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Frugal Frog Friday: Mystery Shopping

Happy Frugal Frog Friday!

If you have been  reading PaleoRunnerGirl for a while, you know that I love saving money—it makes me happy, what can I say! However, I also love making money in fun and easy ways.  One way I do this is through becoming a mystery shopper.


I have been a mystery shopper for about 5 months through BestMark. The application process is SUPER easy.  Most of the questions are basic and I think it took me about 30 minutes to complete. You can access the application  HERE

Now for those of you who are wondering what exactly mystery shopping looks like, I will provide you with several examples of the “shops” I have completed:

Restaurant Shops:

I have only done one restaurant shop. BestMark rarely PAYS for you to complete the shop—they only reimburse you for the meal up to a certain amount. However, a free meal is payment in my book!  After I signed up for the shop and received the email that confirmed that I was selected to do the shop, I read the information that BestMark wanted me to collect. Usually they ask for the name of the waiter helping you and the time it takes to order, receive drinks, and your food.  I always bring a watch and a pad of paper to take surreptitious notes.  I also note the quality of the food and the value for the price of the meal.

Insurance Shops:

Most insurance shops are only by phone, which is awesome. While you do not get paid tons of money—typically around $7—it only takes 15 minutes maximum to make the call.  BestMark will provide you with the information you  need to collect, but you will want to either research an address you can use (if you don’t want to use you real address), and create a bit of a story.  This is my favorite part!  The last insurance shop I did, I used my real name but I performed the shop for an insurance company in Maryland.  I created this whole tale about having just moved to the area and being unhappy with my insurance rates.  I discussed my husband having a company car (totally untrue) and the kids we have (also untrue!).  I have to be honest, for a girl who was NEVER allowed to lie, it is such a thrill to create these elaborate stories!

Auto Shops:

Some car shops only require you to make an appointment to get an oil check—evaluate the customer service of the phone call, fill out the survey, and cancel the appointment.  (For these shops I always create a fake name–so much fun!) These shops typically pay all of $5, but again, you don’t do much.  I always make sure to select a proper make and model of a car that fits the dealership. If the shop is at a Ford/Lincoln store, I am going to ask to get my “2005 Mustang GT” serviced.

Other car shops will have you call and make an appointment to see a car and then you actually have to go to the dealership to take a test drive. Chase LOVES to do these shops.  We have two old cars, so it is nice to become familiar with the options out there.  These shops typically pay around $17.  They pay more when there is more time involved. Also, for these shops we actually use our real identities since the dealership often wants to see a copy of your license.

Retail Shops:


For store shops, you will be given a scenario (You are price shopping for an expensive camera) and questions that you need  to ask.  Many of these shops are for Best Buy so if you like shopping for gadgets, these shops will make you very happy! Often you are not required to buy anything, but sometimes they will ask that you buy something small (like a pen) and you are reimbursed for the purchase (up to a certain amount) and also paid for the shop.

After each shop you fill out a survey.  Typically the survey must be completed and submitted by 10AM on the day after the shop.

I find  being a mystery shopper a fun way to occasionally make money.  The shops can usually be scheduled on weekends or weekdays—whichever works best for you.

I like BestMark because it is certified by the BBB and all of the checks and paystubs have been totally legit. It operates like a well oiled machine.

If you want more info, let me know!

Do you have any fun ways to make money? Have you ever considered being a secret shopper?


About paleorunnergirl

I am obsessed with cooking, running and reading! I teach American Literature at the college level, but enjoy books of all kind! After years of GI issues and being prescribed numerous medications, I found perfection in eating Paleo! I am no longer bloated, nauseous, or miserable on a daily basis. I have delved into creating Paleo recipe-making and embracing an active and playful life!

18 responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing; this seems like a lot of fun! Maybe this is something I could do over the summer when I’m not teaching!

  2. Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance

    This sounds like such an awesome thing! Honestly I always thought that mystery shoppers were hired on by the specific companies and not a general one. I would love more info on this.

    Hey, free meal? I’m down 😀

  3. Thanks for sharing more details after we talked about it on Sunday! I wonder how old you have to be in order to participate–being young, I always receive less than stellar service and it is so frustrating! I’m guessing I would have to be 21 in order to go to car dealerships and even so, I doubt I would be convincing. Definitely sounds like something to check out in the future for some extra money!

  4. I love secret shopping! I’ve been doing it for a few years and it’s so fun!

  5. Mystery shopping actually sounds like fun. I wish I were lucky enough to be a secret shopper at some of my favorite stores, like LOFT! 🙂 I actually thought about this a few years ago, and I wish I signed up during this down time before I start my job!

  6. When I have the time, I LOVE mystery shopping. The service I use has me going to sunglasses shops a lot. SO MUCH FUN. I get to try on the shades and have fun with the associates … oh, and I get paid?! Yes, please!!

    And I like to food ones too. Like you, a free food is always nice in my eyes! Although, one shop I did the service was HORRIBLE and I never want to go back, even if I get a free meal, again.

  7. How cool! I love that you shared this!! It makes me want to sign up. Since I work for an insurance company, we sometimes get mystery shoppers too and sometimes I can tell when they are a fakey 🙂 hehe your sounds pretty good though with your fake story!! haha

  8. I’ve always wondered what Secret Shoppers do; thanks for the info! One of my ways to make money on the side is through online survey companies. Survey Spree and Opinion Place both have good sites that allow you to accumulate points that are good towards certain products. The only downside is that you can’t “spend” your points until you get a certain amount of money.

  9. how cool is that?! haha, Greg (fiance) used to be a mystery shopper and he almost always got assignments for movie theaters! I used to bring him snacks or lunch and we’d eat together. Then he’d go in to see it a million more times till he came out saying the whole script….:P I considered it a few times when Greg did it, but just never got serious about it. I think the restaurant shopping would be fun hah!

  10. How fun!!! I would love to make up stories in order to get info, and getting a free meal is such a nice bonus!

  11. How awesome is this?! I would love to do it during the summer… you got my mind thinking here!

  12. I have never heard of this but it sounds like it is quite interesting! …..If only I lived near a store- any store!!!!
    What a great way for you to earn some extra cash! I always learn so much from you 🙂

  13. This is seriously so cool. I had no idea how awesome it would be to be a mystery shopper. Free food is payment in my book as well. I’m going to have to go to the website and think about joining myself!


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