Before approaching the various mystery shopping companies for work it is worth doing your
homework. I'd advise preparing yourself as you would for any other job interview. Unlike the
other sites described on borntoloaf, these may refuse to employ you. Therefore you
really need to sell yourself. The companies will initially ask you to fill an on-line application
form. This is your initial chance to sell yourself by outlining your strengths and qualities for test shopping.
Based on this form they may telephone interview you or ask you to undergo online training
and then a test. Prepare yourself by reading their website and demonstrating an understanding
of what the specific company is looking for in their employees.
Join the vouchercodes e-mail subscription service for the latest printable vouchers for hundreds of shops, 2-for-1 restaurant vouchers and up to date deals and sales.
By becoming a mystery shopper and going secret shopping you agree to confidentiality clauses, so as such I am unable
to talk specifically about what assignments I have undertaken. Instead I'll list the
companies who I have worked for and who have paid me. The mystery shopping work has been
varied, interesting and fun. Payments have ranged from over £200 to under £10 and the time
taken to undertake assignments has ranged from 1 hour to four days. I usually tie in a few jobs in the same area and never work for less than £20 each morning/afternoon. Some can
easily be done in a lunch hour. I've been able to do
the work whilst my children are at school, and have also included them in the exciting world of my
"undercover work" - but only when requested to by the company as you should not take children
with you on visits unless specifically requested.
They contact me by telephone or e-mail with assignments and you must have access to a printer and be
prepared to store paperwork for up to six months. Reports are generally done on the
internet. You must adhere to the contract and may need to wear smart clothing
for some assignments, take your family on some visits, or go alone. Most of the companies ask you
to be responsible for your own tax and National Insurance declarations. However certain
expenses may be offset from this.
I can't list specific questions regarding specific companies, but most will ask you to note and report on the
The date and times of your visit.
The buildings and shops on the left and the right (to ensure you went to the correct branch - very important if there are several branches in the town).
Make comments on the decor and tidiness.
Number of counters, customers or staff members.
Staff members names, their descriptions and their job descriptions.
You may be asked to find specific products or seek specific information or assess that employees are giving out specific answers to the questions you have to ask.
You may be asked to look for specific posters, leaflets or wall signs.
They will also want this information and receipts as soon as possible, so
you'll need to allow time to fill in the forms, usually within 24 hours. Some allow you to do this online, others send you the forms to fill out by hand and post back.
And remember they will get a copy of your report and will know when you visited: so if they've CCTV you can be sure they'll be watching the tape after
they've read your report! So, do the paid to shop job as professionally, competently and as honestly as possible.
I find it useful to carry a notebook pre-filled with the information questions I
need for the secret shopper jobs and fill this out as soon as the visit is finished. Just make sure you do this
well away from the area in case you are being observed.
This is a term used for those who go to assess restaurants and restaurant staff. An example of the work was shown on Channel 4
during the competition heats of Ramseys Best Restaurants with chef Gordon Ramsey. Each was fitted out with a hidden microphone and camera and asked to have a meal and
drink at the restaurant. During this secret diner work each were asked to make a complaint and ask questions. This included complaining that the food was not warm enough or needed
more flavouring or saying that wine tasted off. The reaction to their requests were used to judge each restaurant during Ramseys Best Restaurant.
On no account should you own up to being one, nor should you carry the product tester questionnaires on you to the
visit. I've never been identified yet and love the work, find it
really varying, interesting and challenging and is a great way to earn money. I hope you do too and do let me know if
there are any other questions I can answer on this page and I'll add it.
There are others available such as Intelligent Marketing Solutions Limited, Lodge Service/React, Research International,
NOP, Gap Buster, Retail Rapport, Ukims, Macpherson, Customer Perceptions, Grass Roots, Retail Eyes or Performance In People.
The webmaster of Borntoloaf (Christopher Buswell) is always happy to give interviews or help with articles for newspapers or magazines. For example in October 2007 Chris
Buswell helped Sunday Post reporter and journalist Mr Steven Bowron with a feature for the DC Thomson publication. This involved initial contact by e-mail, a telephone interview and a photo shoot. Contact Chris Buswell by visiting the borntoloaf.co.uk website
Borntoloaf has helped many of our users learn how to get paid. Here is an e-mail we received from one of our site visitors:
I found borntoloaf completely by accident a few years ago. I think whilst searching for free stuff. Borntoloaf.co.uk has pointed me in the direction of
cashback websites through Greasypalm through which I have almost earned £1000 in cashback and prize draw winnings. I also
started employment through the recommended sites on www.borntoloaf.co.uk to earn a bit of extra pocket money. I had never even heard of this before, but now there's no stopping me!
Not only do I have loads of free money thanks to born to loaf, I've had numerous nights out for free from looking on the
free cinema tickets
section and loads of free samples eg food, pet stuff, perfume and things I can't even remember.
Thanks for the tips over the years. Keep the offers and free stuff coming. Dani Cohen
Nielsen Consumer Panel
Nielsen Consumer Panel are seeking people to use their free hand held scanner to scan the bar codes of their weekly groceries. This information is then transmitted to Nielsen Consumer Panel electronically so only takes a few minutes. In return Nielsen Consumer Panel will award you points which can be saved up and exchanged for free gifts from their gift catalogue which includes electronic equipment, household items and toys.
Another way to earn is to shop online via cashback websites.
Each time you make a purchase go through their website and they will give you cashback from every purchase. Once your
account reaches a limit of your own choosing they will send you a cheque, payment or direct to your bank account payment.
Should I Pay To Become One
This is a common question asked of Borntoloaf. It appears that some people are charging internet users to read websites or to read an e-book. Born To Loaf have never worked for a company that make these advance payments and have always found
information free on the internet. When joining a reputable organisation we have never had to pay a joining fee; we have joined for free and been paid by the company for the work undertaken.
It has been sad to read that the e-mails we receive often finish with the writer telling borntoloaf.co.uk that they sent off a
payment and never received the information promised and could not find a contact telephone number or other e-mail and that their e-mails were going unanswered. The writers often end
their question by asking if it had been a con or scam.
Mary Portas Secret Shopper was broadcast on Channel 4 in January and February 2011 and aimed to highlight customer service in the UK through the use
of hidden cameras. Mary Portas, nicknamed the Queen of the British Aisles, brings her experience of working in the retail industry and from programmes such as Mary Portas Queen
of Shops. In the first episode she turned her attention to the fashion chain Pilot and reported her findings to the Managing Director.
The advert for the TV program showed her walking through a stock room full of nude mannequins. As Mary Portas passed each mannequin they exploded with heads falling off.
The pilot episode was first shown on Channel4 at 9pm on Wednesday 19 January 2011. It described how Mary Portas usually produced TV programmes which aided small
independent retailers and that now she wanted to improve customer services within large stores on the high street. This investigated the customer services of fast fashion shops which included H&M, New Look, Pilot, Primark and Zara.
Equipped with a secret camera she went during the sales. She wore a disguise with make-up, sunglasses and a wig to hide her well known hair style and
looks so that she could get natural responses from others and the shop staff during her undercover filming.
During her filming she revealed messy displays, clothes strewn on the shop floor instead of on displays, large queues at the tills, staff
chatting to each other rather than serving at the tills, messy changing rooms and fitting rooms with little space to try on clothing. Scenes of staff being unhelpful or not
caring about helping customers were filmed during the secret camera assignments to demonstrate that shops needed to improve staff support and training.
Shoppers were interviewed by the team and common answers were given. They included wanting to be said hello to as they entered a shop, not wanting to queue, getting assistance at the changing rooms, and finding the staff to be friendly and smiling in a clean, neat shop.
The same customers revealed what they did not like when they went browsing for clothes. This included not being greeted by staff, being ignored, finding the shop in a mess and feeling undervalued by staff.
The Managing Director of Pilot, Mr Chris George, consented for Mary Portas to openly film the staff at work at Freeport Braintree. Prior to this Chris George was shown secret filming that took place at the Chelmsford branch of Pilot which showed staff ignoring customers, staff chatting rather than working, long queues and untidy areas in the store. Mary Portas and Chris George hoped that open filming would improve customer services at each Pilot Fashion branch in England.
This section started with Mary Portas looking at the Pilot Fashion website (pilotfashion.com which crashed after the show due to a high volume of traffic to the site) and then filming openly at the Pilot Fashion Freeport Braintree branch. Here she witnessed employees not helping customers and talking to each other instead. She went to the fitting rooms, staff facilities and toilets and the stock room. Her findings were discussed with the staff and Mr Chris George who came to the branch.
Mary Portas then suggested that fast fashion can learn from fast food shops like the London branches of Eat., Pret A Manger, Wagamama, Caffe Nero and Leon. So Chris George and the staff of Pilot Fashion Freeport Braintree branch spent a day working at Leon London where they were taught the three golden rules of the fast food experience which is smile, speak and serve. Mary Portas used smile, speak and serve as the slogan.
The first episode ended with the changing rooms at Pilot Fashion Freeport Braintree branch being refitted with a red carpet, dazzling lights and cubicles being named
and themed after pop stars like Katy Perry, Cheryl Cole, Madonna, Lady Ga Ga, Kylie Minogue and Rhianna. Photography within the Pilot Fashion fitting rooms was banned so she
introduced a tweet mirror that customers could look at themselves wearing the latest Pilot Fashion clothing and send a photo to a friend. Mobile chip and pin card machines were
suggested to help beat the queues, a bit similar to Apple stores in the UK. The experiences demonstrated helped to motivate and rejuvenate the staff of Pilot Fashion Freeport
Braintree branch and it was hoped that these new ideas would go nationwide after the trial.
The second episode was first shown on television at 9pm on Channel 4 on Wednesday 26 January 2011. She turned her attention to customer service within the
furniture business and went to buy a sofa. Her undercover assignment was to go to the furniture shop CSL Sofas in Rotherham. After filming Mary Portas gave CSL Sofas feedback to help the company to try to improve their customer service.
Other episodes focused on the sofa industry with undercover filming at furniture superstores like SCS, CSL, Harveys and Furniture Village.
Assignments looked at fabric stain insurance, misleading sales promotion techniques, pressure selling, price match promises, misleading labels, not listening to customers' needs, sales people salary and commission and to test customer service. Mary Portas then worked with CSL Rotherham to improve the customers experience.
In the next episode she investigated the mobile phone industry and went undercover to film stores like Phones 4U, The Carphone Warehouse and Fonehouse looking at phone insurance, confusing tariffs and not having working phones to try. Mary worked closely with the Fonehouse franchise to try to improve the customers experience.
The final episode looked at the practices of Estate Agents with undercover filming at Sovereign House, Currell, Alan Harvey and Martyn Gerrard.
Throughout the UK there were free training sessions for store workers based on the programme on Channel 4. These free Mary Portas retail training courses include towns like Peterhead and cities such as Aberdeen and the free workshops gave shop owners retail tips and advice on business to help improve customer satisfaction and maximise their profits.