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How to Become a Mystery Shopper

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A mystery shopper is someone who works undercover for retailers, regulators etc.  Essentially they are used by any business that wants to test out their staff, the quality of the services they are providing and their overall customer satisfaction levels. 

A mystery shopper will pose as a normal customer in order to collect information and then report back to the mystery shopper employer or agency.

As a mystery shopper you will be required to have certain skills such as:

  • Good memory – you won’t be able to make notes in front of the staff as this is meant to be a secret ‘mission’!
  • Ability to remain anonymous
  • Observational skills – being aware of everything going on around you is vital
  • Writing – when filling out your report you will need to have adequate grammar and punctuation skills
  • Able to work to deadlines – the majority of assignments will need to be completed within 24 hours so you must be both committed and reliable
  • Honesty
  • Professionalism – offensive words or comments are unnecessary; especially as your report will be read by the location you visited


When registering as a mystery shopper you will be asked specific questions that will help to determine which jobs will suit you and your location.  You will be contacted when a position becomes available and it will be your choice whether you take the job or not.

An assignment will vary in length, it will all depend on what type of task you are given.  It could range from a short phone call, a couple of hours in a restaurant, an overnight stay in a hotel or even an airline flight.  Though some assignments will clearly be more attractive than others, they will all require a professional and thorough approach. Remember that you are doing a job so need to be aware of what’s going on, no matter how much you want to relax and enjoy the experience!

As a mystery shopper you will typically be asked to report on:

  • Décor and tidiness
  • Quality of service
  • Ease of finding certain products or details
  • As you have to remain anonymous, any notes you need to take will have to be done so in ‘invisible’ places
  • Most companies will want all the information, till receipts and forms filled out within 24 hours of finishing an assignment

Benefits of becoming a mystery shopper

As a mystery shopper you are classed as self-employed and there are many benefits to freelancing in this way.  You can pick and choose the times that you work and will be able to say no to a job if you so wish, there is no contract saying you have to accept all work offered.

The amount that you will be paid for each job will differ with every assignment, it will all depend on what type of task you are given, the location, travel etc. Rates could also vary if people with specific attributes are needed.

Sometimes you will be paid or you may just receive things for free, for example a meal out will be entirely paid for, or if you are reporting on a shop you may perhaps get to keep the items.  All will be clarified at the beginning of an assignment.

You must also remember that as a freelancer, you must do personal tax returns and still declare your earnings to the Inland Revenue.

Finding work

It is not very likely that being a mystery shopper can be made into a full-time occupation, assignments can vary in location (some of which will not be easily accessible to you) and can even be agent profile specific so if you don’t meet the exact criteria then you will not be an appropriate candidate.  None the less, it is a great way of making extra money in your spare time as well as gaining experiences and trying new things.    

You don’t need any specific qualifications to be a mystery shopper as the idea is to choose a ‘normal’ person who may be a potential customer.  You will, however, have to be able to speak, read and write English, as well as havie a good level of grammar and punctuation in order to write your reports.

Having regular access to the internet and email is also essential so as to keep communication going between all involved.

Most applicants will need to be 18 or over, however some agencies will accept those below this age.  If so, they may have to attain a formal agreement from either your parent or guardian.

For help and information on registering as a mystery shopper have a look on:

  • Mystery Shopper Jobs
  • Mystery Shoppers – with this company you can undertake their web-based training programme, which, if you pass can lead to a certificate and priority in being offered assignments in your area
  • Retail Eyes
  • Gfk Mystery Shopping
  • Retail Maxim

For more information on how we can help you and your business with your taxation needs or to appoint us as your accountant, please call 01442 275767 or email

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