Mystery Shopping

April 30, 2008 2:07:55 PM PDT
With the rising cost of food and fuel, many consumers are looking for ways to get goods and services for free and earn some extra cash. Action News has figured out a unique way to do both those things. Not only can you get free stuff and make some money. You can also have a great time doing it! "Are you here for business or pleasure?" said the Bellman.

"Just for fun," replied Lauri Johnson. Well, not exactly.

Lauri Johnson was on a mission working as an undercover research agent.

"It's really exciting," said Lauri. Action News tagged along on one of Lauri's latest assignments.

She was undercover checking to see whether customer service at a local hotel was up to snuff.

"There you go," said the Bellman.

"Thank you very much, and have a great day," said Lauri.

Our hidden camera also went along as Lauri checked in as a regular guest, was taken up to her room, and dined at the hotel restaurant.

"There's a little bit of adrenalin," added Lauri.

"You know what time is it? Did I look at my watch? What is that person's name? I'm supposed to get the names, what do they look like, did they say what they're supposed to say," she said.

This is the world of what's known as mystery shopping.

"Its real-time research," said Jeff Gurtman with LRA Worldwide. Companies pay mystery shoppers to act as regular guests, customers, and clients.

What companies get out of it is information about their employees' performances and insight into a real customer's experience What mystery shoppers get out of it is free stuff.

And a little extra money.

But, this line of work won't make you rich.

"But I think it's a great way to earn a second income, it's a great way to have fun, and it's a great way to get you know goods and services," added Gurtman. By mystery shopping, you can get a free cup of coffee, free oil change, or even a free meal at a restaurant!

"Anything from fast food to fine dining, you could do hotels, golf courses, retail," said Gurtman.

Gurtman hires mystery shoppers for clients of Horsham-based consulting company, LRA Worldwide.

"They ask people like me to send in mystery shoppers to go do that so I sent mystery shoppers in there and they get a vacation to Hawaii," he added.

That's right - Hawaii! Jeff is about to send someone to mystery shop a timeshare presentation there!

But aside from the perks, how much money can a mystery shopper make?

"If you're going away for the weekend and test a resort - you can earn a couple hundred dollars," he said.

For a one-night stay in a hotel?

"I get paid anywhere from $35 to $50," said Lauri You can also earn about $5 to mystery shop a café.

But remember, you also get a free cup of coffee. So how can you become a mystery shopper? First, find a reputable company through the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. "So the one thing you definitely do not have to do is pay money to join a mystery shopping company," said Gurtman.

Remember NEVER pay a fee to become a mystery shopper. And, Lauris' final word of advice?

"Just have fun," she said.

Mystery shopping involves work, too.

-You have to be very observant and remember everything you experience.

-You have to write it all up in a very, very detailed, accurate report and turn that report into the company on time.


To Harry'sPlanet and others: Again, the link for the Mystery Shopping Providers Association is I'm sorry you're having trouble navigating the site. Here's a more specific page from that website that will enable you to search for positions: I just searched and found a number of assignments for which I could apply - and there is NO fee involved. For instance, the very first company that came up on my search is It does not require any fee to sign up or search for information or apply for assignments. On another note, the MSPA website does indicate "Payment" for assignments. That indicates how much the company would pay YOU - not the other way around. Also, just fyi, it is against MSPA's bylaws for any member company to charge a fee to sign up, apply for, or get information about mystery shopping. And once again, here is a direct link to apply for a position with LRA Worldwide, the company we profiled in our piece - Also, again, you do NOT have to pay anything to search MSPA's website for assignments. However, you can OPT to pay a fee to become a CERTIFIED shopper, but this is not necessary nor is it a requirement. Sorry for all the confusion. I hope this helps. Happy Shopping!