As a free mystery shopping site, I am naturally a little biased against companies like ShadowShopper that charge you for information. Yet, it breaks my heart to see so many people posting to mystery shopping forums who've used Shadow Shopper and feel their money has been wasted, and I'd like to present a little information about why I don't like Shadow Shopper. First, let's take apart some of the things I've read on the pro- side of this argument."ShadowShopper helps new people into mystery shopping."
That may be true. But is it really helping? Most people I talk to who I tell I am a mystery shopper will answer one of two ways:
"Isn't that a scam?"
"Don't I have to pay to do that?"
Why does this perception exist? Because of companies like Shadow Shopper that have made mystery shopping synonymous with scams. The fact is that you don't need to pay to mystery shop. I'd have the same poor opinion of a site that required job seekers to pay. It is, in my opinion, predatory."Shadow Shopper allows me to get more shops than I would otherwise.
This may be true for some. Yet, Shadow Shopper overestimates the amount of shops available in order to sell you their product.
I did a little experiment. From Shadow Shopper's website, you can search for "How many jobs are in my area?" I did so, and it delivered line after line of mystery shops. Sounds great! If you try to click on one for information, they, of course, ask for money.
Yet, if you hover the mouse over one of the shops, you can get the first part of the company's ad. In some cases, this will include the name of the provider! I looked up one of these providers which I am already a member of. Hmm, interesting - no shops available. In fact, that particular site even offers email notification, and I have not been notified of this shop despite being a member for over six months. I check another site. Same thing! No shop is actually available. The list also includes a huge number of duplicate entries. I recognize one of the ads as one that was posted on various forums looking for shoppers - over a year ago!
There are advocates that will say they got a lot of shops. That's great, but I don't like to support companies like Shadow Shopper because there 'might' be a benefit. However, there is a real risk!
Of course, you risk that you will not return your investment. However, note that ShadowShopper is a subscription company. You must cancel or you will continue being charged. I have received many reports that people were charged after cancelling, or that they indicated they did not want to subscribe and were subscribed anyway.
If ShadowShopper is really, truly worth the investment - why do they have to rely on this sort of marketing? Shouldn't a great product at a reasonable price sell itself?
Why do they also have a "no refund" policy? Check out their Terms of Service for subscribing: "On the 7th day of your 7 day trial membership, your credit card on file will be charged for continuing membership for the time period you have specified...NO refunds, for any reason, will be issued after the renewal transaction has occurred."
Satisfaction is most definitely not guaranteed!
So, even after all this, if you are still thinking of joining ShadowShopper, think about this. From their own Terms of Service:"ShadowShopper.com is only a venue. This Web Site acts as a venue for employers to post job opportunities and candidates to post biographies and does not screen or censor the listings offered."
ShadowShopper offers a service where MSPs and potential shoppers can communicate. It's a free market and they're perfectly welcome to do so. Yet, there are so many of these venues that you don't need to risk anything! You can read yourself - on this site as well as others - about companies to join. If you want a long, comprehensive list of mystery shopping companies to sign up for, sign up over at MSFreedom
and you can see hundreds of mystery shopping companies listed, all for free. On Volition.com
, schedulers post hundreds of mystery shopping openings every week! There are many other mystery shopping lists out there, too.
If ShadowShopper.com has more MSPs advertising their shops -- at a cost -- when they could be advertising for free elsewhere, it's only because they have an audience. The audience only comes because of advertising, which in turn is paid for by both MSP and shopper alike. By not using ShadowShopper, you support free mystery shopping resources on the Web. Notwithstanding leaving you richer, this benefits everyone ... well, except ShadowShopper.