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Confessions of a Mystery Shopper….

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Mystery or secret shopping is a form of market research aimed at gathering information from the customer’s perspective.  First used in the 1940’s, today is used by most industries around the world.

 Confidentiality is crucial when “mystery shopping” as neither establishment nor personnel know when it happens.  The element of a surprise visit, by an unknown person, is the single most important aspect of any project. When a shopper is identified (either in-store or afterwards) the assignment becomes invalid and the shopper is not paid.  The object for each project is to measure staff’s product/service knowledge, overall attitude and ability to interact with customers.   

Mystery shopping assessment tools range from a simple questionnaire or phone interview to audio and/or video recordings. Some users are retail stores, fast-food and hotel chains, banks, and movie theaters.

Compensation for each assignment is established in advance, but always paid after the requested information is received by the firm. Mystery shoppers are independent contractors, not company employees. Each shopper is responsible for reporting his/her income. 

 As in many industries, mystery shopping has not been exempt from fraudulent perpetrators. In most cases if a mystery shopping advertisement mentions “Western Union,” it is likely to be a scam.

 Mystery shopping does not pay well, therefore anyone offering a large sum for a project, is a scam.  The maxim… “If it looks too good to be true….” also applies to mystery shoppers. 

No legitimate mystery shopping company will asks for money prior to the completion of a project. Genuine mystery shopping companies use company e-mails. 

Worked for two legitimate companies, enjoyed the experience and knew the pay would not be great. Was able to pick and choose projects that interested me and fit into my schedule…… and yes, once was “discovered” and not paid for the assignment.    

 

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