FAQs

Shopper information

Frequently Asked Questions

Being a Mystery Shopper

Q: What is a mystery shopper?

A: A mystery shopper is a person who poses as a real customer whilst assessing customer service levels provided by a company or organisation. A mystery shopping assignment can be a telephone call, email, letter, website survey, face to face visit, a home visit – the list goes on! If you want to find out more about what’s available, sign up with us and look on our Available Assignments page.

Q: Can I become a full time mystery shopper?

A: Mystery Shopping is a great way to earn a few extra pounds in your spare time, but is unlikely to provide you with full time work. However, video mystery shopping assignments, which involve mystery shoppers using covert recording equipment whilst visiting stores/restaurants/car dealerships etc, often pay a higher fee. For more information about this, email shopper.support@mystery-shoppers.co.uk.

Q: What are you looking for in a mystery shopper?

A: Anyone (aged 18+ years) can be a mystery shopper. Generally speaking, most of our assignments are UK-based, but we do have some in other countries occasionally. We are often asked by clients to test the accessibility of their sites, so those with accessibility needs are absolutely welcome to sign up as a shopper with us.

Q: Are there any age restrictions?

A: You must be 18+ years old to sign up as a mystery shopper with us.

Q: Do I need any qualifications?

A: No qualifications are required, but you will need access to the internet and email.

Q: I live in a remote area, is there any point in registering?

A: Yes definitely! Mystery shoppers can be required in any location and home based assignments are available. We carry out visits on some of the smallest islands of the UK, and remote locations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so you should definitely register and see what comes up. We never guarantee work to any of our mystery shoppers, but it’s quick and free to register so it’s certainly worth doing.

Q: I live outside of the UK, will there be any work for me?

A: Most of our work is carried out in the UK, but we do carry out some assignments overseas (especially the Republic of Ireland).  Keep your email notifications turned on so that we can let you know if there’s anything available in your area.

Q: Can I work from one of your offices?

A: Mystery shoppers work from their own home. We have two administration offices; one in the UK (Holsworthy, Devon), and one in Varna, Bulgaria. If you’d like to know about our office vacancies, take a look at our Careers page.

Q: I'm disabled, can I still be a Mystery Shopper?

A: Yes, definitely! We also have some assignments specifically for shoppers with access issues or disabilities – when you complete your application form make sure you tick the relevant box, then when we have an assignment relevant to your disability, we can contact you.

Q: How many assignments do you have available every month?

A: We usually complete around 8,000-10,000 assignments per month. Many of our clients want mystery shops every month, so if you see an assignment you like the look of, but your application isn’t successful, it’s likely that it will be available the following month. The team members working on the project will be listed on the Assignment Info, so contact them to let them know that you’re interested.

 

Q: How do I become a mystery shopper?

Q: Who pays my National Insurance & Income Tax?

A: As a mystery shopper you are classed as self-employed and are responsible for declaring your earnings.

Assignments

Q: How long do assignments take?

A: Assignments vary depending on the type, it could be a 2 minute telephone call, or an overnight stay at a hotel. The assignment details will show the start date and the deadline. You will also sometimes be asked for a date that you plan to do the assignment when you apply.

Q: How many assignments will I get?

A: We never guarantee regular assignments to our mystery shoppers because the available work depends completely on our clients’ needs and requirements. Have a look at the Hints and Tips section of these FAQs for advice on how to get more mystery shopping assignments.

Q: How quickly will I have to complete the assessment form?

A: We normally require the assessment form to be completed and submitted as soon as possible after your assignment, as the contracts with our clients mean we need to send them ASAP. Submissions after 9 pm the day of your visit may not be accepted. Always check your Shopper Brief for details.

Q: WHAT DO I DO WITH MY RECEIPT(S)?

A: You should always keep your receipts safely for sixty days. For some projects we reimburse expenses so we may ask you to upload a copy of your receipt to the assessment form. If your expenses are over £20, you’ll need to make sure you provide us with a VAT receipt otherwise we may not be able to process your payment, so make sure you ask for this.

Q: How do I complete the assessment form?

A: You can complete your assessment form using your shopper portal, or our app Mystery Shoppers Mobile for iOS or Android. When submitting your form, please add as much comment as possible where relevant as this provides valuable feedback and gives us a better understanding of your answers. If a question is not applicable, select ‘N/A’ and comment in the box alongside. Please complete the assessment form with an open mind and think carefully before completing each question. Please take care to use the correct punctuation, spelling and grammar. Substandard assessment forms will not be accepted and will be returned to you for adjustments. Learn how to add a spell checker to your browser or phone here.

Q: Should I keep any documents I'm sent during a mystery shop, or send to you?

A: Keep everything you are sent or given (paperwork, email attachments etc.) for sixty days in case of any queries, and then destroy it after ninety days has elapsed from the date of the assignment. We may ask you to upload scans/photos of any paperwork that you receive during the course of the mystery shop, to your assessment form using the ‘Upload’ buttons. What you need to send in to us will normally be detailed in your Shopper Brief.

Q: How will I know what I have to do during a mystery shop that I'm assigned?

The assignment info that you see in your shopper portal (when you click on the ‘View Assignment’/’Resume’) will give you some information, but once you’re assigned, you will see that you also have a Shopper Brief. This is a PDF which should tell you everything you need to know.

Hours & Pay

Q: How much will I get paid?

A: The payment will depend on the length and complexity of the assignment. The fee will be stated in the details of the assignment.

Sometimes we will ask you to make a purchase as part of the assignment, in which case we often reimburse you for the cost.

Q: Will I be able to claim back travel expenses?

A: Normally no, we don’t pay travel expenses, but for some assignments we may do so and this will be mentioned in the assignment information but if you aren’t sure, check with the team member named in the Shopper Brief and they will advise.

Q: If I have to make a purchase, can I keep it?

A: This depends on the assignment, sometimes you can keep your purchase, sometimes you will have to return it either to us or the client. Check your Shopper Brief for clarification if you are unsure.

Q: How will I be paid?

A: You will be paid straight into your bank account. Make sure the Extended Profile banking section is complete and correct. The Extended Profile is part of the sign up process that you’ll be asked to complete once you’ve clicked the verification link in the email.

Q: When will I be paid?

A: We normally make payment within 28 days of completion of the assignment and receipt of all required media uploads. Please ensure that your bank details are correct on your Extended profile. To see whether you’ve been paid for a completed assignment:

Log in here, click on Account Settings (In the top right-hand corner) then My Pay History (it might take a few minutes to load).

If you see any blanks in the last 9 columns, don’t worry as these are assignments that we’ve archived on our system. Please check your bank statements if you believe that you have not been paid for any of these.

Q: Who pays my National Insurance & Income Tax?

A: As a mystery shopper you are classed as self-employed and are responsible for declaring your earnings.

Q: How many hours will I work a week?

A: This depends entirely on our clients and their current requirements, and what assignments you chose to undertake.

Becoming a Shopper

Q: How do I become a shopper?

A: Click here and complete the fields as requested. You will receive a verification email (check your junk/spam), click the link and finish the final part of the signup process. You can then check the Available Assignments page for mystery shops near you.

Q: Why do you ask for so much personal information?

A: Clients can be very specific in their requirements. They might need someone of a certain height or who drive a specific type of car. Of course, you don’t have to fill out all the questions if you don’t want to, but by doing so you maximise your chances of being contacted about assignments that are relevant.

Q: Is my personal information shared with a third party?

A: No, absolutely not. The information you give is for us to select the right mystery shopper for the right assignment.

Q: I forgot my password, what should I do?

A: Click on the Forgot Password link on the login page and follow the instructions.

Q: Why do you want my bank details?

A: We ask for your payment information (Sort Code, Bank Account Number) only so that we can process your payments for any successfully completed assignments quickly and without having to request this information from you after you have completed an assignment. The information that we request can only be used to put money into your account – no money can be taken from you, nor do we ever share this information with any third party companies.

Please ensure that your payment information is correct and kept up to date as these are details that we will use to pay you. We cannot retrieve payments if incorrect details are entered here. Any incorrect or incomplete payment information will cause a delay in processing your payment.

Using the website

Q: Forgot your password?

A: Click on the Forgot Password link on the login page and follow the instructions.

Q: Locked yourself out of your account?

A: Email Shopper.Support@mystery-shoppers.co.uk to get your account unlocked.

Q: Why do I get so many emails from MSL?

A: When registering with us, by default you are subscribing to our automated, manually generated and newsletter emails. Each week you will get a summary email of all of the assignments that are available near you, each day you’ll get a ‘top up’ email detailing any new assignments since your last weekly email and members of the team might also email you if we think you might be interested in an assignment. Our newsletter has prize draws, articles and hints and tips that you might like to know about. Please add us to your address book so that our emails don’t accidentally go into your junk/spam folders. You can choose to unsubscribe from emails by logging in and changing your notification settings or following the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the emails.

Q: Unsure how to check for assignments?

A: Log in, and click on Available Assignments on the left-hand side of the page. This will automatically show you all assignments in your area. If you want to see all of the assignments available, click on the orange bar at the top of the page.

Q: I received an email about an assignment, but I don't live anywhere near the location?

A: Sometimes we email shoppers asking if they will be travelling nearby a location that we need to be assessed. We also ask if shoppers know anyone who would be suitable for an assignment.

Q: Can I complete a mystery shop with a friend or family member?

A: Sometimes yes. If both you and the person you are with are completing a mystery shop for us, please make sure you are assessing unique interactions. For example, if you go into a store and speak to a staff member, the person you are with cannot base their assessment on that same interaction, as you will not be paid for this, and may be flagged as fraudulent. Our clients are paying for unique assessments.

Q: Why am I not getting allocated any assignment when I apply?

A: Usually we review applications on a first-come first-served basis, but we also take other things into consideration. We review the brief note that you’ve provided, when you applied, we look at the date you plan to do the assignment (if applicable), we look at your grade and the feedback we’ve given you in the past (don’t worry if you’re brand new – we always try to give new shoppers a chance!).

Q: I've received an email from you, but when I login I can't find the assignment?

A: This is probably because it’s already been allocated to another shopper. Sometimes you’ve got to be quick! However, keep checking back, because we often have the same assignments available month on month.

Q: Want to see assignments that are further away?

A: You can reset your work area by clicking on the map under My Coverage on the left-hand side of your portal. Alternatively, you can change the distance you are willing to travel for assignments in the Available Assignments filter.

Q: Want to see absolutely everything that's available?

A: When you see the list of Available Assignments in your area, change the amount of miles to 150+ to see all assignments.

Please note that you will not be able to see assignments for which you don’t fit the profile restrictions.

Q: Why aren't there any assignments near me?

A: Sometimes we have to look for very specific shoppers e.g. certain ages, or who drive certain cars, so it may be that assignments are nearby, but you don’t currently fit the profile for these. We’ll only ever show you assignments that you fit the profile for.

Q: Are there restrictions on how many assignments I can apply for/complete?

A: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes we set automated restrictions, which mean that shoppers can only apply/complete a set number of assignments for the same project. However, you can usually apply for/complete as many different assignments, e.g. for different mystery shops, as you like. For example, you could apply for a train station assessment, a café assessment, a phone store enquiry and a retail store assignment which you plan to complete on the same day. However, you might not be able to apply for, or complete 4 phone store enquiries on the same day.

Q: Not sure how to see the assignment information?

A: Click on the ‘ i ‘ button of the assignment.

This will open up the Assignment Info, and the Assignment Info will normally contain more information and, if you are allocated the assignment (it is in your inbox) a link to more detailed instructions in the Shopper Brief.

Q: Not sure how to apply for an assignment?

A: In Available Assignments, click on the Apply button.

You will sometimes have to add a note in support of your application. Make sure you state your availability and any relevant information that would help us decide if you are a suitable candidate to complete the assignment. We often receive a large number of applications for assignments, so make sure your Application Note is up to standard to put you ahead of the crowd! Assignments you have applied for will appear on your profile under My Applications.

Q: How will I know when I've got an assignment?

A: You will receive an email to confirm (as long as you have not unsubscribed from emails), and when you login you will see the assignment listed in your Inbox. If an assignment is not in your Inbox, it has not been allocated to you.

Q: What do I do when I've been allocated an assignment?

A:  Log in to your profile, make sure you read the Shopper Brief (a PDF which is available as part of the Assignment Info that appears when you click on the Information button) before you start the assignment.

Q: Why do assignments I've applied for sometimes disappear from My Applications?

A: We often receive a large number of applications from shoppers. If you have applied, but the application has disappeared, it will probably be because we have allocated it to another shopper. Often allocation is done on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis, but we keep a log of shoppers who have applied for each assignment, so if the allocated shopper is no longer able to complete the assignment, we will usually choose another shopper who has applied and contact them to make sure they are still able to complete the assignment, and if so, to confirm they’ve been allocated.

Q: Why do you not email shoppers to let them know that they have not been allocated an assignment after applying?

A:  Because we get so many applications, shoppers applying for many assignments would receive a huge volume of emails from us saying that they’d not been successful which could be disheartening, and could mean that they miss emails from us letting them know when they have been successful, so we choose not to contact shoppers if this is the case.

Q: What is a Scenario and where can I find my Scenario?

A: A scenario is usually a PDF/file that you can find attached to your assessment form. It provides some additional details to help you when doing your mystery shop. We use scenarios to make the mystery shops seem realistic and different from one another. Not all projects have a scenario, but if yours does you will find it by opening the assessment form (click on the name of the assignment to open this up) – the link to the Scenario will appear in the notes section at the top of the assessment form.

Q: When doing a mystery shop, should I use fake contact details if the staff member of the place I'm assessing asks me?

A: Your Shopper Brief should tell you what to do.

Q: Can I see the assessment form before I do my mystery shop?

A: Yes, when you’ve been assigned, you can find the assessment form in your inbox. Click on this to see the assignment. Some questions might be hidden to start with, and may become visible when you make your way through the assessment form. You can see the full list of possible questions at the very top of the assessment form. This is a list of all questions, many of which may never be applicable to your scenario, or depending on what happened during your assignment. For example, if you are visiting a train station which doesn’t have a ticket office, the Ticket Office section may remain hidden, but could be visible to other shoppers who are visiting stations with a ticket office.  

Q: I've seen a 'Fraud Prevention section' at the top of an assessment form that I'm completing. What's this about?

A: We run fraud checks to make sure that all of the information that we’re providing to our clients is legitimate. We also use this section to double-check that our shoppers have completed the assessment correctly, e.g. visited the correct store. So this section might include questions which ask you to covertly take and upload photos of the outside of the store you’re assessing.

Q: I've been asked to make an audio recording as part of my assignment, how do I do this?​:

A: You can use a smartphone with the capability to record audio. This website might help you do this. 
  1. Before your assignment, ensure you have the required equipment with you – you must ensure that your audio recording device/smart phone is fully charged, has enough free storage space to do a long recording, and that you are comfortable with how it works.
  2. Your recording must be started a maximum of 20 seconds before entering the location you are assessing. Please state the Date, Time and Location you are visiting – you must state this so that we can be sure you went to the correct place.
  3. You must record the entire visit – make sure you start the recording before you enter, and only turn it off after you leave. Visits with no audio, a partial audio, or with an audio file that is not clear will not be accepted, and unfortunately you will not be paid.
  4. Be careful to not shake the device or fiddle with it as this will interfere with the audio quality – try to keep the device as still as possible in your hand (not in your pocket etc.) or on the table in front of you (face down). Please make sure that your phone is in “flight mode” during the visit to avoid any interruptions to the recording. If it’s not in flight mode and you receive a call, the recording will stop and your audio will fail.
  5. After the visit, your recording should be uploaded to your assessment form. You must keep the Audio Recording and Documentation for at least 90 days after your visit.

Q: I've been asked to take a photo with a date and time stamp, how do I do this?

A: To take photos which have a date and time stamp, some of our shoppers have found the Timestamp Camera Enterprise app useful. Click below to download the app:

  Look for: 

Make sure your location settings are turned on so that date and time stamp will include your location too.

Q: I have to make a call recording for an assignment, how do I do this?

A: You can now complete your mystery shop recorded call directly within your assignment form. Here’s how:

  1. Open the assessment form for the location you need to call.
  2. Locate the ‘call recording’ section at the top of the form, which shows the phone number, address, and date/time of your call.
  3. If you have multiple telephone numbers in your shopper profile, you can select the one you want to use.
  4. Click ‘Call Now’ and your phone will ring.
  5. Answer the call and enter the provided PIN code from your assessment form when prompted.
  6. The system will make the call to your mystery shop location automatically.
  7. Complete your assignment as outlined in your shopper brief.
  8. Once you’ve finished the call, hang up and the audio will be uploaded automatically to your assessment.

Q: I have to take a screenshot on my phone, how do I do this?

A: For Android:

On most Android phones, you can take a screenshot by holding down the Volume down button and the Sleep/wake button simultaneously. Hold these buttons down until your screen flashes. If this doesn’t work, follow this link to find out how to do it on your phone.

To view your screenshot, go to the photos section on your phone and look for the screenshots album, tap to open it, then select the screenshot to view. You can use this feature to attach the photograph to your assessment.

A: For iOS:

On most iOS device, you can either take a screenshot by holding down the Power/Sleep button and click the main home button in the bottom-centre simultaneously. Or press the side button and the volume up button at the same time.

To view your screenshot, go to the photos app on your phone (this is not in the Photo Stream, but in the main Photos section), you can use this feature to attach the photograph to your assessment.

Q: How do I submit my form?

A: First, press Check Complete (at the bottom of the form) – this will check if you have missed anything. Once you have completed all the questions, press Save. Your form will be saved and you will be sent back to your Inbox. You will then see that the Submit button on your assignment is green – this means it’s ready to submit. Press Submit and the assignment will be sent straight through to us!

Q: I was working on my assessment form, but have tried to reopen the form, and it's lost all of my answers!

A: This may be because you were automatically logged out of your portal without you knowing. This is a security feature. To overcome this, make sure you regularly save the assessment form you’re working on.

Features on your shopper portal

ACCOUNT SETTINGS

Access your account settings using the yellow profile button in the top right corner. From here, you can edit your profile, change your password, and change your home location.  You can also look at your Pay History to see the assignments you have completed. If you have a payment query you should contact the relevant team about the assignment.

MY PERFORMANCE

When you submit your assessment form, we check through it before publishing it to our client. We grade each one so that shoppers can see how they did and do an even better job next time (if possible!). My Performance is where you can see a summary of your current shopper grade. This is the guide we use when grading our shoppers:

Grading summary (screenshot)

We’ll also write a quick comment to help shoppers next time, and give it a rating e.g. ‘Excellent’, ‘Ok’, Improvement Needed’ or ‘Poor’.

For information on grading, please check out this article we wrote to help shoppers.,

Hints & Tips

Mystery Shoppers Mobile App

Why not try downloading our app Mystery Shoppers Mobile for iOS or Android? The app will allow you to search for, apply and complete mystery shopping assignments and it makes completing assessment forms really easy!

If you are a Windows phone or tablet user, please download the MobiAudit app and enter the URL: https://online.mystery-shoppers.co.uk when prompted.

CERTIFICATIONS

Complete as many certifications as possible – these are usually very short. They are used to check your eligibility for an assignment, or test that you have understood what you’d have to do if you were assigned a specific assignment.

YOUR PROFILE

Ensure that your profile has as much detailed information on it as possible (this will help us to match your profile with current specific projects). Ensure your details are up-to-date (if there are any changes then ensure you login to your profile and update).

COVERAGE AREA

Increase your work distance – Under the Details tab on your profile, you can choose the distance you are willing to travel. 

OTHER MYSTERY SHOPPING COMPANIES

Sign up with several Mystery Shopping companies, this will increase your chances of getting work. (Tip: Do not sign up with any company that asks you to pay a fee to be on their database as these companies are often not legitimate).

HOW TO GET MORE ASSIGNMENTS

Make sure you log in to your profile and search Available Assignments regularly, and check your emails regularly. Check out our tips for getting more assignments here.

SOCIAL MEDIA

If you use social networking sites, you can:

  • Like us on Facebook
  • Join our Facebook group to get notifications about Available Assignment
  • Follow us on Twitter – this way you’ll be the first to hear about the latest news and job alerts.
  • Follow us on Instagram: mysteryshoppersltd

HOW TO RECORD YOUR SCREEN WHEN DOING A WEBSITE ASSESSMENT

For some of the website assessment mystery shops we do, you’ll be asked to record your screen so that our clients can see your experience. For some, you might also be asked to record yourself using your webcam, so our clients can see and hear your reactions as you use their website.

Some of our shoppers have recommended using ClipChamp. The free version lets you record up to 30 minutes. If you need longer, you can make another recording, but keep an eye on the time as there’s no notification when the 30 minutes is up. We advise running a few tests so you are comfortable with how it works.

VIDEO MYSTERY SHOPPING CHECKLIST

Video Mystery shopping is very similar to normal mystery shops, however shoppers were specialist covert recording equipment which captures video and audio footage of the interactions they have with a staff member. Anyone can be a video mystery shopper and the fees are often higher than normal mystery shops. Contact shopper.support@mystery-shoppers.co.uk to find out more. 

Below are some pointers for video mystery shoppers.

Before your visit

1. Please thoroughly check your equipment (batteries fully charged, camera angle adjusted accordingly, sound working etc.) as we will not be able to issue payment for footage that does not clearly show any relevant member of staff.

2. No date/time recording to be indicated on recording. Please turn this feature off.

During the visit

3. At the beginning of the recording before getting out of your car/arriving on-site, please make sure that you verbally give date, time and location.

4. During the visit we need you to make sure that the ‘target’ (the person you are going to be mystery shopping) is in view between 80-90% of the time. This is really important.

5. The audio quality needs to be really high throughout, so that all interactions can be heard clearly. Please make sure there are no background noises which interfere with the recording (keys jangling etc.)

Submitting your video

6. We require you to upload the video footage directly to us via our FTP system (the URL and your log in details for this will be emailed to you when you join the Video Team).

7. Please double check that the MS Reference number (we’ll explain where to find this!) is correct before submitting your footage. If the footage comes incorrectly labelled it will be rejected and we may not be able to use your footage which will result in non-payment

8. Please keep a back-up copy of any footage for at least 60 days from date of visit.

Problems

Q: I have a question that I can't find the answer to in these FAQs, how can I get help?

Q: I'm worried about Mystery Shopping scams, what should I do?

A: Read our information page on scams– we have lots of advice on how to spot scams, and what to do if you think you might have been contacted by a scam company.

Q: I don't want to be a Mystery Shopper any more, how can I remove myself from your website?

A: You can deactivate your account by logging in, going to Account Settings (In the top right-hand corner), and clicking ‘Deactivate Profile’. You can also unsubscribe or deactivate your account using the links at the bottom of the emails we send to you. Alternatively, contact Shopper.Support@mystery-shoppers.co.uk with your request, and we can deactivate your account.

I can't log in, what shall I do?

A: If you have tried logging in but are having problems, it may be that you’ve signed up with a different email address, so try any others you may have used first.

If that doesn’t work, try resetting your password.

If you’re still having problems, contact: Shopper.Support@mystery-shoppers.co.uk

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