Think mystery shopping would be fun? Bestmark is one of North America’s premier mystery shopping services providers. Our Bestmark review will help you decide if this company is a good opportunity for you.
Our Bestmark review will address several common questions, including:
- What is a mystery shopper?
- How does Bestmark work?
- Is there a cost to work with Bestmark?
- How Much Can You Make With Bestmark?
We will also give you a brief history of the company in this Bestmark review. Plus, we’ll give you our final verdict on this opportunity.
What is Bestmark?
Bestmark provides intelligence services for retail companies.
One of those services is mystery shopping, as we already mentioned at the beginning of this Bestmark review.
What are “intelligence” services? Many corporations that own retail stores, hotels or restaurants want to see how they are performing in the eyes of the average customer.
Such companies can hire Bestmark to gather this type of info, or “intelligence.” They can do this in a number of ways. One of those ways is through the use of “mystery shoppers.”
What is a mystery shopper?
A “mystery shopper” is someone hired by an intelligence provider (like Bestmark). He or she goes into the assigned location to conduct a “shop.”
During The Shop
During the “shop,” the mystery shopper acts just like a regular customer. He may be assigned to make a specific type of purchase, ask certain questions or make a particular request.
After The Shop
After the shop, he reports his findings back to the mystery shopping company. They analyze the findings, put them into a report and present it to the client. The results help the client to see its stores through their shoppers’ eyes.
Another aspect of mystery shopping may involve conducting “exit interviews.” The mystery shopper in this scenario does not pose as a customer.
Instead, the mystery shopper interviews customers who are leaving the store, restaurant or other location. He or she asks customers a series of pre-arranged questions.
The questions are all about the customer’s experience in the store. For example:
- Did you purchase anything today? If so, how much did you spend?
- Were you greeted when you first entered the store?
- Did any employees offer to assist you in finding what you were looking for?
- Based on today’s experience, would you shop here again? Why or why not?
- This is just one more way that Bestmark helps its clients see their stores through their customers’ eyes.
What is Bestmark?
Bestmark is, as we already noted earlier, gathers customer service intelligence on retailers restaurants. Mystery shopping is its main product. Its other services include:
- Auditing of pricing, compliance, etc.
- Intercept interviews
- Management checks
- Real time customer feedback gathering
- Employee engagement surveys
- Web surveys
History of Bestmark
Bestmark, Inc. was one of the first companies started with the purpose of providing consumer intelligence through mystery shopping. It was founded in 1986.
It has added a variety of new services throughout its 30 years in business. Mystery shopping services remains one of its most popular.
The evolution of technology, like computers and the internet, has allowed Bestmark to evolve its services. It is able to reach more customers and hire more mystery shoppers today than ever before.
How Does Bestmark Work?
Bestmark hires both mystery shoppers and exit interviewers. You must fill out an application, which can be found here: http://www.bestmark.com/become_a_shopper.htm.
Not everyone who applies will be accepted. However, you don’t need to possess any special skills to work for Bestmark.
- Be at least 19 years old
- Have reliable transportation: You are responsible for getting yourself to and from your assigned location at the required time.
- Have an eye for details: You will need to observe very specific details.
For example, as a mystery shopper you might be required to note the names on the tags of all employees that you interact with. Or, you might be asked to note how many shopping carts were available for customer use.
- Have good written communication skills: A very big part of your job will involve writing down your observations, answers to specific questions, etc.
- Have full access to Internet and a computer: You will likely be required to file your report within 24-48 hours after your shop is completed.
How Much Money Can be Made with Bestmark?
Working for Bestmark is not like a “regular” job. There is no hourly wage.
Instead, you work more like a “contractor.” You will be paid by the job.
Not all jobs pay the same amount. It depends on the type of location and the criteria of the shop.
Average pay is about $25 per shop (job). However, some shops may pay more, others, less.
You should NOT count on making a regular or lucrative income with Bestmark. There will only be a handful of shops available in an area at any one time. There will be multiple mystery shoppers/exit interviews competing for those shops.
How long does it take to complete a shop?
Again, it depends on the location and the criteria of the shop.
You should expect to spend anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes on site. You’ll spend another 30 to 60 minutes filing your report.
How Much Does Bestmark Cost?
There is no cost to apply to Bestmark and there is no cost to work for them.
However, some of the assignments may require you to make a small purchase. As long as you follow the instructions regarding the purchase and submit your report by the deadline, you will receive your pay plus reimbursement for your purchase.
Additionally, Bestmark does not pay for transportation costs. They do not reimburse their mystery shoppers for gas, bus fare, etc.
If I’m accepted as a mystery shopper, how do I get shops?
If your application is successful, you will be asked to create a profile on the Bestmark Website.
Here, you’ll find a page listing all of the upcoming available shops in your area. You can peruse this list as often as you like. You may opt to complete one or more of the shops by indicating so on this page.
Just because you ask for a shop doesn’t mean you’ll get it. It’s possible that other mystery shoppers in your area will also apply.
Bestmark will make the final selection in such a case. The person who is awarded the shop will be contacted via email.
You may also receive periodic emails from Bestmark about upcoming shops in your area. You may click on the corresponding link to apply to complete one or more of them.
You’re much more likely to get shops, though, if you check the upcoming shops page daily. Additionally, the more shops you do, the more likely you are to be awarded first pick at future shops.
Do I have to accept a shop that is offered to me?
No. Bestmark will send you email notifications about available shops in your area. You are not required to accept the offers.
Do I have to complete a minimum number of shops to remain active as a mystery shopper/exit interviewer?
No. Bestmark will continue to send you email offers until you voluntarily withdraw your services as a mystery shopper/exit interviewer.
What Other People Are Saying in Their Bestmark Review
Part of our research involved checking what other current and former Bestmark mystery shoppers said about their experiences.
We checked with several consumer review Websites. Here is what we found:
Bbb.org (Better Business Bureau)
Here, consumers are able to post reviews and/or complaints on businesses. BBB assigns the business a “letter grade” based on those reviews.
On The Bestmark review page there were 5 reviews (2 positive and 3 negative). Additionally, there were 7 complaints.
On The Positive Side
One person who posted a positive Bestmark review wrote “I was pondering how to find a second income to supplement my career as a teacher. I knew I needed the income but wanted to be able to set my own schedule and not have someone else telling me when I have to work. Mystery shopping was the perfect solution. I have been mystery shopping with Bestmark since May 2015.”
On The Negative Side
Of the three negative Bestmark review posts, one contained only the word “Parallon.” We assume this one to be spam.
One person complained of having their account closed. This was after having to cancel their previously-arranged shop. The other person complained that they did not get paid for a shop that they completed.
Bestmark replied to this complaint with a response that placed the onus on the shopper for not having met the shop criteria.
Here, there were seven Bestmark review posts. The company had an overall score of three out of five stars.
Three of the seven reviews were posted in regard to working at the Bestmark physical head office location. They had nothing to do with working as a mystery shopper.
The four remaining Bestmark review posts were written by current or former mystery shoppers. None had complaints about the work.
One reviewer stated: “This job is ideal for a stay-at-home parent! Very flexible hours. You are free to work on your own schedule, so long as you get your assignments completed on time.”
Another reviewer commented that she had been able to enjoy numerous free hotel stays and restaurant meals as a mystery shopper.
There were 72 Bestmark review posts here. The company had an overall rating of 2.8 out of five stars.
Some of the Bestmark review posts here were by people who worked at the company’s head office location. They were not applicable to our review.
The remaining Bestmark review posts, had a number of common themes. On the positive side, people loved the flexibility, the extra income and getting free hotel stays and restaurant meals.
On the negative side, many felt that there was too much competition for the same shops. Others felt that there weren’t enough shop offers in their area.
Our Experience With Bestmark
Bestmark has numerous, very specific criteria that must be met for each shop. Many of the negative comments we read in Bestmark review posts were in regard to not getting paid for not meeting criteria.
This is unfortunate. However, in our research, we have discovered that Bestmark is very clear about its requirement to meet all shop criteria.
It appears in numerous places in its Website. It is also stated with every shop that is posted, and again when the shop is awarded. The onus is always on the mystery shopper to fulfill all requirements exactly as stated.
A common theme with many of the positive Bestmark review posts was “fun.” Mystery shoppers enjoyed being able to contribute to the quality of a business’ service.
They liked the idea of being able to do regular shopping and get paid for it. They liked getting free goods, meals and hotel stays.
Bestmark offers legitimate ways to make extra cash. It’s a fun opportunity to earn picket cash while also getting free groceries, meals and mini-vacations.
We feel confident in recommending the Bestmark opportunity. However, we must make some important points:
1) Mystery Shop Criteria Is Specific
As mentioned previously in this Bestmark review, mystery shop criteria is specific, detailed and sometimes lengthy. As a Bestmark mystery shopper, you need to prepare to follow it completely and accurately.
Any failure to do so (even the smallest of details) can result in forfeiting your pay.
2) Majority Of Bestmark’s Clients Are In Cities
A majority of Bestmark’s clients are in cities. Rural and small town mystery shops are infrequently or rarely available. Therefore, if you don’t live in a city, you won’t have many earning opportunities with Bestmark.
3) A Lot Of Competition
There may be dozens to hundreds of mystery shoppers in a given area. They are all competing for the same shops. So, you’re not guaranteed to get many shop opportunities, even in a big city.
4) Low Pay
Pay for a shop is typically minimal. For example, between the shop itself and the paperwork required afterward, you may end up only making five to ten dollars per hour.
For all these reasons, you shouldn’t and cannot rely on mystery shopping as a steady or lucrative income source.
However, if you have realistic expectations, you can have some fun AND make some extra pocket change with Bestmark.
RECOMMENDED WITH CAUTION
(Learn more about our rating guidelines.)