It was a month ago that I decided to analyze on this website the pros and cons of working as mystery shopper. The regular question I got asked by anyone wanting to learn more about mystery shopping was the same, over and over: can you make money as mystery shopper? And the conclusion I reached was a positive one. You can safely work as mystery shopper
expecting to make a substantial amount of money on a regular basis – albeit you may not be able to put together a salary equivalent to the one of a full time employment.
However today I would like to help you find legitimate mystery shopper companies. In this article I am going to list what I think are the best mystery shopper companies to go for, and the top mystery shopper companies to sign up to.
When a secret shopping company is legitimate
I have often talked about why I justify enterprises, such as Wealthy Affiliate, for charging a fee for premium memberships. The likes of Wealthy Affiliate enable us to build an online business, and make a living, on a free membership – the premium option is only there if we want to gain access to more learning material and if we want to enhance our productivity and increase our earning potentials.
I remain firm, however, that no employer or company should demand payment to employ you to work for them. We should not have to pay to
work in exchange of a salary. If someone asks you to pay to employ you, steer clear: THAT’S SCAM!!!
Unfortunately, I have come across quite a few online based mystery shopping companies, who do exactly this: they ask to join in a membership, where you are put before the only option to have to pay a fee.
I cannot tell you for sure whether such companies are bona fide in the end or not, because I have never wanted to part myself from my hard-earned money to pay others to have me work for them. I simply do not trust this type of scenario.
Fortunately for me, the few companies I have worked for as mystery shopper are solid and trustworthy ones, where I have never encountered any problems, and where I have been paid the agreed fee as per original agreement.
The good companies out there, I am sure, outnumber the dodgy ones. Nevertheless, do remember to remain vigilant.
My top mystery shopper companies
As mentioned, in my days I have worked for a few good companies. Of these, I have shortlisted some top five companies, which I would like to recommend. The decision, of course, will remain yours as to whether to go with one rather than another. So, without further ado, I present to you:
#1. Mystery Shoppers
Mystery Shoppers specializes in financial assignments, and that is why I have never used it extensively. I find financial tasks far too detailed in instructions to follow as a mystery shopper, and do not trust I may be able to carry through my assignment without raising doubts in the mind of the financial expert I were to deal with.
Nevertheless, the strength of Mystery Shoppers is in the fact that they don’t leave you to your own devices, but expects you to take financial based certifications, which train you in how to what to expects of a financial assignment.
Mystery Shoppers’ strength is in offering very well-paid assignments. These can vary from £5 for being asked to send an email, to £20 to make a visit to a specific branch to make a given transaction.
It should, therefore, appeal to those of us that are knowledgeable about financial matters. The assignments, in my opinion, require longer preparation and for you to know what you are talking about – you may have to deal with enquiries regarding mortgaging packages or loans. But if you are asked for more commitment, you also get rewarded more generously.
#2. Performance in People
I like the fact that Performance in People offers different and varied ways to do mystery shopping. Like some other companies, you can request to be a video mystery shopper too – you are required to provide your own coveted equipment, but the rate of pay is much higher.
I have to point out that I have never been a coveted video mystery shopper. To me it resembles the job of private investigator too closely, and I have always felt I would lack in skills and dexterity. Nevertheless, Performance in People appeals to me because it offers opportunities for website based and email based mystery shopping. And, in order for you not to have to use your own email address, Performance in People offers the very much attractive prospect of being able to use its own email portal to receive marketing emails as well as to post your reports.
Other types of retail mystery shopping Performance in People offers are very much to do with big car brands, such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi. But I’d sooner be involved in the website aspect of testing a sales environment, as I can easily do this from the comfort of my own home.
#3. UK Marketforce
Now, UK Marketforce is another mystery shopping company that is very much up my street. And the reason why I am particularly fond of this platform is because of the super duper user-friendly dashboard you get access too as soon as you log in. In fact, the dashboard is very similar to the old dashboard used by GAP Buster in the past.
As you access the dashboard, you are presented with the number of jobs available for each category you originally signed up for, i.e. restaurants, fast foods, retail, pharmacies, etc. As you then access the individual lists, each job is listed down, showing in details what it entails and, most importantly, how much you are going to get paid for it. And again, the pay scale seems to reflect the one of GAP Buster, with jobs for fast food restaurants paying you between £5-8 as well as refunding you the expense of a meal up to approximately £10. Again, not bad at all for, say, an hour work at most.
However, be careful, as some jobs do not pay you any fee, but purely reimburse you your purchase.
#4. Helion Research
I think Helion Research is a very well-established international organization, and possibly for this reason it seems to pay good money. However, at least for the area where I live, it keeps offering car related jobs, which may not be up to everybody’s sleeve.
You definitely want to go for Helion if you don’t mind test-driving a lot of cars, as mostly the jobs Helions offers are the ones of contacting garages and pretending you are interested in vehicles, with a potential view to purchasing one.
Be careful with such jobs though, as you will be required to cancel your order promptly after completing your assignment, or else you are going to find yourself committed to a rather expensive purchase.
#5. GBW (formerly GAP Buster)
This company has been by far my favourite. It offers mystery shopping as well as prearranged auditing visits. But the reason why I found it to be the one for me is due to the type of mystery shopping it offers. GAP Buster (or GBW, as it’s now called since the recent re branding exercise it has undergone) has marketing contracts with approachable companies in UK, such as the likes of McDonalds chain of restaurants, with petrol stations and with local gastro pubs.
I haven’t worked for GAP Busters for a few years now – I had to give up my commitment some three years ago when I became overwhelmed by my father’s illness. But I found the types of tasks I used to choose quite feasible. Filling up my car at a specific local petrol station, or having a McDonald Saturday breakfast did not put me out of my weekly routine overly, so that working on my mystery tasks ended up becoming a natural part of my daily habits.
GAP Busters used to pay me regularly and on time. Depending on assignments, the pay rate may vary from a few pounds to having the full McDonald meal refunded, to have some £5 refunded on your Aldi shopping. You can see, therefore, that I could easily make some extra £20-30 a week with no much effort – not a great amount of money, some will say, but just about the extra pocket money I needed at the time. In the end, I managed to make some £100 a month regularly over a period of three months.
One last word of advice
As mentioned in my previous post on mystery shopping, you can see for yourself from my recommendations, that yes, you can make a substantial amount of money from mystery shopping. However, you will rarely build a full time salary. Mystery shopping is a complementary income, and many companies do remind you about the limited earnings at the point of registering for the first time.
Also, be careful not to spread out too far from your area. I live not far from London, but not quite in London. I noticed that I am regularly proposed jobs based in London – and frankly, if I lived in London, I could jump from one area of the Big Smoke to another with a seasonal all-inclusive Tube ticket, without spending additional travel fee. However it would cost me extra time and money to travel into central London from my town. In that case, I’d sooner accept fewer jobs, but more localized to where I live, so that I do not end up loosing money rather than earning them.
As mentioned above, be aware of those assignments where you need to pretend to make expensive purchases. Your mystery shopping company
will remind you to cancel the order placed promptly, or else you may end up finding yourself committed for a bank loan or for the purchase of a Lamborghini without being able to afford repayments!!!
Equally, be aware of those assignments where you are only reimbursed the expense that you made. These types of payment may be just as rewarding if you genuinely make that purchase as you need that merchandise.
Finally, and especially if you favour those easy and straightforward jobs, such as restaurants, pubs and fast foods, be careful not to take too many on board – you will end up piling the pound before you know it!!!
All this said, I surely don’t want to put you off from trying a stint of mystery shopping. Believe me, provided you pay attention – well, literally – it is easy and fun money. So, what are you waiting for, give it a go! And leave your comment below to let me know what your thoughts are about the whole mystery shopping experience.