Attempt 1: Mystery shopping

Well, here are my reflections on my very first attempt to make some money for nothing: mystery shopping.

I signed up for a mystery shopping service a few years ago, with an address I no longer live at. Over the years I’ve received invitations for assignments in that town, so I updated my details a few months ago and was waiting for an assignment that would work, and where the fee was over £20.

And then, on Christmas Eve Eve, it arrived! Could I go to the town next to mine, try on either footwear or clothes, ask some questions, make some observations, take a snap of the entrance on departure, and then complete a report? For the princely sum of £22?

Heck yes, I can.

Having emailed to say ‘pick me!’ I then started entertaining spy-like thoughts, coming up with an elaborate back story to explain why I’m in that shop, interested in those particular shoes and then (because I’m easily led) a CONCRETE reason why they’re not suitable and I therefore need to leave the shop. This whole gig won’t work if I end up spending more money buying stuff I don’t need so CONCRETE (caps are necessary) reason for departure is key.

And of course it’s not as easy as I’d hoped it would be. I get the ‘yep, this has been assigned to you’ email, then realise I’ve forgotten my password to the website where all the details of the location and assignment are stored. And the password reset function isn’t working.

30 mins later I’m in, firming up my back story with my other half, and then getting in the car. Another 30 mins wasted on traffic (which to be fair doesn’t really feel like a chore because I’m signing Christmas choons the whole time), I’m chucking £1.40 in the parking machine and walking (in a spy-like way, I feel sure) into the shop. ‘Yes those boots are lovely, oh no they’re too long, do you have any shorter? Oh no not in my size – I MUST LEAVE.’ Pic snapped, and I’m sat back in the car, furiously scribbling my observations just 15 mins later.

After another 30 mins of return traffic, I’m fumbling with the rubbish website I need to use to enter my observations. My work all deletes. I do it again. It deletes again. I curse. But, buoyed by my experience and determined to get my £22, I try again and manage to complete it.

And boom – approx. 3 hours after I originally started trying to get into my account, my task is done. The next day I’m emailed with a score of ‘very good’ for my report (and some tips for improvement next time), and told the fee will be sent through paypal within 6 weeks.

So – let’s cast our verdict:

  • Fun to complete – who doesn’t want to be a spy?
  • Really is money for nothing – I would have otherwise spent my day lying on the sofa, eating brandy butter with everything.


  • Take into account driving there and the time spent on travel and work around the actual visit, and the pay per hour is very low.


  • It’s fun – so I’ll deffo try it again.

Money talk…

  • Money spent: £1.62 petrol (rough estimate, using journey price), £1.40 parking
  • Money earned: £18.98

This means we’re off. It’s now 2017, and we officially have some money (almost) in the ‘canigetmoneyfornothing’ coffers. Wahoopla!

(If you’re keen to try this method out yourself, the website I’ve been using is international service check. If you do try it, let me know what you think!)





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