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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Savvy Mystery Shopping--5 truths

Ah, mystery shopper... Just hearing it sounds so glamorous. Everyone is intrigued when I tell them that's what I'm doing right now. I remember working for a department store and hearing about them. I didn't want to work at the department store anymore, I wanted to be a glamorous mystery shopper. They held such power. Look out for mystery shoppers. You never know who they are and they report back to the store. It's true, mystery shoppers do hold power, but the glamor doesn't always translate to great pay.

People want to know about it, so I pass on to you some FAQs that I have encountered.

Is it true you get to keep what you buy?
Sometimes. If I shop a restaurant, I am reimbursed up to a certain amount. Often, I am responsible for tips and anything over that amount. The commission doesn't always cover everything. If I shop a retail store, some times I am paid to report on the purchase process, but then if I want to keep what I buy, I have to pay for it.

Do you get paid alot?
Rarely. I did a series of shops for a high end Italian designer on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the Beverly Center and a few other locations. It involved making a purchase and then a return plus evaluating their customer service. It was fun, but time consuming. I had to put a large purchase on my credit card, hence the need for higher pay. How much pay? $75. That one was totally worth it. Most shops don't pay nearly as well.

Is it fun?
Sometimes. Sometimes it's really not. Sometimes, despite your best efforts to get a job completed, it doesn't happen. If you don't complete it, you don't get paid. That's really not fun. But sometimes it's really fun, especially when you are getting terrible service and you start wondering how they would treat you differently if they knew you were a mystery shopper and how much they might regret it when it comes back to haunt them through your report. It's also not very fun to realize what bad service you are getting from some of the places you go.

What skills do I need?
I've listed the 5 most important.

Observational Skills
You have to be very observant about what people say and what people do. You have to record objective facts about what happened and what people say without giving your opinion. You must be able to keep track of timings, take pictures discreetly, observe and record everything.

Great Grammar
You have to have great grammar for writing the reports. They have editors that grade your work.

Writing Skills
It is one thing to say, The service sucked. You can say that to your friends. As a mystery shopper you must say exactly why based on your keen observations. The server did not smile. He was not professionally dressed. My food arrived after 35 minutes of waiting. The vegetables were mushy and my steak was not cooked as I ordered. That is unacceptable. I was offered a free desert as compensation and the cashier tried to charge me for it. My credit card transaction took 10 minutes to process and the cashier had to call the manager over to help him. He did not thank me for my business or ask me to return.

Be on One Time!
You need to perform your shops and turn in your reports ON TIME. Some companies will automatically unassign you for not submitting your report. It's frustrating and it has happened to me. Everything is online nowadays. It's hard to imagine how they did all of this in the days before the internet.

Acting Skills
You have to have some level of acting skill. If you are interested in being an actor, this is great practice that you will get paid for. You have an audience on whom to practice being sincere and natural. The truth is I don't need an apartment, I can't afford a new car, I can't afford to buy high end designer clothing... I use some of my life circumstances to be more believable. I live with my parents and I would like to more closer to where I work. I name some place I used to work. I name a bank that I mystery shop and say I work for them--I sort of do. I'm tired of my commute, etc. Picking believable circumstances and improvisation are the cornerstones of a great performance.

Why does a company hire mystery shoppers?
These shops matter deeply to the client and they wouldn't be paying anyone at all to perform mystery shops if it weren't a valuable service. They need to know how their employees treat the general public, if they are asking for ID when they are supposed to, if they are suggesting add-on sales and if they are doing their best to perform in these times. Under no circumstances are you allowed to every tell anyone that you are an auditor or a mystery shopper when you are working with a client.

Is it a good job?
That depends on your circumstances. Mystery shopping is difficult to swing as full time work. It's better as something part time or as a hobby. You learn alot about people and how well they do their jobs. I know what model service looks like. I can read body language. I am more observant. I am not richer. I am more amused and I am connected to a community via email that I never knew existed. One of my schedulers told me she knew she had taken her kids on too many shops when her 5 year old grabbed literature at the bank and said she needed to discuss her accounts. Her son asked, Mom are we really shopping or are we mystery shopping?

How do I get started?
Visit the Mystery Shopping Provider's Association (www.mysteryshoppers.com) which is the official site for all mystery shoppers. There is a job board which will tell you jobs that you can sign up for and what companies are offering them. You should never have to pay a fee to sign up.

How do I get paid?
The most popular way is through Paypal. Get a Paypal account and funds will be transferred into it when your shops are completed and approved and payroll is run. Have patience. Sometimes it takes a month to get paid. Some companies work with direct deposit through bank accounts. If your report is not accurate or you make a mistake, you do not get paid.

Any other tips and tricks?
Shops usually have bonuses added if they are in places that are difficult to get to. A bonus might also be added as an incentive to do a shop in a location that no one else has claimed. Shops become more valuable at the end of the month or the end of a campaign. They want to show the client how thorough a job had been done and do what they can to in order to make it happen. Recently I competed a shop with a $10 commission and $15 bonus either because no one had signed up for it or because someone did not complete it after signing up for it. For more tips and tricks, visit Want More Mystery Shops? from www.MysteryShoppersManual.com

Want to help me get a bonus?
I am a member of two companies that offer a signup bonus. Send an email to SavvySingleChristian@yahoo.com and I will send an invitation to you. I get a bonus when you complete a shop. The bonuses are listed as follows right now.

$2.00 United States
$10.00 Mexico, India
$20.00 Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany
$50.00 Turkey, Japan, Italy, Spain

Happy mystery shopping!!


L.C.T. said...

I don't think I've ever heard of this. Sounds like fun for the most part!

Mallikarjuna said...

I want to know more about you I am a bacheller

Anonymous said...

Savvy!! Where are you?!

Amir Larijani said...

Savvy: LTNS. Whatcha been up to?