When Murphy’s Law Visits a Mystey Shopper

I woke up this Monday morning and had all my ducks in a row. Paperwork was in my trusty-red leather-three-ring binder and my day of airport shops was all set. If you’ve never done these, they’re kind of neat. It’s similar to building a route of shops, in a mall, or on the road. I buy a fully-refundable ticket, which gets me past security. I’m scheduled a minimum of 3 hours. Scheduled 6 shops with 4 different MSCs. A credit card kiosk, a gadget place, sports shop, bar, and 2 restaurants. The fees and reimbursement were fair. My mileage and parking was reimbursed by two MSCs.

My order of business is determined by daypart and concourse. My highest paying job, the credit card kiosk, is great. No employees showed up to work! Piece of cake report, just notifying the MSC of times, etc. Back and forth to this kiosk watching for employees, I did the bar shop, which required ordering a particular beer. It was barely chilled, and there were bar flies everywhere, but the hardest part was trying to drink at least some of it before lunch.

Everything’s going smoothly. Next is restaurant. Ordered my food and got a table in the food court that was great for observations, am making notes. As I’m enjoying the slight buzz from beer on an empty stomach, and starting to eat my first lunch, a man walks toward me with his tray to empty in the trash, which was directly behind me. He coughed, covered his mouth with one hand, at the same time as a child lost control of his bouncy ball, which landed on the man’s plate, propelling it upwards off the tray. The next thing I knew, I was wearing barbequed brisket, creamed spinach and blueberry (?) something. Gross doesn’t begin to cover it. The left side of my hair! The sleeve and back of my light blue sweater are a menagerie of colors. Apologies and offers of help abound. I’m a mess, I stink, and I still have work to do. I gathered up my purse, stuffed paperwork into my “satchel” and hightailed it to the restroom.

There’s just so much I could do. I looked a mess and still smelled. Trying to complete my remaining shops, I’m wondering how to blend in and not be spotted as a shopper. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I got through them, somehow. I’m sure there are morals to the story, and lessons to be learned. After getting home, cleaning myself up and working on reports, I get one question that was marked to be read only by corporate “Is there anything that would make employees suspect you were a mystery shopper?” . . . My answer could have been phrased many ways. I decided on “No”.

I would encourage anyone to try a route of these at an airport near you. I only do them when I’m not flying. There’s much less stress that way. I research airlines, and purchase the lowest-priced, fully-refundable ticket. That ticket gets me past security. After I complete my shops, I stop at the ticket counter on my way out, explain that my plans changed, and I need a refund on my ticket. There has never been a problem, and my credit appears within three days, long before the bill arrives in the mail. I have done these at different airports. MSCs offering these shops vary, according to contract and location. Bare, Customer Service Experts, Service Evaluation Concepts, Albatross, Goodwin, and Ann Michaels are some. There are others, as well.

P.S. Be sure to take a swag bag for leftovers and any required purchases!

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