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on August 12, 2003
For someone who wants to cut through the hype and get to the nitty-gritty of mystery shopping, Cathy Stucker's "The Mystery Shopper's Manual (5th Edition) is the book for you.
I've been mystery shopping for three years now, and Cathy's book provided the information I needed to get started. None of the -"Get rich mystery shopping!"scams, or attempts to sell mystery shopping as a way to make easy money with little or no skills required--- graces the pages of this book. Not to mention the come-ons (I get e-mails daily on these) that promise that mystery shoppers keep designer clothes, eat in five-star restaurants or take home merchandise worth hundreds of dollars.
Her advice is sound (based on years of experience as a mystery shopper herself) and you know within a few pages that she knows that she's talking about! She views mystery shopping as a profession and offers practical advice to those who might want to get in the business as well as for those who already are. She points out common mistakes that shopper make, how to contact people who hire mystery shoppers, and how to get the prime assignments. Her book even features a mystery shopper application. Very helpful for someone who wants know exactly what are the requirements needed to become a mystery shopper.
In short, The Mystery Shopper Manual is a "how to" book written by someone who "did" it. And "does" it. Cathy continues to mystery shop and passes on what she has learned over the years.
On a personal note here: In August 2003 I attended the "Mystery Shopper Gold Certification Workshop" in Seattle and was surprised (and delighted)when I saw that it was Cathy who had developed the Mystery Shopping Providers Association workbook that I was holding in my hand.
A perfect match, I thought. The Mystery Shopping Provider Association having Cathy Stucker as spokeswoman as well has having her author the manual that was used as the "Bible" for the conference.
If you're serious about pursuing mystery shopping as a legitimate part-time income opportunity, I do believe that this is the book for you!
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on September 19, 2002
I have been a mystery shopper for 4 years for 30 different mystery shopping companies. When I first heard about this book, I was very hesitant. I borrowed it from a friend, not willing to waste my hard earned mystery shopping dollars on yet another "get rich quick" scheme type book.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that this book was actually factual! It had real truth, explaining the work that goes into being a mystery shopper and how to do it. It also made it perfectly clear that Mystery shopping is not a "get rich quick" scheme. It is a rewarding and fun job, but it is a JOB, plain and simple.
This book was educational and factual and can help the beginning or intermediate mystery shopper with obtaining more shops, writing better reports, and other useful information.
I would highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in doing shopping for money!
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on June 25, 2000
This book is helpful if you've never mystery shopped before. It starts out with the basics, and walks you through each step of the process. If you're intrigued by the idea of getting paid to shop, this is the book for you. I found several shops -- and they more than covered the cost of the book -- in the first week I owned it.
Nice and concise!
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on March 17, 2003
I read this book out of curiosity about what mystery shoppers do and who hires them. Cathy Stucker offers real-world knowledge about what mystery shoppers do, how to get such work, what you can expect in the way of earnings and much, much more. The book is also attractive and well-written and even includes an easy-to-use directory of companies looking for mystery shoppers.
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on January 24, 2007
This book is really for those who are in the beginning stages of *thinking* about getting into mystery shopping and covers the barest of basics. It does include the information for many companies so that one can immediately start filling out applications, but all this information can be found on the MSPA and [...].

When I purchased this book, I bought it in the hopes that it would be more of an actual 'manual'. I was looking for guidance about the verbiage that companies want used in their reports. If that is also what you are looking for, pass on this book as it does not really address this much needed information.

It also appears by the number of pages that the book is loaded with information, but the font is so big that the number of pages is very deceiving (roughly 3 pages of this book would equal 1 page in a regular book.)

Not to slam the book - it is a good read for someone thinking about getting into mystery shopping, but not for anyone that's done any mystery shopping already.
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on May 12, 2002
"The Mystery Shopper's Manual" makes it easy to get started as a mystery shopper. The instructions and tips are helpful when applying to mystery shopping companies, doing mystery shops and completing reports.
Whether you are a new or experienced shopper, you can use the list of mystery shopping companies to submit your information to lots of companies quickly, and get more assignments faster. Your first assignment could pay for the book!
A great resource for anyone who wants a fun, flexible way to make extra money.
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on March 30, 2006
I have always wanted to become a mystery shopper, and this book appears to have the resources to get me started. It has dozens of helpful, current websites, and I am assuming they are all reliable and legitimate since they are endorsed by the MSPA.

The book does deliver what the cover and table of contents promise. I really do believe that this book will get me started in this field, and I am very excited after reading it.

I do not need to be an experienced shopper to know that this book is geared toward a beginner. I cannot imagine that it would be useful to an experienced shopper.

This book even included information such as, how to do an internet search, how to use spell check, how to write a paragraph in chronological order and many, many more absolute beginner basics. That type of information is something that is likely to be known by anyone who can turn on a computer. However, it is easy to skip through these parts without missing pertinent information.

Buy it. It is well worth the money.
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on December 4, 2005
The Mystery Shopper's Manual by Cathy Stucker is the definitive guide to mystery shopping. This fact filled book goes beyond the hype often associated with mystery shopping (also known as secret shopping, service evaluation, and service checks) and gives straight forward information on everything you need to know to get started on being paid to shop in your favorite stores, eat in your favorite restaurants, and lots more opportunities.

Now in its sixth edition, this book is endorsed by Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources, and many of the industry's leading mystery shopping and scheduling service companies. It is also the basis for the MSPA's Gold Certification program.

The only thing this book is missing is a comprehensive index. However, the table of contents contains detailed heading of all the chapters' information.

The first part of the book covers the basics of mystery shopping by explaining what mystery shopping is, who hires mystery shoppers, and what mystery shoppers do. It goes on to outline what you need to get started as a secret shopper and if you have the qualities and qualifications needed to be successful.

In the next section of the book, Stucker gives an honest assessment of the amount of money that can be earned as a mystery shopper. She also discusses the pay structure and ways fees and reimbursements are paid.

Next, Stucker gives thorough coverage on how to get started as a mystery shopper and even includes a quick-start plan to make it even easier.

The book also covers how to get assignments, preparing for a shop, doing a mystery shop, and getting paid. Stucker also gives specific tips on doing bank, restaurant, and apartment shops.

The appendix contains a mystery shopping directory of mystery shopping companies and international companies. It also includes a guide on how to find more mystery shopping companies and nternet resources.

Recommendation

I have reviewed several mystery shopping books at my site, All Info About Mystery Shopping ([...] I highly recommend The Mystery Shopper's Manual as my first choice in books on mystery shopping.

The information in the book is well organized and easy to understand. Stucker gives balanced and realistic view of the mystery shopping industry and being a mystery shopper while covering everything you need to know to be successful.
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on July 12, 2006
As a new mystery shopper, I was looking for a How To Book that would tell me what I needed to know in a concise manner and give me some tips on how to start mystery shopping.

She delivered. The book is full of insider tips that were well worth the cost of the big. She is informative as well as entertaining. It is the type of book that you can use as a reference book over and over again.

She obviously is an expert and that shows. She also warns about some of the pitfalls that might entice a new mystery shopper. This is a must for anyone just starting or someone who needs a refresher.

This book was a real delight.
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on October 5, 2005
Cathy Stucker is the MSPA's instructor for Gold Certification workshops. Cathy also offers a wide variety of lists on other home-based start up businesses through Amazon. She authors the Idea Lady web page that spans many industries offering major tips to all. The Mystery Shopper's Manual received the NCPMS 2003 Industry Book of the Year.

Beginning with a forward by Lorri Kern, MSPA Shopper Services Committee Chairperson, this book drops names that you might expect an instructor with the MSPA to have access.

Cathy does not invoke a get-rich-quick profession here and notes the possible infrequency of assignments. "Full time mystery shopping is not realistic for the vast majority of mystery shoppers" Cathy tells her readers (p.49)

This book is filled with lists of: shopper traits, equipment required, business card tips, types of shops, MS company pet peeves, email tips and other opportunities outside shopping. The chapters on shopping specific industries, writing reports, MS technologies are especially interesting and very current. However, the strongest section of this book is the Writing Reports chapter. Especially noteworthy are the example comments/narratives.

The MSPA is the only certification service listed. In fact the book is a good representation of the MSPA Gold Certification workshop. The MSPA Gold Shopper Workbook is more abbreviated, but the course content is very similar to what Cathy outlines in this book. There is no mention of NCPMS certification at all, even though this book received the NCPMS 2003 Book of the Year Award.

The book is well written and does not need to be read in sequential order. This book is more current than Poynter's or Newhouse's books. This is probably the result of Cathy being an integral part of the MSPA Gold Certification process.

The Manual includes 254 pages, 37 of which are URLS or company addresses. Appendices include: MS Companies, Internet Resources and FAQs. This book has had several updates as it is currently in its sixth edition.

The Mystery Shopper's Manual (6th edition) is sold at the MSPA's website and MSPA Gold Workshops.
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