This A Closer Look review is designed to help you make an informed decision about this company. We hope it helps you to determine if this is right for you.
A Closer Look (Mystery Shopping)
OVERVIEW OF COMPANY:
A Closer Look is a consumer market research company that works with businesses to help them improve their business on a number of levels, including providing excellent customer service. It assists companies from a variety of consumer-based industries by collecting data on customer service and other aspects of business, classifying it and providing concise reports back to the company.
Much of the data they collect regards the experiences of average customers shopping in a client’s store, restaurant or other type of business. The means that they use to gather much of this data is sending a “mystery shopper” in to shop or (as in the case of businesses that provide services rather than goods) use a service or services of that business.
The “mystery shopper” is an average consumer hired by A Closer Look . The shopper is provided with a list of criteria for the “shop” that must be met, which usually includes an extensive questionnaire with very specific things that must be observed during the “shop.” For example, some of the questions you might find included on a mystery shopper questionnaire for a restaurant “shop” are:
How many servers were on duty when you arrived at the restaurant?
How long did you wait before being greeted by the host?
How long did you wait before being seated at a table?
Were there any staff members not wearing a uniform? If so, how many?
Were there any staff members not wearing a name tag? If so, how many?
What was the name of the person who served you at the table?
Did the server tell you about the special of the day without being prompted?
Did the server offer you another drink after you finished your first glass?
Did the server remove the extra place settings (if any) after seating you?
Our A Closer Look review has been carefully researched to help you decide whether this might be a viable opportunity for you.
MORE ABOUT THE COMPANY:
Headquarters is located in the historic town of Norcross, Georgia but is able to conduct business in a number of states. It has been in business since 1994. It works with a range of industries including retail, restaurants, hotels, property management, senior living, child care, health and wellness, entertainment and home and professional services.
The company gathers its market research data in a number of ways. In addition to mystery shopping, it also offers clients Web survey development and delivery solutions, research panel fielding, exit interviews, pricing audits, demographic polling, measuring of service initiatives and products, and on-site inspections. Data obtained is classified, analyzed and delivered to a client in the form of a report.
OVERVIEW OF MYSTERY SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES WITH A CLOSER LOOK:
Mystery shopping is one of its staple services. As previously described, mystery shopping involves going into a business posing as a regular customer and gathering information on behalf of the company.
A mystery shopping assignment is referred to as a “shop,” and every “shop” will have a unique set of criteria and information that you must obtain. The criteria are always very detailed and specific, and you must provide all information and answer every question in order to qualify for payment. Even the omission of a single small detail will result in no payment for your time and effort, so you must be extremely detail-oriented as a mystery shopper. Because almost all of your “shops” will require you to provide written answers and information (either on paper or via an online portal), you must have basic writing skills, including good grammar and spelling and the the ability to clearly convey in writing the information that you have been asked to provide.
As a mystery shopper, you’ll only be successful if you can be stealthy. In other words, don’t blow your cover!
As a mystery shopper, you will be asked to carry out specific tasks within an everyday type of situation during your shop. A sample scenario might look something like this:
Your assignment is to visit [Name of Business], a women’s clothing boutique, any weekday between the hours of 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm. You must try on at least three different clothing items (pants, skirts or tops). You may try on more items if you wish, as long as you try on at least three. You must interact with at least one staff member during your visit. (If a staff member does not offer to assist you then you must seek out one and ask for assistance.) Then you will be required to answer the following questions and provide your answers in narrative form based on your visit and your experience. You are not required to make a purchase during this visit.
DETAILS OF OPPORTUNITY:
What else do I need to do/have in order to become a mystery shopper with A Closer Look?
Anyone aged 18 or older can apply to be a mystery shopper. Application doesn’t guarantee acceptance. However, the company requires both male and female mystery shoppers in all age brackets so if you are detail-oriented and have good communication skills, your chances of acceptance are strong.
Here is an overview of what is involved in the mystery shopper application process and what is required of you:
- You must have a valid email address and you will have to confirm this.
- You must have access to a computer.
- You must reside in or near the area that the company serves.
- You must fill out an application. You’ll be sent the application link via email. The link has an expiration, so be sure you fill out the application before the link expires.
- After you submit the completed application, you’ll be given a “qualifying” test. It’s short and simple and will be used to determine whether you understand what the mystery shopper job entails (you will have already been provided with this information prior to the test, so it’s basically just assessing that you have read and understood that information. It is also a means of gauging your ability to follow instructions.
- Next, you’ll be asked to write a narrative about your most recent experience dining in a restaurant (casual or fine dining). You’ll need to meet minimum word number requirements. You must be able to use language that is descriptive and detailed and which will provide the reader with a clear picture of your experience.
(Find their detailed mystery shopper requirements and qualifications here: https://insight.a-closer-look.com/ShopperApplication-Start.aspx.)
What happens after I complete the application process?
It can take a few days to a few weeks for your application to be processed. If accepted, you’ll be given access to a mystery shopper portal where you’ll create a username and password. Through this account, you will be able to browse available shops as well as receive direct messages from the company.
There are a few more things you should know about being a mystery shopper with A Closer Look:
- It works mainly in medium to large urban centers. If you do not reside in (or within driving distance of) an urban area, you’ll have few or no opportunities to make money as a mystery shopper.
- As some urban areas can be quite large, area-wise, you’ll want to either have access to a car or at least be able to conveniently access public transportation. You’ll also want to factor in distance when deciding whether or not to accept a particular shop. If you have to travel a long distance to complete a shop, the reimbursement/pay may not adequately cover the cost of transportation. (Remuneration for a shop does not normally cover the cost of your transportation to and from the location.)
- You may go long periods of time without being offered a shop or without having any shops become available near you.
How Much Money Will I Make as a Mystery Shopper with A Closer Look?
There is no set pay scale for this work. Rather, remuneration typically depends on the type of shop, how intensive the criteria of the shop are and how long it is estimated that you will take to complete the shop. Pay typically ranges from $10 to $25, although there may be the occasional shop that pays more. Some shops may not pay, but rather simply offer you a reimbursement for the services you accessed. This is common with restaurant shops or entertainment venue shops, such as attending a movie at a movie theater or playing games at a casino. What you get out of it is not profit, but rather a free night out.
You are never required to accept a specific shop, and there are no minimum shops for you to require to remain part of the company. For this reason, it’s to your benefit to only accept shops that won’t require you to spend more on transportation or goods than what the pay for the shop is worth or what you must spend during the shop.
To Think About
While mystery shopping is a decent way to make some extra money, you can find other ways as well.
If you want to create a business and truly create more than a part time income, one of the best ways I have found is to sell products on Amazon.
Some people are excited about the Bitcoin mining industry so that may be for you.
If you like to sit in front of your computer and give your opinion, paid surveys may work for you but don’t expect to get rich as you will earn money very slowly.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: A CLOSER LOOK REVIEW:
One of the ways we decide how to rank a particular money-making opportunity like mystery shopping with A Closer Look is by looking at what other shoppers, past and present, have to say about their experience with the company. We checked with one of our trusted consumer review Websites, Glassdoor.ca, to see how the company was ranked by Glassdoor’s users. Here, reviewers are able to rate their experience between one and five stars and provide a written A Closer Look review. We found 11 A Closer Look review posts and an overall average score of 2.9 stars out of five.
One former shopper who provided an overall rating of 2 out of 5 stars and a fairly detailed and descriptive A Closer Look review narrative said that “reimbursement amounts [for shops] are sometimes low and sometimes not even enough to cover what is required” and that “very few shops offer payment on top of the reimbursement.” Another former shopper who rated her experience four out of five stars said in her A Closer Look review that she liked the “flexible schedule” and the “fun undercover work.” However, she also called the work “time consuming” with “low compensation.”
On Reviewopedia.com we found 15 A Closer Look review posts. Here, the company had an average overall score of three out of stars. One A Closer Look review poster who has worked with multiple mystery shopping companies gave the company five stars and had this to say about his experience:
“I have been mystery shopping and working in the mystery shopping industry for 18 years. I can honestly say that A Closer Look is the best company I have worked for thus far. They have fabulous shops to offer and always pay on time. They disclose what is expected for every shop up front in full detail, and they never send an assignment unless a shopper specifically requests it. If you pay attention to details, gather the required information and submit your reports on time, you will have great success with [this company] and be offered excellent opportunities to evaluate high-dollar locations.”
We checked with two more of our favorite consumer review Websites, Sitejabber.com and TrustPilot.com, but neither had any A Closer Look review posts.
OUR FINAL VERDICT:
It was clear from studying A Closer Look review write ups on the Web that one should not expect to be paid a living wage working as a mystery shopper for this company. In fact, nowhere on the company’s Website are there any claims made about the ability to make a ton of money mystery shopping on their behalf. In fact, they make no promises at all, either about pay or about the frequency or availability of shops. Rather, it is marketed to potential mystery shoppers as a fun way to make a little bit of side cash and/or to have a cheap or free night out or come home with a free item or two. Therefore, as long as you keep your expectations realistic, we think this is a legitimate way to earn pocket money or get discounts, especially if you already do things like grocery shop, go to movies, etc., anyway.
On the other hand, because there were so few A Closer Look review posts on the Web by actual mystery shoppers, and because those that were there weren’t overly enthusiastic, we are reluctant to wholeheartedly recommend mystery shopping with this company without a little bit of reservation. We think that this company is worth trying out, as long as you keep these things in mind:
- This is not a job, and the “income” will be modest and unpredictable.
- If you are not detail-oriented, you’ll probably grow frustrated with this work quickly.
- Make sure that you always read the details of each shop carefully. These details can be extensive, but having the right information up front helps you decide whether or not a particular shop is worth the time and effort it will require.
- If you neglect to understand all of the details of a shop you may not get paid/reimbursed.
To summarize our A Closer Look review, here is what we really like about this mystery shopping opportunity:
- It is fairly flexible.
- It’s a fun way to try out new businesses.
- You aren’t required to do a minimum number of shops to remain an active mystery shopper.
- You can reject any shop you want.
RECOMMENDED BUT WITH CAUTION
INCOME WILL BE MODEST AND UNPREDICTABLE
(Learn more about our rating guidelines.)