How To Get Started Making Money With Mystery Shopping

mystery shopping uk

Mystery shopping is one of those things that after you start doing, you kick yourself for not starting sooner!

I didn’t know of anyone that did it in my friendship group, so it was something I was a bit cautious of starting in case there were scams.

But as always, I am willing to share with you mystery shopping companies that I have personally used and been paid by. That way, you can rest assured that they are not scams and that you will actually get paid.

We’ll go into them in more detail but for now, here are the best companies:

  • Marketforce*
  • Red Wigwam*
  • Grassroots
  • Tern
  • Mystery Dining Company
  • Proinsight
  • Ipsos
  • Ragdoll Research
  • Field Agent app
  • Be My Eye app

If you are in the U.S., take a look at these companies:

  • Bestmark
  • Secret Shopper
  • GBW
  • Pinnacle
  • Quest For Best
  • Intellishop
  • Call Center QA
  • ARC Consulting

I was really surprised by the big name companies that are on the books, but this is handy because there are usually lots of the stores around so it is easy to access them.

I didn’t have a car when I started mystery shopping a few months ago, so I thought it would be really hard to get to many of them, and I didn’t apply for any.

Then one popped up which was down the road from me – I got a bunch of food for free and a small fee for ordering it all, and I was instantly hooked on mystery shopping.

I could not recommend mystery shopping more – it is generally really simple, fun, and what could be better than getting free stuff?

The fees are normally quite low at only a few quid, but you will get a free meal or similar out of it so it will be worth it.

In this post, we will look at what does a mystery shopper do, telephone mystery shopping UK and UK mystery shopper reviews.

One of the meals I got for free with mystery shopping!

What Is The Purpose Of Mystery Shopping?

Let’s say that you run a large company – it’s so large that you are unable to check that your employees are doing all of the things that they need to do in order for you to maintain your reputation, and earn money.

What do you do in this case?

You need people to go in and have a look, but they can’t work for you also, and they need to be low-key so that the employees don’t realise what is happening and change their behaviour.

Bring in the mystery shoppers! You can get mystery shoppers to go in and have a look at the specific things you may be concerned about e.g. the display, the quality of the food (for example), the questions that the staff are asking the customers etc.

So as a mystery shopper, this is what you do. There will be jobs offered to you which detail what you have to do exactly, and then you just have to go to the brand in question and carry it out.

It’s not as nerve-wracking as it sounds, although I will admit I was SO nervous on the first one that I did because I was worried that I would forget something!

How Much Do Mystery Shoppers Make?

This varies from company to company, and also how much time and effort you are able to put into it. Most jobs will be on a first come first serve basis, so it is sometimes just being the first one to sign up!

There are some companies such as Mystery Dining where you can get access to better offers once you have completed a lot of assignments, such as hotel room stays.

In all honesty, you aren’t going to make millions from it, but you can make some decent money if you put in the work.

A lot of the jobs will offer a small fee, but often you are asked to buy something on the jobs, which you will be reimbursed for.

When I first started mystery shopping, it was at a time in my life when I had no spare money at all. I was living hand to mouth, which I found really hard with a small toddler to look after as well.

The best thing for me about mystery shopping was the fact that I was able to get stuff for free, as well as get the much needed fee (as small as they were).

My favourite things that I got? Definitely all of the free food, and I’ve also got some free clothes as well.

Is Mystery Shopping a Legitimate Job?

Mystery shopping is one of those things that when you Google it, a bunch of stuff comes up that you are unsure if it’s genuine or not.

They look so spammy when you search, don’t they?!

Not to worry though, as that’s what I am here for – to do all of the research and testing for you, so that you aren’t left with a lot of indecision.

You do need to be wary of some mystery shopping companies that are actually scams, but none of the ones that I have mentioned in this article are scams, so you are good to go with any of these.

Don’t I have to do loads of them?
One of the potential worries that people have is that you will be contractually obligated to fulfil a certain amount of mystery shops, but this is not the case however. A list of jobs is put up on the website, and you then apply for them if you wish to complete them. If there are none that you want to do, then just wait for the next available ones to be put on.

I have no time!
This is a common one that I hear – and trust me, I’m pretty tight for spare time too! But there are a lot of lunchtime mystery shops where they just want you to buy your lunch somewhere – doesn’t take very long and you get a free lunch out of it during your work lunch break.

I can’t do it, I have kids you crazy lady!
I have a daughter so I feel your pain with this one! It seems impossible to get things done with them around. However, there are mystery shops that pop up that you specifically need to take a child along with you. These are great because there are less mystery shoppers that have children, so you are more likely to get the job before someone else swoops in.
I have done the following mystery shops with my daughter:

  • Bought some new shoes for her (clothes shop)
  • Bought a new top for her (clothes shop)
  • Bought a swimming costume for her (clothes shop)
  • Went to a soft play and got a kids meal too
  • Went to a restaurant for lunch together

I was allowed to buy anything in the children’s section in the clothes shops, that was just what I chose to buy because they were new things that she needed. The restaurant one asked for me to be accompanied by another person and because it was a restaurant my daughter kept asking to go to, I asked them if I could take her with me and they agreed. Always worth asking!

Aren’t mystery shops a scam?
There are undoubtedly some scams out there, but if you stick to the ones that are recommended by your trusty bloggers such as myself or your friends that do it then you know that you will be ok.

It sounds like a lot of work
Each job is different and some require you to do more or remember more things to report after. When new jobs are posted on the sites, you can check what they require of you before you apply for the assignment. If it seems like too much, don’t apply for it.
The fees are usually quite low (less than £10) but don’t forget you will be getting things for free such as a free lunch. Make sure you check this as on some jobs you only get reimbursed up to a certain amount.

Is it just food shops?
There are a variety of assignments available and they vary across the different companies. The ones that I enjoy are the food ones – I’ve had free breakfasts, lunches and snacks. The tea-time ones usually just reimburse you for part of the meal, so I don’t do these ones as my aim is to make money.
There are clothes shops, shoe shops, pubs, jewellery shops, betting shops, phone shops, supermarkets, soft play and more!

The Process

Most assignments require you to read through what is needed of you beforehand, before accepting the job. You will have to choose a date that you can do it within the time frame that they have given. They will tell you how much you will get reimbursed, and how much the fee is also.

You carry out the assignment, making sure that you have remembered to do all of the things that they ask you to do. The things I am bad at remembering is noting the time and taking a photo of the location afterwards (if they ask for this) – so I keep a notes section in my phone which I refer to before and after I enter the shop to refresh my memory.

After completing the assignment, you will have to fill out a report in which you are asked various questions such as how the worker responded to your questions. It’s all very straight forward. Then submit your report and wait to be paid.

The payment can take 4 weeks or longer depending on which company it is with, so please note that you will be out of pocket until you get paid.

Help a friend in debt

Best Mystery Shopping Companies UK

There are lots of mystery shopping companies out there, and they have lots of people working for them. I haven’t applied to them all because I just stick to these ones because of time constraits – but if you have lots of free time then nothing is stopping you signing up to them all.

Market Force* – my favourite one. They frequently have a great deal of jobs and they are with very well known companies. This is the one that I get most of my jobs from.
It’s very easy to use their system and the reports are very straight forward also. The reports are generally very consistent with what they ask you to report, but obviously make sure you check any differences so you don’t forget to do something.

On most assignments they will require the time in and out, a photo of the exterior after completing the mystery shop, and an itemised receipt.

Grassroots – I have only done one job with Grassroots as they don’t seem to be as frequent, but it has been the highest paid one that I’ve done so far (it was for a travel agency down the road from me).
The report was still pretty simple to do and the job was easy too – I just had to enquire about a couple of holidays.

Red Wigwam* – this company are a temp recruitment agency with a ton of different jobs available. When you register, you can select which jobs you would like to appear to you – you can select mystery shopping if this is all you want to use the website for.
The majority of jobs that pop up for me are supermarket checks where you just have to check/buy one item in a well known supermarket. The good thing about this company is that you get paid within a week! Definitely handy if you would like some quick cash.

Mystery Dining Company – the assignments on this are a bit different because they tend to just reimburse you for your purchase and don’t pay an additional fee. However I have seen them pay a small fee if it is an urgent job.

You collect points for the jobs that you complete and once you have reached a certain amount they treat you to a surprise! Once you have collected a lot of points more jobs are available to you also.

You have to complete an assessment to be accepted as a mystery shopper with this company.

*I also have another mystery shop available that I have to personally refer you for, so if you are interested in this please send me your details and I’ll pass them along!*

Worth Noting

  • You will have to declare any income to the tax man
  • Make sure you follow the assignment notes to do everything that they ask on it, or you won’t get paid (receipts are very important)
  • As well as receipts they occasionally check on CCTV to make sure that you did actually attend
  • Get an itemised receipt. I didn’t realise I had to do this on one of my jobs early on, but they just gave me the card receipt. I was SO upset because I didn’t think that I would get paid, but they checked with the client and they still paid me thankfully. I wouldn’t recommend risking this though – check if you need to get an itemised receipt beforehand.
    If you are a bit nervous about asking for an itemised receipt then just say to them that you are going to try and claim it back through work.
  • It’s worth checking each website daily as jobs get snapped up quickly. They will email some through if they are urgent but this doesn’t happen very frequently.

Does anyone else do any mystery shopping? Or are you thinking about it but are unsure? Let me know in the comments! If there’s any info you would like to know I am happy to help.

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