Selected Press Release
Title Mystery Shopping Providers Association Warns Consumers: Beware of Email Promising Free Meals, Gifts For
Date Published 01/05/2005
Author Hart Associates



DALLAS – January 5, 2005 – If you think an email offering you a chance to get free shopping trips, dinners and other elaborate gifts for a small, one-time fee sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources, advises the public to disregard e-mails that promise easy money and free gifts in no time by performing mystery shopping and service evaluations, after paying a fee.

“The hook that many email operators are using is that for a ‘one-time fee’ individuals can be getting paid to shop,” said John Swinburn, Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) executive director.

“While many of these email services do provide additional information on how to become a mystery shopper after consumers pay the fee, they forget to mention an important fact: all of the information on how to become a mystery shopper is available for free at the MSPA web site.”

Prospective shoppers can simply visit the MSPA Web site at There, they can find information on how to register to be a shopper at an MSPA company, what jobs are available in their region, and additional information on the mystery shopping industry.

Swinburn said, “The MSPA wants to alert the public that mystery shopping can be an interesting way of earning extra spending money for people who want to help improve customer service. However, it is not a quick and easy way to make a large sum of money and receive numerous freebies. Mystery shopping requires commitment, attention to detail, dependability and dedication. Mystery shoppers who fulfill all of those traits are paid modest amounts and on some occasions may receive reimbursement for required purchases. That said, it could take months or even years to get your first assignment.”

The following tips are provided for those interested in becoming a mystery shopper:

- Respond directly to the companies that post the assignments (not to MSPA).

- Sign up with as many companies as you can. If a company asks you to pay, decline and move on to the next company.

- Be patient. It takes time, sometimes months or even longer, to be contacted with an offer to conduct a shopping assignment.

- Once you are assigned a shop, ensure that you conduct it according to the guidelines set forth by the mystery shopping client. Shoppers who do a good job have a much higher likelihood of being invited back for future assignments.

About the MSPA

With more than 180 member companies worldwide, the MSPA has a diverse membership, including marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations and companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services. Its goals are to establish professional standards and ethics for the industry, educate providers, clients and shoppers to improve quality of service, improve the image of the industry and promote the membership to other industry associations and prospective clients.