Become a Mystery Shopper

Learn how to become a Mystery Shopper

Virtually anyone with spare time can do some mystery shopping and be a Mystery Shopper.

Where is the work?

There is a huge range of work available within all sectors – the retail industry, automotive and financial services, hospitality, call centres, public services, travel and even the voluntary sector.

You name it and you will find someone who has become a mystery shopper doing some mystery shopping and lurking in the background.

Even the person standing next to you as you browse may
be a mystery shopper!
Who does it? Anyone, any age, any sex and you don’t need any formal qualifications to fulfill a mystery shopping post. Two essentials are good observational skills plus a good memory. You will also need to be calm and able to think quickly.

Most Agencies will ask that you do not make notes while on a job as this would tip the staff off as to the purpose of your visit. It is possible you could be enjoying a weekend break one week as a mystery shopper, on a mystery shopping telephone call and complaining about your gas bill the next. Become a mystery shopper and your life will suddenly become more varied.

Different Types of Mystery Shopping

You’ll be given a brief and a checklist of things to look out for. You need to follow your instructions (without letting anybody know you’re testing them), evaluate the response and then provide feedback, usually by way of an online questionnaire. A telephone Mystery Shopper is the most common option.

Postal Monitoring

This one requires minimum effort. Your home address is simply used for receiving brochures and other promotional material. You return the items, and the content and speed of delivery is measured.


You’ll be sending specific enquiries to websites and monitoring the speed and content of the response. Again, you’ll need to assess and then pass on your findings.

Covert Video Mystery Shopper

This is specialist stuff and only achieved if you become a mystery shopper who is well-trained and with considerable experience. Essentially, you’re given a brief; you enter the premises as a customer, and then you record the entire process using covert video cameras. Companies need clear pictures, so don’t go for this if you record your feet at family events!

Finding The Right Agency

The above agencies are based in the UK.

If you find any of your own, make sure they are based in the UK with a UK based telephone number and address.

You may even register with more than one agency. You should never have to pay to join an agency – they should be paying you.

Sometimes you will find advertisements for Mystery Shoppers in your local paper.

For our readers in other countries, you will need to make your own checks in accordance with the regulations in your own country.

You should be looking for an agency that best suits your requirements and capabilities, check the pay and check the freebies. You must follow your instructions exactly. While it is good to eat out at a good restaurant, don’t let the enjoyment of the experience overcome your objective – your report. Remember you cannot have your instructions in front of you. Therefore you must be committed to memory. You cannot go back because you have forgotten to check something that was on your list of instructions. This is where a really good memory becomes important.

Your instructions may include staff attitude, products, services, decor, cleanliness, how many staff on duty and what they were doing.

You will need to write a report after the ‘event’ which can involve short or long answers. You will only get paid after you have reported on the job. This you will probably need to do within 24 hours after your assignment. Therefore you will need good reporting/writing skills.

As a rough guide, you will probably be paid between £5 and £25 per task, plus expenses. For telephone assignments this can be as little as £1 or £5.

Mystery shopping is essentially a part-time job which can be fitted in around your other activities. Regard it as such and you will probably welcome the breaks from your routine life. Don’t expect to make a fortune.

Remember you will be classed as self-employed, therefore your earnings will need to be declared to the Inland Revenue.

If and when you become a mystery shopper you must be professional in everything you undertake. Although it may not seem like it - it is a job and you have your employers' standards to maintain.

If you missed the latest edition of our Newsletter you can read it here.


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