Consumer Advice

Being a Secret Shopper... Is It Legit?

Can anyone tell me about the secret shopper jobs in markets? I believe people are hired to visit competitors stores and record prices, etc. Any advice? Also, how can I get that job. Thanks.


By ANNETTE from Cocoa Beach, FL

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December 11, 20090 found this helpful

Sometimes secret shoppers are for the stores that employ you. My sister many years ago was a secret shopper for a company. They went around to their own stores. They would be given so much money to purchase things. The tricky part was doing different things that require the purchase to be rerung or modified. They did this to catch cashiers ripping off the stores.

You go through the line, wait till everything is rung up and given a total then notice something by the register to purchase like a candy bar. You would say "Oh why not" and hand the candy bar to the cashier. Many of them would just say, "that's 50 cents plus tax so 54 cents please". But they wouldn't ring up the sale, they pocket the money.


That's just one variation of secret shoppers. She did it in Connecticut and I don't know who the employer was.

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December 12, 20090 found this helpful

I have never done it but I have heard there are legit ones out there. Unfortunately there are far more scammers.

I would read the links below first. And be sure to research any company online. Go to and search "company name" scam (or review, complaints, etc) and also at the BBB.

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December 15, 20090 found this helpful

It's best if you apply for and are accepted from the store itself because then you're an actual employee. You can apply for the postion at several stores in your area because being a secret shopper is not a full time position and you can schedule each secret shopper shopping accordingly.


I've never heard of an online secret shopper application being legitimate :-( Those companies expect you to pay for all costs up front without guarantee of reimbursement :-( If you're an actual employee of a local store you'll be protected!

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December 15, 20090 found this helpful

One that is legit is Ritter and Associates. Toledo, OH. You can look them up on the internet. They are very legit and very honest. I am personal friends with the guy that used to own the company. Even tho there is a new owner, they are very much on the up and up. They have a physical building and do other things at the company such as loss prevention and phone work. I used to work for them. I will tell you though that the pay is not the greatest.


It depends on how many hours you want to work and whether or not they have clients in your area. You do have to use your own vehicle and in most cases have a cell phone that is capapble of taking pictures. After you do the shop, you must fill out the paper work on line and fill it out very accurately and be within deadline. You are an independent contractor and therefore are responsible for your own income tax, etc.

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July 12, 2011

Does anyone know of a legitimate "mystery shopper" website? I would like to do this but am scared of getting scammed.

By Joyce Lambert from Nokomis, AL


July 24, 20110 found this helpful

Try Ritter & Associates. They are located in Toledo, OH. However, working as a mystery shopper is not as easy as you think and you don't make a ton of money. You have to use your own car.


You have forms to fill out precisely with no errors after the shopping and you also need a cell phone (at your own expense) to take pictures. But this is a very reliable company who has been in business for many years. Hope this helps.

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December 11, 20090 found this helpful

Has anyone ever tried being a "secret shopper"? Is it legit?

Kate from MD


Being a Secret Shopper, Is It Legit?

It is legitimate and fun, but you have a certain amount of work to do. First, you don't have to pay anybody to give you names of companies to do mystery shops for. Do a web search and find the companies yourself. Many now have their open assignments online so you can just log in and choose an assignment, but others will email or call you, or expect you to call them.


There will be a list of things you need to look for and remember, and to write a report about. Some reports are as simple as a multiple choice test, but some require narrative answers. I recently did an oil change shop in which I won't be paid any extra money, but I'll get the cost of my oil change back. I had to make an advance phone call, get the guy's name, ask for directions and a price, and let him ask me to make an appointment. When I got there I had to ask how long it would take, and notice several things: who worked on my car, if the restroom was clean and well-stocked, if the cashier was friendly or distracted, and on and on. If you can't remember details, you might have a hard time writing the report. You aren't allowed to take notes on a mystery shop, the customer might easily realize what you are doing.

I've done shops where I've had to make a purchase and then a return on the following day. I've had dinners, show tickets, oil changes, etc. paid for. It won't amount to even a part-time job income, but it can be fun for an extra interest. My husband and I use it to have more dinners out. Some companies will reimburse and also pay extra, between $5 and $15. I signed up with over 20 companies, and it took about 6 months, but I started getting some regular assignments. Some of those companies probably don't have assignments in my area, some use only certified shoppers (certification isn't worth the money, in my opinion) so there are about 6-8 companies I check regularly to work for.

It's fun, so I hope you give it a try. My mom (in her 70s) is also doing mystery shopping, and enjoying it. (10/17/2005)

By Donna

Being a Secret Shopper, Is It Legit?

I have done secret shopper work off and on for about seven years now. I've never had any problem with getting paid. I've done work in restaurant, shoes, fast food, etc. It's not much money, but it does come in handy. (10/17/2005)

By Irene Yanke

Being a Secret Shopper, Is It Legit?

There's a great site at It is MSPA's (Mystery Shop Providers Association) site with ability to search for jobs by state. (10/17/2005)

By Beth

Being a Secret Shopper, Is It Legit?

Although I haven't been a Secret Shopper, I can tell you for certain that it is legit. Companies hire people to be a secret shopper as a way of checking to see that franchises running their business are doing their job exactly the way the company wants it done. For example, are they asking customers certain questions like would they like oil checked, in a gas station business, etc. If you have a chance to do this go ahead as it's a great way to make extra money. (10/22/2005)

By Linda

Being a Secret Shopper"... Is It Legit?

I have been a secret shopper before. It is a real thing, but it's also easy to get duped. Don't pay them anything no matter what. And it's difficult to find a reputable company, but when you do, it's awesome.(09/21/2007)

By Ann

Being a Secret Shopper, Is It Legit?

I was a mystery shopper for a pizza chain. I had to order pizza once a month, and have it delivered. There was a form with questions that I had to fill out. Everything from times, to uniforms, to smiles. And of course, rate the pizza; eveness of toppings, cooked properly, etc. I even had to take the temperature of the pizza. And sometimes I was told to return the pizza with a complaint.

It was great getting pizza every month, except for the fact that the pizzas they had me order cost more than the amount of money they paid me, but we had pizza every month for 6 months for about $5 for a large pizza, pretty good. The only problem is that most companies only want you for 6 months, or so, because the businesses get to know who the mystery shoppers are if you do it for any longer. I was a restaurant manager for a few years and we could spot most of the shoppers after the second visit. (07/06/2008)

By Dena Roberts

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