Going undercover to analyze businesses is a great way to earn extra money and get in touch with the commerce of your neighborhood. Reality Based Group makes the job easier by offering 24/7 support online as well as by phone, so you can always get questions answered about mystery shop details and filling out reports.

But most secret shoppers have questions lurking in their minds that don’t seem appropriate to pose to your scheduler or coach. They’re valid queries, just a little outside the box, and a bit difficult to work into general, professional interchanges. Read our answers to some of these mystery shopping questions below.

Does anyone know who I am at the shops I evaluate?

No, your identity is unknown to everyone from the associates through management. Managers are fully aware of their company’s participation in mystery shopping programs but they are never informed of when their shop will be reviewed or by whom.

Will I be terminated if I miss a shop or shop the wrong location?

Probably not if you don’t make it a habit and you have a valid excuse. Ask your scheduler if they can reschedule the shop for another day and make sure you complete it on time and per guidelines. Schedulers are generally understanding but habitually unreliable shoppers can’t be retained.

Can I shop for multiple companies at the same time?

Of course, as long as you honor your commitment to RBG. Most importantly, no shopping company names or client names can be shared, nor can report questions or details be revealed. All these confidentiality issues are covered in your mystery shopping contract with RBG.

Since I’m an Independent Contractor, do I have to pay taxes on my earnings?

You have to report your earnings and, just like a regular job, you have to pay all applicable State and Federal taxes. If you earn more than $600 a year shopping for RBG, they’ll send you a 1099 statement to file with your returns. The IRS also requires you to report earnings of more than $400 annually earned as an independent contractor. More information is available at the online IRS Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center or you could hire a CPA to figure out your tax obligations.

I’m a good shopper but I’m not a professional writer. Why do I have points deducted from report scores for spelling and grammar errors?

When a client invests their trust (and money) in a highly professional company like RBG, they expect and deserve quality shopper reports. RBG editors are required to make sure your reports are free of errors as they are the last to review them prior to forwarding them to clients. Poorly written reports indicate a lack of pride in the shopper, which the client may understandably assume extends to the accuracy of their observations. To avoid losing points on your reports for poor grammar and spelling, paste the narratives into MS Word and run them through the Spelling and Grammar check. You can also install Grammarly or a similar free spelling/grammar-checking program that enables you to correct your errors as you complete reports online.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being deceptive while mystery shopping. Isn’t it dishonest to secretly assess a store and their employees?

There’s nothing immoral about mystery shopping. First of all, the businesses you shop have paid for your professional services to help them succeed. All you are doing is reporting what you see and hear; that is why objectivity is so crucial to your job. You’re not trying to get anyone fired or reprimanded; you are much like a news reporter disseminating facts you observe. As long as your reports are fair and accurate, your conscience should be clear.

There are many other questions you may have about mystery shopping, so don’t be afraid to ask. Feel free to submit them and we’ll do our best to answer them. If you’re not a mystery shopper with RBG yet, visit our Shopping With RBG page today and create an account.

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