Mystery guest / mystery shopper – are they for real?

mystery guest

Increasingly business owners want an independent assessment of how customers see their business.  So-called mystery guests (or mystery customers) are increasingly filling this void because  for business owners, asking customers directly is not always viable. 

But what YOU want to know, is this for real?  Do businesses really pay you to be a mystery guest?

Paid for your experiences?

Yes, believe it or not, many businesses will pay to find out what your experience is a mystery guest.  The process can take a number of forms but usually involves contacting the target business and pretending to be a regular customer.  Depending on the job, this contact may be over the phone, on the internet, via Facebook but most often, face to face.

I have personally completed (and been paid for) mystery guest jobs using all of the above methods (and have earned several thousand dollars in the process).  It may not surprise you to know that face to face visits tend to pay more with phone and electronic methods tending to be cheaper.  Obviously, the non-face to face visits are more flexible for you.

So what am I supposed to do as a mystery guest?

Before you contact the business, you will receive advice (from whoever is organising the mystery guest program) about the particular scenario that you’re carrying out.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as making an enquiry about a particular service – sometimes the job requires that you have to buy something (which you are usually reimbursed for).

Whatever the case, the instructions will have you take special note of a number of aspects of the customer experience.  This can be how you were greeted, how long the business took to answer the phone (where applicable), how clean the premises were, or how knowledgeable the staff were.

What are the risks?

The process is pretty low risk really.  Make sure you’re dealing with a reputable firm and certainly NEVER pay money to join up.  Good firms are always on the lookout for reliable mystery guests and should view you as an asset.  

A scout around on the internet suggests that it pays to be aware (I’ve never seen a mystery guest scam in Australia, but there have been a few overseas).  However, there are plenty of reliable businesses legitimately seeking market intelligence (as offered by mystery guests) on their own business.  As a business owner, this sort of information can make or break a business.

What sort of businesses hire mystery guests?

Pretty much any business that it’s in the service industry can hire mystery guests.  This relates to businesses selling goods or services of just about any type.  In the years that I’ve been doing mystery guest jobs, I’ve dealt with car yards, concert venues, restaurants, supermarkets, clubs, bottle shops, and hardware stores. 

I suspect you’ll never be asked to be a mystery guest for ASIO or a security firm, but you never know ; )


Yes, being a mystery guest is for real and can be a nice way of making some extra money to supplement your life.  In extreme cases, some mystery guests actually make their full living this way – but for most of us, it’s just part time income.

If you’re looking to take this a step further, check out The 10 best ways to make money as a mystery guest

Otherwise, take advantage of our limited time offer for a free copy of the Mystery Shopping Guide.  This guide provides instant access on how to make money with over 100 Australian businesses.  Complete the details below to take advantage of this time-limited offer.

Angus Pryor
Serial mystery guest : )

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  • I was nearly hired as a mystery shopper years ago, by a mobile phone manufacturer, to sample warranty repair experiences around the country, expenses paid.

    Unfortunately I had had prior experience working in the industry so I was excluded.

    But the opportunities are definitely out there.

    Thanks for the info.

    • Thanks Alan, I have to admit I haven’t heard of that one but I suppose any business with a customer interface could potentially be mystery shopped. Thanks for stopping by. Angus

  • Just so love the idea of being paid to go shopping :) Even if Im not buying anything.

    • there’s a nice synergy isn’t there : )

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