Are there any costs to be a mystery shopper?
No, there are no costs associated with being a mystery shopper with our organization. You will never be asked for your credit card number, charged a registration fee, or charged a monthly fee. Be cautious of mystery shopping companies that may not have the same policies and charge for registration.
Am I qualified to be a mystery shopper?
Prior experience, certifications, or training in the mystery shopping industry are not required to join the team. The majority of our clients just want average people representing a variety of demographics to provide accurate feedback on their businesses. Some assignments may be restricted to shoppers with certain demographics, such as gender, age, income, etc. Other assignments may require professional hospitality industry experience or MSPA certification. Please be sure to note your hospitality experience or certification status on your shopper profile when registering. Mystery shoppers must be at least 21 years old to complete assignments that require entering bars or ordering alcoholic beverages. Mystery shoppers also must have access to a reliable computer with internet access and an email account.
Why am I not eligible for some assignments?
Most of our assignments require a shopper rotation to prevent any bias from being formed or shoppers being identified from frequent repeat visits. Some assignments require that shoppers live in a certain area or have a local phone number. Other assignments require shoppers of a certain age range, gender, income level, or profession. These requirements are necessary to meet the clients’ needs and match the profile of their clientele.
How much time must I commit to be a mystery shopper?
The program is flexible and you can decide how many assignments you wish to accept. There is no minimum amount of completed shops required to stay active in the database. You can do 1 shop a week or 1 a year depending on your interests and schedule.
Do I need to sign a contract?
You don’t need to sign a contract, but you should read our shopper agreement. As one of our mystery shoppers, you are legally bound by the terms described in that agreement. All shoppers are independent contractors and their relationship with 360 Intel may be terminated at any time for any reason. Shoppers’ accounts will be deactivated if they miss assignments, violate our policies, or if their integrity is questioned.
Are assignments available in my local area?
We execute thousands of shops across the United States each month. Chances are, there are probably a few assignments in your local area too. The assignments and locations change on a regular basis though so be sure to check our website often for new opportunities in your local area.
When do mystery shops occur?
Mystery shops are scheduled on weekends and weekdays at various times. Each assignment has different time and date requirements, which are detailed in the shop instructions online.
Will I receive a paycheck for being a mystery shopper?
You will not receive a “paycheck”, as shoppers are independent contractors, and not employees. You will receive a flat-rate payment through PayPal for a predetermined amount after submitting a satisfactory report with a valid receipt. You will NOT receive a reimbursement for expenses in addition to this payment amount, as this is a flat rate payment that is designed to cover part or all of your expenses during the assignment. You will know the amount available for the payment when accepting the assignment. No taxes are withheld from the payment. Each shopper is an independent contractor and responsible for proper tax reporting for their own income.
How is the payment structured?
Shoppers are paid a set flat rate amount for completing each assignment. The amount is displayed online when you decide to accept the shop. There is no additional reimbursement for expenses, food, parking, mileage, gas, etc. or compensation such as an hourly rate or salary. The payment is a flat rate amount, regardless of what you actually spend during the assignment. Examples of our flat rate payment are described below:
- The assignment pays $50. You spend $50 on dinner while completing the assignment. You receive $50 to cover the amount you spent, including tax and tip. Think of it as a free meal!
- The assignment pays $50. You use a coupon and only spend $40 on dinner while completing the assignment. You still receive the full $50 to cover the amount you spent, make a $10 profit!
- The assignment pays $50, but you spend $70 on dinner and travel expenses while completing the assignment. You still only receive $50. Think of it as $50 towards your meal (like a gift card).
- The assignment pays $50 and does not require that you purchase anything. You make $50 just for your time visiting the business and completing a report!
How and when will I be paid?
Shoppers are usually paid within 23 to 25 days of submitting an acceptable report AND valid itemized receipt. If 25 days have passed and you have not received payment yet, please contact us through the shopper payment inquiry form. Please do not inquire about a payment unless 25 days have passed to allow time for processing. All payments are paid through PayPal and all shoppers are required to have a PayPal account to receive payment.
Is being a shopper considered a full-time job?
Since most assignments only pay a small amount or reimburse shoppers for expenses, it is not possible to earn enough income to be considered a full-time job. It is a great way to try new local businesses and defer entertainment expenses though!
How do I complete a mystery shop and submit my survey?
Review the shop instructions and survey online before completing the assignment. Then go the business that you are assigned to and follow the shop instructions. Be careful to pay close attention to how you were greeted, the environment, the cleanliness, the staff, etc. Do not take any notes or do anything that would give away your identity as a mystery shopper. Pay for your experience and keep your itemized receipt. Within 24 hours of your shop, sit down in front of a computer and login to our partner website to complete your survey. Complete the survey that appears by thoroughly answering all questions in the survey and providing comments. Finalize the report when you are done and feel that it is a complete and valuable report.
Can I bring a copy of the report to the shop to fill out?
Never bring a printed copy of the report with you on an assignment, as that will jeopardize your identity as a mystery shopper. If the client identifies you as a shopper, then the integrity of the report is compromised and it is no longer considered a valid report. If this happens, you will not be paid for the assignment or reimbursed for any expenses incurred.
How will I remember all of the details?
Some shoppers bring a friend and each person remembers particular details. Some shoppers go to the restroom and make some notes away from the view of employees. Other shoppers send a text message using their cell phone or make voice notes into their voicemail. Just be very careful that a staff member doesn’t hear you leaving a voicemail or see you taking notes, as that may compromise your identity. If the client identifies you as a shopper, then the integrity of the report is compromised and it is no longer considered a valid report. If this happens, you will not be paid for the assignment or reimbursed for any expenses incurred.
Do I need to keep my receipt?
Yes, you must get an ITEMIZED receipt for all assignments, which must be attached to your report online or faxed/emailed to us. Payment will not be processed for shops without valid itemized receipts. 360 Intel or any affiliate is not responsible for holding, housing, or organizing shoppers’ receipts for tax purposes. Storage and tracking receipts is the sole responsibility of each shopper.
How do I send my receipt to you?
When you are completing your report online, there is a spot for you to upload an image of your receipt. Many shoppers take a digital picture or scan their receipt and then use this upload function, which is the preferred way to send in your receipts. You may also fax your receipt using the fax number provided in the shop instructions. Payment will not be processed without a valid itemized receipt.
Can I cancel an assignment that I accepted?
When you accept an assignment, we are counting on you to complete it. If you need to cancel the assignment for any reason, we must be informed at least 48 hours in advance so that we can reassign the assignment to another shopper. Failure to notify us of a cancellation may result in termination of your mystery shopper account. Notify us of cancellation or schedule changes by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I hide that I am a mystery shopper?
As a mystery shopper, it is your responsibility to remain “undercover” so that no one in the business suspects that you are on a mystery shopping assignment. If the client identifies you as a shopper, then the integrity of the report is compromised and it is no longer considered a valid report. If this happens, you will not be paid for the assignment or reimbursed for any expenses incurred. If you suspect your identity has been discovered, we ask that you inform us immediately. You will be asked to not shop that particular establishment again, but may still perform shops at other establishments as usual. We recommend following the rules below to avoid being identified:
- Be discreet when noting times on your watch or cell phone.
- Do not print out and bring the survey with you on the assignment.
- Do not write anything down or take any notes. If you need to make notes you could do so in the restroom, but never in view of a staff member.
- Do not tell anyone that you are or have been a mystery shopper for a particular location.
- Do not ask too many questions or unusual questions to the staff.
- Do not ask staff members for their names or the names of other staff members.
- Do not behave suspicious by staring at employees or making it obvious that you are looking around.
What happens if I have a bad experience while completing shop?
It is important to remember that you are accepting the assignments as an independent contractor for 360 Intel and are assuming all risks and responsibility for any resulting experience that may occur. If you are uncomfortable accepting a shop for any reason, such as it being in a bad neighborhood or hazardous driving conditions, we encourage you not to accept that particular assignment or to provide us with notice within 48 hours of the scheduled assignment. In the incredibly rare event of a bad occurrence during a shop, we encourage you to handle the event by dealing with the management of the establishment just as you would any other consumer experience. At no time may you identify that you are a mystery shopper or that you are affiliated with 360 Intel. It is extremely important that you realize that 360 Intel assumes no liability for anything that might occur while you are at or on your way to an assignment.
Who do I contact with additional questions?
You may contact us at ShopperHelpDesk@360intel.com with additional questions, comments, or concerns.