Top 7 Mystery Shopping Myths for Shoppers Busted

Last week we talked about mystery shopping myths from a business perspective. This week we’ll debunk some mystery shopping myths for shoppers instead. We hope that this list will help people understand that mystery shopping is a legitimate venture that many companies make use of it.

Top 7 Mystery Shopping Myths for Shoppers

1. Mystery shopping is a scam

A lot of people seem to believe that mystery shopping is a scam, equating it to things like dodgy pyramid schemes. Truth is, as we’ve seen, scammers use the lack of awareness about legitimate mystery shopping as an excuse to target people for scams. Legitimate mystery shopping companies do exist – we’re one of them! – and can be easily checked out by checking for their credentials with the MSPA. Other ways to check if a company is legitimate is by checking how they’re communicating with you – legitimate mystery shopping companies have real websites, real email addresses – not or third-party pop emails – and all of them have consistent branding. If the branding on any communication sent to you doesn’t match up to what you’re seeing online… well, use your common sense. That said, the mystery shopping myths for shoppers on this should be completely dispelled: there are legitimate mystery shopping companies that do legitimate work for some very big names!

2. Mystery shopping companies will mail you a check or money order to get you to do a visit for them

We can say, hands down, that legitimate mystery shopping companies will not do this. We’ve had numerous queries over the years from individuals who had been targetted by scammers using just these tactics. It goes to show you that scam artists will use the names of legitimate mystery shopping companies to scam would-be victims. If you receive a letter complete with cheque much like those we’ve posted before, please do not follow the instructions from the bank and contact the company and/or the FBI’s Cyber Crime Center.

3. Filling out a report with honest negative feedback will mean the company won’t use you again

Mystery shopping is about honest, objective feedback. If during the course of performing a mystery visit, you experience negative things or things don’t line up to the requirements listed in your training materials it’s important to include these findings in your reports as it is all part of the system. Negative feedback is as important as positive feedback because it highlights the areas that are clearly in need of improvement.

4. Mystery shopping jobs are always easy

This is not true! While mystery shopping jobs can be straightforward – like the visits we send our shoppers on for the Global Fashion Benchmark! – others can be tricky and you really need to know what you’re doing. Luckily mystery shopping companies offer comprehensive training and briefing sessions in order to give you a clear understanding of what is required from your visit and report.

5. Mystery shopping will earn you thousands of dollars a month

I often get asked if mystery shopping can be a career – i.e. can it put food on the table. The Internet is full of ‘work from home’ individuals who make enough money to survive by filling out online surveys and performing ‘easy’ jobs, and I suppose this has raised the question about whether or not it’s possible to live off mystery shopping. When I get asked this I tend to caution the questioner that while anything is certainly possible, it would still equate to a full-time job. There are some people I’ve read about who’ve pulled it off working for multiple mystery shopping companies simultaneously and doing many, many mystery visits a week. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. Mystery shopping can be fun, earn you some money – the amount depends on your dedication and motivation – and free things. More than that, however, we should never forget that it’s about the data, data which helps companies improve and maintain internal procedures, policies, and frontline performance.

6. Anyone and everyone can do any mystery shopping visit

Okay so technically, anyone and everyone can do mystery shopping, however, not everyone might be eligible for all projects. Many mystery shopping programs are aimed at certain profiles of people. Shopper profiles are normally set by the company who is undergoing the mystery shopping program and usually limits age and gender, but can specify things specific to the industry – for example, having to own (or have access to) a certain kind of car. The reasons for a shopper profile have to do with the purpose of the mystery shopping program itself.

7. All mystery shopping is done in big cities

There’s a certain lack of logic about this mystery shopping myth – I’m always weirded out when people assume that only big city outlets will be included in mystery shopping programs. Both large and small companies can run mystery shopping programs, whether it’s in a single-store store to a multi-franchise chain. So, if you’re a would-be mystery shopper and you live in a remote, rural town, don’t be afraid to sign up as a mystery shopper!

Olwen - in purple Olwen has been in marketing for more than 8 years, she‘s been with AQ since 2016. Her passion is for helping people and businesses improve their customer service experience by providing interesting content. Follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

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