EyeSpy enlists mystery shoppers for food and hospitality checks, paying through reimbursements

Expected pay: Reimbursement only

Husl$core: $$$$

Commissions & fees: NA

Where: 28 US states, and Australia

Requirements: Pass a screening; be old enough to order alcohol

What is EyeSpy?

EyeSpy is a mystery shopping firm that specializes in hospitality, which means that most “shops” involve eating out or ordering in from nice restaurants. Occasionally, you might be asked to stay at a hotel.

How it works

Signing up with EyeSpy is exceptionally easy. You fill out a short form with your name, age, and email address and you get a confirmation within seconds.

To see a list of possible jobs, you’ll need to add a bit of information to your profile, including why you want to be a mystery shopper. But none of it is particularly intrusive. After that, you’ll see a listing of open jobs that you can request.

However, the site says the best jobs go to those who pass a mystery shopping quiz and practice evaluation. And this “training” is unpaid.

EyeSpy review

EyeSpy is a mystery shopping firm that specializes in hospitality. So, most jobs involve dining in fine restaurants or staying at nice hotels. Not surprisingly, reimbursements are generous.

However, the site also evaluates delivery services, such as DoorDash.

When we reviewed this site, we found lunch assignments that would reimburse up to $75; and dinner assignments that reimbursed diners for meals of $150. DoorDash assignments typically reimbursed to $45. That’s the good news.

The catch?

The bad news is your pay is almost always the reimbursement alone. There’s no additional compensation. So, you’d only take these jobs if you’re a foodie interested in trying new restaurants for free. Or, maybe, a busy parent, who values getting free delivery meals.

The site says a few shops are done over the phone and don’t involve getting free food and drinks. Those are paid at a rate of $25 to $50 per job, depending on what you’re required to do.

Also, while the site doesn’t specifically say there’s an age requirement, most assignments involve ordering food and alcoholic drinks. So, you probably can’t do this gig if you’re under legal drinking age.

Moreover, while some jobs involve using gift certificates to pay, many expect you to put the meal on your credit card for later reimbursement. And reimbursements aren’t always quick.

That said, the value of the meals pays the equivalent of a fairly generous hourly rate, given the amount of time each assignment is likely to take.

Evaluation forms

Jobs listed on the site provide sample evaluation forms to give you a good idea of what’s expected. With a restaurant review, for instance, you’re expected to get the name of your waiter/waitress and the name of the manager on duty. You’re also supposed to evaluate both their greetings and whether they were attentive and helped new guests get familiar with the menu and bar.

You’d evaluate the food — course by course — as well as the drinks, in presentation and flavor. You’re also supposed to take photographs before you eat or drink.

The forms are detailed and fairly long — roughly six pages of commentary and questions — but they shouldn’t take more than an hour to complete.


As we mentioned, compensation is generally in the form of reimbursement for an experience — most often meals out or ordered for delivery. Each assignment says whether you’re given a gift certificate to pay for the meal or if you’re reimbursed later.

If you’re reimbursed later, payments are generally made three weeks following your assignment.

Job availability

This site says it has jobs in more than 1700 US cities in 28 U.S. states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington State.

However, it does not operate in all states and doesn’t appear to have the breadth of work you’d find at sites like Bestmark and Marketforce. It also doesn’t pay cash for any assignment. You’re getting free food. That’s it.

That said, it’s hard to find plum assignments  — like reviews of fine dining establishments — through Bestmark. And, finding one where the reimbursement was as generous as what you’ll find at EyeSpy is even tougher.

If EyeSpy operates near you, it’s a great site for people interested in a free restaurant meal. Given the reimbursement rates and the time it should take to do the review, including visiting the restaurant and doing the write up, we figure the site pays the equivalent of $30 to $50 per hour in food and drinks.


If you’re looking for extra cash, rather than free meals, this is not the site for you. A better site for that is Service Evaluation Concepts.

But, if you love to eat out and don’t have the budget to do it, EyeSpy is definitely worth considering. You can sign up with EyeSpy here.

What their users say (from Yelp)

You don’t get paid by Eye Spy to evaluate. You do it in exchange for an often nice quality meal. If you do a decent job, it will take you an hour to an hour and a half to write the evaluation.

Great experience! Good variety of restaurants to choose from. The staff is very accommodating and you can work around your schedule. Some of the reviews are long with many questions, but the to-go and delivery forms are usually quick. Reimbursement and payment are always prompt. Would highly recommend for those looking for a side gig.

The Eye Spy is an agency that sends people to restaurants to dine undercover. The agency is hired by the corporate headquarters of the restaurant, whose desire is to have evaluators scope out the service and report back so they can get tips on improving service and ambiance. Payment is sometimes through reimbursement, sometimes through a gift card.

Do you love food?

You have to be one unique character to stay an evaluator for as long as I have (hmm, I think six years now) Firstly, you must LOVE to eat, and preferably drink. They want feedback, so it won’t help them if you’re on a diet. Secondly, you must like writing, or at least not mind it, and have lots of perseverance. You won’t start out at the best spots, but if you do well, you’ll make your way up there. Thirdly, you must be observant and diligent. You will need to remember and report back on many details — that too, within a pretty narrow time frame which is aggressively enforced.

Lastly, granted that you’re not a complete high-baller if you would spend this type of effort for food, but in many cases, you do need to have the money to spend upfront, and the patience to wait potentially much longer than contractually promised to get reimbursed — unless you go for the gift certificate ones, which I would recommend. This is frustrating, but to their credit, EyeSpy is extremely responsive and communicative when asked for updates. So, measure it out and apply accordingly.

Slow reimbursements

The Eye Spy has a responsibility to reimburse quickly and dependably when evaluations are done to standards. This is not what happened in my case. I warn against working with this company. I spent my time and money to complete their evaluations. Unfortunately, they consistently did hold up their end of the deal and I was only reimbursed after a long, drawn out battle. The whole experience has been, and continues to be, a very negative one. I recommend avoiding this company at all costs.

Great food, slow pay

I have been writing evaluations for EyeSpy for over four years. I have worked with other mystery shopping companies and have found EyeSpy to be the best. The feedback and quality of service provided by this company go far beyond any other mystery shopping service.

I did have a bit of trouble with my reimbursements last year, but the owner and staff were in constant communication and I received checks when promised. The gift certificates are the easiest way to go, and it seems like more and more establishments are starting to use them.

Working with EyeSpy has enabled me to visit numerous restaurants I would not normally be able to try. I have learned a great deal about the customer service industry as well as enhanced my journalism skills. It has been a pleasure working with the company, and I look forward to continue working with them in the future.


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