mystery shopper woman trying a macaron

Yes, it’s a real job. I know a woman who is a mystery shopper, and I was a mystery shopper when I first relocated from Detroit to Atlanta. Mystery shopping can be a fun, no-hassle way to earn some extra income while taking part in enjoyable activities like shopping, eating at restaurants, and visiting the local museum. 

What kinds of stores do you check out as a Mystery Shopper?

The types of mystery shops you can perform vary. There are mystery shops that are just a matter of making phone calls to apartment rental offices to see if you get a call-back.

I checked out a gas station bathroom for one shop, but I agreed to that. That’s one of the good things about being a mystery shopper – you accept open jobs based on your availability, interest, and proximity. For the gas station shop, I had to follow meticulous instructions to assess the cleanliness of a gas station bathroom. 

There are companies that will hire you to check out the security at the local aquarium, or shops where you have to take a picture of the exterior of a franchise and email it back to corporate headquarters. 

The key to successful mystery shop experiences is to find reputable companies that frequently hire mystery shoppers. These small companies are always looking for reliable partners and if you can consistently deliver on jobs, they will likely keep you busy in the weeks and months to come. 

The pay for mystery shopping varies per job. The Federal Trade Commission recommends checking with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association for a list of reputable companies.  Be forewarned that membership with the MSPA is not free but you do not have to join the organization to benefit from the information on the site.

Skills inventory

Dependability, organization, meticulousness

Physical/virtual inventory

Transportation, phone with voice mail, computer, internet connection

Launch cost

There’s no cost, though there can be a cost to join the MSPA.

Mystery shoppers don’t need to market