First things first though, if you're trying to make quick money, then mystery shopping ain't it. Most companies take about 4 - 6 weeks to pay/reimburse you. If you want to make extra money, eat out for "free" and have some extra time on your hands, then you should check mystery shopping out.
I've been mystery shopping for about 8 months now. Prior to the last couple of weeks I was only doing one or two shops every couple of months. I only knew about a couple of companies that hired mystery shoppers. Then a couple of weeks ago I was looking into mystery shops regarding my current place of employment and discovered that there are hundreds of companies that hire mystery shoppers and have completed 10 mystery shops just this past week. If I've done everything correctly I will have earned $110 and be reimbursed for 4 meals.
Some of the shops I've completed are calling up a hotel to check rates and evaluating if they could successful get me to book a room (I was even given fake info to book the room), checking out a companies rewards program for a competing company, evaluating the food/customer service at a museum, evaluating a chocolate shop, sandwich shop, burger joint, casual dining restaurant, popular clothing shop, shoe store, electronic shop and a rent to own shop. And I've seen mystery shops for so many other things as well.
I've seen shops that ask you to stay over night in a hotel, call up a funeral home, call up a golf course and ask about wedding reception packages, popular fast food joints, test driving new cars, getting an oil change or tire rotation done on your car, checking out a fitness center, looking into a new apartment, cell phones, fine dining restaurants, seeing if a money wiring service will wire a large amount of money without the use of your ID and seeing if they'll take a bribe. ALL kinds of shops. I think there are shops for just about everything you can think of.
Okay, so if you want to give mystery shopping a go I suggest setting up a separate email address. I get multiple emails a day from multiple companies and it just makes it easier to sort through my email when I know they are all for mystery shops that are available.
Next, if you don't already have a PayPal account, set up a PayPal account. The majority of mystery shop companies pay via PayPal. If you've already got a PayPal account add your new email address to your account so that you don't have any problems getting paid. The mystery shop companies will send your payment to the email you sign up.
There are three types of shops: flat payment - you get a flat fee to perform the shop, reimbursement - you are reimbursed up to a certain amount to perform the shop (these are usually restaurants) and flat + reimbursement - you get a flat fee + reimbursement up to a certain amount to perform the shop. So you pay for anything you need to purchase/meals out of pocket and then your get your money back later.
SOMETIMES companies will offer a bonus. I find this happens when they need the shop done right away. I had a shop last week that was a flat $10 with a $20 bonus because it had to be done the next day. And the shop only required me to hang out in the store for 15 minutes and I didn't have to buy anything. That's $30 for about 30 minutes of my time (includes the time it took me to fill out my report).
After you set up a new email address (if that's the route you choose) head over to jobslinger.com and click on TOOLS on the left hand side and then SEARCH. Search for jobs in your area. Each of the shops listed will show which company is in charge of that shop. You will then have to register with that particular company to sign up for that shop.
Check the Job Boards of other areas with each company. Sometimes you'll find phone shops that are available and it doesn't matter that you don't live in that area. I've found quite a few of these phone shops with Confero. Also check your email a couple of times a day. New shops come up all the time and sometimes it could be a shop you really want to do and someone else could get to it first.
Alright, so here are some of the companies that I've shopped for and the types of shops I've done with them. I'm not listing any of the clients names though.
Advanced Feedback - this company is the first company I did a shop with and they paid the fastest at about two weeks. I shopped a sandwich place and have done several phone call shops to hotels. I was given fake information to use if the associate was able to get past my objection to booking a room.
Amusement Advantage - I've applied to do a shop with them, but haven't been approved yet. Most of their shops are amusement parks, they also have shops for bowling alleys, roller skating joints, aquariums and museums. A great way to do fun stuff if you're on a budget.
ICCDS - I've shopped with them the most so far. It takes me about 4 weeks to get paid. I've shopped a popular young adult/teen clothing store and a shoe store.
BI - This is a new company I've started doing shops for. I've completed two so far and will do a third this week. I've done a casual dining restaurant, a museum and will do a phone shop. If you're interested in this company send me your email address as I get credit for referrals. I've not gotten paid from them yet so I don't know how long it takes to receive payment.
JM Ridgeway - Another new company. I've completed two shops at gadget stores. No purchase was required. Both shops had a bonus attached to them. I've not gotten paid yet.
There are a shit ton more I'm registered with that have all sorts of shops available: Beyond Hello, A Closer Look, Reality Based Groups, Second to None, Intelli-Shop. I've started to limit myself to how many I register with a week so I don't get inundated with emails.
It's pretty much a part time job and could possibly be a full time job if you picked the right shops. I also think that if you're dating or married or just like to enjoy meals with yourself or friends that these are great for that. You can eat at all sorts of places for free and sometimes even get paid.
As I do more shops I'll try to share the companies I shop with and if you have any questions, please email me (you can find my email on the contact page). I'm not a pro, but I think I've learned quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. Also, if you want to see how I keep track of all my shops, let me know and I'll create a separate post for it. I hope this information helps someone.