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Mystery Shopping - Anyone Do This?

Mystery Shopping - Anyone Do This?

Old Jul 22, 16, 11:13 am
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Mystery Shopping - Anyone Do This?

I've recently (a few months ago) discovered the world of mystery shopping: in essence, a company/store pays you to go to their store/hotel/restaurant to buy something and evaluate the experience. They reimburse you for what you spend, and sometimes pay you on top of that for filling out the survey. I checked and haven't seen any threads around about it - to me it seems like a good way of generating spend on your CC (since they reimburse you, rather than reversing the payment) - especially if you're evaluating a restaurant or hotel, which can be a bonus category.

I'm signed up with a few mystery shopper programs - Coyle and Market Force - and they're pretty good about paying in a timely manner. Coyle actually has a lot of hotel evaluations (mostly Starwood) available, though I'm not sure if you'd earn miles/points for those stays because I believe they reverse the payment rather than reimbursing you. Does anyone have any experience with this?
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Old Jul 22, 16, 11:35 am
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I've always wanted to try it, but mystery shopping was a fad internet scam a while back, so I never got into it. If there are reliable companies out there that I can sign up and mystery shop for, then I'd do it!
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Old Jul 22, 16, 11:38 am
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There are definitely scam companies out there (usually ones that make you pay to sign up). I can recommend two that are definitely not scams - I've performed shops for them and been paid and reimbursed. Coyle Hospitality Services and Market Force Shopper are both reliable - the latter pays you on the 20th of the month, and the former about a couple weeks after the shop.
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Old Jul 22, 16, 11:45 am
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I have done many large hotel/resort shops, and the points always stayed in my account. The properties reverse the credit card charge at a local level- but the folio never really goes away. I've racked up a lot of points that way.
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Old Jul 22, 16, 11:55 am
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Originally Posted by mselizann View Post
I have done many large hotel/resort shops, and the points always stayed in my account. The properties reverse the credit card charge at a local level- but the folio never really goes away. I've racked up a lot of points that way.
That's good to know! Coyle has a lot of Starwood properties available for evaluating right now, and I've applied to a number of them, but for some reason I've never been accepted as an evaluator for Starwood hotels. Any thoughts as to why?
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Old Jul 22, 16, 3:39 pm
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Originally Posted by DrRodneyMcKay View Post
I've recently (a few months ago) discovered the world of mystery shopping: in essence, a company/store pays you to go to their store/hotel/restaurant to buy something and evaluate the experience. They reimburse you for what you spend, and sometimes pay you on top of that for filling out the survey. I checked and haven't seen any threads around about it - to me it seems like a good way of generating spend on your CC (since they reimburse you, rather than reversing the payment) - especially if you're evaluating a restaurant or hotel, which can be a bonus category.

I'm signed up with a few mystery shopper programs - Coyle and Market Force - and they're pretty good about paying in a timely manner. Coyle actually has a lot of hotel evaluations (mostly Starwood) available, though I'm not sure if you'd earn miles/points for those stays because I believe they reverse the payment rather than reimbursing you. Does anyone have any experience with this?
I too shop for Coyle. I believe they ask that people not publicize the companies that use them to provide shoppers. IIRC, the hotel shops for them ask you not to enter frequent guest information as that can be used to identify a mystery shopper, and the goal is to stay anonymous.
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Old Jul 22, 16, 3:57 pm
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Originally Posted by DrRodneyMcKay View Post
That's good to know! Coyle has a lot of Starwood properties available for evaluating right now, and I've applied to a number of them, but for some reason I've never been accepted as an evaluator for Starwood hotels. Any thoughts as to why?
If you just started, then it takes awhile to get the really great assignments. I had played with this in one of my earlier retirement periods, as I read in the WSJ about making up to $75k per year, plus knew someone that did the really high end stuff: cruises, longer resort and luxury hotel stays, high end restaurants, etc. So, it seemed to fit my lifestyle. I did a few one to two night stays, and it's a lot of work. Plus you need to write well and in detail. Also, my younger son ( a minor at the time) did checks for underage cigarette purchases, and I needed to take him around for those.
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Old Jul 22, 16, 9:38 pm
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I've been doing for awhile now. The more reviews you do, the better the assignment offers. Most high-end companies requires lots - and lots - of writing. Prepare to spend a minimum of 2 hours at least per review.
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Old Jul 23, 16, 10:21 am
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Originally Posted by kipper View Post
I too shop for Coyle. I believe they ask that people not publicize the companies that use them to provide shoppers. IIRC, the hotel shops for them ask you not to enter frequent guest information as that can be used to identify a mystery shopper, and the goal is to stay anonymous.
That might explain why I haven't been getting them; I said I have a Starwood Preferred Guest number. Should I say I don't have one, then request credit for the stay retrospectively?
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Old Jul 23, 16, 10:23 am
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Originally Posted by night-ice View Post
I've been doing for awhile now. The more reviews you do, the better the assignment offers. Most high-end companies requires lots - and lots - of writing. Prepare to spend a minimum of 2 hours at least per review.
Also good to know. I started a few months ago, but I don't do these too often, usually when my schedule permits (also many restaurants require you to go with someone, which means finding someone who is willing to order exactly the thing they want you to order - entree + drink or whatever). I don't mind lots of writing - I freelance as a travel writer so that part is not an issue. I guess it's a question of slowly building up a "portfolio" of reviews.
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Old Jul 23, 16, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by DrRodneyMcKay View Post
Also good to know. I started a few months ago, but I don't do these too often, usually when my schedule permits (also many restaurants require you to go with someone, which means finding someone who is willing to order exactly the thing they want you to order - entree + drink or whatever). I don't mind lots of writing - I freelance as a travel writer so that part is not an issue. I guess it's a question of slowly building up a "portfolio" of reviews.
. A lot of restaurants require a guest, indeed, while others will not allow children. Makes for a good date night with the bride! Been to several movies and restaurants. A closer look is one if the better ones. Nice assignments.
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Old Jul 23, 16, 11:41 am
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Originally Posted by night-ice View Post
. A lot of restaurants require a guest, indeed, while others will not allow children. Makes for a good date night with the bride! Been to several movies and restaurants. A closer look is one if the better ones. Nice assignments.
I hadn't heard of that one! Checking them out now, thank you for the suggestion.
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Old Jul 23, 16, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by DrRodneyMcKay View Post
That might explain why I haven't been getting them; I said I have a Starwood Preferred Guest number. Should I say I don't have one, then request credit for the stay retrospectively?
No, because that would still give them a way to track you. The point of mystery shopping is to remain anonymous and provide feedback of a normal guest experience. Using a frequent guest number sometimes gives a "special" experience, based on status, which is in many cases, what they do not want.

Unless the mystery shopping company requests a shopper use a frequent guest number or says you are allowed, you should not lie and then try to request credit for the stay retrospectively. That would still allow the hotel company to figure out who the mystery shopper is, and someone might notate your account as such.
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Old Jul 23, 16, 1:43 pm
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I used to do this for several large restaurant chains (Bertucci's, Cheesecake Factory, Smoky Bones, Applebee's). You aren't going to get rich from it but it was certainly nice to be reimbursed for meals and get a few bucks for my troubles.

I have never done it for hotel companies (I believe airlines do this, too) but it sounds like a great idea.
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Old Jul 23, 16, 1:46 pm
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Yeah, I recently got an email from Walgreen's offering me a mystery shopper position but the e-mail did not look legit, so I didn't go through with it. My impression is that it's not the chain itself that hires you, but they go through a third party.

Hotels seem to do it a lot, but as kipper pointed out above, you can't use your reward program number so they can't trace it back to you. Still, I find staying in hotels exciting just for the experience itself so if I'm reimbursed for my trouble writing the review I wouldn't mind getting a free hotel stay just for the experience.
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