When to Keep Your Mystery Shopping a Secret

There may never be a time when you absolutely “have” to tell a friend or family member that you are a mystery shopper.  After all, if there comes a time when you have to do a shop while someone else is around, you can always make up an excuse about needing to pick something up at that store.

Yet there may be times when you want to share the details of your exciting job as a mystery shopper with your close friends and family members. Maybe you just want to share a funny story about a shop. Or perhaps they are looking for some extra money with a flexible schedule.

What Could Happen? First and foremost, you need to choose wisely who to tell about your little “secret.”  If you happen to announce you are a mystery shopper at a party or other function, you never know which of the event’s guests may be a sales associate or store manager at the next shop you complete. Your cover may be blown as soon as you step foot in the door!

You also need to be aware that there are only so many shops in your area. If you live in a major metro area, you may be perfectly fine getting a few of your closest friends in on the joys of mystery shopping. If you live in a smaller community, however, you may be limiting your own income if even one other person in your area becomes a shopper. Keep in mind, while you may be able to keep mum about being a mystery shopper, the friend or family member you encourage to sign up may not. Think what would happen if he or she told five or ten of their closest friends!

Limit Your Details. Most shoppers are aware that there are confidentially statements you agreed to when you become a shopper for each of your providers. Most of the confidentiality statements prohibit you from legally saying which provider works with which retailers. So if your friend is really interested in a McDonald’s shop, you unfortunately cannot point her in the direction of the right provider even if you know which provider works with McDonald’s.

You can, however, give your friends and family members’ recommendations on which providers you have had better experiences with, as well as let them know about the MSPA’s list of providers available online and the information they can get from online mystery shopping communities. Point them in the right direction, and they should be able to find their way without too much handholding.

It Takes Skill. Mystery shopping is a fantastic job for many people. However, keep in mind that not all people are cut out for this job. Think of all the details you need to keep track of with each shop, how organized you need to be with your paperwork, and the writing skills you need to complete your reports. Not everyone has this combination of skills. And among those who do have this combination of skills, not everyone would enjoy a job that makes use of these skills. You know your friends and family members intimately, so choose wisely who to even bring the subject of mystery shopping up to. If you feel someone would not make a good mystery shopper or would not like doing it, it may be better to just skip over the subject of mystery shopping with them. There’s little point in pointing them down a road that will only lead to frustration for them and perhaps for you because you recommended it.

Mystery shopping is a subject that you can bring up to almost anyone you choose. However, know the ramifications to your paycheck as well as your relationships before you start spreading the word.