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Is Mystery Shopping a Scam? Make a Living from Home in 2017

Mystery shopping is a fun job and is basically about quality control for customer service.

For those of you who are not familiar with mystery shopping, it is basically a job where a company pays you to pose like a regular customer and then provide feedback to the company on things like customer service, cleanliness of the store, how well the employees interacted with you, and could answer questions properly.

To put it more simple:

You Visit a Business, or Buy a Product, and Then Rate the Customer Service Experience You Had With the Business

In exchange for your feedback, the company pays you a fee and in most cases they will ask you to make a purchase, and will reimburse you up to a set dollar amount.

There are tons of businesses that use mystery shoppers to make sure that employees and branches are operating as they should. In larger cities, mystery shopping is a very lucrative form of side income. Some people are even earning a full-time income from it and are making 14K a year doing mystery shopping.

Any Special Skills Required for
Mystery Shopping?

Is Mystery Shopping a Scam? Make a Living from Home in 2017

You do not need any special education, or prior experience to become a mystery shopper, but you need to have access to the Internet and an email account in order to accept job offers.

You also need to have good memory, excellent observational and writing skills. Good knowledge of the English language both in writing and speaking is a must, and an ability to work on strict deadlines.

And of course, you must be committed, enthusiastic and reliable to take jobs.

Mystery Shopping Assignments

Mystery shopping assignments can consist of:

  • A telephone call.
  • A visit to a store or restaurant.
  • Answering or sending an email.
  • Writing a letter.
  • Answering on a website survey.
  • Going on a face to face visit to a store.
  • And even attending a home visit.

How Long Does an Assignment Take?

Assignments vary depending on the type. Everything from a 2 minute telephone call to an overnight stay at a hotel.

Always make sure to read the instructions before agreeing to complete any assignment.

Remember to always keep the receipts for at least 60 days if you will be asked to send in a copy for reimbursement of expenses.

Legit Mystery Shopping Companies

Is Mystery Shopping Worth It? Make a Living from Home in 2017

Legit mystery shopping companies are always listing mystery shopping jobs for FREE.

Here are examples of companies free to join:

  1. Best Mark
  2. Sinclair Customer Metrics
  3. Market Force
  4. Intelli-shop
  5. Quest for Best

JobSlinger is from my experience the best website to visit, where you can see listings of all mystery shopping assignments available in one place.  

Find even more mystery shopping companies in my other article:

My Mystery Shopping Experience 3 Weeks In – Is It Worth It?

Apply to the company/companies you feel comfortable with and after your application is approved, you simply log in to their website and select the “mysteries” you want to go and shop on.

The respective company provides you with the instructions. After you have completed the job, you will need to enter your feedback on their website.

Some mystery shopping companies pay via direct deposit or PayPal, but the most common is that they pay with a check mailed out at the end of the month.

Good to Know Information about
Mystery Shopping

Since you are not employed by the company/companies that are offering you mystery shopping gigs, you need to be responsible for your own taxes. You will have the same responsibilities as a personal contractor.

You will unfortunately not be compensated for the travel back and forth to your assignment.

Most mystery shoppers work part time – about 20 hours a week, but if you show that you have a high availability, you can work even more.

How Much Can You Make As a
Mystery Shopper?

My Mystery Shopping Experience 3 Weeks In – Is It Worth It?

Most providers pay their shoppers on assignment. In this instance regardless the amount of hours you work, you will simply be paid per assignment.

However, there are some instances where mystery shoppers can be paid a salary, or a flat rate depending on the assignment. This is usually the case when mystery shoppers are experienced in the industry, have been working for a period of time for the same company, or work for independent companies rather than providers.

The difference between making hourly wages and salary as a mystery shopper greatly depends on the relationship you have to the company/companies you work for.

As such, if you are a shopper who has been working in the industry for years you are more likely to find jobs on salary, versus the ones that pays hourly.

The general payout for an assignment is between $10 to $75 per gig, plus reimbursement if you need to do a purchase.

This is a statement from a mystery shopper: “In September of 2008, I paid for a 2009 Honda Fit—in cash! There’s no way that I would have been able to do that otherwise. I love that car to this day”.

Pretty cool! Easy money from something most people love to do – shopping.

Watch Out for Mystery Shopping Scams

Like everywhere there is a big need for something, there are a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of the growing popularity.

What you should know is to NEVER PAY to join a mystery shopping company. The ones that are legitimate never ask for a payment to apply.

Also, you should NEVER PAY money to a company to see their list of jobs. Legitimate mystery shopping companies are always short of shoppers, so they never ask for you to pay to see a list of their jobs.

And lastly, check to see if the mystery shopping company is a MSPA member. MPSA is the official organization that is in charge of regulating mystery shopping companies.

I Am Trying It Out – Exciting!

The reason I wrote this blog post/article is that I wanted to gather information before trying out mystery shopping myself. I figured this is a fun and easy way to make the extra bucks needed to pay for the bills every month.

I also like to try every opportunity I can that does not force me to be locked in at an office all day that I do not want to be at.

Registering With BESTMARK

Make a Living from Home in 2017

I just finished my application to BESTMARK as a mystery shopper, and I want to show you how simple it was.

First, I went to their website: bestmark.com and then they instantly had a button to click to start the application process. You need to enter your information and email address. Once this is finished, you click submit and you will be asked to verify your email with the email they will send you within seconds.

After this, you will be directed to a link saying: “You Have Been Hired”. They send you a welcome email with general instructions where you can find things on your account, your shopping ID, how to prepare for an assignment etc.

From this welcoming email, you can login to your account’s dashboard, which looks like the screenshot below.

My Mystery Shopping Experience 3 Weeks In – Is It Worth It?

Here you have all your jobs, referrals (you can make money referring people to the program as well, known as affiliate marketing – I present this a bit further below), your profile, where to search for shop jobs and upload your receipt for reimbursement.

And boom, here comes a list of shop jobs in the area. Unfortunately, what I noticed when browsing this list was that most assignments had requirements I did not live up to, for example having a Buick-GMC, or a Chevrolet car.

Is Mystery Shopping a Scam? What Is Mystery Shopping? Make a Living from Home in 2017

I got surprised by how limited the number of assignments were in the Broward and Miami area. I will sign up with all mystery shopping companies from the list and hope for more opportunities.

This was a brief introduction of the application process of becoming a mystery shopper, which is fast and easy. I will continue updating about my progress as a mystery shopper, so watch out for my next blog post.

If you want to know how I make most of my monthly income from home as an affiliate marketer, and learn how to do it yourself, check out my:

#1 Recommendation on How to Make Money Online

I ensure you, it will be the best decision you have ever made!

My First Visit Home to Sweden in Almost 4 Years - Make a Living from Home in 2017

Conclusion/Verdict – Is Mystery Shopping a Scam? What Is Mystery Shopping?

Mysery shopping is absolutely NOT a scam. However, there are lots of scammers acting as mystery shopping companies. Like mentioned earlier, make sure to never pay when applying to become a mystery shopper, or to see a list with shop jobs.

If you stick to the legit companies listed in this article, you will be in safe hands and able to start working as a mystery shopper as of today if you want.

If you have any questions about mystery shopping, affiliate marketing, or about other work-from-home opportunities, just comment below. I would love to hear about your experience as a mystery shopper if you have been trying it, are currently working as a MS, or have a friend that has.

If you found this article interesting, please share it with your network. Thank you!

Have fun mystery shopping!


Stina Pettersson

Update April 19, 2017 – Two Mystery Shop Assignments Completed

I promised to get back with an update of my own experience as a mystery shopper, so here it follows:

Stina Pettersson - Founder and owner of Make a Living from Home in 2017I have now completed my first two assignments and they were both pretty interesting. They were for BESTMARK and were at two different car dealerships, where I was supposed to pose as a customer ready to purchase a new vehicle.

It was a huge difference in service at the two different locations, so I can understand why mystery shoppers are needed. On yesterday’s assignment, April 18, I felt as I was bothering the sales associate almost by being there taking up his time, but today, April 19, was a totally different experience and I felt most welcomed, and had a joyful visit.

My overall experience is good, but I would strongly give the advice to not take any assignments less than $25. The before and after work are enormous. Especially the comprehensive survey at the end, where you have to both rate your answers and describe all ratings in a story telling format. You also have to date and upload all receipts to be approved for completed shop and payment.

I calculated both my mystery shops to 4 hours total work effort each, and they only pay out $14 per assignment – a total of $3.5 per hour is hardly worth the time and effort.

Before each assignment you have to read through pages of guidelines and then take a certification test. If you do not pass the test, you will not be able to perform the shop, so there is no way escaping this.

My Mystery Shopping Experience 3 Weeks In – Is It Worth It?

Maybe there are easier mystery shops that I have yet not noticed.  Tomorrow however, I have an assignment at another car dealership for more exclusive cars that pays $35, so that will be more worth the effort. I will try and look for assignments around this $.

Before I go for now, I want to also mention that BESTMARK was the easiest and fastest Mystery Shop company to get going with. I entered my information and could get started right away.

Intelli-Shop took some days to review my social security number before being able to pay me for assignments, and of course, I did not want to start before ensuring payment.

Sinclair Customer Metrics was rather fast as well, and I could get started the next day if I wanted. However, their pre-certification tests and guidelines are so comprehensive and time consuming that I still have not finished.

Market Force had an issue with their online application, and I could not finalize my application. It also took days for their customer service to get back to me when I emailed them about my issue, so it is still not solved.

Quest for Best is my next Mystery Shop company to register with. They are also a legit company that is offering phone, online and on-site shops.

If any questions on my Mystery Shopping experience this far, please use the comment section below. I wish to be a help if you are considering mystery shopping, but still have not decided.

I would say GO for it, but be SELECTIVE, and be prepared to work hard before and after your assignment. The actual visit is very easy, but the before and after work demand good effort.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and again, please share this article with your network if you found it useful.

I will keep you posted!


Stina Pettersson

Make a Living from Home in 2017
Email: [email protected]

About the Author

Stina Pettersson - Founder and owner of Make a Living from Home in 2017My name is Stina Pettersson. I am the founder of Make a Living from Home in 2017 and the author of the articles on this site. I am originally from Sweden and am currently a business owner to 3 online businesses.

I help people to start their own online business and make a living from home. I am especially fond of helping the stay at home parent, or single parents to increase their income.

I hope I will get the honor to help YOU achieving your online success.


  • Show Comments (2)

  • Vitaliy

    Hi Stina
    My wife Elena used to work in retail for a long time. She developed so much skills that she could recognize mystery shoppers most of the time. It was like a fun game for her. At some moment she wanted to change her job and applied for mystery shopper position in a big corporation.
    My wife was sharing her retail experience with her colleagues and got noticed. Soon after she was promoted to a manager of the whole department.
    Stina, the information you shared is very useful especially for young people to have side income. But they have to take this job as any job more serious 🙂

    • Stina Pettersson

      Hi Vitaliy,

      thanks for your feedback! I loved to hear about your wife, and so fun she good recognize the mystery shoppers. Give her my congrats on her manager position!

      Yes, sometimes I think it’s a bit obvious, since you have to ask so many thorough questions that normal customers don’t do. I still believe it’s a good service for companies to evaluate the customers service and employees, and at the same time it provides a chance for people to have a side income like you mentioned. And YES from my short experience of mystery shopping so far, it’s a job that requires much effort and has to be taken as serious as any other job.

      All the best to you Vitaliy and thanks again for stopping by!



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