What Is a Secret Shopping CompanyThe concept behind secret shopping is pretty straightforward. A company - let's say a restaurant - wants to see how well one of its locations is doing. They can't send a manager down to check it out, because the staff would all jump to attention when they saw the manager show up. The company in essence wants to send a "spy" in to see how things are going without the staff knowing that they are being reviewed. That's what a secret shopper is. A secret shopper is a spy that pretends to be a regular customer, but is really doing a detailed review of the company.
Most restaurants and shops simply don't have time to organize all these spies and reviews themselves. They hire a consultant to handle the task for them. This is the Secret Shopper company. The Secret Shopper company has in essence a group of thousands of freelancers that are interested in secret shopping. A company - let's say TGI Fridays - comes to the Secret Shopper company and says "I want you guys to give me feedback on my store in Springfield. Please visit them every day for a month and let us know how well they do. The Secret Shopping company then publishes the schedule to its freelancers, and the freelancers all sign up for days to go in and do the review.
When you work for a Secret Shopping company, you are NOT AN EMPLOYEE. You are just a freelancer. Yes, they need your social security number to pay you, just like with all freelancer workers. You have to report this as income on your taxes, just like you report all income.
Most of the time you do NOT pay the secret shopper company at all to be a member. Some companies charge a fee, claiming they get you access to super wonderful deals. I would really sign up for all the FREE memberships first, and see how busy they keep you. If you really, truly, still have free time in your life, maybe sign up for a for-pay membership for a month and see just how much they offer.
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