I hear from a lot of people who want to become mystery shoppers, but say they do not know how to find secret shopper companies that do not charge.
They are on the right track knowing that they should not pay to sign up with a company. Legitimate mystery shopping companies do not charge you to register.
The companies that charge may be providing a service (which you do not need) or they may just be out-and-out scams. In either case, you should never pay a fee to any company claiming to offer mystery shopper jobs.
So how can you find the legitimate mystery shopper companies that do not charge?
There are several ways. The easy way is to click on this link to my free list of 200 legitimate mystery shopper companies.
Another source of legitimate companies is the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. Companies must meet eligibility criteria, provide references and be approved by the MSPA board of directors in order to join. Companies must sign an ethics agreement which states, among other things, that member companies may not, “charge individuals to become shoppers or to gain access to shopping opportunities.”
There are legitimate companies that are not on my list or members of the MSPA. To find even more mystery shopper companies, you can do a search using your favorite search engine, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. A few cautions when searching for companies:
Search for terms such as “mystery shopping company” or “mystery shopping companies.” Use the quotation marks in your search term to narrow the search. (With quotation marks, results will include pages that have the entire phrase contained within the quotation marks, giving you better results.)
Some of the listings that will be returned in your search are paid listings. That means the company paid to have their ad shown when someone searched for a particular term, such as “mystery shopping” or “secret shopper jobs.” Some of the ads are from legitimate mystery shopping companies, but many are not.
Beware of any ad or listing that says they are a “mystery shopper review site,” or similar language. They want to refer you to a program that charges so they can get a commission. Do not pay to join any site or company.
Legitimate mystery shopping companies ask for a lot of information on their applications, but they will not charge you and they will not ask for your credit card number. Never pay to shop.
Tema Frank says
Great to see that you are still writing such good advice for mystery shoppers, Cathy. Wanted to update you about Web Mystery Shoppers. I’ve closed the business, but have posted an update and explanation to our former shoppers at http://webmysteryshoppers.com. I’m asking for their advice about what they think I should pursue next.
Susan T says
Question: I noticed you have on your website various advertisements for mystery shopping companies. I checked out Surveylot.com with the Better Business bureau. It was rated an F. Makes me skeptical that the advertisements may not be up to your standards. Do you endorse all that are on your site? Thanks! Otherwise, I love to read the wealth of advice and information you provide. Wish I knew your site when I started. S.
Cathy Stucker says
We can not directly control every advertisement that appears on the site.
stephen nelson says
in regards to a mystery shop GFK I continue to get emails from them that there are shops in my area. i go there, there are none in any area close to me, so I ask them for help to tell me what am I doing wrong. Apparently they must be too busy doing other things because they cant even answer a question. I resigned, too many things to do if a company feels they cant take the time to answer questions. Has anyone else had this concern with GFK, as I cant see them staying in business long doing this. Maybe a list of companied taht refuse to answer concerns which could help us steer clear of them and stay with those with good communication skills??
Cathy Stucker says
Stephen, you may find that there are no shops in your area because other shoppers have already claimed them. If mystery shopping companies replied to every email about “Where are my shops?” they would have a large staff doing nothing else.
If you are not happy with a mystery shopping company, though, you always have the choice not to work for them and not to get emails from them.
Mamie Guy says
Many times I have tried to apply to a company and it goes to Sassie. When I try to fill out the application it tells me I am already registered. Then when I go back and try to enter my sign-on info., it says it cannot be found. Any ideas. I am beginning to think I do not like ‘Sassie”.
Marissa Thompson says
I am new to mystery shopping & love your website it is so full of information. I am curious to know what you know about ShadowShopper.com. I have actually gotten referrals for 2 companies I am now registered for, but they are always sending me lists of mystery shops in my area that I can only access if I am a paid member. What do you suggest?
Cathy Stucker says
They provide a service that is not necessary. Apply to as many companies as you can and you will have more opportunities in your in box than you can handle. There is a list of 200 legitimate mystery shopping companies here at http://MysteryShoppersManual.com/mystery-shopping-companies