Mystery Shopping

The Idea

Mystery shopping is a pretty simple concept; companies want to know if things are being done the way they want, so they pay a company who finds people to go and test this, report back and get paid for their troubles. I signed up to a few mystery shopping companies a few weeks back, to suss it out and get the ball rolling. Of the ones I joined, three have turned out be useless, but two have been pretty good. These two are Market Force and GFK. Of the two, Market Force has by far the more jobs, and a greater variety, some that are actually pretty enjoyable, get paid to go bowling, or out to the pub for example.  Whilst GFK has less assignments available, there are usually a handful of good quality ones every month, and they tend to pay relatively well. The assignments have ranged from eating out at restaurants, visiting a bank, to supermarket shopping. The pay varies as per assignment but is usually between £3-£15 with the average probably coming in around £7.

Update (14/03/13): I wasn’t finding too many available jobs, so I went on a bit of a mystery shopping site joining spree to increase my options. Those sites are: Performance in People, ESA Retail, Grass Roots and JKS. They’re all much of a muchness really, Performance in People and ESA Retail both had assignments available immediately, unlike the other two. I must say though, Market Force is by far the most user friendly website, the others have interfaces that are a bit dated.

Investment Required

It is mainly in terms of time. Often it is required to make a purchase as part of an assignment but this is almost always reimbursed. Usually a job will take around 30 minutes, including completing the questionnaire.

Capital: £0

Time(hrs): 1-2/week

Return On Investment

Given that upfront capital isn’t required, this is another opportunity that delivers infinite return on investment. The actual amount though does depend on how many assignments are available within a feasible area. This obviously depends largely on location. I estimate that, depending on a person’s location and availability, in excess of £60 a month is easily achievable with relatively little effort.

Projected ROI:  ∞

Expected Return: £60 per month (£720 for the year)

Skills/Resources Required

It’s pretty easy, the only resources required are internet access and something to upload a few pictures with (a camera phone does the job). There aren’t too many skills necessary, as long as you are confident and willing to do a bit of pretending then it is fairly straightforward stuff.


As far as I see it there is no risk involved. You  choose which assignments you want to take on, and when (within the dates available) so it is completely flexible – you are not tied in to any ongoing commitment. Given that it is common to make £7-ish for half an hours time, it is a fairly good opportunity at this point in time.


There are ways to maximise the amount of work you can get – regularly check, join more providers, etc. – but there will always be a limit to how much is available. Unless I plan on starting up my own secret shopping service, then it is pretty restricted in terms of scale.


Mystery shopping is never going to make me the ‘big bucks’ I need to reach my target. However, it is a fairly reliable, low effort revenue stream that can be fitted around other projects I have on the go at any point in time. It is also ideal in the early stages because it brings in the money I need for bigger projects, that will hopefully end up delivering the ‘big bucks’, without any upfront capital required.

The Verdict


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  1. […] information on Mystery Shopping I would direct you to my friend The Shoestring Investor – He regularly makes £100-£200 ($125-$250) a week, despite not living in the city). He has a more […]

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