Former server reveals how to eat for cheap at restaurants

BearFotos/ShutterStock @michel.c.janse/TikTok (Licensed)

‘Please make sure u are still leaving tips’: Former server reveals how to eat for cheap at restaurants

'Been doing this for years at restaurants'


Melody Heald


Posted on Jan 28, 2024   Updated on Jan 28, 2024, 9:56 pm CST

A former server shared a hack with fellow foodies about how to eat for little to no cost at restaurants: Become a secret shopper.

The video featured TikTok user Michel Janse (@michel.c.janse), who provided some background about herself. At one point, she lived in LA, working as a server with little disposable income for dining out. During that time, she noticed that her restaurant had secret shoppers. These secret shoppers would grade her restaurant on its performance. That gave her an idea. “How hard is it to sign up to become a secret shopper because maybe I could do that,” she said.

As a secret shopper, she would review different stores, restaurants, and other places, write a report about her experience, and send it to the place. Afterward, the company would reimburse her some or all of the cost and sometimes pay her on top of that. In an effort to help others considering signing up, Janse revealed a few pointers.

“I mean, you had to read the report ahead of time to know what to look for, kinda secretly take notes, and the report would take me, like, 30 minutes to write it up afterward,” she said. Despite all of the work, the content creator had fun and felt like a “spy undercover.”

Next, she revealed how she was hired. “I just signed up online,” she stated. “The website I used was” Once she signed up, Janse immediately received her first assignment. Finally, she said how much the pay was depended on the company. “Just wanted to share in case you’re in the same boat of loving to eat out,” she said. “And maybe just are in a season where you can’t afford it. You can do it for free,” she concluded.


hot tip for my fellow foodies! 🤌🏼

♬ original sound – Michel Janse

The Daily Dot reached out to Janse via Instagram direct message and TikTok comment. The video racked up over 361,000 views. In the comments, secret shoppers revealed their experiences.

“My friend was a secret shopper for Disney and we got to go to so many great restaurants,” one viewer wrote.

“Been doing this for years at restaurants. I get a $75 voucher and only pay the difference!” a second commented.

“My experience with secret shopping was horrible! These are small companies that delay payment and sometimes never pay,” a third shared.

“I did this before and all it would give me were fast food places along the turnpike. It was too big of a hassle so I stopped doing it,” a fourth stated.

One viewer urged secret shoppers, “please make sure u all are still leaving tips.”

According to Secret Shopper, there are different types of secret shoppers, including retail, fast food, restaurants, and hotels. Because secret shoppers are independent contractors, their schedules are flexible and can work on their own time. In addition, secret shoppers can receive perks, such as “free services, meals, or complimentary stays.”

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*First Published: Jan 28, 2024, 11:00 pm CST