We’ve all had shops that made us question our sanity for taking them because of the “undeniably-obvious -you- must-be-a-mystery-shopper-factor.” As a followup to our recent article, 10 Assignments that Scream “Mystery Shopper,” here are 10 more assignments that drive shoppers bonkers.
1) You give a fake name as instructed..
You did exactly as they told you. You gave a fake name. Your name could be in a central system, they say… so switch it up and give them a fake name. You give that fake name. They trip you up! They ask for your phone number. You are not ready to lie. You are not prepared for that question. You give your real phone number. They put your phone number in and bam! They have your name. They look at you funny and wonder why you lied about your name? You can’t win! They also know (from your last visit) that you did not buy anything and you just wanted a quote. Today, you have to do the same again. You want to crawl under a rock. You think they are on to you. Everyone in the store is being very pleasant to you. You wonder….nahhh…hmmm…maybe they think you are their mystery shopper?
2) Can I have your Name with that Waffle Cone?”
You go to your ice cream shop. It’s hot out. You have the Drive Thru Shop. You get to the window and the associates name is hidden on her hat, on the left side, the side you can’t see…. and the client stresses the importance of getting the correct name. They may require you to ASK for the name! Do everything you can to GET the name! Also they want a full description as well. You know that nobody would ask a 17 year-old girl for her name, except a 17 year-old boy! You feel creepy asking their name. You are also staring at their chest, and their head trying to find/read that name tag. You hope next time that it is displayed better but meanwhile you go back for the delicious ice cream! Only a mystery shopper is going to ask a window attendant her name…
3) “You live in San Diego and you are in here from Eureka visiting my bank… Why?”
Every newbie shopper gets tripped up some time. I was brand new to bank shopping and the bank location was 30 miles from my house. I was not a member of that bank. She asked what city I lived in? I told her the real city. Then she said, “Why are you coming in here so far away?” I had to think fast! I said, “Because I am moving here!” It worked. She believed me! And I felt a little proud of myself for pulling it off. But oftentimes, they are on the lookout for mystery shoppers. Have your bases covered. “Why are you in San Diego at this bank when you live in San Bernardino?” You have to be ready with an answer. The next best one is: “I was visiting in the area and thought I would stop in.” That one has worked in a pinch. The important message here is, expect the unexpected questions…be prepared because you don’t want to be accused of being a mystery shopper!
4) “Can I have a Missing Panel with my Taco?”
You agreed to do it. The pay is a paltry $6 bucks. You are going to take pictures of the menu board and you want to do it smoothly and not get caught. Sure. It can be done. But it takes practice. But you realize they have a camera focused on your car, right? They know what you are doing. The point is: If you are going to get caught, do it for more than $6 bucks! I remember feeling smug taking pictures at the Gyro Shop and when I looked up, there was a camera right on me and the associates were VERY perked up and excited! I knew then …that they knew. My service was flawless. But menu board pictures are not my favorite shop but I have improved, especially on the Donut Shop where you buy a Dozen donuts and go through the Drive Thru. Some of those Donut Shop Drive Thru’s are horrid. They have very little space to take wide shots. Either way, if you are going to do that menu board shop, do it for more money! What customer besides mystery shoppers take pictures of a menu board?
5) “Ma’am, before you get snockered …can I see some ID?:
Not bringing ID and trying to order alcohol is synonymous with an under-age drinker or likely, a mystery shopper. Some shops tell you to leave the ID in the car, and try to purchase alcohol. Some shops have you bring ID and wait to see if the associate asks for your ID. In most cases, you continue with the shop and report what happened. Sometimes you have to report to the manager, right then and there, on the floor, that your server or bartender did not ask you for ID. Serious fines of up to $5,000 and some jail time and the store faces a loss of losing their liquor license, are the consequences of NOT asking, so is it any wonder why the company wants to make sure it’s employees are ID’ing all attempted purchases? But, who seriously leaves their ID at home? This one to me screams mystery shopper if you look “over” 40 years old.
6) “Can I have a receipt for that $.15 cent piece of Double Bubble Gum?”
You know the drill. You must get a receipt for your inside gas station purchase. You try to remain cool as you find a very cheap item because you are allotted only a $5 purchase and this must include 2 gallons of gas and an in-store purchase. Oftentimes, you are on the losing end of that transaction. Unless you can manage to find a pencil or a tiny pack of disposable tissues, you aren’t going to come out ahead financially on this shop. I always buy a banana. It runs anywhere from 49 cents to 69 cents. You won’t make a killing on this shop unless you get a bonus. So, you go to the front and hope they ask if you want a receipt. The station I do always has asked thankfully. If you are at the unlucky gas station and you have to ask for a receipt for your 25 cent Air-Heads Candy, you can be sure they might look at you odd because no customers ask for a receipt for a 25 cent purchase, except Mystery Shoppers!
7) “I don’t want the $1.29 Jumbo 6-piece Chicken, I want the 4-piece for $3.29!”
You know you really do want that one…but you can’t ask for the lower priced weekly special deal. You have to ask for the higher priced menu item because you may only order the 4 piece. You may not order the 6 piece. So, the cashier is practically begging you to take the better deal. You have to decline. They ask you, “So.. you want more for your chicken when you could pay less??” “Yes,” you answer.” I want the 4 piece only.” The associate looks concerned and says she is going to get the manager to see if she can get you the better deal for that price. “NO.” you say. (trying to remain calm) “I just want the 4 piece for $3.29.” Okay, who does that??? Customers ALWAYS want to pay less. It’s in their genes. Who would pay more for less: The mystery shopper!
8) Ordering from the Walk-in and then ordering (again) from the Drive Thru.
Sadly, this is not a problem anymore… if you used to do the Golden Arches. This McD’s mystery program discontinued as of January 2016. But, there still are a few more of those out there, such as the JIB (Jack in the Box) where you order inside breakfast and then you go out to the Drive Thru and order 2 greasy tacos. Who eats 2 greasy tacos at 7:40 AM?
Going back to McD’s: This was all about timing the Walk in and then the Drive Thru but the biggest problem were the strange stares you received when you ordered at the second destination, whether that be Walk in or Drive Thru. The employee asks, “Didn’t I see you inside just 5 minutes ago?” is the feared question that produces odd answers, such as your husband just decided he wanted you to pick him up lunch. Or you felt hungry again? I personally feel this should not be a shop that runs them-together. You can get just as many shoppers doing one or the other, but why both in the same hour?
9) “When is “Hateful Henry” playing and what is your Name?”
If ANY shop screamed mystery shopper it would be when you are required to call the box office and ask a question about movie times or movie showings, but the real purpose is to get the NAME of the associate and how she responds/ and treats you during the call. If you are lucky, she gives her name in the greeting. If not, you have to ask. After you ask, there is a brief moment of silence “awkward” and you hear crickets chirping……she recovers and then gives her name. You are thankful but it just felt uncomfortable, because how many customers call the Box Office and ask for the NAME of the associate who answers the phone? Creep-Alert! Or Mystery Shopper? J
10) “How do I screw a light bulb in or How do I use this screwdriver?”
You have to ask a “how to” question but the selections are sometimes just child-like. The questions you ask could be answered by a 5-year old so oftentimes, if you are allowed, you can create your own question, as long as it leads to department scenario you are assigned. You have listen as they walk you through how to plant, how to repair, how to seed, how to paint, how to hang a hook and so forth. You already know because you are 34 years old now and you pretty much understand how most things work in life. But you ask anyway. You really do enjoy the shop. You just have to get through the dumb-like questions you need to ask. You know, that they know, who you are… “If” you have shopped that store before. You go along and they go along, each playing their respective parts and in the end, you get a few packs of seeds, or a new hand tool you can use. (hopefully) You might a have drawer full of things you bought from them, because you are not allowed to return any items, you keep them forever. So, asking elementary questions does flag you as a shopper unless you get creative and intelligent with your questions, so they do not peg you as their Mystery Shopper!