What is Mystery Shopping?


Mystery Shopping is the act of collecting information about customer experience and employee performance that helps businesses and organizations accomplish their objectives. Objectives might include things like improving customer satisfaction, identifying employee-training needs, or making sure an organization is complying with all laws and industry best practices.

It often involves consumers like you visiting businesses in your area (or making a telephone call, or visiting a website), role-playing as a customer, to make a series of observations, the details of which you then share with us by completing an online report on our shopper website.

Mystery Shopping is used by leading organizations in virtually every sector of our economy and society, and there are endless applications for this market research technique. Mystery shoppers are independent contractors, not employees, and there are hundreds of thousands of them in the United States alone.

Have more questions?  Read our FAQs

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 Blink Research is a Member of the MSPA. Find out more

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I consider becoming a Mystery Shopper?

  • It’s very easy to get started!
  • Earn extra income in your spare time
  • Get reimbursed for food and entertainment
  • Enjoy flexibility with your schedule and interests
  • Accept only the assignments you want, when you want to do them
  • Help businesses and organizations in your local community become more successful
  • Learn new things and develop new skills

Why should you sign up with Blink Research?

  • We pay you on schedule – by the 15th of the month after you complete an assignment
  • We always give you clear instructions and expectations for every assignment
  • We always respond to your emails and phone calls
  • We treat our shoppers with respect, and value their time and effort
  • We go after fun clients so we can offer assignments our shoppers will like!
  • It’s easy! Sign up now!

What makes a successful Mystery Shopper?

  • Attention to detail
  • Good writing, reading comprehension, and story-telling skills
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Being responsible and accountable
  • Accessibility – responding to email and phone inquiries
  • Willingness to role-play different customer scenarios
  • Understanding the purpose and the value in what you are doing: helping make customers more satisfied, helping employees become better at they do, and helping organizations be successful.

How does Blink Research pay its Mystery Shoppers?

We pay our shoppers using Paypal, which means all we need to send you money is a valid email address linked to a Paypal account. Registering with PayPal is simple at www.paypal.com. You can link your PayPal account to your bank account to make it easy to transfer funds without sharing your sensitive banking information. We send out payments on or around the 15th of each month for all assignments completed during the previous month. We may sometimes offer quicker payment options for hard-to-fill assignments.

Do I need to pay taxes on Mystery Shopping compensation?

Blink Research does not tax your earnings, but we are obligated to send a 1099 to any independent contractor who earns more than $600 with us in a given calendar year. Reimbursements for expenses or mileage do not count toward those earnings. If you cross that threshold, we will need to collect your social security number to prepare your 1099 form. In our experience, most mystery shoppers do not hit the $600 threshold with a single mystery shopping company like ours, but some will.

How can I be sure this is all legitimate?


Blink Research is a member of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the trade association for mystery shopping providers. Check out the MSPA at http://mysteryshop.org. They have many useful resources for mystery shoppers. We also belong to other associations, such as the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (http://ramw.org). You can also find stories about mystery shopping that reference our CEO Marc Ciagne online when he was with a previous company, Person to Person Quality.

We understand there have been stories in the media about consumer scams disguised as mystery shopping. You are right to be skeptical. You can avoid being duped by following a few basic rules: 1) Never hand over your banking account information as part of a mystery shopping assignment; 2) Blink Research will never send you an unsolicited check and instruct you to deposit it into your account as part of an assignment; 3) If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If the pay being offered seems way higher than other assignments you’ve seen, be skeptical; and 4) Only register with companies that are members of the MSPA (http://mysteryshop.org).