Posted By Jacob Jans, Editor

Featured Shopper: LJ

Forum Alias: LJ

How long have you been mystery shopping? I’ve been mystery shopping off and on for 8 years.

Where are you shopping? I started in the Tampa Bay area, but now I’m in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon. I also enjoy picking up a shop or two when I travel.

What got you started?  I was working full time as a police sergeant, but since my husband and I love to travel, I wanted to be able to save faster for our next cruise. When I remembered that a cousin had been a mystery shopper years ago, I thought might give it a try. I had investigated a lot of scams when I was a financial crimes detective, so I was very cautious as I began looking for legitimate opportunities.

What was your first assignment and how did it go? I chose McDonald’s as my first mystery shop because I figured that would be the easiest one. I mean, who could mess up such an easy assignment, right? I was positive that I would nail it my first time out due to my superb observation and report writing ability, not to mention the communication skills I’d honed as a hostage negotiator. I confidently entered the lobby, noted the clerks name, ordered the correct sandwich, missed my timings, forgot to ask for ketchup in the drive through and threw away my lobby receipt. I had to redo the entire shop. It was a very humbling experience.

What is your favorite type of assignment?  I enjoy airport shops when I have a long layover. I also get a kick out of apartment shops since I worked as a leasing agent and apartment manager during my college years. I especially love revealed shops if I can give away a nice cash prize. I’ve had the clerks tear up because they needed the money so badly and I got to feel like Santa Claus

What kind of assignment haven’t you tried out yet? I haven’t tried a brake inspection shop, and now that I’ve read the comments in the Mystery Shop Forum, I don’t think I will. I also haven’t tried phone shops. I know it seems nice to be able to work without ever leaving the house, but I just hate talking on the phone.

What’s your #1 tip for other shoppers? Avoid burn-out by not getting in a rut. Try new things – new shops, new companies, new tools, new methods, new …whatever! The best place to learn about new things is the Mystery Shop Forum. I learned about the Presto Mobile site, Jobslinger, (thanks to MSM as well), the inside scoop about companies, video equipment, cell phone apps, and why brake inspection shops are NOT for me. The forum is THE place to be for a new mystery shopper and even seasoned shoppers can learn something new.

What’s your biggest pet peeve with mystery shopping? While I don’t mind long narratives, I do get tired of the report forms that require I repeat the exact same comment in three or four different places.

What’s your favorite MSC? At the moment it’s JM Ridgeway, but ask me again next month and it could be someone else.

MSPA certification: Silver in 2007. I can’t decide if I want gold or not. I’m open for advice.

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