Mystery Shopping no more

random internet picture

The mystery of mystery shopping has faded. I joined years ago to help improve service and out of curiosity. For me, it is now such a chore to actually open my accounts, look to see what is available in Laredo, sign up and actually go see what customer service is like at XYZ place. Que hueva.

That’s it – I quit.

No more hunting for someone’s nametag or remembering if they used my name or if they offered me some product and offered it nicely. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a bunch of people waiting to do it – you go right ahead but you have to know what you are getting in to. The pay can range from $3 with your sandwich reimbursed to $100 for an ultra complicated picture-taking, mega questionnaire, several days job. Well, those have been my experiences – but I only work for 3 different companies when there are dozens with a big variety.

For those who have never tried it, here are a few hints to not fall for traps:

    1) if you are ever asked to pay to sign up for mystery shopping – scam
    2) if you answer an ad in the paper or from TV and you get the run-around and loads of info collected – scam
    3) if you sign up for a company to assist you in locating mystery shops in your area – well, technically not a scam but it’s a waste of money has a pretty good read on avoiding fake secret shopping lures. But don’t go looking for mystery shopping because you think you can turn it into a full-time job. Those who might consider this type of extra responsibility are:

    1) those that don’t care about the pay
    2) those that don’t care that they will be independent contractors (you get 1099ed)
    3) those that have internet access to do reports at the end of the day (before midnight of the day you did it)
    4) those that can spell and write complete sentences
    5) those that answer what they are asked and not go off on what they think is important information which will be tossed out – it’s not about you, it’s a job.
    6) those that can do the assignment on the day assigned & not late
    7) those that can be fair & know someone’s job may be on the line
    8 ) those that can be objective and not all personal about it
    9) those that have transportation
    10) those that are responsible

There are certifications and different qualification tests that you can take but… you don’t start out with them. Sometimes each mystery shop has its individual quiz – so, first sign up and then work towards different certifications. And yes, all this is time consuming.

You usually start out by signing up with a company. Each company will have several contracts with different restaurants, stores, banks, anywhere service is provided. You’d be surprised but it isn’t just the big chains that hire mystery shopping companies, small ones do too. After you are in the database of Company X, you can sign up for email notifications of jobs in your area. Don’t think you will be bombarded with offers; they may come once a week or once a month – it all depends on the company’s contracts.

Laredoans complain about customer service all the time as if companies didn’t care or weren’t listening. They do. And they pay money to have these mystery shopping companies hire locals to check out that customer service.

Of course, the average Joe can let a particular place know what they think in many ways – this is just one formal structured way that looks for very specific things and pays you for it.

Before you start asking for the contacts to these shop companies – mystery shopping is no mystery and the info is out there in the national association directories or even on social media. I don’t want to hurt the 3 companies or reveal who they are at the risk that the companies who hire them feel exposed and break their contract. Don’t look in your local paper; don’t pay for some service, just research online since the job really is internet-based. If you are resourceful, you will find them.

Happy shopping :P.


About Que Fregados

Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to
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9 Responses to Mystery Shopping no more

  1. critters and crayons says:

    Fascinating! I seriously had no idea! 🙂

    • Que Fregados says:

      It was fun a few years ago but now I just sit back and wait for calls when they can’t find anyone else. I am the last resort worker. They up the pay a little bit more but… I am saying “no” more and more so why keep doing it.

  2. Have you thought about video mystery shopping? It pays much better than traditional shopping, and there is usually less narrative. Typically focused on apartments and retail. Just a thought for you (as the owner of mystery shopping business, I know that good shoppers are hard to find, and I hate to see burn out!). Good luck to you. Thanks for posting these comments for those that are interested in learning more.

  3. Lisa C says:

    I did this for a few years when I had one child and was a stay home Mom. Got some free items and a minimal amount of pay for doing some shopping and surverys. We got a few nice free dinners, coffees, etc. It was fun then. Now it feels like a chore. But for the right person, they are really hurting for people in Laredo based on the number of calls I still get in spite of not having done a shop in over a year (maybe two).

  4. Poncho1950 says:

    Very informative.

  5. daisy says:

    i worked retail ages 16-22 (from music, to toy store, to dept. store, to fancy shmancy boutique) NEVER AGAIN! especially with the entitled, over privileged “clientele” this town is so famous for! if you wanna know what real customer service feels like you have to take a trip outta town, anywhere! not that i cannot defend our lack of service because it’s a direct result of guess what? …that same clientele *mmhmmm* frustration quickly ensues and so does snarkiness when it comes to the endless whining and cutting to the front of the line some folks here tend to do. *eye roll*

  6. Pingback: Be a Mystery Shopper or Start Your Own Mystery Shopping Business

  7. Pingback: Mike

  8. reader says:

    very interesting. might try that video version of mystery shopping. thanks.

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