Friday, May 1, 2009

Mystery Shopping Again

Since I've started doing mystery shops, I want to give everyone a bit more information based on my three experiences so far.  The big thing being, it's very important to read the rules completely.  And view it as a real "job."  They are very particular in the things they need to know about, and it's serious work.  You can't skip jobs once you sign up.  The only big downside is that you don't get paid for like two months.  So if you're signing up for the ones that reimburse you for eating out, or testing services or whatever, you have to pay for your dinner, or movie, or whatever merchandise up front.  Then it takes a couple months to get your money back.  

If you try it out, and decide that you really enjoy the mystery shopping, or that it's a good way for you to save and/or make money, then you will need to sign up with a lot of mystery shopping companies in order to get enough shops to keep you busy.  

It's also important to keep very good records.  Of course you have to pay close enough attention to be able to do the actual shop.  But you will also need to keep track of the funds that you should be expecting to get paid.  Since it takes so long, you will need to stay on top of the money you are owed and follow up if you don't get paid.  

In addition to that, note that any company you sign up with, you are an independent contractor.  You have to give them your social security number because they have to report your earnings to the IRS.  However, never fear!  There are tax deductions that you can take to offset your earnings.  For a lot of the mystery shops, you aren't actually getting paid.  You're just getting reimbursed for what you bought.  Dinner, movie, oil change, glasses, etc.  It's still benefiting you by getting the free dinner, movie, oil change, or whatever.  But it won't count as income.  Also print out a map quest for each shop that you do.  You can deduct mileage at the IRS rate for travel to and from the shop.  It is considered a business expense.  

If you know someone that is younger, have them look into mystery shopping too.  There are a lot of cigarette and alcohol compliance shops where the only thing to be done is to see if you are carded and/or allowed to buy the item.  I'm too old, but the emails I've gotten say that you can plan a route.  Schedule a dozen or so shops for the same day, and just run around trying to buy cigarettes.  Easy.

The next time I go on vacation, I'm going to attempt to schedule mystery shops all along the way, and some in the place that I'm vacationing.  That will allow me to deduct the mileage for my vacation, and also get me free meals and hopefully some activities too, that I will get reimbursed for later.  I will post some details about my mystery shop vacation later in the summer when I actually do it!

3 comments:

countrygirl said...

I signed up for mystery shopping one time and never got a job. But I'll try it again, with the suggetions you gave.

Thanx,
countrygirl (Joy)
sfsm

Danielle Miller said...

I've had to sign up for a lot of different companies. And I've been checking their job boards everyday. I have about four shops lined up for this coming week. See my link for Money Saving Methods in the sidebar. There's a tab on that site for a lot of mystery shopping companies. I highly recommend Kern Scheduling. They compile a list of stuff from other companies. I've also had some good shops from Service Sleuth and GameFilm Consulting. It's really going to depend on what's going on in your area though.

Mary said...

Hi,

Nice post! Mystery shopping is something that I always love to do.Get paid to shop....