UPDATE: Corporate Research International has merged with another company and is now called Stericycle ExpertSolutions. You can sign up with them here.
UPDATE: As of January 2020 the Stericycle mystery shopping site appears to be down.
Corporate Research International (CRI) is a legitimate mystery shopping company which I have personally worked for and have been paid by. The company contracts with retail stores, gas stations, restaurants and all kinds of other companies to mystery shop their stores. CRI hires people like you and me to be independent consultants (read: you are not an employee of CRI) and conduct these mystery shops. I live in the DC area and there are lots of mystery shop opportunities here offered by CRI. In addition, CRI has shops available across the 50 states and even is looking for international mystery shoppers in places like Puerto Rico, Mexico, Russia, Canada, India, Sinagpore, Spain, Malaysia, and Brazil (to name a few).
CRI offers online scheduling so you can log onto their website and view available mystery shops in your area. CRI has put together a short training presentation in their Auditor University area for each company to instruct you on how to conduct the mystery shop, which are quite helpful and easy to understand. The presentations are followed by a short quiz which is required before you can schedule yourself for shops for that company. Once you pass, you can assign yourself a mystery shop, print out the instructions, and get to it! Most of the mystery shops require a small purchase (which is usually reimbursed) and/or photographs to document your shop.
Shop questionnaires for CRI are completed online and usually require little writing. They will ask you many questions for which you fill in information from your receipt, select your answer from a list of given options, or write a few sentances to give details. Negative answers, where you said that the store was out of an item in stock or the store clerk did not do a required action, will need to be documented so make sure to explain what happened. You can upload photos of your receipt and other necessary photographs to the CRI website. Usually, my shop reports for CRI take only about 5-10 minutes since I take notes based on the shop questions right after I complete the mystery shop so it’s easy to remember what happened when I fill out the report.
Unlike most mystery shop companies, CRI pays quickly. Most companies will make you wait about a month to batch your shops together and send you payment, but CRI pays you the following Friday for any shops you complete. For example, shops that are completed and accepted on or before Monday are paid the following week on Friday. CRI can pay you by PayPal or by direct deposit to your bank account. I receive direct deposit payments from them and CRI will email me a few days before and say that I will be receiving a payment soon.
If you make a mistake on your mystery shop report, CRI will have a member of their staff email you and ask you to fix the report. Sometimes, a CRI staff member will call you to ask you to take a mystery shop in your area which they have to get completed soon, but you are free to decline if you can’t do it. CRI will raise their shop fees (that’s the amount they pay you) if a mystery shop is not completed so sometimes it’s best to wait to assign yourself a mystery shop as the fee may go up in a week. But then you are also taking a gamble that another shopper won’t take that shop. If you really want a shop, assign it to yourself and over time you will learn which shops in your area will go up in fees and are worth waiting on. When scheduling online, many shops for the current month only give you a 3 day window, so you often cannot schedule for next week. But sometimes the online scheduler shows shops that are for later dates and sometimes for the next month. Be sure to double check the date you sign up for and read over the paperwork carefully as failure to complete a shop correctly or at all can impact your shopper rating which, in turn, may lower your ability to complete shops for CRI in the future.
If you want to sign up to be a mystery shopper for Corporate Research International, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an invitation. Good luck!