Personal Finance 

I Am A Mystery Shopper

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After hearing about a company, BARE International (sounds like a strip club or something), on the local news the other day, I signed up to see what the deal was. Overall, I get the sense that legitimate mystery shopping isn’t a way to make a ton of money. I’ll show an example below of one that I applied for (not yet accepted), in which I’d earn $12 for approximately 15-20 minutes of work (I’m doing it because it’s convenient). The local news story explained how legitimate mystery shopping companies won’t advertise on pop-ups or have you pay an application fee, basically they don’t do the shady things you see all over the place advertising mystery shopping. They also explained how you aren’t getting rich or keeping thousands of dollars of free merchandise, that just isn’t how business works, and that most of it is pretty modest. Overall, I don’t think I’ll do many of these, but enough to get a flavor for it and I’ll take you all along for the ride!

After signing up, the first order of business was to submit an “Extended Profile” which included the expected demographic/area questions but also asked two “mystery shopper” mission type questions. The two they gave me were “Why do you think Mystery Shopping is necessary?” and ” What do you think constitutes good Customer Service in a business?” I just put in some reasonable response and they let me on their way.

Periodically (as in like 10 times a day), you’ll get emails from BARE International telling you about the mystery shopping jobs you can sign up for. It’ll give you a general description, the location of the job, the type of shopping involved, and the payout. If you want to do it, you simply apply and they tell you if you’ve been accepted.

Here’s one that I applied for:

EASY BANK AUDIT ASSIGNMENT- may be done while you do your regular banking!

You do not need to be a XXXXXXXXXXX customer to perform these assignments!

These assignments take about 15-20 minutes in the branch. If chosen, you need to go into a banking center to see what information a Teller and a Personal Banker give you regarding specific investment information such as stock trading, bonds, and equity information. Evaluators will be provided with specific scenarios to choose from.

You will be paid $12.00 for your completed report with supporting proof of visit. YOU MUST GET THE NAMES OF THE ASSOCIATE YOU INTERACT WITH! NO REPORT WILL BE ACCEPTED WITHOUT THE APPROPRIATE NAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our client is interested in receiving reports quickly so you will need to complete your online report within 12 hours of your visit (SAME DAY) and your proof of visit must be submitted by 9am EST on the day following your visit.

I applied for it because it happened to be my bank, the location was right by my house, and I need to go to that bank in the next few days to make a deposit. I’ll let you all know if I get accepted.

{ 33 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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33 Responses to “I Am A Mystery Shopper”

  1. Name withheld by request says:

    I AM a mystery shopper and have been since June of this year. Although this is a way to earn a little… and I mean LITTLE… extra cash, I’ve found that it truly isn’t worth the time.

    Although the shop itself may take only 15-20 minutes, the followup work could take as long as 2 hours! From scanning, faxing, and online paperwork, plus some require digital photos!, I find it is just not worth it in the long run and have scaled back to taking perhaps 1-5 shops a month… ones I know won’t be extremely long.

  2. Matthew Paulson says:

    That would definitely be an interesting part-time job to pursue, but there are so many hokey companies offering to make you a mystery shopper, 90% of which are crap…it’s just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort.

  3. Susan says:

    Hi, I used to do a lot of mystery shopping a couple years ago. In all honesty you really have to pick your jobs well because, as one of the other commentors stated, sometimes the amount of time/effort you put into the job is not worth the pay.

    I have to say the wages for jobs have definetly dropped in the last couple years, as it becomes more advertised and more popular and people are willing to take jobs for less money than previously years. That has only driven the amount of pay down, so much so that i quit doing it, and the most recent jobs i did over a year ago, were jobs i knew from past history took no more than 15 mins of effort (thats what i had calculated the pay to be equal to for me).

    Just like the paid surveys offered online, used to pay $10-$15 dollars a survey, you’re lucky to get even $3 out of them anymore (but usually its a chance to win something, which only 10 of out everyone who participates actually wins).

    Id say the best jobs are the ones for restaurants (nice restaurants that is)…where you get reinbursed for 2 full dinners (which usually includes atleast one alcholic drink, 1 shared appetizer and 2 dinner entrees, occasionally a shared dessert as well) these jobs are usually highly competive, unfortunatly. For the most part, company will only give those jobs to people who have done well on several previous jobs.

    Just like any other job, you have to work your way up and make a good reputation for youself, within each individual mystery shopping company you work for.

  4. Karen says:

    No, you don’t make tons of money, and with some companies you actually have to return the merchandise you buy as part of the job. But if the job is for something you are going to do anyhow, it’ll save you some money.

    Recently we got our oil changed for free due to the reimbursement we got for evaluating business that provided the oil change, Also I got a free eye exam plus an Eye Med card for future discounts on eye exams and eyeware. And I received $35 for buying my new glasses and evaluating the service I recieved.

    I was going to do these things anyhow. So it was worth doing the jobs in order to save some money!

  5. Cindy says:

    I agree with everyone here. Mystery Shopping really is a way to supplement what you already buy (i.e. expensive coffees, grocery shopping, and video rentals) or to get a really nice Restaurant that reimburses $100.00 worth of food (appetizers, wine and dessert included). We would never splurge like that at a restaurant on our own. It’s how I’ve financed our Anniversaries and Special Dates!!! Almost all the retail shops require returns or barely reimburse the necessary expense to buy the product. I’ve been Mystery Shopping for close to three years now. I’ve scaled back the last 6 to 8 months because my toddlers make it almost impossible to do the shops during the week and my husbands job has demanded most of his time in the evenings tha I use to have free.

    If you’re interested in legitimate shops, then you should head to’s website or MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association). You should never have to pay to sign up for a company. Whatever you do, do not sign up for the Volition Mystery Shopping Email listing. It’s not worth the junk they send over, but the actually company listings and board are a great source of good companies to explore.

    Bare does like to send lots of emails, but I keep a separate account just for Mystery Shopping and I know what to look for in companies and assignments. I’m signed up with approximately 60 companies, but find that I really only do consistent work with about 10 to 12.

    Have Fun,


    • nik says:

      aloha cindy~

      your time and care with honest reporting
      of how this works, remains utterly – golden!!

      thanking you;-)

  6. Katheryn N. Perks says:

    I would enjoy doing this I need extra income.

  7. Carrie says:

    I began mystery shopping over 3 years ago, and like everyone else has stated, it doesn’t pay a lot. But depending on which companies you sign up with, you can get some nice perks! I got to where I would only do a retail shop if it was for a store that I was going to anyway, or taking a restaurant shop if it was a place we liked to eat out at. My husband and I got to see a lot of pro hockey and basketball games for free, which was nice. But it’s not nice freebies all the time – there is work involved. You have to remember names, times, and asking specific questions all while trying to not seem obvious. And then there are the reports you have to enter afterwards. Some of them can be 15 pages long, and take an hour to complete. Not always worth it, unless you do have the spare time.

    Since I have a full time job, I really don’t do too many mystery shops anymore. I’m still signed up to receive all the postings and offers, and if something cool comes along I might apply for it. But it’s really difficult to make a career out of it.

  8. Ron says:

    I just want to make a comment about this that advertised on the radio a few years ago. They want your money but they do not want you to shop. I never could get anyone to give me assignments and then when I asked to be reimbursed they never responded…never would have guessed that would have happend.

  9. Daniel Morales says:

    If you fall for any of these scams and you discover it immidiately. What can you do?

  10. notworthit says:

    They lie, never give you money back when they ask you to purchase an item (and the amount they give you to spend is much lower than the cheapest product in the shop normally) and sometimes with any stupid excuse they will decide not to pay you. I had a 10/10 in evaluations untill after a few they decided to start cheating me. They lead you on the first few times, giving you a good grade, making you think its all good till they steal money. Its just a scheme between shops!

  11. David P says:

    In early 2007 I had been doing the occasional restaurant shop during lunch breaks from work. Most of these were fast food and paid from $4.00-$9.00 plus reimbursement for my meals. I suddenly was laid off from my job and during the next six months I started checking the job boards of three different companies, signing up for more and more shops. After about 6 months I started getting phone calls from two mystery shopping/auditing companies asking(BEGGING)me to accept assignments no one had taken and a deadline was approaching. Just one example: I was asked to visit a McDonald’s 26 miles from my home. The normal fee was $6.00 and the rep was offering me $15.00. I said I could not afford the gas for that and she asked how much I needed. I blurted out $25.00 and she quickly said yes. Even after gas I cleared $16.00 and got two free meals. SOOO, after a couple more months I got two phone calls from one company, each caller represented a different division. I was asked if I would be interested in doing shops and audits which paid quite a bit more. The representatives said I had a nearly perfect score with in their ranking system-I had never canceled a shop, re-scheduled only twice in one year and was brutally honest about service, food and cleanliness. For the last 17 months I have made my living as a mystery shopper/auditor for 11 different organizations. This requires a great deal of self control and discipline. I am past the days of trolling all the boards to see if there are any jobs worth taking. I get all my assignments either by phone(mostly) or email from company reps. But I have personal coordinators/reps/managers with three of the best known mystery shopping companies. Two of these coordinators have been with their companies for many years and people in their position manage a certain number of shoppers who are the most dependable and flexible. It just takes a lot of very hard work to reach this point with mystery shopping.

    As of Friday November 12, 2010 I have made(after all upfront expenses) 39,224.00 this year. I mostly do audits of banks, convenience store chains, high-end restaurants, movie theaters, insurance companies, hospitals emergency rooms, doctors offices, medical clinics, and more. A few people have asked my advice on getting started because they wanted to make a living like I do. But so far all have drifted away but one. And he now says it’s too much trouble. And without really good organizational skills it is nearly impossible to make a career out of this. Oh, and living in a decent size city makes all the difference in the world. If you are in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta or L.A then you can make it. But if, like my dad, you live in a town of 5,000 with no large city within 120 miles–then just enjoy the occasional Sonic burger and five bucks.

    • Rachel says:

      Hello there,

      I am new to Mystery Shopping and was wondering if you could share with me good companies to start with?

  12. TerryS says:

    I agree with both David P and Cindy. As a mystery shopper for the last couple of years, David is right, you need to live in a large city or town to make any money due to gas and distance. Good organizational skills are essential, as is dependabiliy and flexability. The pay has greatly reduced in the last 5 years due to the market being flooded with so many shoppers who will work at such a low rate of pay.
    I use’s website or MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association), both have led me to reliable employers and coordinators who have gotten to know my work and will call on me when there is something in my area.
    Never, never, never pay anyone up front for your work!!! The 12 signs of a Fraudulent Mystery Shopping Company is an excellent article to follow.

  13. Claudia says:

    Oh no!!! And I was soooo exited when I just got a check in the mail for almost $1,500!!! Weird enough the letter came from Spain, and the Name of the company is FPCA Brokers infosurv, INC. I wonder if anyone has heard of them? They have a nice website and all. I would love to hear form anyone

    • Ruth Gimenez says:

      I just got the same letter that you did apparently and I wonder if is true. If you get any information let me know because I find it so weird

    • Stevan says:

      I recently recieved the same check/letter in the mail. I am taking a risk and trying it.

      • Smoke says:

        got the same exact letter but it was from FPAC and it came from New, York. Sounds like a scam to me.

  14. monkey says:

    I got the same letter from FPAC for like $1500. I cashed it the other day through my iphone app and it went through. there was an ACH charge of $85. when i generated the assignment, the first one was to make a money transfer via western union for like $900 to an international country. im pretty sure its a scam and theyre using us to money launder. Im keeping the money but not spending it just incase something happens.

    • money says:

      I just did a whois lookup and its private. no large scale legit company keeps their domain private. Another interesting this is that the domain was created just a few weeks ago… sketchy.

      Domain Name: INFOSURVGROUP.COM

      Domain Admin (
      ID#10760, PO Box 16
      Note – All Postal Mails Rejected, visit
      Nobby Beach
      null,QLD 4218
      Tel. +45.36946676

      Creation Date: 13-Jun-2012
      Expiration Date: 13-Jun-2013

    • Gail says:

      it is a scam already check it out bank is investigation now. YOu cash the check then you sent most of it back to throught the western union and the 81 dollars you get to keep. Bank only charged us 15.00 for the fraud but the actually company will not honor the checks

    • Gail says:

      dont spend it the check will not clear on other end at the real company. They will not honor the check

      • money says:

        Thanks… My bank is showing that the check cleared hmm. I didnt send any money via western union so i still have the full amount. i’m going to assume the bank will reverse the deposit.

  15. monkey says:

    Thanks… check actually cleared in my bank and i didnt transfer any money via western union. ill be sure not to spend any of it though, im sure the bank will reverse the deposit. wonder if ill get the $85 ACH transfer fee that i was charged back?

    • money says:

      check just got reversed in my account. anyone receiving these checks should NOT attempt to cash or deposit them.

  16. hotblosm210 says:

    I just received a check for 1,485.74. It looks so real and the instructions are easy enough,but when I tried to activate the check I could not find a website to do this. Frankly it seems fake!I have gone thru different websites for the FPAC Brokers Infosurv,Inc, basically all that were on the letter and no LUCK!Even the phone #’s don’t work. All promises sound good too bad they are FAKE! I’m destroying the paper.

    • scentsy says:

      I deposited the check two days ago and It was returned today. To tell the truth I was excited but now becaue it was returned i am puzzled.

  17. scentsy says:

    I deposited the check two days ago and today it was returned. now am stuck because i cannot withdraw any money from my own account until they verify the check.

  18. jim webber says:

    i cashed the check thats it i cashed it spent the money nothing happend gf drug lords

    • busyb says:

      My sister received the same check exact amount but she will not tell me what website she applied and I am very concerned I don’t want her to be arrested can someone help me

  19. Cecilia says:

    I received the same check and letter. At first I thought is was real, but a few bells went off for me. First why would I need to activate a check on a web site? Second the letter that came with the check had a New York company letter head, but the envelope was post marked from Correos, Madrid. Third it sounded too easy and too good to be true.

  20. Carlton says:

    I just received the same check and im kinda worried its something bad what should i do

  21. sally says:

    Oh my!!! I cashed the check I didn’t think about it being a scam until I tried to contact them via 1800 number then I googled the fpac and saw this am I in trouble

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