“ Mystery Shopping „
Check the auto trader iPad survey on an iPad - it's the most annoying, intrusive survey ever. Clearly an amateur company that has no regard for customer use or testing.
I'm always on the lookout to earn a little bit of extra money to supplement my wages, obviously when you're working full time there's only so much you can actually do (that's legal too)! I've been doing mystery shopping for a couple of years now and I've had quite mixed experiences, in my opinion the work isn't regular and there doesn't seem to be a lot of money to be made despite having to put in quite a lot of effort to complete the assignments. However about six months ago I found an invite to join another mystery shopping company and decided I would give it a go!
What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping is a tool used by companies in order to assess the quality of the services they are providing to the consumer. In simple terms it's a way for a company to technically spy on the service their employees are giving to shoppers. Mystery shoppers pose as normal customers performing specific tasks (such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering a complaint, etc) and then provide a detailed report or feedback to the company. This then allows them to monitor the services they provide and also to address any issues or problems that arise.
I used to work in an establishment that was frequently subject to mystery shopping visits and I do actually think the whole premise is a good idea. It's a way for managers and owners to actually gain a customer's perspective on the services they receive without actually standing over their employee's shoulder and watching which would often produce somewhat false results. The most annoying thing for an employee is that you never know who a mystery shopper is as the purpose of their visit is often similar to hundreds of other shoppers... you always need to be watching!
Who are E Digital Research?
E Digital Research are an online based company who specialise in online businesses and so specifically focus on assessing online companies through their websites. They started out in 1999 and have grown in both recognition and size to be the main online research company. They offer clients mystery shopping experiences, online surveys direct to their customers as well as more specialised facilities such as researching the employee engagement of a particular company. They client list is really quite impressive and includes Ann Summers, BBC, BT, Expedia and Thomson.
How do I join?
By going to their homepage (http://www.emysteryshopper.com) you will see a link inviting you to join by entering your first name, your last name and your email address. Once you have done this the registration process will begin and you'll be asked to enter some basic personal information. This whole part of the process takes about three or four minutes. After that you'll receive an email which will instruct you to log into the site to confirm you wish to continue with your membership. You then need to print off two forms, sign them and post them to the company.
Yes it's a little more than most mystery shopping companies ask but they're basically page long disclaimers that say you'll be honest and won't report any assignments to other companies. You'll then have to wait while they assess your suitability and you'll receive an email. The email will give you further instructions on how to complete your registration which involves completing a practise assignment in order to see if you've got what it takes to join their panel of shoppers. It is quite a time consuming process but at the end of it you'll (hopefully) be accepted and ready to earn!
What happens next?
Once you've joined you'll be able to access your online area but really there's not much point in doing this until you get an email alerting you to the fact that you've got a message on there. From your online area you'll be able to see any emails you've been sent from the company, any up and coming surveys which you can then register for and any surveys that you've been allocated and are available for you to take. You can also keep track of what you've earned on the site so far too.
As the company secures new assignments they'll appear on your invites page which you can access once you've logged into your account. They will be presented in a list which basically tells you the company, a brief description of what you'll be required to do and also the remuneration you will get for completing it. If you like the sound you can click on the "accept invite" button and this invite will then be transferred to your pending assignments page. Here you will see what surveys you have agreed to take part in and just have to wait to be allocated them by the company.
When you're allocated a new survey you'll automatically receive an email saying you have a new message on your account page. The surveys generally involve either making an online purchase or merely reviewing a website. Each survey is split into small, manageable sections and you can return to a survey and finish it at a later date. The questions are quite varied; some will require you to choose the most fitting option from a list of pre-decided options whereas others require you to actually write your own opinion into a box, no guidance as to word count is ever given though.
Once you complete a survey you will need to wait up to a week for your answers to be vetted or checked before the payment actually appears on your invoices / payment page. You do need to wait until you have £15 before you can actually request for your earnings to be sent to you so withdrawal is rarely instant. The company will issue cheques on or around the 20th of every month so you can expect to receive your cheque by the end of the month if you request it prior to this date. I've always found the payments from this site to be both accurate and very prompt too.
What's my experience been like?
I've been a member of this site for about six months now and in that time have managed to earn around £50 by completing online mystery shopping tasks. I've only really got positive things to say about this site, the mystery shopping tasks I've been given have always been quite interesting and the payments have been fair for the amount of effort and input that was required on my part. The only downside I would say is that invites are not always regular and even if you accept an invite you'll find you don't always get allocated the survey as they sometimes go to other people.
Just to give you a little bit of an insight into the actual assignments you're likely to get my latest one was to evaluate MSN's homepage. This resulted in a payment of £4 for about ten minutes work - I simply had to rate the homepage in terms of accessibility, content, etc and write a few detailed answers about what I liked and what I disliked on the page itself. Prior to this I had a mystery shopping task for Late Rooms which resulted in a £7 payment, for this I had to look at the site itself as well as email a query and telephone a query through and rate these too.
Anything else I should know?
By registering with the company and agreeing to work for them you're also saying you're self employed and therefore responsible for your own tax returns. The company do not deduct any tax, you will need to sort all that out for yourself. The only other warning I'd give is to not accept invites which you cannot complete as they do seem to get quite annoyed at you, some surveys will only be for customers who hold an account with that company (e.g. BT) and part of the survey will involve using your account details so if you accept the survey you could be wasting your time!
Would I recommend this site?
I've only ever had positive experiences with E Mystery Shopper and will continue to be an active member on the site as it really is easy to earn money on here. The payments seem more than fair for the amount of work involved and the majority of assignments will ensure you don't even need to leave the comfort of your own living room. I've only had one problem on the site with one survey and after contacting the support team I received an email back within twenty four hours. It's really not very taxing work and it's a nice little earner so I'm giving it the full five stars.
Thanks for reading.