Manic while Mystery Shopping

About four years ago I had a sponsor in Overeaters anonymous. She was a tough cookie. She was in her eighties and had survived two rounds of cancer. She was an accomplished and sought after mystery shopper. She did four jobs a week.

She taught me how to get involved. First of all, half of those offering assistance in finding jobs in the field of mystery shopping are fraudulent. They charge people for lists of mystery shopping companies. There are quite a few and some of them specialize in high end, shoplifting prevention and restaurant reviews to name a few. But this ‘charging’ for lists is bogus. Getting good jobs in mystery shopping is a different process. Here it is:

What a person needs to do is become silver certified by the MSPA, Mystery Shoppers Providers Association. Google that, pay them a one time fee of around sixty bucks to study their tutorial, take their test and get Silver Certified. Most mystery shopping firms, like ‘A closer Look,’ and Jancyn (sp?) require that certification before giving you anything.  You get the ‘silver,’ (there is a gold cert available but it’s inconvenient and requires travel. Then you start googling to find that list or request a list from MSPA.  My OA sponsor told me all that stuff. I still have my silver certificate on the wall. It has a number so that the mystery shopping outfits can verify that I am Silver Certified.

I got ‘in’ with a high end outfit who sent me to Burberry, Chanel Cosmetics, Dior cosmetic counter,  Aveda, Dior Couture, Ferragamo, Kate Spade, Coach Barney’s New York, Cole Haan, and other such stores.  I also ‘in’ with a few restaurant accounts. Each company  makes you study yet another tutorial on what that mystery shopping company wants from its’ employees. Then they have you on a list of available mystery shoppers. Sometimes they contact you for last minute stuff that you have to do and report on by the next day with an added financial incentive. A relationship with a mystery shopping company representative involves a lot of trading. It’s ok. If you do them favors, they will make sure that they save the more lucrative shops for you. It works out. But it requires constant computer access. Everything is done over the computer.

What you have to do for every different store job, is study and pass a test. These tests cover what the ‘brand,’ stands for and they type of displays, customer service, how long the line is, what questions they ask you, all sort of things that the parent company wants you to make sure that the employees are doing.  I get triggered in high end shopping environments. Since the jobs usually require you to purchase something and then return it, it can be a double trigger. One time I bought a pair of Ferragamo Shoes that I loved and had to return them. I have foot problems from excessive sports and I have to have really high quality shoes so that my feet don’t hurt. These shoes were 500.00 and I could not afford such a purchase. As I returned the shoes, I felt like a total fraud. I didn’t want to. But the job required that. For the next six months  I visited the outlet stores at Sawgrass Mills, searching for the same shoe on sale. But it was never available In my size. The amount of money they paid me to go there twice and write the report might have been forty dollars. It wasn’t worth the heartbreak. I’d have just as soon never known about this perfect black, stretchy shoe.

After a mystery shopping job, you have to fill out a very time consuming form and write mini essays on your experience with the retailer. Believe me, you have to do your homework and do quality work. If your memory is not so strong (as in my case due to psych meds) this can be challenging. And for a long one like a restaurant, they do not let you take notes because that would give you away as a corporate ‘spy.’

More on mystery shopping while manic tomorrow. There are some funny stories.

Write On: The Time management is tighter.

I am working on a book. Yippee!!! I’m finally putting in the time to do it. Hours a day. I had thought that if I did time management and woke up earlier in the morning, I would still keep basically the same schedule. Boy was I wrong. I’m on disability so you’d think I’ have all the time in the world, but I don’t!!  For me to put forth a chapter or two a day, four honest hours a day means I can’t do something else that I love doing. And the book might be a big stinkbomb even if I do upload it to Amazon or self publish with a print on demand option.

I’ll never know unless I try.

I reread “Catcher in the Rye,” because it had first person narration and I had enjoyed it so much. I realized my book needs more humor and sarcasm. It’s not a straight memoir, it’s Young Adult Fiction. A trilogy. I figure by the time I’ve got all the books written, The publishing landscape will have evolved again and I’ll have a better idea as to how to get the books out there.