Mystery Shopping

This is all about being paid by a business to be a customer to rate the quality of service or products

It’s a great way to top up your income and get loads of FREE meals, products, shopping experiences and even nights in hotels

Whilst most jobs only pay a small fee, you could end up earning £30 for a job PLUS expenses

 

Need to know

  • This can be GREAT fun and very easy money.
  • The work is often very flexible and can fit around your life.
  • You can often go with the kids, your partner or friends.
  • Be discreet as you can’t let anyone know you’re a mystery shopper. The whole industry works on confidentiality. If you are caught sharing information then you may lose your membership of these sites
  • You have to have the time and equipment to be able to complete a report quickly (usually within 24 hours but sometimes sooner) and you have to write in GOOD English. You should be given the template for the report to help you but it is useful to have a notepad and pen and camera when you do your task. Internet access is essential, and you often need a printer or access to a scanner
  • You must keep receipts and paperwork for 3 months as sometimes you’ll get a query long after the task was completed
  • There is no guarantee how many assignments you will get picked for
  • Generally it will take you no more than 30 minutes to complete your task.
  • Be thorough, you need to have a good memory. Missing something might mean that you don’t get paid or can’t claim back your expenses, leaving you out of pocket
 

The Tax Bit

  • Regardless of the amount you think you’ll earn from mystery shopping, the first thing you should do is register with HMRC as self-employed. This will mean that you will have to start filling in a self-assessment tax return each year. This is not as official or scary as it might sound!
  • Registration is REALLY easy so don't be put off by this hurdle. Call 0300 200 3300 and someone will talk you through the process (it can take a while to get through!! but they are very helpful so worth the wait) or register online. Lines are open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-4pm on Saturdays and you should have your National Insurance number handy
  • If you have no other income at all then you can earn up to  £10,600 tax free. Make sure you keep a record of all of your earnings and all of your expenses. You can offset any expenses exclusively related to this work. For example, things like buying a scanner or printer are tax free. If in doubt call the number above. They are really helpful and will talk you through ANYTHING
  • You should also be aware of your National Insurance contributions. Earning anything over £5965, you'll pay £2.80 a week and over £8060 you’ll pay 9% of your income (capped at £42,385). Registration is SO simple. You can set up your payments when you register for self-assessment or you can call the NI hotline on 0300 200 3505. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm
 

Take action

GAPbuster


Why we like it:

  • you choose your own jobs from those available
  • easy to write online report
  • paid monthly by BACS
  • opportunity to work on big brands

Watch out:

  • you need to keep checking the site for jobs
  • sometimes just able to claim your expenses rather than get paid an, additional fee
  • must submit results within 8 hours

Grass Roots


Why we like it:

  • easy to register
  • you should wait no longer than 4 weeks for payment
  • you receive a detailed brief
  • self-allocation of jobs

Watch out:

  • payment varies hugely
  • you will be expected to file your report within 24 hours
  • jobs available by location so include postcodes of local retail parks and shops within your additional postcode

Retail Maxim


Why we like it:

  • offers opportunities to do other tasks like conducting customer surveys
  • jobs are allocated by text message or email
  • paid monthly but interim expenses are paid sooner if over £18

Watch out:

  • most assignments are during ‘office hours’
  • payment varies hugely
  • may need to take on unusual characteristics or complain so confidence is required!

Market Force


Why we like it:

  • get paid £5 to £10 PLUS reimbursement for any purchases you have to make
  • self-allocation of jobs
  • payment twice a month by BACS

Watch out:

  • you need to keep checking for available jobs online
  • for some jobs you need a work email address rather than gmail or hotmail etc

The inside track

  • You can sign up to as many mystery shopping companies as you like.  This is the best way to maximise what you can earn
  • The more jobs you do, the higher the potential rewards as mystery shopping companies save their highest paid jobs for their longest serving, most active members
  • This is a great way for students and mums to earn extra money
  • People in cities may find that there are more available jobs than those who live in smaller towns
  • You may want to consider paid market research with companies like Saros, if you get selected for workshop you could get paid over £100 an hour for you time
 
 

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