While mystery shopping jobs can be a profitable and fun way of making some cash, you usually have to make purchases to do so. However, most of the time you'll be reimbursed. Reimbursements cause a lot of new mystery shoppers anxiety, which is understandable, because you're using your own money on a job. Reimbursements can be a little uncomfortable at first, but you need to remember they are necessary and a regular part of working as a mystery shopper.
Reimbursements require no upfront investment from the company supplying the job. This way, if a mystery shopper were to not complete the job or complete it in the wrong way, the company would not be out any money and could simply give the job to another mystery shopper. Reimbursements are a way for the company to ensure that it's getting what it wants. However, this means that the mystery shopper has to trust that he or she will be reimbursed for the job, making finding reputable jobs paramount for shoppers.
When it comes to payments, there are two things consider: How you should make the purchase while on the job, and how the reimbursement will be paid. Both of these questions should be answered in the job description or through communications with the mystery shopper and the company doing the hiring. In most cases you'll be able to use whatever payment method you want while you're on the shopping job, but sometimes the company that has hired you will specify how the purchase should be made. If they do, stick to it. Using a different payment method may affect the outcome of the shop and you may not be reimbursed for your purchase. When you are reimbursed for your purchase, it will most likely be through PayPal or a similar payment processing service. Make sure to specify what payment processing service will be used before you take the job.
How long does it take?
Reimbursement can take anywhere from a few weeks to three months. The job description should outline a period of time during which you can expect the reimbursement. It's important to keep track of these timelines and dates. Any time you suspect your reimbursement money has been overlooked or forgotten, a call or email is not out of the question. Do not call or email, however, if the amount of time they gave you on the hire date has not passed. This can look bad and hurt your chances of receiving mystery shopping jobs in the future.
Stick to the reimbursement guidelines and consider tax
Before you take a mystery shopping job, the reimbursement amount should be specified. Don't spend more than that amount while on the job. You won't be reimbursed for it. Make sure to check out the place you're going to be shopping before you take the job. If the reimbursement amount doesn't work with the prices of the store or restaurant, skip that job and look for another. Something else to keep in mind is tax. While the tax will typically be paid in reimbursement, if it puts you over the spending limit, it might not be. So whenever you're calculating how much you'll actually spend, make sure to consider the tax.
"Payment is often dependent on performance."
Reasons you wouldn't get reimbursed
Reimbursements will not be provided if the shopper does a poor job or if they don't follow directions. Payment is often dependent on performance, and if you're not completing the job as asked, don't expect to be compensated for it. Scams can also be a reason you were not reimbursed. Typically this doesn't happen because the company that hired you gets nothing out of you making a purchase at a reputable business, but it may be a part of their plan to get your personal information.