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A Complete Mystery Shopping Checklist to Aid Your Jobs


Mystery shopping is a popular part-time job for many moms. Many businesses hire mystery shoppers to assess their company's customer service or a specific employee's sales presentation. To be a top-notch mystery shopper, you need to pay attention to detail. Here is a mystery shopping checklist to aid you in your observations:

Check the Site

Check the mystery shopping company's site for the following details:

  • What is the date of your shop?
  • Is there a specific time frame you must shop during?
  • What is the address of the business (write it down, even if you feel sure you know it!)?
  • What specific items must you order/try on/ask about?
  • What is the personal information or "story" you need to present to the associate helping you?
  • Do you need to make note of any timings, and if so, what are they?
  • If you need to make a purchase, what is your spending limit?
  • Are there any extra items you need to ask about or look for, beyond the normal things you would notice?
  • Do you need to get a business card or receipt to document your visit?

If you have any questions, contact your scheduler as soon as possible. Make a checklist of these items to take along in your vehicle.

Prepare for Your Shop

Bring your checklist and a pencil along when you do your shop. Note mileage to your destination (mileage incurred during mystery shops is tax deductible as a small business expense on tax Schedule C).

Arrive and Begin

Once you have arrived at the business you are shopping:

  • Look over your checklist to refresh your memory regarding the things you need to observe on your shop.
  • Complete your shop, striving to appear as an "average shopper" and not stand out as suspicious.
  • Remember to get any documents you need (receipts, business cards, etc).

Upon returning to your vehicle, immediately write notes on your visit, while your memory is fresh.

Enter Your Results

Return home and enter your shop results online as soon as possible. Strive to write narratives (if required) that will give the company useful information from your shop. This is good job insurance for you! If you have answered "no" to any question, explain why on the shopping report. Most companies require elaboration on "no" answers, and they may contact you if you don't explain poor customer service sufficiently. Keep your comments fact-based and leave your opinions out of it. Use a spell-checker and double-check your punctuation and grammar.

Submit your required documentation (photos, receipts, etc) and file an invoice, if required by the company.

Stay Organized

Keep track (either in a notebook or an online spreadsheet) of each shop you complete; list the company shopped, the company conducting the shop, the date and payment expected. Mark off the shop as soon as it is paid.

Keep a folder for your notes, receipts and other documentation for shops you have completed in case there are any questions about a shop later. While most mystery shopping companies are honest, a few have been known to "lose" shoppers' receipts.

Taking a few extra minutes to make your reports the best they can be, will make you the shopper who is chosen for the plum assignments!


Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana.  She writes at and Associated Content.

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