Newest Review: ... and conditions of the assignment can be read. This may be as simple as if you have a bank account with the bank that is being looked a... more
Could you be a mystery shopper??
Grass Roots Group Mystery Shopping
Member Name: yahoo2003
Grass Roots Group Mystery Shopping
Date: 09/10/09, updated on 09/10/09 (668 review reads)
Advantages: Fun, Interesting, Little Side-Earner
Disadvantages: Probably not for everyone, have to have the right approach
I've had a positive impression of Grass Roots so far as a mystery shopping company and, totally depending on your approach and in combination with other money-saving activities, it can be a little side-earner and good fun, but it's probably not for everyone depending on your lifestyle and what interests you.
********** What is Mystery Shopping? **********
This is the only real way that companies can assess the service that their employees are offering to customers. If a manager within a company informed a branch that they would be in the week later to assess everyone's service, of course everyone would be on their best behaviour and it wouldn't be a true reflection of the service that the branch was offering. A mystery shopper will go into a branch / shop / restaurant etc, act as if they are a normal shopper by either making an enquiry or a a purchase, and report back on the service that they received. To become a mystery shopper you need to register with a mystery shopping company who will give you assignments which you will be paid for (minimal amounts) but also often receive a free meal or product, and hopefully enjoy the experience in some way.
********** Approach to Mystery Shopping **********
What you get out of mystery shopping totally depends on your approach to it, and also your interests. You will never become a millionaire this way as payments are normally pretty minimal. However, if the assignment is nearby and you aren't either having to spend much / anything on transport or you are in the area anyway (for example combining it with something else you have to do, or making sure you pick a date when you will be there, as the assignments are normally quite flexible when it comes to dates), I think it's a good project to get involved in. Also, if you are an extremely busy person mystery shopping probably isn't a good idea for you, but if you have time on your hands, then why not? From the few assignments I have done so far, I have quite enjoyed them, not because the topic has been hugely interesting but because I've found it quite interesting learning to be more observant about things around me, and every little thing I get involved in helps me get a bit more knowledge, even if it is only about banks or mobiles or restaurants etc - maybe I'm just a bit sad like that!! Also, Mystery Shopping is a great talking topic among your friends, everyone is always really interested to hear about it!
********** Myster Shopping Companies **********
There are many of them out there, but be careful that you select the most professional. First off, you should never ever pay to register with a mystery shopping company. Secondly, you may want to do a little research around the mystery shopping companies you decide to go with. I have mainly gone off a list that I found on Martin Lewis' website, MoneySavingExpert. The companies I have registered with so far are Grass Roots (which I have done 2 assignments for), GAPBuster (which I have done one assignment for, but they seem to pay lower and seem to be mainly fast food outlets which I'm not so keen on), Retail Eyes (which also seem like quite low payments and seem to be often at airports at pharmacies - I haven't done an assignment for them yet), and BARE International (which in my opinion doesn't seem to be as straightforward as the others). I could go into more detail about these other mystery shopping companies, but seeing as my review is about Grass Roots I will try to stay focused - I just thought it would help to try and put things into perspective.
********** Registering with Grass Roots **********
One of the main reasons that I'm writing this review now only after just a couple of assignments, is that I'm already starting forget what the registration process was like. From memory, it was pretty straightforward and I had to fill in my details on their website and there were a couple of questions about why I thought I would make a good mystery shopper. I don't think it was hugely lengthy, and after I had filled in my details they emailed me confirmation a couple of days later that I was now a mystery shopper for them. With some of the other companies, the process is more lengthy - for example with BARE International, there are a couple of fairly lengthy tests to take (by lengthy I mean maybe 1/2 hour each), and with GAPbuster, some of their customers ask you do go through an induction on-line before doing any assignments for them, which again takes 20 minutes or so.
********** How you get Assignments **********
After you have filled in your profile on their website and what areas you are happy to mystery shop in, they will email you to inform you when there is an assignment on their website that may interest you.
It is all very much self-service with Grass Roots, like with most mystery shopping companies, which suits me fine. When you get an email notifying you of a possible match, you go onto the website and have a look at what it entails, and you then accept it and choose the day that you want to do it (normally there is a week or so of different dates to choose from, and normally any time is fine as long as the shop is open). You will then get an email confirming that you have accepted the assignment and you are asked to print off the details and read through them before your visit.
In terms of regularity, I would suggest that about once or twice a month you will get an assignment that matches you from Grass Roots, but I guess that also depends largely on where you live - I am in South Manchester.
********** Types of Assignments and what they involve **********
I have done two assignments for them so far, one for a bank and one for a mobile phone company. I could also look back at other assignments that had taken place over the last couple of months and they seem to be similar, and I also spotted one on their for a major clothes retailer.
For the mobile phone company, I had to go into their branch and make an enquiry about a particular product they offer and see how much information was volunteered from the salesman in-store, and how good their customer service was. I was only in there for about 5 minutes.
For the bank I had to go in and make an appointment to talk about mortgages, which I later had to cancel. I would have only been in there 5 minutes but there was a queue so I was in there about 15 minutes or so.
Then, within 24 hours (I think it's 24 hours) I had to go on-line and fill out a questionnaire about the service that was offered. To be honest, there are quite a lot of questions and they are quite specific, but it still only takes about 5 minutes to fill out unless you are quite slow at filling out questionnaires on-line. During the visit you have to make an effort to pay attention to detail and you will be asked what time you went in and came out and if the person you talked to had a name badge on and if so what was it etc etc. However, before you do the visit you are supposed to read through the questions you will be asked afterwards so it's not like you don't know that you have to keep an eye out for these things. It is quite easy to forget to look out for these things but I guess once you've done a few assignments it becomes like second nature.
********** Payment **********
Out of the two that I have done, I received £12.50 for one of them and £10 for the other one. So again, it's not a fortune but if you're in the area anyway and it's only taking you 5 minutes, it's a nice little side-earner every now and again. Grass Roots make payments twice a month, once at the beginning and once in the middle, by BACS straight into your bank account. I have been paid on-time both times, no issues.
***** In Comparison to other Mystery Shopping companies ****
I only have a couple of months experience so far, but Grass Roots seems to be one of the higher payers and seems the most straightforward to work for. It may not have quite as many assignments as some companies, but seems to have had more than have matched me so in that sense, for me, it has had the most assignments that are valid - of course over the next few months I will get a better idea and can update this review. With some of the other companies, it seemed like they had quite a few to choose from but then on further scrutiny they did not match for one reason or another, or I did not get accepted and I felt like my time spent scanning through them was a bit of a waste - at least with Grass Roots generally when they email you an assignment, it will be right for you.
********** Tax **********
I won't go into massive detail about this but, if you are doing mystery shopping you are supposed to pay tax on your earnings otherwise you could face a fine of £100. This therefore means registering as self-employed. Actually, not many of your earnings will be taxable once you've taken off costs, petrol, price for printing documents etc. Again it's about approach - at first I thought I might just sack off the mystery shopping idea as I couldn't be bothered to register as self-employed and keep track of my earnings. But then I thought, if I want to try out other things it could be worthwhile just biting the bullet and doing this, and so far (and who knows I may be updating this next year!) it hasn't been difficult to do at all.
********** General **********
Working for a mystery shopping company is quite funny as you don't seem to have any direct contact with the people that work at the companies, it's all very much self-service. I don't mind this at all, in fact it suits me. I think if they have an assignment that is very urgent or if there is a problem they may contact you directly, but otherwise everything is just done by you through their website.
Mystery Shopping has definitely encouraged me to start paying more attention to detail and view things in a slightly different light. It does feel like a bit of a game and you do always wonder if the person has figured out if you are a mystery shopper or not.
Summary: A fun way to earn a little bit of extra cash
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