Sometimes mystery shoppers are just plain obvious. And it is not their fault. The assignments they are given simply scream out the fact that they are a mystery shopper.
- Asking for a pillow at the Front Desk Hotel when you already have 10 pillows on your bed.There are some strange hotel requirements but you must ask some of them. You are staying at a decent hotel but you have to ask the front desk for a pillow. You already have 10 of them on your bed. You push half of them off onto the floor because you can’t stand more than 2 pillows, meanwhile you are calling the Front Desk and asking for more of the God forsaken pillows! The office reminds you there are 10 on the bed already and want to know if you are planning on building a Fort? You laugh (uncomfortably) and then say you just love pillows! They confirm you are the ONLY one in the room. You say Yes, you are the only one staying in the room. They send you up another pillow. You call again because you don’t know how to operate the thermostat! (really?) Or you loosen the cable connection from the wall. You need help. Your cable went out! (yeah, okay)Now you have to unscrew a light bulb and call back to say the lightbulb is not working. They send maintenance down. He screws it back in and gives you a strange look. Now you are missing tooth paste and tooth brush.
You call the front desk again. They are getting sick and tired of you. But you have a job to do. You tell them you forgot toothbrush and toothpaste. They send down 5 of each to shut you up. You have one more critical assignment: You must clog the toilet! You look around and just start putting toilet paper down the toilet. You call. They groan when they hear your voice. You almost think they are going to make you pay for the plumber! They come down, fix the problem and give you a look you just can’t quite describe. You pray your final bill will not have any of these fiascos charged to you! You get your bill and it’s fine but at the bottom it does not say, “Please Come Again!” The chagrin only a mystery shopper knows….
- You want a Combo but you can’t Order a Combo You really do want a Combo but your instructions say you can’t have one unless they suggest one. Sometimes you get lucky and they say combo. Sometimes they even say would you like fries and drink with that? But sadly, sometimes they say neither and you drive away with a lonely burger in your bag with no fries. Everyone else around you is eating hot fries, but you….It just doesn’t feel right! But you followed directions. The client is always looking for up-sells and if the associates are suggestively-selling those items. Some other assignments require you to order fries and a drink (yes!) if they do not mention them. You are required in this case to order the 3 items or you won’t be paid. But in the case where you say, “Give me a Super Duper Double Bacon Combo” and you don’t order fries, it just seems odd to me that you would not order fries and seems to peg us as a shopper.
- I could read your nametag if you would kindly stand on your head and twist around for me.You need that name on the name tag. The associate is wearing a lanyard (hanging name tag) that is on backwards, the name facing her chest. Or.. she has long hair or a jacket and the name tag is buried in that. Or.. she has a name tag that is upside down, or backwards or the name is rubbed off. You still need that name! You try everything but beg them to straighten their name tag up so you can READ it! But alas, you can NOT read it… so you have to ask their name. As soon as you ask for their name, warning bells go off! Mystery Shopper! It sometimes feels like that…Or… worse yet, after you ask for their name, the ENTIRE store puts on their name tags for you! Or even worse than that (yes this has happened) the truly frightened employee HIDES their name tag AFTER you already captured it! They think they are smart! (You can’t report them if you can’t get their name..right? Wrong!—-they think….) But you already did get their name!
- “Oh, No Thanks. I will wait in this long check-out lane with 4 carts ahead of me.”You want to use the quick check lane but you are forbidden. You must stand in the regular lanes. Self-Check and Quick-Check are NOT allowed. So.. you stand there with your 3 items… with 4 carts ahead of you and one customer looks like she has almost $700 in groceries in her cart. But you follow the rules! All of this mostly because there is usually a bagger in the regular check-lanes and they want you to evaluate the bagger too. (also to see if they assist you outside) But who stands with 3 items in the slow check-lanes with 4 carts ahead of her? A Mystery Shopper!
- You need a Picture of the Cell Phone Store during a Torrential Downpour of Rain.You eye the bad storm. Today is the day for your shop. You only have today to do it. This assignment requires you take a picture of the cell phone store as you leave. You get out of your car and RUN into the cell phone store because of the massive amounts of rain falling on you. You go inside the store. It’s EMPTY. Of course, it’s empty! Who would go out in a storm like this to look at cell phones? You would …because you are a mystery shopper. NOBODY in their right mind would be out in this storm. NOBODY! (…sadly this really happened to me as a newbie) I get outside and now I have to take a picture. IMPOSSIBLE! The rain is getting on and in my cell phone! I get inside the car. ‘I know!’ I will take pictures through the window. NOT! The window is a sheet of water. ‘I know! ‘I will roll down my window. ….When I did, the rain came pouring in… I took 3 shots and looked at them. They seemed okay. Not perfect! I had to hope they would be accepted. They were. The important point here, is that when there is very bad weather, I find not too many people out (where I would normally be at home if I did not have a shop) but I had a mission to do… but I think I stood out like a sore thumb in that cell phone store!
- Dumb and Dumber Grocery Store QuestionsYou have to ask these: “How often do you bake bread?” “How often do you cut fruit? (it seems like a silly question to me because most are done each day especially when your title is Fresh Bakery) and then you ask, “Does a certain fish have mercury?”or “Do you have a recipe for Squash?” When I ask these, I get funny looks. Then, they answer you but in a slow child-like way because they think you have a problem and can’t believe that you would ask how often bread is baked in the bakery! It just seems like a red flag to me to ask some of these. How about more natural questions like: ‘What kind of flour is in that bread?” “How much do you charge for raspberry filling?” These to me seem more natural… things customers would ask that don’t seem like dumb questions.
- “I don’t want you to run a Credit Check. ….Hey, why are you walking away?”You are told to politely decline a credit check at your cell phone shop. You get a smart-aleck cell phone rep who draws that question up first about you needing a credit check. You decline. He says, “Well. I can’t help you then….” WHAT?? You have to find a way for this guy to wake up and start helping you….I found a way around that one. I keep insisting he show me the phone, trying to be polite but wanting to kick him in the shins for being so rude! But when you decline a credit check, I think they assume you are just fishing…They lose interest. Or… they think you are a mystery shopper…But thankfully, this has only happened to me 2 times. I persist though…Show me the phone! If he does not help me. I don’t get paid!
- Pizza with 5-Toppings Same Price but you can only order 2-toppings You see a great Pizza deal but you can’t order it because you are only allowed the 2 topping pizza. You see an ad for: “WOW! 5 Topping Pizza of Your Choice Plus a Free Liter of Coke all for $10.99!”. But you are not allowed to order a 5 topping pizza. You may only order a 2-topping pizza. So, you order the one you are supposed to but they push you, telling you about the FREE liter of Coke and 5 Toppings and WHY would you not want such a great deal? You try to explain but they think you are nuts for passing up on a good deal…or you must be a mystery shopper!
- Visiting an Expensive Store but you only have $5 Reimbursement to spendYou go inside the fancy store where everything is way over-priced and not in your budget. You would never dream of shopping there unless you hit the lottery. You walk the aisles and just can’t find anything for $5 bucks but then you spot some socks. Okay, they are $7 but you are taking a loss now…. You have to try on expensive clothes you can’t afford in the dressing room. The associate introduces herself and tells you she is a “consultant” and will be helping you pick a great outfit. Help me pick an outfit I can’t afford? She keeps bringing you dresses and pants, hanging them on the changing door and constantly staying in contact with you. You think, ’Get out of here lady and leave me alone! ‘ But she doesn’t. She stays right there, as she was trained to do….giving you excellent customer service! You say NO to all the clothes she brought over and you feel like a heel. You start browsing the store, desperately trying to find something.. but you still come back to the $7 socks. Everyone is so friendly to you. They try to get you to sign up for a store credit card and frequent shopper rewards card. You DECLINE everything! You are required to decline everything. They look at you like you are crazy. You pay for your purchase and get the heck out of the store! Who goes through all of this and buys $5 socks? A mystery shopper!
- Staying in a Small C-Store for 20 minutes as required by the client..You have to stay in there for 20 minutes. Are you kidding me? There are two total aisles and one of them has condoms, lubricants and Axe deodorant. How much of that can you stare at and try to show obvious interest that lasts 20 minutes? The other small aisle, no more than 5 feet long, has motor oil and strange valves/gadgets that you even don’t know what they are…But if you don’t stay 20 minutes, you won’t get paid. Who makes up these rules? If 10 minutes is really pushing it…then 5 minutes is even more reasonable. We are not talking about a BIG BOX store. We are talking about a small convenience store with very little merchandise in it. At worse, you look like a Shoplifter. At best, you look like a mystery shopper!
In closing, some shops could be more enjoyable and simplified if the questions weren’t so obvious to the store associates. Or changing up the questions and not running the same ones for 2 years. You can only ask so many questions about tomatoes and asparagus. Realize that the store associates are on the look out for odd questions and they equate that with you being a mystery shopper.