Huge thanks to Lynn Hogg for sharing her experiences
Before I started my current online Business www.more4mums.co.uk I spent a few years doing mystery shopping. I combined this with selling on ebay and looking after one, then two young children. It was a great way to make a few pounds for extras and treats for the family, at the same time giving me a reason to get out of the house.
I started out doing a few of the simpler mystery shops such as Banks, electrical stores and petrol stations. These typically pay around £10 a visit, sometimes you have to make a purchase which you can keep. Most of these simpler visits can be done with a baby or toddler in tow, especially if you can arrange around naps in the buggy. I used to try and schedule my weekly trip into town with a couple of Mystery Visits, saving on petrol and parking costs. I also found a number of companies that wanted people to make either test phone calls or follow up customer service calls. These can easily be done at home either during naps or in the evening.
Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/7378221@N03/
Once I was established I got some of the more exciting jobs such as restaurants, historic sites, tenpin bowling and hotel stays. These tend to cover all costs with no fee. I used to do these as a treat for the family. All you need to do is take your pen and paper and make some notes in the loo or hotel room! With experience you can find some better paid jobs such as opening a new bank account and covert video recording.
If you think Mystery shopping might be fun here are 5 things to think about before you start:
1) Mystery shopping can be difficult to get started.
You may have to do a few less attractive shops such as the banks or fast food restaurants before you get anything more exciting! If you ensure you are prompt in filing your reports with lots of detail you will soon be offered more work.
2) You have to spend money to make money.
You often have to make a small purchase which you will be reimbursed for, however it is often the next month until you are paid. Make sure you only take on shops where you are buying something that is useful to you!
3) You need a keen eye and attention to detail.
You must read the assignment details thoroughly and follow to the letter or they may not pay you. Note the exact times you can visit, any names of staff and remember to keep your receipt.
4) You are responsible for your own tax.
You must declare any income to the tax man however you can claim back expenses such as parking and petrol based on a tax calculator. If it is your only job you are unlikely to have any tax to pay in a give year unless you are very busy!!
5) Beware of the hidden costs
You will have to travel to the shop, maybe pay for parking etc so ensure it makes financial sense before you accept a job. You also need to factor in the time spent completing the audit online when you get home.
You can find many of the company if you search via google but please avoid any site that charges you for a list, with a little searching you can find them yourself. I can not give any specific details on the shops available as secrecy is very important to the companies. Some sites I would suggest that offer a range of mystery shopping are:
Good luck and happy shopping !!