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mystery shopping

Site Review: MysteryShopMaven.com

by Nicole on November 4, 2010

You all know how much I enjoy mystery shopping and there really isn’t that much information on the web about mystery shopping that I trust.  That’s why I am excited to introduce you to MysteryShopMaven.com.  This is a site dedicated completely to mystery shopping and is written by a very experienced mystery shopper.

You’ll find articles on all topics ranging from how to find legit mystery shopping companies to how to spot mystery shopping scams.  The articles are well-written and there are a number of helpful comments that are worth reading on the articles.

One of my favorite articles is about the kind of details that should be included in a mystery shopping report.  There aren’t any other tutorials like this online and so especially for those just starting out, this article is a must-read!

The categories of the posts are on the right hand side to make navigation of the site easy.  I learned a few tips myself from the “working with schedulers” category that will definitely help me with future assignments and shops.

This post was sponsored by MysteryShopMaven.com.  All opinions are 100% mine.

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Mystery Shopping Scams

by Nicole on October 21, 2010

I have been mystery shopping for almost 2 years now and am consistently amazed at the number of people who fall victim to mystery shopping scams.  In fact, I know there are many people out there who think that all mystery shopping is a scam.  I hope my numerous blog posts on the topic have proved that misconception wrong!

I think the most likely victim of a mystery shopping scam is a person who is not tech savvy and unfamiliar with the Internet.  If that’s you, please be extra careful!

Here are my 5 guidelines for avoiding mystery shopping scams:

1.  Sign up for legit companies only. Check out my blog posts about the companies I work with – I’ve been paid timely by all of them and have had good experiences.

2. Keep track of all of the companies you are signed up with. I keep a simple spreadsheet with the name of the company, website address and other information.  Respond to emails sent by these companies only.  Unsolicited mystery shopping emails may be scams.

3. Research all offers! If you receive an offer from a company you aren’t signed up with (and I haven’t blogged about), do your research! Check out the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association as well as for the forums on Volition.  Google the company and check out what is being said about them.

4. Discuss with friends. While revealing which companies shop which stores is a violation of your ICA agreement with each company, it’s ok to discuss companies and reputations with others.  Send me an email or post on a forum and you’ll likely receive great information about the company you are investigating.

5. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! If someone is offering you a $1,000 fee for cashing a check or some other similar transaction then it is likely a scam – you should be paid in proportion to the work you are doing.  Use common sense!

It’s easy to spot scams in mystery shopping especially if you go through the steps I have outlined.  There are MANY legit companies and assignments out there!

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Second to None Mystery Shopping Company

by Nicole on September 22, 2010

It’s been a while since I brought you a new mystery shopping company to sign up for so here’s one!

The company is called Second to None.  I have been signed up with them for a long time but hadn’t picked up any assignments.  I recently completed my first assignment and got paid so I am happy to tell you about them!

Second to None has a variety of assignments available, everything from quick restaurants to more intensive shops.  I sometimes get emails about open shops but I think it would be wise to log in frequently for the largest choice of assignments.  Payment was via Paypal and was made timely.

It is, of course, FREE to sign up for Second to None, like it is all the mystery shopping companies  I blog about.  You should NEVER pay to sign up with a company.  If you’d like more information about mystery shopping you can read my Mystery Shopping 101 post, my Mystery Shopping FAQ’s post, and all of the posts I have written about mystery shopping companies.

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Mystery Shopping – Top 10 FAQ’s

by Nicole on August 18, 2010

Lots of the reader questions I get via email have to do with mystery shopping and so I decided to put together a post  highlighting some of these FAQ’s!

Question #1:  Do you have to pay to sign up for mystery shopping?

Answer: No, NEVER.  Do not pay to sign up with a company, they should be paying you!

Question #2: I got an email asking me to accept an assignment to cash a large check and then wire the money out of the country.  Is this a scam?

Answer: YES, this is a scam.  I stay away from any check cashing shops as most are scams, especially if the assignment is received in an email from a company you are not signed up with.  If it sounds too good to be true (i.e. you earn $500 for just cashing a check) then it probably is!

Question #3: I’ve never mystery shopped before but I want a free cruise as my first shop.  Is this feasible?

Answer: NO! You’ll need to become an experienced shopper and really prove yourself to the companies you work with before they will give you the more lucrative paying assignments.

Question #4: Do I have to pay anything OOP (out of pocket) when I mystery shop?

Answer: It depends on the assignment.  For a restaurant or retail store where you are being reimbursed for purchases then most likely yes.  There are some shops that are fee only like a car dealership and those you wouldn’t have to pay OOP.  Read your shop assignment carefully before accepting the assignment if this concerns you.

Question #5: Do I have to claim the money I make mystery shopping on my taxes?

Answer: I am not a tax expert so you’ll need to consult one to answer this question. Generally, ANY money you earn, regardless of the source is taxable, no matter how much money it is.

Question #6: How do I find out which companies have shops in my areas?

Answer: You won’t know until you sign up.  You sign a confidentiality agreement with each company so you can’t tell people who they shop for.  You’ll need to sign up with as many companies as possible to have the best selection of shops.

Question #7: Why do they need my social security number?

Answer: Because they need to report your earnings to the government just like any employer.  If they didn’t collect this information then they wouldn’t be legit.

Question #8Where do you find the companies you sign up with and how do you know they are legit?

Answer:  I use the forums at Volition and also look for companies who are members of the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association.  I also google the name of the company to see what people are saying.

Question #9: How do you know when shops are available in your area?

Answer: I check many companies job boards online every day to make sure I don’t miss any shops.  Some companies release shops once a month and you get to know when the release date is.  Other companies send emails when shops are available, it depends on the company.

Question #10: What do you think are 3 necessary traits for a mystery shopper?

Answer: Responsible, discreet and flexible

Check out my posts on mystery shopping for more information!

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Mystery Shopping: Ritter Associates

by Nicole on May 11, 2010

I am trying to do mystery shops with different companies so that I can bring you all more legit companies to sign up with.  Many of you email me asking for more so here is another one!

I have completed one shop with Ritter Associates and it went very smoothly.  I am not a giant fan of their job assignment system – it’s a little difficult to search but they do send me frequent emails letting me know what opportunities are available in my area which I much appreciate!

The shop assignment was clear and the report was very straightforward.  I received a check for my shop very quickly and will not hesitate to accept another assignment from Ritter Associates!

As always, it’s FREE to sign up to be a mystery shopper for any of the companies I blog about. You can read more about the mystery shopping companies I blog about here. Please read my Mystery Shopping 101 post for more information.

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Mystery Shopping Company: About Face

by Nicole on April 6, 2010

It’s been a while since I talked about a new mystery shopping company but here is one! I recently completed a shop with About Face and received my payment. 

About Face is of course FREE to sign up for and they offer shops around the country.  I found their instructions to be clear and their shop report form straightforward.  It did take several months to be paid via Paypal but I was paid.  Make sure to read about the other mystery shopping companies I am signed up with as well my tips on being a successful mystery shopper!

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Mystery Shopping: JC & Associates

by Nicole on December 24, 2009

JC & Associates is a mystery shopping company that I have been signed up with from the beginning but only recently completed a shop for them.  The shop was a fairly simple quick casual restaurant shop and the reimbursment/payment were very fair for the length and complexity of the shop report.  My only complaint about this company is that it took a while to be paid.

I recently received an email from JC & Associates that they are merging with another company and payments will be processed quicker.  I was happy to hear that as they have a nice selection of national restaurant chains to shop at.  As always, it’s FREE to register and you’re under no obligation to ever complete a shop.

To learn more about mystery shopping, please read my Mystery Shopping 101 post. For a list of other mystery shopping companies I have discussed click here.

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Mystery Shopping: Gfk

by Nicole on November 27, 2009

GfK is another company I have been signed up with since I first started mystery shopping but only recently completed my first shop with them. I received the assignment via email as it was very time sensitive. I was amazed at how quickly the shop was assigned to me and how quickly I was paid!Payment was made via Paypal within a few weeks of the shop. I had to take and pass a short quiz before doing the assignment that was very simple. The form was short and no narrative was required for the shop I did! I love that!

As always, it’s FREE to sign up with the mystery shopping companies I blog about.

To learn more about mystery shopping, please read my Mystery Shopping 101 post. For a list of other mystery shopping companies I have discussed click here.

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Mystery Shopping: Retail Eyes

November 17, 2009

I have been signed up with Retail Eyes for a long time but just recently completed my first shops with them. I wanted to wait until I received my payment before posting about the company. Everything went very smoothly so I feel comfortable recommending my readers sign up to shop with them!Retail Eyes is FREE […]

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National Shopping Service

October 27, 2009

I signed up for National Shopping Service a while ago but just recently completed (and was paid for!) my first shop. I found the directions to be clear and straightforward and the shop form was fairly easy to enter. In my area they have quick casual restaurants and retail establishments primarily. The site is easy […]

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ICU Associates

September 29, 2009

I have done several mystery shops with ICU Associates when I was offered a bonus. This company will offer high bonuses (including mileage and tolls) towards the end of the month to complete open shops. I did a shop very close to my house and was paid quite handsomely for not so much effort. The […]

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Mystery Shopping: National Shopping Service

September 15, 2009

National Shopping Service is a fairly new mystery shopping company to me but I find the shops easy to schedule and the reports easy to complete – both a bonus in my book! There is a good variety of food and retail shops near me and I like how you can indicate you are interested […]

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Review: The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping

September 3, 2009

PamInCa recently emailed me to let me know that she had published a book on mystery shopping called The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping and asked me to review a copy of it. I’m so excited about this book and couldn’t wait to share it with my readers. The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping is […]

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Mystery Guest, Inc.

August 27, 2009

I’ve had Mystery Guest, Inc. on my to-blog about list for several months and I’m excited to tell you about this company. I have completed several shops for them (for me, their only shops are a big name “chain” of restaurants that most everyone I know LOVES) and find their reports to be very straightforward […]

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Coyle Hospitality

August 5, 2009

Coyle Hospitality is the “creme de la creme” of mystery shopping companies. Their application is 5 screens and asks a lot of questions but don’t let this deter you! They focus on fine dining restaurants, high-end hotels and luxurious spas. These aren’t your $5 gas station shops! That being said, they want people who are […]

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Service with Style

July 21, 2009

I have been signed up with Service with Style for about 4 months now and am happy with their timely payments and variety of shops in my area. They have many restaurant and bar shops where I am and I have seen other kinds of shops listed in other areas. They use the “prophet” system […]

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Tell Us About Us

July 1, 2009

Tell Us About Us is another mystery shopping company that I have shopped with for some time now. I have always been paid in a timely fashion and found that the shops were fairly compensated for the tasks I was required to perform and the report I had to complete. The editors I dealt with […]

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Feedback Plus

June 19, 2009

Feedback Plus is a new mystery shopping company for me. I have completed two (2) shops with them and was paid extremely quickly on both which makes me happy! I didn’t get any questions from the editors – I didn’t even get any feedback at all which is rare with mystery shopping. I don’t mind […]

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GameFilm Consultants

June 11, 2009

GameFilm Consultants is yet another great and legit mystery shopping company. If you are new to mystery shopping, make sure to read my Mystery Shopping 101 post here and to check out all my recommended mystery shopping companies here. I have completed a series of telephone mystery shops with GameFilm and was paid timely via […]

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Service Intelligence – Experience Exchange

June 4, 2009

Service Intelligence – Experience Exchange is the next in the series of mystery companies I have worked with and want to tell my readers about. I have been working with this company since the first days of my mystery shopping experience over a year ago now. They are very professional and pleasant to work with […]

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