Independent Contractor Evaluator / Shopper FAQ

What is an Independent Contractor Evaluator?

Independent Contractor Evaluator is the term Alta360 Research uses for individuals who register with us to complete mystery shops, quality audits, and other assignments. These individuals work as independent contractors and are free to request or apply for assignments that fit their interests and income goals.

What opportunities are available?

Based on several factors including geographical location and time of year, Alta360 Research Independent Contractor Evaluators may access opportunities including, but not limited to mystery shops, quality audits, customer intercepts/interviews, and installs or audits of promotional materials like credit card application displays and signage. This variety of available assignments is one of the reasons we refer to individuals registering with Alta360 Research as Independent Contractor Evaluators as opposed to the more limiting term “shopper” or “mystery shopper.”

What is mystery shopping?

Mystery shopping is the process of measuring and recording specific elements of the customer experience through use of pre-recruited and qualified independent contractors. While posing as a regular customer, the individual acting as the mystery shopper visits an establishment (typically a retail store, bank, restaurant or other places where the public does business) to observe and measure service, product quality and overall environment.
The mystery shopping company responsible for the shopping program provides details about expectations for completing specific observations and interactions during the mystery shop. Individuals completing the mystery shop typically submit their findings in an online report.
Mystery shopping is a serious enterprise intended to gather information about the customer experience in a specific environment. It requires time, attention to detail and effort. Individuals who perform mystery shop assignments for Alta360 Research do so as independent contractors and are in business for themselves. These individuals, whom we call “Independent Contractor Evaluators,” have the freedom to apply for or accept mystery shopping assignments that fit their interests and income goals.

How long does a mystery shop take?

The time needed to complete a mystery shop varies based on the type of assignment, but will typically be considerably less than one hour.

How long are other assignments?

Assignments such as quality audits or customer intercepts are more involved and typically require more time on-site, sometimes exceeding one hour.

How much can I earn per shop/audit/event?

How much you earn is closely related to the amount of time necessary to complete the assignment and its complexity. All disbursements for assignments completed are on a per shop/audit/event basis. In some cases, client-reimbursed meals or other types of client-reimbursed purchases are included.

Why work with MSPA member companies?

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association, or “MSPA”, is the leading industry association for mystery shopping companies. MSPA member companies such as Alta360 Research go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that they are legitimate firms. Requirements for MSPA membership include not charging shoppers for access to mystery shopping opportunities and adhering to a code of ethics that, among other things, requires a company to pay promptly. Shoppers can be confident that companies belonging to the MSPA are monitored so that the reputations of MSPA member companies are maintained. MSPA website

What about mystery shopping scams?

Unfortunately, scammers sometimes use the MSPA name or the name of a member company such as Alta360 Research. Never click a link you are not sure is real and be sure to keep abreast of any scam alerts posted to the Alta360 Research login page.
In addition, please be aware that it is not the operating procedure of a legitimate mystery shopping provider to send you a check before completing an assignment. If you have already received checks or money orders from a suspected scammer, you can submit a National Consumers League online complaint form via or report it to the Federal Trade Commission for further investigation:  Federal Trade Commission Scam Reporting.
Finally, if you are asked to pay to become a shopper, you should be extremely wary of the offer. MSPA member companies do not require the shopper to pay anything to request or apply for an assignment.

How can I learn more about mystery shopping?

The best source is the MSPA website. This is the industry association for mystery shopping. There is a wealth of information for shoppers and you can become a member which gives you access to many benefits.

Return to the Become a Shopper page, or...