Article by Charlie Wright
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s one big “ugh”.
It’s me staring into a changing room mirror as I pull on a pair of trousers, thinking “Has my gut really got that BIG?”
Who makes these gut-warping mirrors? Thin sadists?
Or it’s me being outrageously sold to by furniture salesmen….
“Really, there’s only one left in stock? And it’s half price? And you’ve got someone coming back to buy it in the next 20 minutes? And it’s the Rolls Royce of sofas? And stain resistant too? I’ll take TEN.”
Either that or shopping involves me waddling out of a delicatessen with ONE cheese, a speciality sausage…. and NO change from £20.
It’s not for me. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll completely AVOID the following business opportunity.
Seriously. Stay at home. Put on the telly. It’s not for you either.
How to earn money by going shopping
This week, one of my readers wanted to know what I thought about a company called ‘Retail Eyes’.
They’re a ‘mystery shopping company’. This means they offer you cash for going into shops to check out the customer service. If you haven’t come across the idea of mystery shopping before, let me explain…
The way it works is simple. A business owner usually wants to know what’s going on when they’re not around to check up on the staff.
They go to a mystery shopping company who will recruit secret shoppers to visit the store and go through the sales process.
This way, businesses can pinpoint their own weaknesses and then fix them.
Traditionally, mystery shoppers are sent into shops, supermarkets, garages, hairdressers, restaurants, banks and building societies Unlike most “work at home” offers, (data entry and all that gubbins) you can make money from mystery shopping.
They’re not generally scams, but you can’t expect to make a whole lot of money without any effort. Best to think of it as a way you can enjoy a free meal and a few quid extra.
How much you could earn
Fees vary, but a respectable company should offer you between £6.00 and £20.00, plus expenses.
Depending on how many jobs you do, you could earn anything from £10 to £500 a week. There’s that and a freebies, of course.
Like I say, if you enjoy shopping, you’ll like it. If you don’t, then run a mile.
So what about Retail Eyes?
As for Retail Eyes, my reader asks: “It seems well set up and if you go through the first stage registration you can search you local area. In my area there was 7 jobs available in 15 miles from my home. What’s the catch, If any…?”
Well, I haven’t had any direct reader feedback about Retail Eyes, so I scoured a load of consumer websites… like the Martin Lewis money site and others of that ilk.
From my investigations, it looks like Retail Eyes are a legitimate Mystery Shopping company.
The idea is that they list assignments in your area and you pick them from your website. You detail your findings and relay your experiences.
On the plus side, two people have been quite positive about their experience: “They’ve had plenty work… sandwiches, opticians, shops etc… but you have to be very quick to get the more popular jobs.”
And another online comment says: “I’ve never had problems with them – everyone I’ve ever spoken to has been lovely and helpful.”
But there’s a catch…
The big catch appears to be this: it’s hard to get enough work to make it worthwhile. And they’re not great at keeping you updated.
One review says: “Assignments are getting less and less worth the hassle as the deadlines for filling in the report get tighter and tighter with more conditions…and all for a measly fiver(and free meal. We have been sent to mystery shop for meals in pubs that don’t even serve food!”
Another person complains:
“I have ticked the box asking for email updates when jobs are available and have hardly ever had any emails.”
In my view, it could be worth giving these guys a go. From a bit of research, more well-known is a company called Storecheckers UK, based in Manchester.
But whatever you do…
Heed these 4 mystery shopping warnings
Bear these guidelines in mind:
Avoid the MANY dodgy mystery shopping sites. Check for a UK phone number and a UK address.
You should never have to pay to join a company – they should be offering to pay you.
Don’t send any bank details until you’ve verified the Mystery shopping company. Many of these sites are ‘phishing’ sites – bogus websites that are made to look like the genuine company. This has certainly been reported in the case of Retail Eyes.
Avoid companies who give the job to the person who offers the least amount of money. They are merely exploiting their clients.
In my fevered little biz opp mind, I’ve decided that the best way to make money from mystery shopping is this….
Set up your OWN mystery shopping website
It’s not a bad little idea at all. In the old days it was a popular home business. I know Avril Harper of eBay Confidential used to so this and write good manuals about it.
You’re essentially a broker. You go to businesses and offering to help them solve their staff and service problems.
At the same time you recruit willing shoppers through a website and a bit of basic marketing. You then send the shopper to the business for £5- £10 and take your handsome share of what the company pays you.
Or how about setting up a mystery shoppers email newsletter?
Here’s another, even more simple way to do this… You could gather a list of people who love mystery shopping and put them in touch with reputable companies.
You could email your list twice a week with the latest jobs, reviews of mystery shopping sites, plus you can give them tips and advice you find on the internet.
You’d get commission from these mystery shopping companies, and all you’d have to do is send out a few emails each week.
Or find a struggling mystery shopping website and offer to do their email marketing for them – using their list of email addresses. Then you take a cut!