mystery shopping

I need advice on how to become a mystery shopper. I live in a small, rural town but I am willing to travel to the next largest city if necessary. I’d like to do this on a part-time or full-time basis. –M. Veale Lewiston, NC

Becoming a mystery shopper, whose job is to act like a regular customer while gathering information about the location’s cleanliness, level of service, and other issues important to a business owner, is an excellent way to create another stream of income. It’s in demand all across the country because of the important feedback it provides about how companies can improve upon their products and services.

To begin your search, go to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (http://mysteryshop.org), a professional trade organization, which lists mystery shopping assignments with more than 250 marketing firms on its site. Visit www.volition.com, which has company listings, links to job boards and forums, and job postings. Also, check out The National Center for Professional Mystery Shoppers & Merchandisers (www.ncpms center.org).

There is a special need for African American mystery shoppers at banks and apartments because of fair housing and fair lending compliance. According to Cathy Stucker, author of The Mystery Shopper’s Manual (Special Interests Publishing; $24.95), any business that deals with customers has a need for mystery shoppers.

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