For the past few months I have been carrying out secret shop assignments while earning a few bucks here and there. I honestly never knew that it was a real gig until one day I came across a company that was recruiting for shoppers and they were not requesting any money to join the team so I decided to check it out. Literally a few days later I was contacted for a shop assignment and the best part was that it was a restaurant that I’d been wanting to try for the past year after reading about them in the LA Weekly.
So basically I was given a report which contained the instructions for the particular shop. The report typically contains the shop location, reimbursement guidelines and what you are to take note of to include in your submitted shopper report. On the chosen day my boyfriend and I ate dinner at the designated location while I observed and took note of all the things that I was instructed to observe. Typically a shop will require you to take note of how you are welcomed into the establishment ( usually companies will hire secret shoppers to make sure customer service requirements are being followed by management and staff), additionally you are usually taking note of the cleanliness of the location and the quality of food being served.
After we ate our free meal (typically you come out of pocket for expenses and are reimbursed with 3-4 weeks by check or PayPal) I came home to fill out my report. OMG! The report was long! I spent 2 hours on the report and still needed time to finish the rest. Needless to say my very first secret shopper report was late.( Typically you have 12 hours from the time of your shop to return a report) I received a scolding type of email from the scheduler who assigned me the shop. I was a little discouraged but the scheduler let me know that all reports are not as long, and it really depends on what the client requests to be observed. I also realized that you can always review the report questions before performing your shop and in fact this is encouraged so that you know what you are looking out for.
The Verdict. Is it worth it?
It can be, some shops only reimburse you for the meal and tip while others include a bonus or bonus in addition to payment and reimbursement. My very first shop was a reimbursement shop only so I didn’t make anything from performing the shop, I instead received reimbursement for my meal. That particular shop had a report that was so detailed and long that it wasn’t really worth it for me because I spent 2 hours on the report and still wasn’t done, because of that I was tired going into the office the next day and I STILL had some of the report to finish the next day. Bleh.
One particular shop I performed a few weeks ago was extremely fun. Not only did I make $60 but I was reimbursed for my meal and drinks. Best of all I got to dress up and go out on a Saturday night with every expense being reimbursed to me. But not all shops are paying this much, usually you are paid between $3-$10 in addition to reimbursement although there are shops paying $15-$25 to complete. You really have to look around at different shopper companies to see what type of jobs and compensation are being offered.
I don’t see secret shopping gigs being able to pay the rent because jobs are not always steady although I have heard of individuals doing this on a steady basis who manage to average $10/hr and have heard of people making an extra $20,000 per year performing shop assignments. Of course those individuals might be certified. Yes, there are certifications that would enable you to have access to higher quality and higher paying shop assignments but I haven’t gone that route yet so I can’t really provide any information on that. For now I see secret shopping as a way to eat free and sometime make a few bucks doing it. Nothing more but if anything changes I’ll definitely report on it.
If you would like a referral to one of the companies that I work for please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips & Suggestions:
- Watch out for scams! A legit secret shopper site will NEVER ask you to pay for access to secret shopper jobs. Companies pay for secret shoppers to perform shops not the other way around. ALL middle man shopper companies are scams! Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
- Do your research on a company BEFORE you agree to perform any shop. Make sure they are a legit company because the last thing that you want to do is to perform work for a company and not be reimbursed.
- Once finding a suitable company that you are confident in working for DO make sure that you follow all guidelines. Sometimes you will not reimbursed if a certain guideline is not followed. For example, I performed a late night movie shop and I went to the wrong location. In my defense, they could have made the instructions a little more clear but if I had known the area I would have known that I was in the wrong location. Anyway because of my mistake I was not reimbursed for the assignment. MAKE SURE YOU READ ALL GUIDELINES PRIOR TO PERFORMING A SHOP OR YOU WILL NOT BE REIMBURSED!
- Be Reliable. Only accept a shop if you know that you will be able to complete the job. Canceling or rescheduling shops will cause you be released from the company. Additionally being reliable can sometimes open the door to higher paying positions or scheduler contacting you for positions not listed on the job board.
If you cannot pay attention to detail know that this is not the job for you. Secret shopping requires you to be attentive to detail, sometimes remembering names and timing certain things. Of course there are ways for you to make this task easier such as texting things to yourself that must be included in your completed report.
In about an hour I’m off to dinner at a new pizza place, it’s on the house of course as I’m performing a secret shopper assignment. Til next time…..