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Aug 6, 2013

Mystery Shopping: The Perks They Don't Tell You About

If someone told you that they eat out at expensive restaurants, stay in luxury hotels and spend money in supermarkets while getting paid to do so, you might think they were joking. Mystery shoppers enjoy all these benefits, and more, in the UK and all around the world.

The Internet has made mystery shopping easily accessible to people from all walks of life.Some Websites provide online portals that mystery shoppers can log into to find out which jobs are available to them. Mystery shopping websites require shoppers to report back online when they have completed their tasks, and upload written reports, photographs and receipt scans. 

The visits that mystery shoppers are required to undertake vary from job to job, but all mystery shopping has the same aim; evaluating service and performance, usually in a covert fashion so that staff do not realise they are being assessed. Mystery shoppers are not usually directly employed by the business who wants the evaluation done; instead a company will be given a contract, and they will make the work available to a pool of self-employed workers who have registered their details with them. Mystery shopping is counted as taxable income, and must be declared to the Inland Revenue.

The food industry is a major user of mystery shoppers, with many restaurants and fast food outlets using them assess the quality of the food and levels of service. The mystery shopper will be given a list of questions, such as whether they were greeted in a particular way, or if promotional material is displayed correctly. 

They must memorise what happens during a mystery shop; it is strictly forbidden to make notes as this will ‘blow their cover’ and reveal them as a mystery shopper. As well as a fee for assessing the outlet, mystery shoppers are usually refunded the cost of the food, after presenting a receipt as proof of purchase. A perk they don’t tell you about is that mystery shopping can make you put on weight; food that is free and also earns you money is hard to resist.

Hotels are another area where standards of service are assessed, and mystery shoppers who undertake hotel work will have their accommodation and food paid for, as well as extras such as spa treatments. There are some coveted jobs that involve overseas travel, as some airlines need assessing as well as foreign hotels. Airports are regularly mystery shopped, with both retail outlets and restaurants visited, and these jobs command large fees as it is not an easily accessed area, requiring shoppers to have either a special airport pass, or be in transit to a holiday in order to gain access air side.

Nearly all supermarket chains are mystery shopped, and these jobs provide the highly appreciated perks of free baskets, or even trolleys, of shopping. Yet another perk of mystery shopping is visiting attractions such as theme parks, castles and stately homes. The admission price will be refunded, as well as purchases in gift shops and food outlets.

Author Bio: Emily Steves is a freelance food blogger registered with www.tern.co.uk and recommends there services to any customer facing business. She loves to mystery shop and dine out, preferably at the same time. Her ambition is to mystery shop Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

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