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Is “Double Dipping” Wrong?

Recently on Mystery Shop Forum there was a lively thread about “double dipping.” What do we mean by double dipping? Doing two, or possibly more, shops at the same location at the same time. While the consensus was that the mystery shopping companies involved need to be contacted, it did raise the question as to what is the point of view of MSCs regarding double dipping.

Mystery Shopper Magazine reached out to Judith from Summit Scheduling, who agreed to tackle these questions on “double dipping”.

MSM: There have been some shoppers who have said things along the line of, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I’m not going to ask and, if I’m caught, then I’ll beg forgiveness.” Is that a good approach or not, and why?

Judith: I have seen some cases where two different companies were trying out two different MS companies, and using the same survey. A shopper would pick up both shops and literally submit identical shops and receipts, and in that case it’s definitely a double dip. It’s the same information twice. I remember a specific instance where this happened on a bank shop. Some of the large banks always carry multiple mystery shopping companies (probably an eggs in one basket thing), so this is something that it’s up to the shopper to stay honest on.

MSM: I want to give you a few scenarios and would like your thoughts of if double dipping would be permissible or not.

Scencario A: I have a lunch shop at “Burgers and Pastries” at “The Mega-Mall of Oshkosh”. There is also a dessert shop at “Burgers and Pastries” at the same location for a different MSC. Can I do both the lunch and dessert shop on the same visit or would it be better for me to do the lunch shop, then do a couple of other shops in the mall, and then return to do the dessert shop, or should I only do either the lunch or dessert shop?

Judith: I haven’t seen any official company word on this, so this is my instinct after being on this side of the industry for quite a while, and also having been a shopper for a long time. I would make it two separate shops, even if only separated by a small amount of time. I like your idea of going and doing a couple of other nearby ones, but in the absence of that opportunity I would suggest doing the lunch shop and completing that, and then going back up and ordering the dessert (and getting a different person if you can). That way the shops don’t overlap at all, and the scenario is still plausible – lots of people order dessert as an afterthought.

MSM: Scenario B is the same basic set up as Scenario A, except the shops are for the same MSC.

Judith: I would check with the MSC first.

MSM: Here’s scenario C. I’m an efficient shopper and I managed to get a shop where I have to spend two hours at “The Mega Mall of Oshkosh” shopping the mall for “Mega Mystery Shopping,” and I have five shops of stores in the mall for three different MSCs. One of the stores that I’m shopping is also for “Mega Mystery Shopping.” Can this be a good double dip or is this an instance where “Mega Mystery Shopping” should be contacted for their blessings? And, can I do the individual store shops during the two hours that I’m doing the mall shop, or should I complete the mall shop and then do the store shops?

Judith: I don’t really see an issue with that as long as you make all of the required observations for all of the shops. If the main mall shop required you to sit on a bench and count incoming or outgoing people, or something else that required your full attention for the two hours, that would be different obviously. Mall shops I have done require a lot of walking around and encountering safety officers and cleaning people, so there’s no reason to not stop and do a shop if you don’t let your stop negatively impact the timing of finding those people, if that’s a requirement.

As a scheduling team we frequently communicate with each other and try to offer shoppers more shops on a trip – it’s just a win/win for everyone. So I don’t think scenario C would be very unusual at all.

MSM: Judith, on behalf of Mystery Shopper Magazine, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Discuss this interview on Mystery Shop Forum

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