Mystery shoppers work for market research firms hired by retailers to evaluate the quality of their products and services. Here's how to get paid to shop.
Step 1: Have the right equipment Ensure you have a computer with internet access, as most companies require filing reports online. Also have reliable transportation for visiting businesses in person.
Step 2: Register online Register online with multiple companies that hire shoppers. These can be found with simple keyword searches.
TIP: Scams are common. Never pay to work for a company or deal with one that asks you to cash a check in advance of the job and wire money back.
Step 3: Carefully apply Fill out online applications carefully, as they are evaluated for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Most assignments involve submitting written reports.
TIP: Some companies may have you submit a practice write-up before you're hired.
Step 4: Consider jobs carefully Consider job criteria carefully, including travel distance and deadlines. If you miss a deadline, you may not get another job from that company.
TIP: Most jobs pay between eight and 30 dollars. If the job pays much more, be wary -- it could be a scam.
Step 5: Consolidate and organize Consolidate several trips in the same area at around the same time to avoid wasting time and gas. Keep track of all your jobs in a journal or log and include all pertinent details.
Step 6: Blend in Pose as a customer, blending in with your clothing and mannerisms, and take notes in the bathroom or in your car. If you have to make a purchase, save receipts.
Step 7: Evaluate Fill out the evaluation form and scan or fax any receipts to be reimbursed by the mystery shopping company. Then go out and find your next job.
FACT: U.S. retail and food services sales were an estimated $340 billion in May 2009.