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Make easy money by mystery shopping
Member Name: BitterFusion
Date: 04/12/11, updated on 09/03/12 (857 review reads)
Advantages: Freebies for not doing a lot of work, variety of jobs
Disadvantages: Newbies might find it difficult to get jobs initially, jobs go fast, pay isn't huge
*Update: I should make you aware that Retail Eyes now operates under the name Market Force. If you search for Retail Eyes in a search engine, you will be directed to their American site. To avoid this, enter http://uk.marketforce.com/ into your browser instead.*
I have been a member of Retail Eyes since being at university. Martin Lewis's moneysavingexpert.com recommended it as a way to make a few extra pennies, and who was I to refuse being paid to eat out, staying at hotels and getting a bit of shopping done for free... All I had to do was to become one of those sneaky Mystery Shoppers and report back. Sounds easy, right?
What is Mystery Shopping?!
For those of you who may not be aware, retail businesses like to bring in Mystery Shoppers in order to assess how well their staff are performing and what can be improved to make a customer's experience better. Retail Eyes is a company that advertises Mystery Shopper jobs from various companies through its website, and members can apply for jobs as they appear on the site. Aspects assessed during the shopping trip vary from job to job, but generally you are required to report on staff rapport and service, cleanliness of the business, and quality of product purchased.
To become a Mystery Shopper on Retail Eyes, it is mandatory that you are at least 18 years of age. You must also have a good level of written and grammatical English. As the reports you submit are used for training purposes, Retail Eyes do test you before you are allowed to sign up to ensure that you have a good level of standard English. The test, however, is not particularly difficult, and most people will pass this criteria.
In order to complete assignments, you must have access to a computer, internet access, and a scanner or camera that can upload pictures to the website. Reports must be completed within 24 hours of the job, and often they should be submitted by 12 the next day. Also, the company may want you to upload a picture of the front of the store and the receipt, and so without the means to do so, you may face not being reimbursed/paid.
Lastly, you must be confident that you can carry out the assignments in secret. This means that at no point must you disclose the fact that you are a Mystery Shopper, or behave in a way that will arouse suspicion. As assignments will sometimes ask you to be a bit of an awkward customer (by asking questions you might not ordinarily bother with), you have to be comfortable with interacting with staff, and be prepared to essentially 'act' your way through a scenario that will not necessarily interest you.
Jobs are listed when you log on to your account, and by clicking on the individual Assignment Notes and Report Questionnaire to fill out after job completion, you can check whether the job is suitable for you. Retail Eyes can be very hit and miss with the jobs offered to you. I've found that the more jobs you do within a small amount of time, the more that become available to you, probably due to your increased experience.
The first job I ever did was at a shop in Cardiff International Airport. Unfortunately for new people, very often it is only these airport jobs that are offered to you when you initially sign up, and many are shops located beyond the check-in part of the airport. This can be limiting for those who do not live by an airport/who are not going on holiday. New or not, you'll need to constantly check the website for new jobs, as they tend to go pretty fast, and exceptionally so if there's something like a hotel stay on offer.
Retail Eyes encourage you to fill out questionnaires about your hobbies and shopping habits, apparently so they can suit you to the most appropriate jobs/jobs that are looking for people with certain criteria. It is probably better for you to answer these honestly, rather than what you think they'd like to hear, as you will therefore be offered with the jobs that interest you most. From experience, I once did a job for a betting shop, and having never set foot into one before, felt very uncomfortable carrying it out. I have since altered my questionnaire on 'Gaming' and receive less jobs for it.
For each job completed, you receive a points score. Presumably, this is so Retail Eyes can assess your experience of Mystery Shopping, and offer you jobs based on your skill level. For each job completed successfully, you receive 10 points, along with an additional 2 if you get your report in on time. Points are deducted for releasing a job (-2) after you initially agreed to do it, or for any proofing queries raised (-1 for each query).
Payment and reimbursement
The one thing I soon realised from using this site was that it will definitely not get you rich. I was under the assumption that I would get lots of jobs and that they would pay well enough to replace working a part-time job. This was a huge misconception on my part. Most jobs I've done only pay an actual fee of up to £5, if that. Some will not pay you a fee at all, but may give a generous reimbursement limit (I have been paid up to £10 reimbursement from a gaming shop before now and more for having done a hotel visit). Therefore, I would definitely recommend it as a way to dine for free/get some free shopping done rather than as a site to make a profit from. As a student, this is ideal for me as I will definitely not pass up a free meal, given the choice.
The only negative is that payments and reimbursements are made twice monthly. Therefore, you do have to make sure you have the money to spend in the first place before actually doing a job. While you will essentially get a meal/product for free from doing the job, you may find yourself temporarily out of pocket while waiting to be reimbursed. However, money is paid directly into my current account, so when 'payday' does come around, I suddenly feel cash rich again.
My experience of Retail Eyes
On the whole, I have had a positive experience using this company. The site is designed so that you enter your location and the radius you are willing to travel. Unfortunately, it does not take into account water, and being located in the Vale of Glamorgan for half the year, it is not very useful to me when the site comes up with a pub in Weston-super-Mare. However, it allows me to choose more than one defined area at a time, which is useful as I'm in Devon for the other half of the year, and so I can check between multiple areas to see which jobs are available.
Reports are generally easy to fill out, providing you've made detailed memos to yourself throughout the shopping trip. Although you can take the assignment notes with you on your trip, you have to be careful not to make it obvious that you have them with you. I prefer to make notes on my phone about the most important aspects that I have to remember to observe (e.g. name and description of the staff member) and note things such as times of arriving and leaving on my phone as well, as it looks like I'm just texting rather than making notes.
Also, you have to be really particular and accurate when filling out reports if you want to ensure that a query is not raised. This means ensuring that you don't just make general statements like 'I was dissatisfied with my service, as I did not feel it was up to a decent standard'. You must state explicitly what it was about the service that you were dissatisfied with, and remember things exactly as they were said.
As I said, you will not get rich from using this site, but you will get some free meals from well known restaurants and free products from shops once you start building up your experience and successfully completing assignments. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who fancies getting some freebies.
Summary: Great site for mystery shopping