Recent Posts

How to Avoid Charity Scams

Dear WAHFAQ, I am SO SICK of getting calls and solicitations from charities this time of year. And it’s not because I don’t want to donate…I do! It’s just tiring because it’s hard to figure out what is real. I’d prefer to donate to some of the smaller charities that don’t have the budget to advertise. Do you have any suggestions?   Holidays are ripe with scammers trying to tug on our heartstrings. Be very aware of people standing outside of stores, in parking lots, and yes, even at your front door. Wearing costumes, using props, donning fireman or police…

Resources for Military Spouses and Vets

Dear WAHFAQ, I’m a career counselor that recently moved to a military town, so many of my clients are military spouses and vets transitioning back to civilian life. Do you know of any resources that will specifically benefit them?  Veterans can face challenges entering the civilian workforce. They may have difficulty translating their experience into terms that companies can understand and find useful, or they may not be aware of how to leverage common technology, like social media, to grow their own personal network. Likewise, military spouses have a challenge of finding consistent income when they may have to move…

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Dear WAHFAQ, How can I make sure that my private info isn’t online? Thanks! You would be amazed at the amount of information that is available online. In just a few simple clicks you can find out so much information about a person including their family, where they live, and even their purchase history on Amazon or eBay. It’s creepy, so I recommend a few steps to make sure your personal information STAYS personal! First and foremost: Check all three major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Not only the main web results, but also look through their image and…

Do I need a separate email address for Mystery Shopping?

Dear WAHFAQ, I just started Mystery Shopping…got your training program…love it! And I was wondering if I really need a separate email address to do mystery shopping with.  I already have so many, it just seems like a hassle! Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you liked the Mystery Shopper Training Program 🙂 Y’know, it’s totally up to you if you want to use another email address specifically for mystery shopping.  I guess it depends on what you use the others for. For me, personally, I like to keep it separate from even my business account simply because I…

What are Reward and Revealing Shops?

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve been mystery shopping for a little over a month now and yesterday I got an offer for a “reward” shop.  What is this? Reward shops can also be called Revealing shops.  They are when you are required to give up your identity as a Mystery Shopper and reward an employee on the spot for doing something fabulous. For example, you could go into a movie theater and purchase something at the concession stand to see if the employee up-sells you to a larger drink or popcorn size.  If they do, you say, ‘Congratulations!  I’m a mystery shopper…

Why I hate MLM and Direct Sales

Dear WAHFAQ, How on earth can you sing the praises of MLM and Direct Sales companies? They’re nothing but scams! I have lost so much money with them it isn’t funny. What is wrong with you? How I love fan mail 🙂 It’s true that I love MLM and Direct Sales. Moreso the opportunity itself than any one particular business. But I do believe someone should evaluate an opportunity before signing up. There are many good aspects to the industry, but, there is a lot about it that I don’t like. So, let me give a bit of balance to…

Is this Mystery Shopping assignment worth my time?

Dear WAHFAQ, I recently received an email from a company for this assignment: Mystery Shoppers are needed in the NEW YORK cities listed below for BANK SHOPS. Payment is  $20 and requires an inquiry for a new checking or savings account. Shops may NOT be done on Saturday, or after 5pm.  Assignments are due before June 26. An online 2-page report will need to be completed with detailed comments regarding your experience. Manhattan              Binghamton             Westfield            Rochester         Albany Do you think it’s worth the fee they’re giving? Thanks! There are many factors to consider whether the assignment is worth…

Should I let a bad company go?

Dear WAHFAQ, I have a dilemma.  I really don’t like one mystery shopping company I have been working for.  They’re realllllllly picky about the assignments, they send them back to me all the time for re-writes, they don’t pay that great, and my scheduler constantly calls and emails me to remind me of shops.  I work for a bunch of other companies, and I don’t have that problem with them so I don’t think it’s my work.  I don’t want to burn bridges, but I don’t think I can work for this company anymore.  What do you suggest? The wonderful…

Make extra money with Print on Demand (POD) companies

Dear WAHFAQ, Can you explain how those t-shirt printing websites work? I’m an artist and have some designs but I’m not sure how that all works. Thanks! Sometime around 2003, my brother-in-law told me about a company, Cafepress, that would allow him to create his own t-shirts. He runs a political commentary website, and was looking for ways to earn revenue. My sister would help create designs and they would upload the images to the Cafepress site. They chose where they wanted to “sell” the image: t-shirts, bags, or bumper stickers. Cafepress had a base price for the item, and my…

The ridiculous Craigslist furniture scam

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve been selling items online, and keep getting emails like this one. What is the deal with these people? They can’t actually think that I’m going to fall for this? Hello,   I was just drafting this.Thank you for getting in touch with me,i’m fine with your price as listed and looking to buy your furniture but the only way I can is through a Check which I will mail to you through UPS I am willing to wait for the check to clear before the pickup is done. I will be responsible for the pickup and it…

What is a Financial Mystery Shop?

Dear WAHFAQ, I know you said that Mystery Shopping companies don’t deal with certified checks, but I had an assignment recently where I had to cash a check at a payday loan place.  So, I’m confused.  What are good and bad shops that deal with money? To clarify: Mystery Shopping companies do not PAY by certified check.  That’s actually a really big scam! Financial institutions have a variety of shops available.  Here are the main ones you’ll see out there: 1)   Pay-day check cashing: The mystery shopping company will give you a check to cash. It is usually pretty small,…

Mystery Shopping Memory Tricks

Dear WAHFAQ, I’d really like to mystery shop, but after looking at your sample forms (in the Mystery Shopper Training Program) I’m a little nervous. I quite possibly have the worst memory ever. How on earth can I do mystery shopping? Mystery Shopping does require a fair amount of memory…but, no one is perfect, and there are always tricks to help you get the details you need for a great shop. Here are some that I use: For Apartment Shops: They always give you brochures, or floor plans, or community newsletters, or business cards, or whatever. Take them, and take notes…

What is an Apartment Shop?

Dear WAHFAQ, I heard that apartment buildings get shopped.  Is that true?  Would I actually have to rent an apartment?  That just seems weird, plus I don’t have the best credit, so I would probably be denied anyway.  I don’t really understand how they would work. Apartment shops are actually my favorite shops to do!  You do NOT need to rent an apartment, fill out an application, or leave a deposit to do an apartment shop.  It’s pretty simple: You call up the apartment building and talk to a leasing agent over the phone, setting an appointment to view the…

Can I bring my kids on a Mystery Shop?

  Dear WAHFAQ, I was recently assigned a movie theater shop, and 2 restaurants. I’m so excited to get started!  The only thing is that my baby sitter cancelled on me, and I have to get these shops done TODAY!  What should I do?  Can I bring the kids with me? Ok, first of all, RELAX. Then, call your scheduler!  They are your life-line to help you when situations like these arise.  I cannot specifically speak for your scheduler or company, but most restaurant shops allow you to take a few people with you.  In fact, Mystery Shopping companies LIKE…

Can I make money assembling products at home?

Dear WAHFAQ, The other day, I was at the doctor’s office and reading one of their magazines, when I saw an ad for assembling products from home. Is this something I could really do? How does that work?   Oh dear. This one is still around, eh? I know you’ve seen the ads. Somewhere in the depths of the “Classified” section, there it is, calling out to you,”Assemble Products at home. No experience necessary. Make $200-$2000 a week! You get giddy. Perhaps you’re a stay at home mom, or maybe you have a disability or something else that prevents you from…

Mystery Shopping bait and switch

  Dear WAHFAQ, What does “bait and switch” mean in mystery shopping?  I can’t quite figure it out.   “Bait and Switch” is a practice with some not-so-nice Mystery Shopping companies.  It’s a rare occurrence, thankfully…but it can happen. When a Mystery Shopping company posts an assignment, they’re supposed to give you all the details, so that you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Sometimes, they don’t do that, and bait you into taking an assignment that looks easy to do.  Once you accept it, they throw a whole bunch of details, stipulations, and extra work that you weren’t counting…

How far would you drive for a Mystery Shop?

Dear WAHFAQ, I’ve read your book on mystery shopping, very informative. I was wondering what was the maximum number of miles you would drive for a retail shop? Well, as with all things mystery shopping: it depends. These are the factors you’ll need to consider for any shop, to make sure it’s worth your time and gas money: 1) How much does it pay? If it’s a $10 retail shop, I wouldn’t go very far. Unless… 2) Am I already going there? Of course, if the shop is for something that I already need like gas or groceries at a store that…

What is a Retail Mystery Shop?

Dear WAHFAQ, What is a retail shop?  Do you have to buy something?  Do you have to spend your money, or will they give you some?  Are you supposed to keep the merchandise or send it to the company? Retail shops vary by company and assignment.  Here are the main points you need to know: 1)   You generally will NOT receive money from the mystery shopping company to buy anything.  You’ll have to use your own if a purchase is required. 2)   If a purchase is required, they may have something specific for you to buy. 3)   If a purchase…

Why we work from home

Any time I send out a survey to my newsletter subscribers, I ask, “Name the top 2-3 reasons why you want to work from home or be self-employed.” I find it is always important to know why people want to do what they do. For those of you who have read, The Work at Home Training Program, you may remember how I started on this path: My grandfather passed away when I was in my early 20s. He had a significant role in both my sister’s and my life, but my sister’s employer wouldn’t give her time off of work…

Why do they want my email password?

Dear WAHFAQ, I signed on with a few mystery shopping companies, but they all ask me for my email and password. That seems a bit invasive. Why do they want to log into my email account?  Do they need to? Is this normal? The Mystery Shopping company isn’t trying to log into your email. They want you to create an account on their site!  Your user ID would be your email, and then you create a NEW password for their system. Kinda like how any membership site, or bank, or credit card company, or forum asks you to create a…