Secret shopping on your terms


I love getting a good deal, who doesn’t?  But secret shopping I have found, is a great deal. Especially when you find a place that hires you to do it, and you can still be on your own terms for when you do your secret shopping and where, and you can be you and not follow any scripting.

Bestmark is that place.   You do have to take a test prior to your first shop to show that you are in fact able to read and understand basic directions, but anyone can pass that test.  Once those formalities are done, you can pick from loads of different shops, be it retail stores, restaurants, hotels or automotive.   They even sometimes have phone shops where all you do is make a call!

Where you live will determine how many and what shops you have.    I live in a very rural area, but they still have dozens of shops within 50 miles of me.   In a major city that number dramatically increases.


The other nice thing about Bestmark is that you can do shops when you travel. For instance, if you are on vacation- why not secret shop a hotel or restaurant?   You get free food or lodging plus a little extra cash for your trouble.

You owe it to yourself to check out Bestmark.   Click here to learn more.

My other job

marketingI do have another job besides reviewing.   I work from home for a large natural products manufacturer and distributor.  I love everything about the job.   My title is Marketing Specialist, but what I do primarily boils down to graphic design, managing social media and professional blogging.  However, my degree is in Human Services and I have a certification in Creative Arts Therapy. Originally when I went to college I wanted to go into graphic design, but I found that while I loved the “art” aspect, I didn’t like the technology aspect.   I felt like all the graphic design programs were too cumbersome to the creative process (this was awhile ago).   And now all these years later, I stumble into a graphic design job.   Of course now the programs I use like Illustrator and Photoshop are much more sophisticated and powerful than they were, and I find them much less daunting and actually enjoyable to use.   I’m self taught on these programs, so there are always new things to learn.

I also do some secret shopping on the side, but have not done it much in recent months because the other two jobs seem to be dominating my time.  For awhile, I was doing several secret shops a day.   Now every few months I’ll pick up one here or there when it fits into the schedule.  But that’s the nice thing about secret shopping, you choose when to work and how frequently you work.

It is interesting how all three of these jobs inter-relate with each other.   Skills I learn and hone in one area transfer over to the next.  The marketing and SEO I have learned transfers to my reviewing life.   My review job hones my writing skills which I need for my marketing job and my secret shopper jobs, and the secret shopping job makes me focus on what good customer relations are, which loosely translates back to the other two jobs.   I’m really blessed to be able to do these things, and I hope that I’ll be able to do it for a long time.



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Secret Shopping

I primarily review products these days, but occasionally I still do secret shopping when there is an opportunity that fits in to my schedule, that I would do even if I wasn’t paid to do it.

For those not familiar, secret shopping is when a company hires you on to investigate the quality of a business by posing as a customer and then reporting back how your experience was.   Secret shopping is mostly done for restaurants, banks, casinos, hotels, auto mechanics and places that sell a service rather than a product.   Not so say there aren’t some cases where you purchase an item in a retail environment, but the bulk of secret shops are for services in my experience.

You are paid by the job, usually 24 hours to 3 weeks after the shop (depending on company).  You are responsible to calculate, claim and pay your own taxes on the money you make over and above $500.   They send you out appropriate tax forms, should you reach that taxable limit, but you should always keep records (especially mileage) if you want a possible tax deduction.

Secret shopping is (in my opinion) more work with less reward than being a product reviewer.   For instance a secret shop can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more and the questions you answer afterwards to tell how the experience was can take another hour on top of that.   Your compensation is the service you received from the shop (for instance a restaurant meal) and then sometimes a $20 cash payment on top of that which is paid AFTER the secret shop is complete.  That is, assuming that you have completed the shop correctly.   You are required to memorize a lot of information, and if you can’t remember a key detail – you may not get paid for your time, or be reimbursed for the full cost of the shop.   Typically you will need to memorize names of people you interact with, their attire and appearance, time the experience took, details about the establishment, and a whole host of other things.  Sometimes you even have to follow a “script” set by the secret shop company.  Suffice it to say secret shopping is best suited for people who have a great memory, can follow directions to the letter, and have a lot of time to devote to it.

My favorite secret shops are for banking and other similar institutions.   These typically have a higher cash payout (sometimes upwards of $50), in some cases pay for mileage, and sometimes they only took 15-30 minutes to complete (although that is not always the case).  Also, I did not have to pay anything up front since you don’t buy things at a bank.  The drawback to those bank shops is they tended to be a lot more memorization than other kinds of shops and the follow up surveys took a long time to complete.  But you get paid cash when you are done, and who doesn’t like cash!

Becoming a secret shopper is surprisingly easy, as long as you are careful about which companies you sign up with.  There are many more scamming companies than honest companies out there.  Many of the reputable companies will have you take a competency test prior to letting you do shops to assure that you can deal with the memorization and other standards they have.   I think for most people this will not be too hard.   Feel free to contact me if you want some suggestions for good companies to get involved with.


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You have probably heard of secret shopping.  Maybe you even wanted to try it, but were nervous to seek out opportunities because there are so many fraudulent people that use secret shopping as a way to scam people.

I’ve have done a fair amount of secret shopping with a handful of different companies, so I feel confident in recommending BestMark as one company that I know to be reputable and great to work with.

Depending on where you live, BestMark will have any number of secret shopping opportunities; restaurants, financial institutions, automotive, and retail establishments to name a few.  You just select your area, and the radius you will travel and they will give you a list of opportunities.   Even in my area which is fairly rural, I  have done automotive shops, hotel shops and casino shops.   They also occasionally will have phone or web shops, although I have never tried doing one of those.  The pay out is less – but the effort is also a lot less because you don’t have to physically visit an establishment.

With BestMark they will require you to take an initial test to assess your ability to follow directions and understand the shops they will send you on.   No worries on the test, you can retake it if you miss too many… and the tests aren’t really that hard to begin with.   Most people will pass the first time.

With shops where you are required to purchase goods or services, you do have to pay up front with your own money, but you are reimbursed afterwards if you turn in your paperwork and fill out their follow up questionnaires.   I get my checks mailed to me in about 3-4 weeks.  They do not offer direct deposit as some other secret shopping companies do, but perhaps in time this will be offered.  If you are leery of paying for items up front, there are shops that do not require a purchase, such as automotive shops where all you need to do is take a test drive.

If you would like to become a secret shopper with Best Mark, follow this link and submit your application.  Just because you sign up does not mean you are required to go on shops.  You pick shops when you want, on your schedule.   But going through the application process will give you a better feel for the company and what they expect.



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