Mystery Shopping Help and Frequently Asked Questions


Mystery Shopping Basics

Welcome to the Market Force Information “Shopper Force!” We have some suggestions to assist you in becoming a successful Mystery Shopper.

PRINT and REVIEW all paperwork for every assignment: Contractor Payment Invoice (CPI), Questionnaire, and any other guidelines.
CPIs contain important information, including the location information and payment information. Questionnaires contain specific guidelines that are necessary for accurate completion of a valid assignment.

Unless otherwise specified by shop guidelines, CALL the location to verify address and hours.
Businesses can change hands, or emergencies occur that may prevent a location from opening as scheduled. Calling ahead verifies the location will be open before you go to the store.

Conduct shop within the shop times listed on the CPI.
Clients determine time frames for an assignment, enabling their various stores to compare mystery shop results obtained within the same time frame. If a shop begins outside the specified times, this will result in an invalid shop (and non-payment).

COMPLETE the on-line Questionnaire within eight hours of leaving the location.
Record information on the printed Questionnaire immediately following your shop when in your parked car while the information is fresh in your mind so it will help you to provide the most accurate information when you enter your data on the Shopper Portal.
A shop is not complete until results are entered and the report is submitted. As per your CPI you have eight hours to report your shop. Timely reporting allows Market Force Information to provide a speedy turnaround for our Clients.
KEEP your completed paper Questionnaire and the receipt item handy.
Clients may have questions for us concerning some of the information you reported, so we recommend that you keep your hard copy of the completed Questionnaire, photos, receipts or business cards for at least 30 days.

Mystery Shopper Do's and Do Not's


• DO Read all shop guidelines in advance each time. Details can change from one shop to the next.
• DO Use a digital timing device for accurate timing.
• DO Unless otherwise specified, call a location first to verify address and hours of operation.
• DO Perform the assignment yourself or it will be invalid.
• DO Complete the Questionnaire immediately after your shop.

Do Not's

• DO NOT Reveal your mystery shopper identity at a shop location unless the shop is a revealed audit.
• DO NOT Reveal or share information with anyone other than Market Force Information personnel.

Suspicious or Possible Scam Offers

What you need to know:

Market Force Information LLC (“MFI”) routinely and legitimately utilizes mystery shoppers in its standard course of business. However, we are notified continually of situations whereby MFI’s trade name and/or trademark are used by other groups or individuals, without MFI’s authorization, to entice unsuspecting individuals into a deceptive mystery shopping scheme. Lately, we are also seeing scammers using our corporate logo on letters, as well as named executives and other employees in our company.. Using our logo and the name of a real employee lends authenticity to the emails or letters they are sending out which makes the scams even harder to detect and ultimately prosecute.
If you are given a check to deposit in advance of doing a shop, the check will not clear the bank and you will be held responsible for the total amount by the financial institution. Recent scams have included the following scenarios or features, so please regard them as red flags:

• Assignment scenario involves a money transfer, bitcoin, gift cards or check cashing.
• Representative does not give a legitimate Market Force e-mail address ( (Even if the message appears to have been sent from a Market Force e-mail address, the contact e-mail address in the actual offer/message is typically an AOL, gmail or other Web-based e-mail account.)
• Solicitation notice includes a “Customer Service Evaluation Form”, “Secret Shopping”or a “Customer Service Evaluation Tool” (CSET).
• Offer includes a high payment amount for a relatively easy assignment.

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) has developed the following tips for those interested in becoming a mystery shopper:
• Prospective shoppers should never have to pay a fee to become a mystery shopper. Shoppers should be extremely wary of any mystery shopping offer that requests a fee.
• Visit the MSPA website ( for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities.
If a fraudulent mystery shop company gets in touch with you, we suggest you make contact with one or all of the following:
1. Your local police department. Ask for the Cyber Crimes department or an investigator.
2. FBI. Go to
3. Postal Inspector - There is an online complaint form you can fill out at:
4. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit, call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to Federal Trade Commission, CRC-240, Washington, DC 20580.
5. E-mail service provider such as AOL, Google, Yahoo, MSN. Go to the “Contact Us” page to file a complaint. Remember to provide accurate information about the person or persons perpetuating the fraud so that the authorities can assist you in stopping this activity.

Remember, never pay money to become a mystery shopper. This includes never accepting a cashier’s check in exchange for you wiring or sending money to a person or company. Again, it never costs money to get assignments or become a shopper with Market Force. Also, keep in mind that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is!!

Important Reminders

  • Email to request clarification of any issues or ask any questions as soon as you review your paperwork.
  • Pick a shop date that works for you within the time frames provided.
  • Simply behave as if you are a "typical customer" for the business you are evaluating.
  • Disregard previous experiences, good or bad, regarding the specific location, Client, and the industry overall.
  • Comments should provide an accurate, detailed description of your experience.
  • Comment are important to our Client, so choose your words carefully.
  • Provide specific, factual answers to every question on the Questionnaire.
  • Record the actual behavior and events you observe, not your feelings, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Complete the entire assignment according to the shopper guidelines and CPI and report your results within eight hours of your shop completion.
  • Clients will only pay for valid reports, so be sure to follow shop guidelines.
  • Submit ALL shop documentation including, not limited to: receipts ,business cards, and/or photos.
  • Ensure that all reports include accurate details: times, names, descriptions, etc.
  • Your identity as a Market Force Information mystery shopper should never be revealed unless shop guidelines specifically indicate otherwise.
  • Confidentiality (including protection of our Clients' names, our shop paperwork/guidelines, and the information you report for your shop) is critical to the success of mystery shopping. Do not share client names with anyone.

Mystery Shopper FAQs


Shop payment is sent once per calendar month for all shops approved in the previous calendar month. For example, shops approved in January will be included in the February payment.

As a reminder, your Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA) and the Shopper Support Center states: “All compensation will be paid via check or direct deposit. Shoppers enrolled in Direct Deposit will receive their payments earlier than shoppers receiving checks. To enroll in Direct Deposit, select Shopper ID - My Account - Payment Details - Direct Deposit.

If you choose not to sign up for Direct Deposit, you will be paid via check mailed to the address listed in your shopper profile so it is imperative to ensure the address is up to date.

Please note: We can only pay for shops that are approved by our quality control department.

For US shoppers only
As an Independent Contractor, you are responsible for all taxes. Additionally, if you earn a total of $600 or more during a calendar year, we will issue you a completed IRS Form 1099. The details of how this is calculated by the IRS is denoted in your Independent Contractor Agreement.

Level 1 Shops – How to get paid
Until you level up to Level 2 and submit your address and SSN/SIN, you will not be eligible to receive payment for a shop you completed at Level 1. Consider a Level 1 shop a ‘test shop’ that you complete to see whether mystery shopping with our company is right for you.

After a Level 1 assignment is completed, you will have 90 days to move to Level 2 before you forfeit the Shop Fee and/or reimbursement associated with that assignment.

Payment statuses are not posted until payment has been processed. After payment is issued, details can be viewed via the Payment History page available from After logging in, go to  Shopper ID - My Account - Payment Details.

Total payments for any year where a payment was made are available from the Payment Totals option. It will default to the current year, but you can easily select any desired year from the drop-down list. To see more specific payment details, select the Payment History page. Select the year desired, and the payment details will be displayed. It is also possible to export your payment history to a PDF.

The Assignment/Receipt Status page shows the assignment status (to indicate whether you can expect payment for each assignment completed) AND the CPI and receipt status (whether we have received and processed your shop documentation).

Note: The Assignment/Receipt Status page does not reflect statuses of shop payments.

1. Log in at Select Find Shops at the top of the page,

2. Select a shop - Look through the list of shops displayed. Select the "View Shop Details" link to see shop details . You can also see these details on the default shop list if you hide the map. From the "Shop Details" page, select the date you would like to accept and then select Accept Assignment. Note the date and time of your shop on your calendar; it is important that you complete the assignment as scheduled.

3. Get prepared to do the shop - Any shops you are assigned will be listed on the My Shops page. To view the CPI, select the “View Assignment Details” link and then select the Contractor Payment Invoice (CPI) tab. This page will provide important information about your shop. Print and read a copy of the shop Guidelines/Questionnaire by selecting the “Guidelines & Questionnaire” tab. Carefully read this information and any additional shop resources available for each assignment as guidelines are subject to change at any time.

4. Go shopping - On your assigned shop date, visit the address shown on your CPI and complete the shop according to the guidelines.

5. Report back - From the Shopper Website, select My Shops. Once there, find the shop you want to report and select Report Shop. Results should be submitted within eight (8) hours of shop completion.

6. Submit documentation - Upload the required documentation mentioned in your shop guidelines, such as receipts, business cards, etc. Sign the CPI electronically.

If you have not received a check in the mail and at least 30 days have passed as per your shopper portal payments page e-mail and provide your shopper ID. From this point, we will submit a request for replacement. Replacement requests are forwarded to our Accounting department

Payment is re-issued as soon as possible after the necessary research is completed by our Accounting Department. If we have further questions for you we will notify you via e-mail.

NOTE: checks are only valid for deposit/cashing within 90 days of the check date

Direct Deposits
If you have successfully signed up for Direct Deposit, it can take a couple of business days for Direct Deposit payments to post to bank accounts. If you still do not see it in your bank account after 3-4 business days, please e-mail to request research on the payment.

Payment Error/Incorrect Amount
If you believe there is a payment error and after reviewing the Payment Details section on your My Account, e-mail . The Help Desk will investigate and respond.

An important step in completing a successful shop is downloading a hard copy of the Questionnaire and keeping that document with you in your car. Not only can you quickly review the shop guidelines one more time just before going in to do the shop, you will also be able to record your shop data on the Questionnaire immediately after you finish the shop to help ensure that no important details are forgotten. You should then have a very easy time of transferring this written data to the online report once you get home. As well, you will have your written notes handy should you be asked any questions about your shop later.

Reviewing the Summary page before you submit each report makes it easy to see your report entries and allow you to correct any errors before you CLICK SUBMIT on your report.

If you do submit a report with any incorrect data, please e-mail right away with details of the error, including the Assignment ID, report question, and it is possible a correction can be made, but if the report has already gone through the proofreading process then we cannot make the change(s).

Keep in mind that if a shop has been invalidated, we are not always able to correct the report to approve the shop. Reports MUST contain accurate information.

Problems Reporting
If you have trouble reporting because of a computer issue or Internet outage, please first try to use a different computer, perhaps at a friend's residence or public library.

Error Messages
If you see an error message while reporting and you can't determine what caused it, e-mail about when the error message appeared, what the error message said, and what you were doing at the time the error message occurred.

If you cannot report please e-mail about the problem.

Shops with the Make an Offer feature will appear in the list with a green icon next to the shop type icon in Available Shops list. When you select View Shop Details for the shop, you will be able to submit a shopper fee request using the green Make an Offer button. Enter the fee amount you are requesting in the field provided. Our Scheduling department will review your offer and if it is accepted, the shop will be assigned to you. You will receive a confirmation email for the shop after it is assigned.

If you have not received notice within 24 hours of submitting your offer and you don't see the shop under your My Shops list, your offer was not accepted.

An acceptable photo:
• Is clear and details are easily seen.
• Has a file size between 200 KB and 16 MB.
• The image is in a JPG, JPEG, PNG, GIF.
• The file name should have only alpha-numeric characters, which include letters (A to Z in upper or lower case), numbers (0 to 9), and a period (.). Do not include special characters such as ($ % * #). We suggest naming each photo using the assignment ID and then an alpha as well. For example, if you have multiple photos for one AID, you will name them as 123-A, 123-B, 123-C, etc.

Optimal system requirements:
• Computer/Internet speed: 56 kbps modem, cable modem, or DSL.
• Digital Camera/Camera Phone: “Preview” feature, fully charged battery, storage capacity for 25-30 photos. If you use a camera phone, set at the highest resolution.

• Know how to transfer pictures from your camera/phone to your computer.
• Know how to use your camera. Know how to replace the battery and take clear photos of objects both close-up and 15-20 feet away. Learn how to use the flash function if needed. Take test pictures at home.
• Create a Market Force folder on your computer to allow you to easily retrieve and upload your photos. Subfolders for each assignment are helpful and we encourage you to save using the Assignment ID.
• Name photos: Name each individual photo file with the Assignment ID number as well as the report question number (e.g., Q18a) and/or the subject of the photo (e.g., Exterior Picture).
• Charge your camera and make sure your memory card has room for all of your pictures.
• Check each photo on your camera before moving on to take the next shot.
• Always take extra photos ensure you have the "best" selection for your shop.
• Follow the Questionnaire in order of report questions, so your photos will be in the correct order.

Entering Results:
• You can upload photos at any time; however, the entire report must be answered/filled out completely before you can link the pictures to the report questions.
• Click on ‘Images’ to start.
• Click on ‘Upload Image(s)’ and the file-selection screen will open.
• Click ‘Choose Files’ to browse to the folder in which you saved the photos. * Select the images you want to upload (hold Ctrl or Apple key to select multiple photos in a group), then click on ‘Open’.
• To link your uploaded photos, select the desired photo by clicking on the photo on the left side of the screen and then click the Link button next to the associated question listed on the right side of the screen.
• To unlink a photo, use the Unlink button below the linked photo for that question.
• To rotate a picture, click on the photo and the ‘Edit Image’ page will display. Click the circular arrows at the bottom of the page to rotate the image in the direction indicated then close the window.
• To delete a photo, use the ‘Delete Image’ button underneath the photo you wish to remove.
• After all pictures are linked to a question, review your work to ensure you have linked only photos from the current assignment and that the photos are linked to the correct report questions.
• Submit for Receipt Verification: This feature will allow you to use the receipt image uploaded into the report AND ALSO as the shop's "receipt" item (on the Assignment/Receipt Status Page) so that you will not have to upload the image separately on the Submit CPI/Receipts page. Click on the “Also use as Receipt” button to use the image selected as your receipt.
• Click on 'Return to Report Shops'.

You must submit your receipt items (purchase receipt, business card, audit verification) before submitting your online report.

Only use the Don't Have A Receipt option if you truly do not have a receipt/business card/audit verification. If you have a receipt but you select this option, you will not be able to upload the receipt/business card later, nor will Market Force Information be able to upload it for you.

Submit your receipt uploading your documentation directly:
Our website accepts JPG and GIF files for receipts.
• Files may be submitted as receipts if they have been scanned OR if a photo of the receipt was taken with a digital camera or a mobile device (as long as the receipt text is legible).
• Submit your receipt item(s) by uploading directly to our system.

If a potential shop is locked, this means that another Shopper or a Market Force employee is reviewing the shop at that time. Please check back again. If the other Shopper did not accept that potential shop, it will still appear on your list of potential assignments. If that shop was accepted by another Shopper, it will no longer appear on your list.

If an already assigned shop is locked or not showing on your My Shops page, this means that a Market Force Information employee is reviewing the shop at that time.