Making sure you get paid as a mystery shopper

Being a mystery shopper can be a liberating experience.

Being a mystery shopper can be a liberating experience. You can work your own hours and enjoy the experience of getting paid for doing what you love. There are other perks as well, including having a new store to attend with each assignment. However, there are certain issues with working as a contractor for mystery shoppers. One is being paid. The way that they receive income for their work is a lot different than other places. Getting paid for assignments can be less frequent than other jobs. Sometimes, it may feel like you're not getting your paycheck on time. In order to avoid this problem, you should take measures as you work out a contract with your mystery shopping provider.

Plan ahead and avoid being late
The first thing to point out when working out pay is to never contract with any mystery shopping provider that asks for money upfront. As the Mystery Shopping Providers Association makes clear, anyone that requires a fee or other payment is almost certainly a scam and will never pay you. Some may even be posing as legitimate providers. Always take care when these situations appear.

When you find a provider, you need to work out an acceptable contract with them. According to law agency Nolo, that means making a clear statement of the terms of payment. This may need to be worked out before signing anything with the provider, since it may have specific ways of paying you. That can be up to 30, 45 or even 60 days. Whatever is decided, you'll want to have a signed statement between yourself and the company you'll be receiving assignments from. Make sure you have a copy on hand, so that way you can hold them accountable in case they're late with payment.

Of course, receiving payment as a freelancer is a two-way operation. In many cases, you can't report in and then expect the provider to pay you immediately afterward. You'll need to write invoices for the assignments you completed that include the rate you and the provider agreed on. When you dispatch those invoices, Fortune magazine recommends sending it in triplicate. In other words, shoot out both physical mail and email invoices, then confirm with your provider that the invoice has been received. That way, you can hold them accountable for not paying by confirming receipt of the invoice. It's a good practice to complete invoices as quickly as possible to ensure prompt payment.