Sunday, June 29, 2008

Financial Services Mystery Shopping

My first mystery shop review of a banking institution was an assignment from ath Power. It was a phone shop. I was excited to be able to perform a shop that did not even require me leaving my house. If you get the chance to do phone shops - take them. They are very easy to perform. Most phone shops have you dial a toll free telephone number that is then redirected to the company you are shopping. The call is then recorded. After you complete the call you can replay it to review call details when you are completing the questionnaire.
Since those first shops I have also done shops at bank locations for ath Power. Some were evaluations of teller transactions while others required meeting with a financial services representative.

ath Power (pronounced eighth) is a full service marketing research firm providing research to banking and financial institutions. ath Power is recognized as the leading mystery shopping firm for the financial services industry.

To apply to become a mystery shopper for ath Power is FREE. Click here for the application

ath Power has easy to complete questionnaires and pays via check.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Grocery Store Mystery Shopping Saves You Money

Sinclair Customer Metrics is the next secret shopper company that I want to tell everyone about. There are few reasons why I like doing mystery shops for Sinclair.

First of all when there are shops in my area that I am qualified to do but I have not had time to go to the website to find them, their system emails me a link to available shops. I click on it and it shows me the list. This is a nice time saver.

The second reason that I like mystery shops for Sinclair is the types of shops I can expect they will have on a regular basis. I can almost always get a shop that is for a local grocery store (Albertson's and Save-A-Lot usually) and with that shop I can kill two birds with one stone. I can do my shopping and get paid while I am doing it. Plus I am only using gas to make one trip - another savings. And when you do your taxes that mileage is a business expene.

A good tip for anyone doing a grocery store shop is to use your grocery store list as a place to jot down fast notes. Name tags and descriptions can start to blend together when you are first starting. Especially if you have to visit five different departments and have five interactions with different employees. That is typical in a grocery store shop. You normally will have to go to the produce, deli, bakery, seafood and customer service department. In addition you still have to check out and that means reviewing the cashier and grocery bagger. So far, that is 7 people you will have to commit name and descriptions to memory. If you interact with each one in their own department and then browse the store while shopping you can easily jot down notes on your shopping list and no one will be the wise. Grocery stores are the one kind of shop where you can get away with this because it is part of normal grocery shopper behavior to carry a list and a pen.
They pay by check and I have always been paid on time by Sinclair.
To sign up to be a shopper it is FREE.
After you sign up you will need to review the briefing modules for each kind of shop you want to be considered to perform and take a certification test. It takes a little time but it is worth it. Other shops I have done for Sinclair have included Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma and Auntie Annie's.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The BIG Money - Apartment Complex Reviews

The next company that I am going to share with you pays quite well but you absolutely will have to work hard and capture all the details of your mystery shop accurately to complete a property review. Ellis Partners in Mystery Shopping, or EPMS, brags on their web site that "For over twenty years, Ellis has been offering the most comprehensive and accurate shopping report available."

Well, they aren't kidding! I have done about a dozen shops for Ellis and they are time consuming. Typically you have to call the property before visiting. You input this data into your mystery shopping report before you go and visit the property. You will have to give your real contact information to the apartment complex because:
1. The copy your ID before they show you a unit.
2. The complex is graded on how and if they follow up with after you have completed the shop.

Since you will have given your identity to the apartment complex you are unable to shop the same complex more than one time in a 12 month period of time.

If you want to see what a shop for Ellis is like you can see a sample of a mystery shop report, listen to an audio shop, and also watch a video of a video recorded shop by clicking here

Register for FREE and Sign Up for Auto Alerts to be emailed to you when shops come available in your area!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Variety of FUN Shops from BestMark

Some of the widest varieties of mystery shops are offered on a regular basis from BestMark.

BestMark successfully provides surveying, auditing and management solution programs for leading customer-focused companies in an array of industries from hospitality to automotive, lending institutions to retailers, casinos to government testing sites, e-tailers to grocers.

  • Hospitality (Hotels, restaurants, fast food, quick-serve, coffee houses, golf courses)
  • Retail
  • Manufacturers
  • Banks / Financial Institutions
  • Health Clubs
  • Airlines / Travel
  • Government Services
  • Casinos / Gaming
  • Home Builders
  • Service Stations
  • Convenience Stores
  • Department Stores
  • Shopping Malls
  • E-tailers
  • Drug Stores and Pharmacies
  • Home Improvement / Hardware
  • Specialty and Big Box Retailers

One of the coolest things about signing up to be a shopper for BestMark is that you can check for shopping opportunities in your area before you go all the way through completing your application. Just select the state that you want to check from the drop down list on this page of the web site.

Somethings you need to know about becoming a shopper for BestMark:

  1. Must be 21 years of age or older.
  2. Must have reliable transportation.
  3. Must have good written communication skills.
  4. Must be able to focus on details.
  5. Must have full internet access (at home or at work).

Online application to become a shopper at BestMark is located at and as with any reputable mystery shopping organization is FREE!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

FREE Fine Dining for TWO!!!

Attention Foodies and Food Critics! Sometimes mystery shopping doesn't pay but it reimburses you in exchange for your review. I found a great company that offers reimbursement for restaurant reviews. Imaging, you get to go out on the town, have a great meal (usually with a friend) and then after your review is received and approved you get reimbursed 100% for the meal you got to enjoy.

As with any real mystery shopping company it is FREE to sign up to become a shopper with A Closer Look.

Some things you should know:

  • A Closer Look serves hospitality providers, retailers and service related industries.

  • They only allow you to perform one shop per month for them.

  • They pay you on the 3rd Friday of following calendar month via check.

If you are curious as to what kind of reimbursement you get here is a sample of what was required to purchase for a recent shop I performed.

DINNER (w/Bar Visit):
At least ONE alcoholic beverage AT THE BAR
2 beverages of your choice
Share 1 appetizer
2 DIFFERENT entrees
Share 1 dessert
*NOTE: You are welcome to order other items if desired.

Not too shabby, right? They also reimbursed up to 15% for the tip!

Since I am a single mom sometimes it is hard to to afford eating out but now I know that at least once a month I can take out a friend and enjoy a great meal it really gives me something to look forward to. Writing the review seems like a great exchange and it is so easy to do as long as you read all the shop guidelines and follow them to the letter.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Suddenly I was Making Money Mystery Shopping!

The next company that I signed up to be a mystery shopper with had higher pay outs! I was excited. Quickly I realized why the compensation offered was higher than my first retail shops.

My first assignment was evaluating a custom home builder and their sales staff. My "shop" or visit to the community was about an hour long. Upon returning home, I found that I spent a good ninety minutes writing up the comments for my review.

Why did it take so long? The shopping company had specific guidelines that had to be followed to have your review accepted and approved. If your review was well written and did not have to be sent back for further editing or clarification they offered to pay a bonus in addition to the fee for the shop. Also, they rate each shopper based on how well your reviews are written (they add all of them up for a cumulative score) and I wanted to be sure to get the highest rank I could. I tended to overwrite my comments at first in a word document. Then I would have to edit and pair down my comments to fit into the allowed word count when cutting and pasting them into the online portal for the shopping company.

Well, it paid off. I had performed two of these shops and was awarded the full amount plus the additional bonus offered. I made $100 for 4-1/2 hours of my time. That averages out to $22.22 per hour. Not bad for an afternoon!

So who was the shopping company? About Face - The World's Premier Mystery Shopping Company. Sign up to become a shopper today. It's FREE!

About Face has high expectations of it's shoppers. You must support all of your comments and observations with facts. In order to be a successful shopper for About Face you must pay prepare for your shops thoroughly and pay attention to detail. I have done shops for this company that paid in the range of $25 - $45 per shop. However, I had to work hard to earn that money. As I said earlier, your reviews must be detailed, fact based and well written. Always spell and grammar check your reviews before submitting them on the portal. If a review gets kicked back to you to edit it reduces your payout and your shopper score.

I have always paid on time from About Face and I opt to receive my check from them in the mail. They do offer a pay pal payment option if you don't have time to wait for a paper check.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Market Force Mystery Shopping

I had heard gotten a lot of junk emails about getting paid to mystery shop. I had begun to believe that I was searching for a job that did not exist. But when I read a post on a bulletin board from someone that I knew was a former mystery shopper I made a note of the company name and did some digging. That is when I found Shop N Check. Since I started doing mystery shopping for the company in 2007 they have since changed their name to Market Force Information. They were the first company I signed up with to do mystery shopping. From here, many doors opened. Market Force Information is an established and legitimate mystery shopping provider.

Mystery shopping, also known as secret shopping, is fun and YOU can make a huge difference in how consumer products are presented and offers that are sold. There are no set rules for becoming a mystery shopper but I can definitely give you some tips on how to be successful after you have registered as a shopper with different agencies. The information you collect and report helps companies implement strategies and training programs to improve their customer experience. Good customer service benefits us all.

As a part-time Independent Contractor (not an employee), you sign up for assignments and receive complete guidelines for each shop that you choose. Average shop times vary between 20 minutes to 2 hours. Shoppers are paid once a month either by check or direct deposit, for all approved shops completed in the prior calendar month. I highly recommend setting up your direct deposit as soon as you sign up as a shopper. It is easy to do on the website and secure.

Market Force has always paid me on time! I made enough with this one shopping company to pay my home phone, cable and high speed Internet bill each month last fall.

How to Become a Mystery Shopper with Market Force
Apply online today! It is FREE!