Mystery Shopper in the UK
August 14, 2004 8:08 AM   Subscribe

As an extra source of income I'm thinking of becoming a mystery shopper and I was wondering if anyone has had any experience of this and could recommend good companies to work for in the UK.
posted by feelinglistless to Work & Money (7 answers total)
No recommendations in the UK just -- be fair. I remember working in retail and getting secret shopper reports and the person was invariably a total ass, trying to frustrate the employee, or flat out lied. (Complaining about the lack of help during the Christmas season when they never asked for it, etc...) While I think (personally) that secret shopping is kind of sneaky, I can understand the need for it. But just remember that the people you do the reports on can and do hear about it later.
posted by sugarfish at 9:45 AM on August 14, 2004

I have no recommendations for companies, either, but:

Though I haven't done it in close to 10 years, I love working retail and get very annoyed with people who are bad at it.

That said, I would like to say that I would discourage anyone from becoming a mystery shopper unless they themselves have worked retail in various capacities and/or in various environments. If you haven't experienced the job it's near impossible to size up the situation fairly. If this sounds silly... you haven't worked (enough) retail. :)
posted by dobbs at 10:52 AM on August 14, 2004

Response by poster: I have worked in retail (and sort of still am) and I know many of the issues involved, especially in terms of how customer can and should be treated. Some of them can be utter bastards but it should always be remembered that actually its them you're working because without them you don't have a shop. It shocks me sometimes the way customers are treated by assistants who forget who actually pays their wages.

Anyway, having looked about at other sites it seems as though the real issue in the mystery shopper industry is that it's not really as glamorous as it seems -- the pay isn't that great for the work which is people have to do. So I'm thinking again about this anyway...
posted by feelinglistless at 5:50 AM on August 15, 2004

Any chance you could share some of the hard data you learned, feelinglistless? The internet's full of people who want you to pay money before they'll tell you anything about the industry.
posted by Marquis at 5:53 AM on August 15, 2004

I hope you don't take offense, feelinglistless, but people who want to become mystery shoppers remind me of people who pose questions such as, "Call me crazy, but I've just decided to quit my job and move to Paris. I don't speak French but I speak English so I'm going to become a travel journalist there. How do I do it?"

I think you see what I'm getting at, anyway: your "it's not really glamorous as it seems" should be changed to "it's not glamorous at all."
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:59 AM on August 15, 2004

I had a very small mystery shopping job in California about 12 years ago. Once a week, I had to go to a Taco Bell and order a meal. While waiting I had to do my best to peer behind the counter and see how clean things looked. I also had to check out the restroom (just the ladies' room, thank goodness) and the dining area for cleanliness. Then I took my food home and weighed it and checked the temperature (actually, I did that part in the car). Then I ate it, or made my husband eat it. Then I filled out a little report form and mailed it off, and a week or so later I'd get a check for about 10 bucks plus the price of the burrito or whatever I'd ordered. It was hardly good money, plus which I got really sick of Taco Bell.

Oh, I almost forgot: the company did send me on one other assignment -- I had to go to this big touristy restaurant and sit in the bar for an hour or so (they paid for two drinks) and watch the bartender at the cash register to see if I thought he was slipping money out of the till. (He wasn't.)

Perhaps if you worked for a large company and were willing to give up a great deal of time you'd make some halfway decent spending money, but frankly I thought the whole experience was somewhat tedious and not worthwhile.
posted by JanetLand at 7:15 AM on August 15, 2004

A friend of mine was a secret shopper for a year or two and it seemed to me that it was very time-consuming (she drove all over the SF Bay area) and didn't pay very well. The upside was that she got reimbursed for the things she bought and then turned around and sold them on eBay.
posted by bendy at 12:52 PM on August 15, 2004

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