Questions About Video Mystery Shopping

Here are answers to some of the questions I am most often asked about video mystery shopping.

Is it legal to video record people without telling them?

Generally, no. However, most reputable video mystery shopping companies will require that the employer get employees to sign consent forms. These forms will say something to the effect that they understand they may be recorded in the course of performing their duties. So even though you will not announce that you are making a video recording when you enter the business, employees have been legally notified that they may be recorded and have given their consent.

How do I video tape someone without them seeing the camera?

The video cameras are so small they may be hidden in a button or a piece of jewelry. Many mystery shopping companies use “button cams.” The button camera replaces a regular button on a piece of clothing, and connects to a video camcorder concealed in a fanny pack, purse or pocket.

Do I have to buy the video equipment?

Maybe, but not immediately. Most companies will provide equipment for your first shops. Once you know that you are going to continue as a video mystery shopper, the mystery shopping company may require that you buy your own equipment or may offer the option of buying the equipment. Shoppers with their own video equipment may be paid more because the company does not have to buy and ship cameras to them.

Is video mystery shopping easier than traditional mystery shopping, or harder?

It is different. You usually do not have to complete written reports, so in that sense video mystery shopping is easier. However, it takes practice and skill to operate the equipment and get a good shop video. Because of that, most video mystery shops pay better than traditional shops.

The most important thing about doing a video mystery shops is to practice using the equipment before doing a shop. Know where to place the camera and how to stand in order to get the shots you need.


  1. Marion Woodard says

    This kind of mystery shop sounds very interesting (James Bond style). How does one get started in this area and is this a good place to start if you have never done a regular shop?

    • says

      Video shops can be challenging because you have to master both mystery shopping and handling the equipment. Many video mystery shopping companies do work with inexperienced shoppers, though.

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