This solved the problem (and I still have my own account...
Keep copies of EVERYTHING you do. You might need it later to refute something the company might say.
Do your work ON TIME. Even though you are a contractor, they do rely on you.
That's just the basics, for now. If you have more questions, let me know!