FAQ

Index of Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Who is Shoppers’ Critique International?
  2. What is Mystery Shopping?
  3. How can I register to become a mystery shopper?
  4. How much money will I make as a mystery shopper?
  5. Is Mystery Shopping an employment position?
  6. How long will it take to get started or to receive shops?
  7. How can I tell what shops might be available in my area?
  8. I received an email listing available shops but do not see them on the website.
  9. Why don’t you have more shops in my area?
  10. Why can’t I shop in Nevada?
  11. Why can’t I see specific details for some shops?
  12. How will I know if I have a shop?
  13. I am not receiving expected emails from Shoppers’ Critique. Why?
  14. What if I move, change my phone number or email address and need to update my shopper profile?
  15. What should I do if I forget my Shopper ID or Password?
  16. Will I receive emails from Shoppers’ Critique?
  17. How much time do I have to complete a shop?
  18. Can I take along my spouse, friend or child on my shop?
  19. How do I send in my receipts from my purchase?
  20. How long does it take to be paid and/or reimbursed for my shop?
  21. Is the SCI website secure?
  22. Do I need any special software on my computer?
  23. What is the Mystery Shopping Providers Association Certification Program?

 

Who is Shoppers’ Critique International?
Shoppers’ Critique International’s headquarters are located in Longwood, Florida, a northern suburb of Orlando, FL. SCI is a market research firm, specializing in customer service reporting utilizing customer-oriented feedback from: on-site mystery shopping, telephone shopping, web-based customer satisfaction surveys.

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What is “Mystery Shopping“?
Mystery Shopping is an objective view of a business through the eyes of a customer. A Mystery Shopper visits a business anonymously, posing as a regular customer, to experience and evaluate the level of customer service provided by the business. Mystery shopping provides management with a detailed assessment of employee performance and the variables that affect a customer’s experience and satisfaction with the business.

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How can I register to become a mystery shopper?
You may register online using the Shoppers link at the top of the home page. On the following page, just under the words “Register to be a Shopper”, is a link to begin the registration process. First you are asked to select the state in which you reside. Next, please make sure that the registration questionnaire is completed and that your email address and telephone numbers are correct. After completing the registration form, you will be required to read and ACCEPT or DECLINE the terms of the Independent Contractors Agreement (ICA). If you decline the terms of the agreement, you will not be able to receive shops. You will be emailed your Shopper ID and password to confirm your registration as a mystery shopper. If for some reason you do not receive your registration information, please use the appropriate contact us link so we may follow up.

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How much money will I make as a mystery shopper?
For most shoppers, mystery shopping is a hobby or part-time venture. Obviously the more shops you receive, the more you can potentially earn. Shoppers located in a large metropolitan area will have more opportunities than those located in a rural town. We suggest if you are sincerely interested in mystery shopping that you apply as a shopper with as many different companies as possible. One terrific source of reputable companies is the Mystery Shopping Providers Association or MSPA. You can visit their website at www.mysteryshop.org.

Shops pay fees ranging from $5 up depending on what is required of the shopper. In many cases, no fees are paid but instead you are reimbursed for a product, service, meal, etc. Some shops pay both a fee and reimbursement.

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Is Mystery Shopping an employment position?
Shoppers are considered independent contractors and are NOT employees. Your services as an independent contractor must fulfill the requirements of your state laws. Most states vary in their definition of an independent contractor. You will be required to accept the terms of our Independent Contractors Agreement before you can complete your registration with Shoppers’ Critique.

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How long will it take to get started or to receive shops?
Once you have registered, your information is in our database. At that point, it is only a matter of having available shops in your area. Typically, established shoppers that have done a great job for us in the past receive priority treatment. Sometimes it might take a new shopper months to get a shop however you never really know. It depends on the number of available shoppers in a given area as opposed to the available shops we have in progress.

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How can I tell what shops might be available in my area?
You must first be a registered shopper. Log in to the site and click the Open Shops link. All of our available shops are posted online.

Tip: We send a weekly email to shoppers early on Wednesday mornings to notify them of available shops in their area. If you wish to beat the rush, visit our site the afternoon prior to this notification for first picks.

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I received an email listing available shops but do not see them on the website.
An email notification is sent to shoppers generally once a week, early on Wednesday mornings. This notification tries to match shoppers with locations near them. In some cases hundreds of shoppers may receive notification for the same shops. The response is usually heavy the following morning and the shoppers that respond first typically receive the shop.

If you visit our website after receiving a notification and a particular shop does not show up under open shops, then it is safe to assume it has already been scheduled.

A useful tip: If you wish to beat the rush, visit our site the afternoon prior to this notification for first picks.

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Why don’t you have more shops in my area?
SCI performs shops at their clients’ locations throughout the country and in several other countries. If our client pool does not include locations in your area then naturally we will not have shops for you. Shoppers located in a large metropolitan area will have more opportunities than those located in a rural town. We continually add new clients so our location list changes constantly. Keep in mind in the larger areas, we also have more shoppers trying to obtain the same shops so many times the shop is no longer available within hours.

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Why can’t I shop in Nevada?
The current laws in Nevada prohibit the use of mystery shoppers without having a Private Investigator license. Therefore mystery shopping companies have been forced to work with PI firms to accomplish shops in NV. The MSPA (www.mysteryshop.org) has worked diligently to obtain new legislation without success to date. We urge all mystery shoppers to contact their representatives to express their dismay with the legislation as it prohibits you from receiving shops and hopefully someday the legislators will recognize that we are in the business to improve customer service for NV residents.

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Why can’t I see specific details for some shops?
SCI has two different types of shops. Some shops can be self-scheduled to the appropriate shoppers based on criteria such as their shopper rating, reliability, date of last shop, etc. The self-scheduled shops provide complete details.

The second type of shop in our system is manually scheduled and requires our staff of schedulers to schedule the shop to you. You can request that shop online. A request is simply an expression you are interested in that shop, it does not guarantee that you will receive it. In most cases shoppers are permitted to see the details such as the specific address, payment information, etc.

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How will I know if I have a shop?
An email notification will be sent to you on the first day that the shop can be completed. You may have been given the shop a week or two earlier but you will not receive the notification until you can actually proceed with the shop. Certainly, sometimes the email notification may not reach you for a variety of reasons. If you are expecting a shop and have not received the email notification, you can view your current and upcoming shops online by viewing My Current Shops.

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I am not receiving expected emails from Shoppers’ Critique. Why?
Check your SPAM rules or settings. It is possible that our emails are being deleted or sent to your SPAM folder.

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What if I move, change my phone number or email address and need to update my shopper profile?
E-mail addresses change much more frequently than residences or phone numbers. SCI uses the Internet extensively to provide shop details and communicate with shoppers. If you do not provide notification that your contact information has changed, specifically your email address and telephone number, you will not receive these communications. Please login as a registered shopper and edit your shopper profile using the Update My Profile option on the Main Menu.

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What should I do if I forget my Shopper ID or Password?
You can request this information be emailed to you by clicking the link under the Shopper Login box called Need Your ID or Password? If you do not receive the email and your email address has changed since you last updated your profile, please go to the contact form and submit your information.

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Will I receive emails from Shoppers’ Critique?
Registered shoppers will receive emails periodically (typically weekly) IF we have available shops in your area. You can turn this option off when you register or by editing your profile after registration.

We also use emails as a prime source of communication regarding shops scheduled to you. The nature of these emails could be to let you know you have been given a shop, a reminder to confirm acceptance, a past due notice if your shop has not been turned in on time or personal communications from our staff with questions.

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How much time do I have to complete a shop?
When you accept a shop, you have agreed to complete the shop by the due date. Due dates vary from 1-10 days. Missing that date can be costly to both the shopper and SCI. In many instances, missing the due date will result in loss of compensation. SCI maintains detailed records of each shopper’s performance and will no longer contact you for other shops if you are consistently delinquent. If you are concerned about meeting the due date, please do not hesitate to call the office immediately. Please be considerate and alert SCI so they can make other arrangements for completion of your shop. SCI may or may not be able to offer an extension of the due date based on their client’s needs, but SCI will certainly look more favorably towards you in the future.

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Can I take along my spouse, friend or child on my shop?
You may take a friend or spouse along with you on your mystery shop, providing the shop guidelines do not specify otherwise, however you cannot have your friend or spouse complete the shop for you. It is your responsibility to complete the shop and return it completed on time. If your friend or spouse is interested in becoming a mystery shopper, please have him/her fill out an application on-line.

In some cases, we ask you take along a partner or perhaps a child. A partner may help you observe during the shop. A child (especially a young child) may distract you so be very careful not to let that happen. We generally recommend that unless the shop requires a child be present, that children NOT accompany you.

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How do I send in my receipts from my purchase?
Detailed instructions are provided in your shop guidelines. The procedure from shop to shop may differ depending on our client requirements. As always we urge our shoppers to print their shop guidelines before performing the shop. Once the shop has been submitted however, you may still view the shop guidelines online under My Completed Shops.

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How long does it take to be paid and/or reimbursed for my shop?
Typically payment of shopper fees is made about 3-4 weeks from receipt of the completed shop and required materials, i.e. receipts, business cards, etc. Occasionally it may take longer if we have a question or need to call you to provide additional detail or clarification. We cannot process an incomplete shop and may hold the report until we are able to contact you to confirm information or answer a question on the information submitted. You should refer to the guidelines provided with each shop to understand what YOU need to do to complete the shop.

You can monitor the payment process when you are logged into our website to see when payments have been posted and when a check has actually been sent. Go to My Completed Shops to see if a payment has been posted. Go to My Payment Details to see when payments have been processed. This information is only updated once per week, typically on Monday.

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Is the SCI website secure?
SCI is committed to making sure that our website is as secure as possible and that your private information is kept secure. This web site is secured using a Thawte Digital Certificate. This ensures that all information you send to us via the World Wide Web will be encrypted. Please click on the Thawte Authentic Site Seal that demonstrates our commitment to your security. To view the SCI Privacy Statement, click on the Privacy Statement link at the bottom of this and many pages on the website.

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Do I need any special software on my computer?
The Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA), Shop Packages and other files may be in Adobe® Portable Document Format (PDF). To open, view and print these files you will need to have Adobe Acrobat® Reader installed on your PC. Adobe Acrobat® Reader is available as a free download from the Adobe website at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.

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What is the Mystery Shopping Providers Association Certification Program?
If you go to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website (www.mysteryshop.org) you can get all the information on certification. Basically they have developed an on-line Silver Certification program and a more in-depth Gold Certificate program to be offered in person. It is not necessary to be certified to work for us, however, many shoppers are becoming certified and therefore we will make a record of it for those that do.

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