Mystery Shopper: Pros & Cons

Updated April 17, 2017

Mystery shoppers provide customer service feedback to businesses as "undercover customers." They visit restaurants, salons, hotels, banks, movie theatres and other businesses, posing as regular customers while observing the location's cleanliness, staff courtesy and other issues that concern the business owner. Part-time mystery shopper work is a popular way to earn supplemental income due to its flexibility. Like all professions, however, working as a mystery shopper has its pros and cons.

Money and Rewards

As a mystery shopper, you'll earn a fee for each assignment you complete. You'll also get to keep any items or services you purchased to complete the assignment. Mystery shopping companies reimburse transportation expenses and other assignment-related costs.


Mystery shoppers work from home on their own schedule. Unlike traditional jobs that require fixed hours at a specific office, mystery shopping can be done whenever you desire so long as your assigned store or restaurant is open. Companies in nearly every facet of the retail, hospitality and service industries employ mystery shoppers, so the assignments you receive may expose you to a variety of new experiences.


For those who love to shop, working as a mystery shopper will feel like a reward in itself. There is nothing better than roaming retail stores or visiting shopping malls and being paid to do so. With some assignments, you may be asked to purchase items that you previously desired, but could not afford to buy. Some mystery shoppers feel a sense of accomplishment in earning money, no matter the sum, for performing work that feels like a hobby.

Since mystery shopping includes all service industries, if you are asked to take an assignment that you don't wish to complete, you can always decline it. This element of choice adds value to the overall mystery shopping experience.

Assignment Irregularity

Despite the benefits of mystery shopping, this job has disadvantages. Mystery shopping does not guarantee a regular income. Some assignments pay less than others, and the time required to complete the assignment is not always worth its accompanying reward. Due to the nature of this job, available assignments may not always fit your schedule. Mystery shoppers often work for more than one company to boost income, but this option requires you to balance each company's reporting methods and expectations.

Unwanted Assignments

As a mystery shopper, you must sometimes work with a company that you would not have selected on your own. Some assignments require you to shop for a product that you would never buy, although most companies try to match assignments to your interests.

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About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Valli Schieltz has been freelance writing for the Web since 2006. She has had articles published on eHow and loves to write about subjects dealing with medicine. She has also taught English and language arts classes to junior high school students. She attended Notre Dame College in Ohio.