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Monday, June 14

A Week in the Life of a Mystery Shopper

June 6th - June 12th...

Things picked up a bit last week, but it still felt like I should have done more. I think the summer heat is slowing me down. Last week I made $610 in fees and $300 in reimbursements.

  • As usual the majority of my work was either mystery shopping or auditing gas stations. I visited 34 last week. The difference in mystery shopping versus auditing is that the audits involve more detail. I announce myself to the attendant, take a series of photos, and leave an evaluation worksheet with the station to review their scores.
  • I shopped 11 retail stores, including a shoe store where my $5 reimbursement covered the cost of some new socks, and a clothing retailer where I bought some new underwear. For the first time, I completed three ADA (disability) shops. I've never completed a mystery shop from the perspective of a handicapped person and at first passed on the opportunity. But, the pay was generous (the shops had been carried over from May so there was a nice bonus on each). I learned two things: 1) employees tend to ignore people in wheelchairs and 2) clothes aisles are hard to navigate through. No telling how many shirts I knocked onto the floor trying to navigate the wheelchair around.
  • I shopped eight fast food restaurants and 2 truck stop restaurants.
  • I ended the week by doing a car count at a drive-in theater. That was a nice way to end the week. I got paid to see the new Shrek movie.
Fortunately I have burned through some of the gas I was worried about last week. I now have 5 five gallon gas containers and a one gallon container in the garage. All but one are completely full, and the tanks on both cars are close to full. Today I do my monthly merchandising route, which will burn up more than half a tank of gas... which is welcome news right now!

I'm not sure how busy this week will be. After today, my schedule is mostly uncertain. Last week I had most of the 34 gas stations already scheduled, so I didn't have to spend a lot of time looking for work. This week I have my merchandising route, 5 gas station audits and a couple of restaurants scheduled, but that's it. Oh... I am traveling to complete a hotel shop on Thursday. It's my first shop with a new company and I am pumped about it. Most of the hotels I've done in the past have been reimbursement only. This one includes the hotel, 3 meals at the hotel, and pays a $50 fee.


  1. You are amazing. I don't know how you do so well at the mystery shopping. I did a gas station audit last week and it took me an hour on-site plus an hour to enter the report at home. Now they have said I need to retake some of the pictures. Gas station audits do not seem like they are going to be worthwhile to me. I'm sure they can be done faster but I don't think I'll ever be fast enough to make them worthwhile. Right now I don't see a single mystery shopping opportunity in my area that is worthwhile.

  2. Hey Andy. The audits are definitely not for everyone, particularly the ones for the green gas station company that is in a little trouble right now. Once I had to drive two hours round trip to re-take a photo, so I know what you mean. They are hard to please.

    The good news is that I finally figured things out, and with this latest round I have not had a single shop that required additional photos or clarifications.

    The average audit takes me about 20 minutes onsite and 10-15 minutes to enter online. The really bad ones do take much longer, especially if the owner is there following you around trying to explain why something is not right.