Well, it’s that time again. By now you should have received 1099s from any mystery shopping companies that paid you more than $600 last year. Every year I get questions from secret shoppers about 1099s, so here are the answers to some of the questions I receive most often.
|Mystery shopping is a legitimate way to make money; however, if you received a large check and were told to wire money somewhere, don't do anything until you read about mystery shopping scams.|
I recently got this question from a mystery shopper:
I just got my first fine dining assignment, and I can’t believe how much food we have to order! The instructions say that the mystery shop is for two adults, and we have to order an appetizer, two entrees, two side dishes and dessert. We usually share one meal, so I know we can’t eat all of that! Can we order one of the meals to-go? Would it be okay if we brought home a doggie bag?
First of all, congratulations on getting the fine dining shop assignment. They can be a lot of work, but you usually get to enjoy a really good meal in a nice atmosphere. It beats the heck out of a lot of jobs I have had in my life!
As you know, it is important that you follow all of the guidelines. That means that you need to order all of the required items, even if it is more food than you would normally order.
So can you get some of the food to-go, or take home the leftovers? Of course, the answers depend on the specific guidelines for your shop assignment, but here is how most restaurant mystery shops handle this. …continue reading Can a Mystery Shopper Take Home Leftovers?
Secret shoppers who are registered with several mystery shopping companies may get dozens to hundreds of job offer emails every day. The flood of email can seem overwhelming.
How can you deal with all of the email, while still having time to mystery shop and have a life?
One good first step is to have an email account that you use exclusively for registering with secret shopping companies. This way you can deal with you shopper emails separately from others. You might consider setting up an account with Gmail or another free service for this.
Be sure to associate this email account with your PayPal account, so that payments from mystery shopping companies reach you. Also, if you have an MSPA shopper certification, you will need to get a new certification code. Your certification code is tied to your email address, so when your email address changes a new code is required. …continue reading Too Much Mystery Shopper Email?
A shopper asks:
I am getting ready to retire and my spouse and I want to hit the road and travel across the country. Is it possible to mystery shop while we are on the road? Anything we need to watch out for?
Sure, you can mystery shop on the road, whether you are on a one-week vacation, you regularly travel for your job, or you have become a permanent road warrior.
There are a few things you may have to do differently to make mystery shopping while traveling work for you. Here are some things to consider.
…continue reading Mystery Shopping On the Road
Many mystery shopping companies have Facebook pages and they encourage shoppers to “like” their pages and interact with them on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Is this a good idea, or is going social with the fact that you are a mystery shopper likely to result in you being identified as a mystery shopper during a shop?
Consider that there are about half a billion people on Facebook. It is extremely unlikely that an employee that you are about to mystery shop will happen to run across your profile and will remember and recognize you when you shop them. Of course, it is not impossible.
…continue reading Should Mystery Shoppers Be on Facebook?
I recently got an email from a shopper that said in part:
If you are careful not to go over making $500 per company you’ll never have to pay a penny for taxes. By taking enough jobs to make $500 from 30 or 40 companies you can make an extra $20,000 a year, tax free. Who couldn’t use an extra 20 grand, especially tax free?
Wow. There is so much wrong here I hardly know where to begin.
…continue reading Tax-Free Mystery Shopping Income?
There are some shops that offer a reimbursement that subsidizes the cost of the mystery shopper’s required purchase, but doesn’t cover it in full. That means that you are paying money out of your pocket—money you will not be reimbursed—in order to complete the shop.
Are there ever times when you would find such a shop worthwhile? Perhaps, but you should be aware of the choice you are making when you select such an assignment.
Let me give you an example. I was looking at a fine dining shop that requires purchasing the following:
…continue reading Is Partial Reimbursement Good Enough?
My husband and I like to eat out in restaurants, and we usually do so at least once or twice a week. A while back I accepted several restaurant mystery shops we could do for our usual date night dinners, and my husband joked about it being “the month of free food.” (Of course, it is not really free because I have to work for it. But I guess it is free to him!)
I only did one or two restaurant shops a week, but his comment got me thinking: What if I really tried to get “free” food every day for a month? How would I do it? Let’s play with this hypothetical for a bit, because I think you may get some ideas about how to get more of the shops you want, whether they are shops of restaurants, stores, banks, apartments or whatever you like to do.
First, to get the best selection of shops you would want to be registered with as many legitimate mystery shopping companies as possible. The more shops you have access to, the greater your chances of filling in all of the gaps and getting the number of shops you want.
…continue reading The Month of Free Food
Mystery shopping in the summer can be hot and sweaty. Here in Texas, just getting in the car in the summer can make you feel as though heat stroke is imminent! As you go from place to place, leaving your car parked in the hot sun, running in and out of shop locations, the heat can be very uncomfortable and, in extreme situations, even dangerous.
These tips can help you stay cool as you do your summer mystery shopping.
When you can, schedule your shops in the cooler times of the day. Can you go first thing in the morning, or after the hottest part of the afternoon? If the sun isn’t beating down on you, you will feel more comfortable.
Wear sunscreen. Even short exposures to sun have an effect. Put SPF 15 or greater on any exposed skin, especially your face.
…continue reading Staying Cool During Summer Mystery Shops
By now regular readers of this blog are familiar with the mystery shopper check scam. Although people are still getting conned by that one every day, some scammers have moved on to a new version.
A Florida man responded to an online ad from United Services and Consultants to be a “Merchandise Manager” for them. The supposed job involved buying electronics and shipping them overseas. The promised pay was $2700 every two weeks, plus commission.
The scam victim went to local Apple and AT&T stores and bought a total of 17 MacBook Airs and 7 iPads. He paid for all of this with his personal credit cards. The “company” (aka scamming sleazeballs) sent prepaid shipping labels and he shipped all of the equipment to Russia. (Yes, Russia. Any red flags here for you yet?) The company provided banking information to pay him for the electronics but guess what? There was no money. Now he owes nearly $30,000 to his credit card companies as a result of this scam.
How can you avoid this type of scam? …continue reading A New Twist On an Old Scam Costs Man $30,000