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Monday, March 17

Mystery Shopping for Luxury

A Free Hawaii Vacation?

Such was my reaction when I was offered the chance to audit a timeshare presentation.  On Wednesday we are flying to Hawaii for five nights.  We will be staying in high end properties.  All five nights are free of charge and most of my transportation charges, including airfare, are also covered.  I'm even paid a small fee.  All this for four hours of my time.  I have to covertly audio-record two timeshare sales presentations and fill out a quick survey covering my experience.

Later in April I am flying to New York to attend a shareholder's meeting.  My $426 hotel room is free to me, and I am provided a meal allowance to eat dinner wherever I choose outside the hotel.  Again, I will be paid for my time.

While you won't get rich indulging in high end mystery shopping, the opportunities to experience the finer things - and maybe even offset some costs you had planned to have anyway - are perfect excuses to try your hand at mystery shopping.  Usually, you must start by proving yourself to the mystery shopping companies by performing smaller shops.  You may have to shop restaurants before you are offered hotels, or hotels before cruises.  This is to mitigate everyone's risk:  you get to see whether mystery shopping is right for you, and the company you do the work for has a chance to evaluate your skills.

I have done more than 10,000 mystery shops.  Most of my work is more mundane and certainly not glamorous.  I specialize in gas stations but am willing to try anything if the money is good.  But from time to time I have been afforded the chance to receive expensive products or travel:

  • I've eaten at expensive restaurants including The Capital Grille and Fleming's.
  • I've taken a charter boat to Key West.
  • I've stayed in expensive hotels and resorts in Miami, the Smoky Mountains, Orlando and Atlanta.
  • I've been reimbursed for Pandora jewelry, had my carpets cleaned, toured famous attractions, and filled a shopping cart at a major retailer (reimbursed just to see if I was offered a credit card).
As a side income, mystery shopping is a great way to improve your standard of living.  What has been your favorite shopping experience?


  1. My favorite shopping experience was probably getting the Pandora charms for free! I've done just over 500 shops but never seen the ones for travel. We are big Disney fans and go to Florida several times a year. I would love to mystery shop them or the cruise line!

  2. I haven't found who does cruises yet, but I do know who does time shares. ;D There's a nice local casino shop, though the questionnaire is huge. I'd love to get back into doing mystery shops on a regular basis, but the FT job keeps me from doing anything fun.