Being a mystery shopper can be a great source of extra income, but like any job, you want to make sure your gig is actually legitimate. Because the industry is growing in popularity, there are plenty of jobs out there that are actually scams, and if you’re trying to make some money, you don’t want to fall victim to one of these companies that could end up taking advantage of you.
If you want to get started in mystery shopping, it’s important you know which companies are the best. For starters, legitimate companies will never make you pay to join or to view their list of jobs. To be extra sure, you can also check to see if a company is a member of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the official organization that monitors mystery shopping companies.
Here are some of the best mystery shopping companies to work for. Check out their jobs pages for opportunities in your area.
1. Best Mark
Best Mark has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+, so you can rest assured that this company is the real deal. Their clients are comprised of Global and Fortune 500 companies in industries including casinos, financial institutions, hotels, restaurants and retail stores.
2. Perception Strategies, Inc.
Like Best Mark, Perception Strategies also has a top rating from the BBB, but its industry focus is a bit different. The healthcare marketing and research firm does “mystery” calls and visits to doctors’ offices.
3. Quest For The Best
Another company with an A+ BBB rating, Quest for The Best is a mystery-shopping company that covers many industries. They require mystery shoppers to do research via phone, online and in-person.
4. Sinclair Customer Metrics
Sinclair Customer Metrics has an A+ BBB rating and looks for mystery shoppers to do in-person shopping for restaurants, banks, retail shops or convenience stores, plus they look for telephone mystery shopping,
5. Secret Shopper
Secret Shopper has been around for 25 years and even hires worldwide. It has an A rating from the BBB, and you don’t need any experience to start working there.
How To Look Out For Mystery Shopping Scams
Look at the review sections for each of the above listings, and you are likely to see complaints from customers who’ve been “scammed” by individuals or companies posing as legit mystery shopping businesses.
Sinclair Customer Metrics had this advice for how to avoid mystery shopping scams:
1. Be VERY suspicious of emails originating from free public emails services such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, Gmail, etc. Also avoid email addresses originating from countries outside the United States.
2. Be VERY suspicious of emails using poor or broken English.
3. Avoid scams involving payment via cashier’s check, money order, or wire transfer.
4. Use common sense. Avoid suspicious jobs and insure you are dealing with a reputable company and not an individual. Also be on the lookout for communication from businesses with names similar to legitimate institutions (eg. BestMarque instead of BestMark).
Aside from scams, billing (delayed or challenged payments) seems to be the chief complaint for mystery shoppers. A few notes on how to minimize this risk:
1. Be sure to ask up front what the invoicing and payment process is like.
2. Make sure you ask what the turnaround time is for payment, and if there are any reasons you should be aware of up-front that may end up delaying it.
3. Ensure you have a legitimate point of contact at the organization, and ask them whom you can contact about any issues with projects or delayed payments.