Thursday, May 24, 2012

Secret Shopping Tips From the Experienced

1.  NEVER PAY TO JOIN A SECRET SHOP COMPANY.  There are a lot of companies you can join for free.  Yes, you will have to purchase items and be reimbursed for, but don't pay just to sign up.  Also, if you're spending a lot of money on the shop (see point 3 for an example), I would suggest doing a smaller shop for them first to make sure they're legit.  I haven't run into a scam company yet (except one I heard about in the newspaper classifieds that asked you to pay to shop).  But it's always better safe than sorry. 

2. Write things down.  Make notes inconspicuously as you shop so you remember things for the surveys. 

3. Check out the surveys that you will have to fill out for each shop.  Some get long and detailed.  (The Qwest one always took me an hour to full out)  So make sure it's worth your time.

Example:  We did a secret shop for an Iowa State football game. (We cheered for the opposing team who obviously won. lol)  We got free tickets, reimbursed for parking, and up to $110 in food.  Seriously!  It was great.  But we had to secret shop at least 6 different concession stands and fill out a survey for each of them.  I spent the whole second half of the game going from place to place, buying things and taking notes.  Then two hours that night entering the info in.  It was totally worth it, even if it was Iowa State. 

4. Check the requirements for receipt submission.  Sometimes you're required to scan or fax them, so you'll need a scanner or access to a fax machine.  Make sure you can fulfill that part of the requirements.

5. Be thorough.  They will contact you if you leave something out, but make sure you check your e-mail often to see if they are following up with you.

6. Check often.  The good shops go fast, and things become available all the time.

7. You can cancel shops after your "sign up" for them.  So if you're not sure, sign up for them right away before they're gone and you can always cancel them.  But make sure you check to see the deadline for canceling them.  And, if you cancel a lot of them, you may not be eligible for those shops for a little while.  But it's not too bad.

8. Occasionally, as a member, a company will e-mail you with a job that really needs done.  Sometimes, they are pretty desperate to get them done.  If you feel that is the case, and the money offered is not worth your while, make them an offer.  They don't always accept it, but its helpful to them to know that you're available if needs be for the right price.

For Example:  When living in Ankeny, Qwest needed a job done in Ames (About 30+ miles away).  I told them how far away it was and gave them a price for mileage to travel there and back.  Or once, I just said I'd do it for $50.   On several occasions they either paid my mileage or the dollar amount I threw out there because they were so desperate.  This doesn't happen very often, but it's good to know in case something comes up. 

9. If you sign up for a job, and forget, don't do the shop.  Chances are you won't be reimbursed if you're late.  But you can call them, tell them you forgot and ask them to reschedule.  Also, if you forget to enter in your info, don't just give up.  Call/e-mail them and explain and see if it's still OK.  It's always best to check.

10. Some of the companies have phone shops you can do from home.  They might be in another city or state, but you can still do them.  Watch for those!  They are usually the best money makers because you don't have to drive anywhere and they're short.

For Example:  I did about 20 Dominos shops one time.  (3 a day for a few days, there was a limit on how many per day)  They don't pay a lot, but you just call and order a pizza, then call right back and cancel the order.  Takes about 2 minutes, plus time to enter the survey. 

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