Secret Shopper Myths

Many people who are starting out as secret shoppers believe a common myth. Belief in this myth is caused by some people who sell memberships to web sites that list secret shopper companies or books about mystery shopping. In order to sell more, they make a false promise that has become a common belief by those who are inexperienced and have not yet investigated a number of shopper opportunities.


What is This Myth?

The myth is that on every secret shopper job you will purchase something that will be fully reimbursed. Many people believe that they will get all kinds of free clothing, toys, jewelry, and other products by secret shopping. What they don’t realize is that most shopper jobs for merchandise that costs more than a few dollars must be returned to the store. Once you start studying lists of secret shopper jobs, you’ll find that you usually don’t get to keep anything that costs much.

That is not to say that you can’t get anything free. Obviously if you are getting an oil change or eating at a restaurant as a secret shopper, you can’t return your purchase and get a reimbursement. Or if you stay in a hotel in order to do an evaluation on that hotel, you cannot “return” it.  I have received a free eye exam plus a nice reimbursement for part of the cost of my new eyeglasses. But it’s not common to get a job in which I can purchase clothing, for instance, and get to keep it.

Different companies which hire secret shoppers have different policies on this. So check carefully to make sure you understand the terms before accepting a shopper job.

Another Myth

Another myth that is often promoted by those selling expensive secret shopping programs is that you will make a lot of money by secret shopping. Realize that most shopper jobs do not pay much per hour. It may take you two or three hours to drive to an assignment, do the shopping job, drive home, and go online to fill out your report. Your pay for doing this might be only $8.00 to $18.00.

Now that’s a nice perk if you were going to go purchase the item or service anyhow. You get paid a bit for your time and possibly receive your purchase for free or at a discount. It’s a nice way to supplement your income part time. If you register with several companies, you may be able to do several jobs that can be done one after another in the same day. You can plan a route to go from one job to another and then go home and fill out your reports. But very few secret shoppers can make a living out of doing shopping jobs. Especially with the cost of gas these days!

So let’s lay the myths to rest. You CAN make some extra money. You CAN get some things that you would buy anyhow for free or for a discount. You CAN have fun shopping and turn your shopping hobby into a part time income. But you probably won’t make a lot of money unless you are a smart investor who puts all of her shopper profits into investments instead of spending them.

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