Author Topic: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)  (Read 4913 times)

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« on: December 29, 2016, 10:39:01 AM »
Hi there folks!

You may have read about fellow Mustachians doing something called mystery shopping as a side hustle. As someone who's done mystery shopping for the past year and had some experience with it, I decided to make a little guide for what can be another great side hustle.

What is mystery shopping?
Mystery shopping is when one goes into a commercial store and does an audit, usually clandestine, for compensation. Typical mystery shops include grocery stores, gas stations, big box stores, and restaurants.

How does mystery shopping work?
Typically there will be a 3rd party auditing company who is approached by a retail store. The auditor will be contracted to do compliance reviews, then said auditor "subcontracts" individual shoppers (us) to do the reviews in the form of mystery shopping.

How much money are we talking here?
Mystery shopping is completely self-regulated, meaning you go at your own pace. I tend to do a few shops per month when I am already set to get groceries, for example. I need to get groceries, might as well get paid for it at the same time. For my situation, this translates to about $30/month. This number could be much higher or much lower, depending how many shops you do. A lot of shops will have reimbursement for purchased goods. I usually get $5 for the audit, plus a reimbursement of $10.50 for groceries. Score!

There are cases when certain mystery shop assignments pay handsomely, sometimes up to $60. They have assignments in airports, where you have to get through security, adding layers of difficultly. They also have full compliance reviews where you go into a grocery store and approach the management (announced, you are not a mystery anymore), which run in the $30 range.

So how do I get started?
I'm going to recommend Market Force. It's a company that I've used for over a year now and is reputable in the mystery shopping community. I recommend this company based on my experiences, but I welcome any fellow mystery shoppers here to recommend others. I choose Market Force because they offer a healthy supply of shops and a user friendly website. With other companies, I found they didn't have shop diversity for my geographic region (i.e. only offered wireless retailers, for instance). In addition, I'm comfortable with Market Force and generally get a very comfortable feel security-wise. I've been paid by check, direct deposit, payment is always smooth, and I don't receive junk mail or spam.

The sign up link is here.
http://www.marketforce.com/become-a-mystery-shopper

The one thing I will say is that when I initially signed up and started doing shops, I received an influx of calls from Market Force reps offering me more more shops in my area. The calls were annoying because I just want to choose my own shops thank you, and I told them not to call back anymore. They eventually stopped calling.

What do I actually do on a mystery shop trip?
A typical mystery shop trip involves looking around the store and bathrooms for cleanliness, making sure things are stocked well, asking store associates the location of an item, and making note of their names. It's quite straightforward.

After the store visit you simply log in and fill out the survey for the shop you visited. You also scan in your receipt at this time.

The most important thing to note when mystery shopping is that you must do EVERYTHING the assignment says, no exceptions. Just read over the assignment beforehand and do everything honestly. For example, some assignments may want you to put a large item at the bottom of your cart, not say anything about it at checkout, and document how the cashier responds. If you didn't purchase a large item i.e. paper towels then your assignment will be invalidated and you will not receive compensation. Again, these pitfalls are easy to avoid, just read carefully and you will definitely get feel for it after your first assignment.

How much time is involved?
A grocery store (most common) takes me a little over 1 hour. This includes visiting the store as well as following up with the required online survey.

Payment
Market Force offers payment via check or direct deposit. I've done both, they pay promptly. I switched over to direct deposit after a few months, it's just faster and easier.

Taxes
You will be issued a 1099 if your compensation exceeds $600 for a given year. Mystery shop payment (Market Force calls this a "Shop Fee") counts towards your compensation, reimbursements do NOT. So for example if you do an assignment that has a $5 shop fee and $10.50 reimbursement, only the $5 counts towards the 1099.

In closing, if you're looking for a new side hustle that pays decently and completely allows you go at your own pace, give mystery shopping a try. Good luck and happy shopping!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2016, 10:44:04 AM by Cwadda »

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2016, 10:39:12 AM »
Reserved.

G-dog

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5843
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2016, 11:48:46 AM »
PTF - would like to hear from others to. Thanks for posting.

acooper610

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Age: 24
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2016, 12:46:18 PM »
Possibly interested

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2016, 09:14:33 AM »
Another grocery mystery shop in the books, completed yesterday. Here's to more in 2017.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1048
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 08:43:55 PM »
I've signed up with a few mystery shopping co's, and did a few 'shops' (diff. co's call them diff things). I'm finding they vary quite a bit, but most of them just aren't worth the time.

A couple co's require me to read the 'assignment' and answer questions about it just to apply for the job. Easy, but it takes time.
Travel takes more time than I thought it would.
I have to take pics of the receipts and upload them - easy, but more time.
The survey/reports are way more complicated than I expected.  I've had three that took over an hour (ea).   
The amount of details they expect me to remember is almost insane.  Descriptions of multiple people, exact time of multiple parts... And they clearly tell you not to take notes during the 'shop'.
Some require pictures during the 'shop', but want them taken inconspicuously.  Just not always possible.

I print out what is required for the 'shop' and review it right before getting out of my car at the shop location.    I jot notes on the print out when I get back in my car.

One shop I made $29 for about an hour.   My first one was for $5 and a free (which means I paid and will get reimbursed) lunch that took about an hour and a half (I'm tracking my times now).
I've done two new car test drives, which is easy, but it's about 3.5 hrs for $14, dealers don't say 'hi' and toss you keys.  And now I'm fielding calls to see if I'm still interested...
My last one was $20 and free drinks & appetizer for 90 mins in an upscale bar, 40 minutes travel and over an hour to do the quiz, survey & pics.


Next, I've got to figure out how to 'spend' the payments that go to my paypal account.
And register with the co. that does grocery stores.

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2017, 03:30:53 PM »
I've signed up with a few mystery shopping co's, and did a few 'shops' (diff. co's call them diff things). I'm finding they vary quite a bit, but most of them just aren't worth the time.

A couple co's require me to read the 'assignment' and answer questions about it just to apply for the job. Easy, but it takes time.
Travel takes more time than I thought it would.
I have to take pics of the receipts and upload them - easy, but more time.
The survey/reports are way more complicated than I expected.  I've had three that took over an hour (ea).   
The amount of details they expect me to remember is almost insane.  Descriptions of multiple people, exact time of multiple parts... And they clearly tell you not to take notes during the 'shop'.
Some require pictures during the 'shop', but want them taken inconspicuously.  Just not always possible.

I print out what is required for the 'shop' and review it right before getting out of my car at the shop location.    I jot notes on the print out when I get back in my car.

One shop I made $29 for about an hour.   My first one was for $5 and a free (which means I paid and will get reimbursed) lunch that took about an hour and a half (I'm tracking my times now).
I've done two new car test drives, which is easy, but it's about 3.5 hrs for $14, dealers don't say 'hi' and toss you keys.  And now I'm fielding calls to see if I'm still interested...
My last one was $20 and free drinks & appetizer for 90 mins in an upscale bar, 40 minutes travel and over an hour to do the quiz, survey & pics.


Next, I've got to figure out how to 'spend' the payments that go to my paypal account.
And register with the co. that does grocery stores.

Woah, you've done a lot more in-depth ones than me. I've only done grocery stores - now that I've done them a few times it's a lot easier to get down. I can be done with the complete assignment in 1.5 hours, including the survey afterward.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1048
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2017, 12:20:27 PM »
I applied for MarketForce last night.
Quite a long process...
They asked for more information than any other Co. I've dealt with - employment history of 5 yrs; Co's, industries they are in (and I HAD to click 'no' for so darn many) and my positions.
Income - I wasn't sure how to answer that as I'm trying multiple gigs and will focus on the ones that suit and pay me best.
Full name, Email and phone # of 2 references.
Bank account routing # - I did NOT give that, as I didn't have an account with them yet!
Got the Email that they accepted me.  Now I've got to read their intro info and shopper guidelines...
Hope I can change the PW they gave me.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1048
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2017, 11:23:44 AM »
I was able to change my MarketForce PW.   It's a small thing, but it would have annoyed me.
They recommended I apply for their co-company Certified Field Associates to do movie related things; one of them being assemble and set-up display items for movies.
Another long application process, which also included a picture of my drivers license.  They say it will take 7-10 days for them to review and approve my application...
I 'applied' for a MarketForce 'shop' of a burger place (5 Guys) and was 'approved' to do the shop.  $6 for the shop and reimbursement: up to $12.  A cheeseburger, fries and coke w/ tax was $13.98... 
You HAVE to submit MarketForce shop surveys w/in 8 hrs.  So not a Co. you can do mystery shops for after work.  I was able to go at 4:20 (it couldn't be done before 4:15) on the same day I applied.
The survey took about half an hour, including uploading a pic of my receipt.
A bit disconcerting;  the next morning, I got an EMail saying my shop was invalid because I did it before the assigned date.  I selected the date (which was the same day) when I applied for it.  They sent an Email approving/assigning the shop to me for that (same) date.
An hour later, I got an Email congratulating me on my first shop.
Their support is via Email, so I'll write to them to get it straightened out - but this is un-paid time.

Tuskalusa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 92
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2017, 11:33:16 AM »
Great over view. Thanks for posting!

iowajes

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4938
  • Location: United States
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2017, 02:59:18 PM »

Next, I've got to figure out how to 'spend' the payments that go to my paypal account.
And register with the co. that does grocery stores.

You can send PayPal to your bank account

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1048
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 07:19:37 PM »

Next, I've got to figure out how to 'spend' the payments that go to my paypal account.
And register with the co. that does grocery stores.

You can send PayPal to your bank account
Doesn't that incur a fee?

iowajes

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4938
  • Location: United States
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 07:41:29 PM »

Next, I've got to figure out how to 'spend' the payments that go to my paypal account.
And register with the co. that does grocery stores.

You can send PayPal to your bank account
Doesn't that incur a fee?

Not unless they changed it recently. I've never paid one.

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2017, 12:31:54 PM »
I was able to change my MarketForce PW.   It's a small thing, but it would have annoyed me.
They recommended I apply for their co-company Certified Field Associates to do movie related things; one of them being assemble and set-up display items for movies.
Another long application process, which also included a picture of my drivers license.  They say it will take 7-10 days for them to review and approve my application...
I 'applied' for a MarketForce 'shop' of a burger place (5 Guys) and was 'approved' to do the shop.  $6 for the shop and reimbursement: up to $12.  A cheeseburger, fries and coke w/ tax was $13.98... 
You HAVE to submit MarketForce shop surveys w/in 8 hrs.  So not a Co. you can do mystery shops for after work.  I was able to go at 4:20 (it couldn't be done before 4:15) on the same day I applied.
The survey took about half an hour, including uploading a pic of my receipt.
A bit disconcerting;  the next morning, I got an EMail saying my shop was invalid because I did it before the assigned date.  I selected the date (which was the same day) when I applied for it.  They sent an Email approving/assigning the shop to me for that (same) date.
An hour later, I got an Email congratulating me on my first shop.
Their support is via Email, so I'll write to them to get it straightened out - but this is un-paid time.

Thank you for posting your experience with Market Force so far.
Back when I applied, the application process was not nearly as lengthy. I hope it pays off for you.

catmustache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 139
  • I jumped out of a plane once. So there's that.
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2017, 11:35:45 AM »
I use Intellishop. They don't have a ton of shops available, but they're generally pretty reasonable. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to try MarketForce.



Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2017, 03:37:44 PM »
I use Intellishop. They don't have a ton of shops available, but they're generally pretty reasonable. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to try MarketForce.

I know some companies are also geographically limited. I found Marketforce to have the most in my immediate area, but there are others.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1048
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2017, 10:03:56 AM »
I've been doing mystery shopping a month now; here's an update.

I found https://www.mysteryshopforum.com/  but it's not very active and hard to read as I'm learning the jargon.
But I've learned;
MANY Co's take well over a month to pay. 
Many Co's offer you limited jobs until you prove yourself with them.   I hope I get offered jobs that pay more.

I did a 'shop' for BarE International, at a Hilton hotel bar. I spent $60 on parking, 2 drinks and an appetizer (and tips).  I had to pay in cash for each, separately (to be reimbursed).   I uploaded the pic of one receipt twice.  I got an Email that I was missing a receipt, so I uploaded the skipped receipt.  But I didn't get confirmation so I'm not sure if I'm going to be paid & reimbursed.
I applied for a BarE job of surveying customers at a brand new furniture store for $40, but they never replied. 
Now I'm getting Emails from them daily asking me to apply for survey jobs.

I'm using a Gmail function for my side-gigs.  I tell them my Email address is hipgnosis+4m@gmail.  The '+4m' is added to my regular EMail addr.  The '4m' stands for: 'for money'.  I can make a filter so all Email to that address goes to a folder.  Just gotta remember to change the 'from' to that addr. when I reply.

I've done 3 shops for BestMark; a firearms store and 2 new car test drives.  I've gotten the checks for them already.  I tried to do a 3rd test drive, but the dealer was closed for construction when I got there.  I called rep/scheduler from the parking lot.  The test drives don't pay much (so far) so I won't go over 10 mins away for them.    I applied for another test drive and didn't hear back until the day of the 'assignment'.  I didn't do it.
I am assigned to do another test drive on the 17th.
If you or someone you know has a '02+ Chevy, Buick or GMC you can make good money and get free oil changes, tire rotations, brake checks...   This could be regional and/or seasonal.

I'm tracking my mileage.  Not sure how or if I can deduct it yet.  Plenty of time to figure that out.

The Certified Field Associate (movie) shops near me so far were for someone under 30 or for someone with a teen (under 18).
 

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3119
  • Location: New York
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2017, 06:04:30 AM »
I signed up for BestMark, but I haven't done any yet. They seem to only do car service and car shopping around me. I was hoping I could get some free oil changes or something, but those seem to go pretty fast. I am mostly interested in the free swag, not so much the $10 you get for an hour of your time. I'd love to do a grocery shopping one, since that is something I'm doing anyway.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1048
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2017, 12:12:37 PM »
HAYY!!  Who moved this?  Mystery shopping is not an 'entrepreneurship'.  Or my dictionary is broke.

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2017, 11:33:48 AM »
I've been doing mystery shopping a month now; here's an update.

I found https://www.mysteryshopforum.com/  but it's not very active and hard to read as I'm learning the jargon.
But I've learned;
MANY Co's take well over a month to pay. 
Many Co's offer you limited jobs until you prove yourself with them.   I hope I get offered jobs that pay more.

I did a 'shop' for BarE International, at a Hilton hotel bar. I spent $60 on parking, 2 drinks and an appetizer (and tips).  I had to pay in cash for each, separately (to be reimbursed).   I uploaded the pic of one receipt twice.  I got an Email that I was missing a receipt, so I uploaded the skipped receipt.  But I didn't get confirmation so I'm not sure if I'm going to be paid & reimbursed.
I applied for a BarE job of surveying customers at a brand new furniture store for $40, but they never replied. 
Now I'm getting Emails from them daily asking me to apply for survey jobs.

I'm using a Gmail function for my side-gigs.  I tell them my Email address is hipgnosis+4m@gmail.  The '+4m' is added to my regular EMail addr.  The '4m' stands for: 'for money'.  I can make a filter so all Email to that address goes to a folder.  Just gotta remember to change the 'from' to that addr. when I reply.

I've done 3 shops for BestMark; a firearms store and 2 new car test drives.  I've gotten the checks for them already.  I tried to do a 3rd test drive, but the dealer was closed for construction when I got there.  I called rep/scheduler from the parking lot.  The test drives don't pay much (so far) so I won't go over 10 mins away for them.    I applied for another test drive and didn't hear back until the day of the 'assignment'.  I didn't do it.
I am assigned to do another test drive on the 17th.
If you or someone you know has a '02+ Chevy, Buick or GMC you can make good money and get free oil changes, tire rotations, brake checks...   This could be regional and/or seasonal.

I'm tracking my mileage.  Not sure how or if I can deduct it yet.  Plenty of time to figure that out.

The Certified Field Associate (movie) shops near me so far were for someone under 30 or for someone with a teen (under 18).

Wow, I'm sitting here still doing my $20 grocery store audits (did another one last night). You've certainly taken Mystery Shopping to the next level. Would you say it's all worth it?

I like the +4m idea.

HAYY!!  Who moved this?  Mystery shopping is not an 'entrepreneurship'.  Or my dictionary is broke.
I'm not sure who moved it but I'll see if the mods can move it to Reader Recommends.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1048
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2017, 04:42:01 PM »
Mystery Shopping lessons learned

Okay, I did mystery shopping for a few months.  For a handful of companies (hard to count as some companies are tied together). 
Most companies have training you have to do - video or reading (I prefer reading), and most have tests on the training you MUST pass to take an assignment or shop.
Some have specific training and test for diff types of shops.
A couple give instructions when you 'apply' for a specific shop, and at least one has tests for some shops.  This is all unpaid time.
I did a few casual restaurants, a pre-paid debit card, a high class bar (w/ appetizers),  a few retail stores and quite a few new car test drives.
Some of the companys are quite vague about what the shops will be.   The Co. that does the movie shops uses a code system that I can't fully figure out.  I asked them a yes/no question about one shop and never got an answer.  I won't say I will do something unless I know I can do it.

All the unpaid time w/ mystery shopping really whittles down the $ per hour.
You have to log into ea Co website to see what's available.  Some you can do simply by clicking that you will.  Others you apply for, so then you have to log in later to see if you got it.
When do you get a shop; some of them come with what will be on the survey you will complete after.  You have to read through the shop 'guide' and figure out what you will have to do.  I would copy and paste, and print it out. Most were more things that I would have imagined, like take a pics of: the sign by the road, the door,  the signs by the door, the approximate age of the first person that greeted me...   I took that to the shop and reviewed it right before I got out of my car.
I'd take notes on my print out when I got back in my car after the shop.

I did my shop reports/surveys on my computer.  I can't imagine doing them on a phone.  Lots of typing, lots of clicking and scrolling.  I had to connect my phone to the PC for the pics.  Some of it was inane; 'You checked the box that your sales person appeared professional.  Tell us why you checked that.  250 characters minimum.'   I got an Email back when I wrote; "his apparel and grooming met every description of 'professional' I have ever read."  Oh, and they don't tell you how many characters you've typed.

You have to repeatedly check the websites for new shops.  I did most of mine once a day.
Then there's the time for admin. tasks.    Note which shops you requested, check to see if you got them, track the dates/times of the shops you're to do.  The amounts; what they will pay, how much they will reimburse, how much you spent and then double check to ensure you got paid for it all.  The payments to PayPal have to be 'claimed'.  I'm not sure how often I need to do that.  I will have to transfer the money to my bank to be able to spend it.   Tracking my miles (for possible tax deduction).

And the EMails - so MANY BS Emails from so many of the Cos.  It all became noise.  I just got 4 in the last couple hours.  One is for $5 - for a place that is 75 miles away!!!   Just skimming thru their sender and subject takes time.

All the unpaid time REALLY destroys the $/hr.
The first 5-7 weeks, I was averaging just above $5/hr.  After that, I got more selective of my shops - got the average to around $7/hr, but that cut down the # of shops per day to less than one.
Now I check the Co websites for new shops less and less. 


BikeFanatic

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 88
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2017, 11:26:41 AM »
I have had similar experience, very low pay and the amount of time invested is high. I do feel that
I could make more if I did alot of shops and got good at it. I feel it maybe on par with driving for Uber
or Lift which is another side hustle that I am looking at.




engineermom21

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 88
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2017, 07:59:11 AM »
Mystery shopping is a great side hustle, but it does require a lot of work to get it to that point.  There are literally hundreds of companies out there, and you have to work your way through the not so great ones to find the really good paying ones.  Back before kids, I could make an extra $8-9K a year doing mystery shops (fees plus reimbursements).  Those were also the days of much higher pay for shops.  The grocery store ones that Market Force has used to pay $18, with consistent bonuses in the $20-$25 range.  Those days are sadly long gone.  I still make an average of $3-4K a year mystery shopping, which still makes it a nice little side hustle for me, but I've become very selective in the shops that I choose, as well as the time frames I do them (usually either on my lunch break or on my way home from work, if it's a quick stop) and I usually only do them for things I need anyway - groceries, oil changes, gas, an occasional date night out with the hubby, etc.


Lis

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 724
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2017, 09:30:37 AM »
Following along here... I have so many questions but no time!

Cwadda

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1812
  • Age: 23
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2017, 09:32:37 AM »
Mystery shopping is a great side hustle, but it does require a lot of work to get it to that point.  There are literally hundreds of companies out there, and you have to work your way through the not so great ones to find the really good paying ones.  Back before kids, I could make an extra $8-9K a year doing mystery shops (fees plus reimbursements).  Those were also the days of much higher pay for shops.  The grocery store ones that Market Force has used to pay $18, with consistent bonuses in the $20-$25 range.  Those days are sadly long gone.  I still make an average of $3-4K a year mystery shopping, which still makes it a nice little side hustle for me, but I've become very selective in the shops that I choose, as well as the time frames I do them (usually either on my lunch break or on my way home from work, if it's a quick stop) and I usually only do them for things I need anyway - groceries, oil changes, gas, an occasional date night out with the hubby, etc.

I agree. I don't know if I could go out of my way to do extra mystery shopping. Namely, I always do mystery shopping if it fits into what I'm already doing. If I have to go grocery shopping, I might as well mystery shop for $20 off the bill.

Errol Flynn

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Your Guide to Mystery Shopping (side hustle)
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2017, 04:37:28 PM »
I've been shopping for over a year now and, while there is certainly a learning curve in figuring out which companies and shops are worthwhile, it is definitely worth it for me. I've gotten paid to go to restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, get my oil changed, test virtual reality gear, park my car, and buy groceries, but the best part is, I get paid to buy all of my beer. And I drink a lot of beer.

I select some shops to get reimbursed for things I would purchase anyways and others to get me out of my house and explore my city without any Mustachian what-will-this-do-to-my-savings-rate guilt.

As for the actual profitability, it certainly depends on the task, but you can expect anywhere from $5-40 per report and I've never had an issue with getting paid on time. I make about $5 every time I pick up a free six pack, but I use shopping primarily as a way to cut my expenses, not to significantly boost my income.