A new mystery-shopper app pays opinionated consumers to do what they do best - offer their opinions.
Mobee, a mobile crowdsourcing iPhone app, lets shoppers review hundreds of stores and eateries in the Boston area. In exchange, users earn points that can be redeemed for cash and prizes. Each 100 point "mission" translates to $1, and there is no limit to the amount of missions users can claim.
The app was launched in October, and has since racked up about 10,000 users in the Boston-area, which makes sense to its 28-year-old CEO and former mystery shopper Prahar Shah.
"These are places people are already going. They don't have to go far out of their normal routine. Most people are on their smartphones anyway, texting or emailing, so this gives them a way to make money while they wait in line," said Shah, a 2012 MIT graduate.
Shah said it was often a tedious process waiting for forms and payment when he was a mystery shopper, so he and his partners thought it would be a great idea to simplify the job for consumers.
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"My friends would tell me, 'Hey, I want to become a mystery shopper too,' and I'd say, 'It's easy to become one, but not easy to stay one,'" Shah said.
The app's "missions" ask consumers to answer surveys on their iPhones - most of them between five and 10 questions - about the customer experience. About 1,000 companies in Boston, Wellesly, Newton, Hingham and Stoughton are on board, Shah said.
There's no limit to the amount of missions people can do, but once a user claims a certain mission, no one else can grab it. Mobee keeps users honest by tracking them with GPS; reviewers can't claim a mission unless the app knows they are in the store/restaurant.
The app uses an algorithm to "normalize" the scores of constantly dissatisfied customers. Basically, if a user is known for constantly giving bad reviews across the board, the app puts that data into perspective.
But for the most part, Shah said, the survey is pretty straightforward.
"They're simple questions, like how many people were in line before you, or how long did it take you to get your coffee. You get all the normal data, not just the extremes," he said.
The app's team is celebrating the October launch with a party at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at their office at Old City Hall on School Street. It's open to the public - you can RSVP here.