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What is a mystery shopper, or secret shopper?
A mystery shopper is an independent contractor who is paid to visit a business and anonymously evaluate client-specified standards such as customer service, selling skills, and the facility appearance.
Do I have what it takes to be a good mystery shopper?
All our mystery shoppers must be at least 18 years old and have access to reliable Internet. A good mystery shopper has strong written communication skills and is observant, detail-oriented, reliable, very discreet, and able to complete projects in a timely manner. Having a good memory and a little acting ability helps too!
How do I get started as a mystery shopper?
It’s easy and there’s no cost! Just fill out a registration form at our Shopper Sign Up.
Does it cost anything to become a mystery shopper?
You should never have to pay to become a mystery shopper. Be skeptical of any company that tells you otherwise.
How much can I earn as a mystery shopper?
The fees vary widely, depending on the complexity of the project. Typical projects pay $5 to $25, but may go as high as $100. There may be other perks besides actual pay though, including free products or services. Plus, the flexible schedule is hard to beat!
Will I be reimbursed if I have to buy something?
The cost of required purchases is either reimbursed or (more often) covered in the fee paid to the shopper. Sometimes, the item must be returned for a refund/credit as a required part of a project. Or, if the “return” is optional, and you decide to keep the item(s), it is at your expense; we do not reimburse for things you decide to keep on your own.
Can I be a full-time mystery shopper?
It isn’t easy, due to the number of projects that are typically available in a single geographic area. However, you have a better chance if you register with a number of different companies to increase the number of projects available.
What if I’m already a mystery shopper for another company?
We encourage shoppers to register with multiple companies to provide them with as many project opportunities as possible. We recommend sticking with reputable companies that are members of the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association).
What is MSPA certification and do I need it?
The MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) offers several levels of shopper education for a fee (Silver Certification and Gold Certification). It is NOT required, but it does have value. It tells us you understand all the basics about mystery shopping and shows that you take your work as a mystery shopper seriously enough to invest in the success of your own business.
What kind of projects do you have available?
We get new clients all the time, so the types of available shops change. We usually have a wide variety of retail and dining evaluations, health care screenings, and other interesting projects.
Are there any shops available in my area?
Once you register as a Beyond Hello shopper, you’ll have access to our Job Board, which lists available opportunities. Even if there aren’t any projects available today, though, there might be tomorrow.
How do I know I can trust Beyond Hello?
For starters, we’re an accredited member of BBB Online (Better Business Bureau); you can look us up here. We’re also an active member of the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association), which means we’re required to follow a strict code of professional ethics. Beyond Hello Vice President, Christopher Warzynski, former President of the MSPA for 2008, is still an active member of the board. In addition, we’ve been in business since 1991 and work with many well-known clients who have been kind enough to provide testimonials for us.
What about the secret shopper scams I’ve heard about?
As in any industry, there are honest and dishonest companies. Watch out for any company that wants you to pay a fee to become a mystery shopper. Also, beware of any project that involves check cashing or money transfers. We never ask shoppers to send us money. If someone posing as a representative of our company ever contacts you with a cashier’s check, contact the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) before you try to cash the check…it may be a scam.
Why do you need my social security number?
We want you to feel comfortable with Beyond Hello before giving us your social security number, so you can complete the registration process and even express interest in mystery shopping projects without providing it. Once you decide to accept a project, though, we need your social security number before we can issue payment to you. The IRS requires us to track payments and issue a 1099 if we pay over $600 to a mystery shopper during a single calendar year. (Note: Social Security Numbers apply for U.S. residents only.)
Why do you need to know things about me like clothing size and age?
Our diverse group of clients usually specifies secret shopper demographics that mirror their target customer. By providing us with as much data about yourself as possible, more projects may become available to you for consideration.
When and how do I get paid?
Payment is made by the end of the month for the previous month’s completed projects. We pay only through PayPal, which provides a convenient and trusted way for us to transfer payments to you online. You can learn more about PayPal and easily set up a free account at PayPal.com. Please note that the email address you use when you register with Beyond Hello must be one of the email addresses listed in your PayPal profile.
Do you take taxes out of my pay?
No, we don’t withhold any portion of your fee for taxes. Our mystery shoppers are all independent contractors, which means they’re responsible for their own tax withholding and tax liability.
What does it mean that your mystery shoppers are “independent contractors”?
Mystery shoppers are not employees of Beyond Hello; they are independent contractors. An independent contractor is someone who works on a project basis only; they are not employees of the company. We contract with mystery shoppers for specific, limited projects with predetermined fees. Independent contractors can decide to accept or decline any project, and may incur a loss on work that is not complete and timely. Independent contractors are not eligible for benefits such as insurance coverage, unemployment compensation, or worker’s compensation.
Does Beyond Hello cover expenses such as parking fees, gas, or tolls for mystery shoppers?
These are considered regular business expenses for any independent contractor, and are not covered by Beyond Hello.
Why does the "PAID ON" date for a shop on my Shop Log show a date that hasn't occurred yet?
A "PAID ON" date for a shop in your Shop Log indicates the date the shopper payment will be released to PayPal (by the end of the business day). For example on 8/12/09, you might already see "PAID ON: 08/31/09" next to a completed shop.
How do I register as a shopper with Beyond Hello?
It’s easy! Follow this link to the registration page, fill out all fields on the registration form, accept the Independent Contractor Agreement, and submit. You’re in!
US citizens: Please note that you can complete the registration process without giving us your social security number (defer). We don’t need it until you actually accept a project.
All other countries including Canada: Please do not enter any number at all. You must select the option for: “No US SSN/Tax ID: I do not have a US SSN/Tax ID” and then enter the reason into the blank field that pops up (example: Canadian).
Why do I get a red “error message” on the password entry when I try to register?
It probably isn’t really a problem with your password. Please note that if there is any missing information during the registration process (which results in an error message), you have to reenter your password information each time you enter missing information. Although it appears that the password is one of the errors, it probably isn’t (since the system shows both “instructions” and “errors” in red), and you should just reenter the one you used in the first place.
Regarding registration “errors”, here are the most common:
1. For the SSN/EIN section: Even after filling out this section, you may still be asked to “update” it. If you filled it out, though, it should submit.
2. Make sure you fill out every required field.
3. The birth date must be filled out in this format: mm/dd/yyyy (using four digits for the year).
4. You MUST click to accept to the Independent Contractor Agreement.
If you still are unable to register, please contact us.
How will I find out about projects that are available?
We send out email notifications of new projects, and you can always check the Job Board for a list of current projects.
Am I required to accept every project?
No. You can indicate interest in any project that appeals to you and ignore the rest. Our schedulers review the pool of interested shoppers and offer the project based on client criteria, geographic location, and shopper experience.
Can I request the same project every time it’s available?
We usually don’t contract with the same shopper more than once in a row for the same client. Most clients require “shopper rotation” so that a shopper is never positively identified.
Do the employees know I’m coming?
Employees usually know their company participates in a mystery shopping program, but they don’t know when the visit will occur.
Who sees the mystery shop evaluations after I complete them?
Our Quality Assurance Team reviews every evaluation to ensure completion and clarity. If there are any questions, the evaluation will be returned to you for further information. Once completed and reviewed by Beyond Hello, the evaluation will be released to the client and probably shared with any employee you evaluated.
How do clients use the mystery shop evaluations?
Clients use the information to understand what their customers really experience. They use them to recognize excellent performance or to identify training needs. Sometimes they play a role in incentive and bonus programs.
Why am I not being selected for the shops I’m interested in?
There might just be a lot of shoppers in your area right now. Or, you may not have completed the personal profile information we need to match you up with client requests for shopper demographics. In addition, you may not receive projects if you get low project “ratings.” To increase your chances for projects: keep your personal profile data up-to-date, maintain a good rating (accurate, complete evaluations submitted on time), and respond quickly to requests for additional information. Also, helping a scheduler with a last minute project works wonders!
What if my email address changes?
You can access and update your email address in your information profile. Please be aware that you MUST also update your email address with PayPal, as they must match for us to issue payment to you.
What if some of my other personal information changes?
You can access your own profile and should update it whenever there is a change to your personal information.
How will I know what to do and what to ask on a shop?
We provide clear project specifications prior to your visit that describe what the client expects.
What if I have a question about the specifications for a shop?
Contact your scheduler immediately (and before the shop) to ensure all project requirements are met. Payment is made only on projects that are completed correctly and on time.
May I take my friend, child, or spouse with me?
No, as it creates a distraction that can impact the accuracy of the project. It also makes it more difficult to remain anonymous. If you’re identified as a mystery shopper, the project will not be accepted by the client.
What if I can’t complete a shop that I’ve already accepted?
Contact your scheduler immediately so there is sufficient time to select another mystery shopper before the client deadline.
I can't get the spell check on the evaluation form to work; is there another option?
If you use Internet Explorer and are looking for an Internet spell check program that will work well, there is a free program available for your personal use called IE Spell. You can find out more about the program and download it at http:www.iespell.com/. In addition to using an Internet spell check program, we recommend that you type your comments in a word processing document (such as Microsoft Word) first to help avoid misspellings and other grammar/sentence structure errors. Using the word processing program will allow you to both spell and grammar check your comments. Once you are finished, you can copy and paste your comments into the text boxes on the forms.
How long should I keep notes, evaluation forms, and receipts?
We suggest you keep all paperwork for at least 3 months in case our client has a question about the project.
Do you provide any feedback after a shop?
Yes we do. You’ll receive written feedback from our Quality Assurance Team and a “rating” (1 – 10) for every project you complete. You’ll also have an “overall rating” which is a cumulative average of all your shops. The higher your average rating, the more likely you are to receive projects.