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Nov 14 / mystery shopper

Mystery shop at a mobile phone store

Haven’t done any mystery shopping in a while, although I have been keeping an eye on the jobs that come up. It does seem I get emails from the various mystery shopping companies on almost a daily basis but whenever I check there are no jobs available in my area. Not sure if I am just checking them to late or there just aren’t as many at the moment.

Then last week I got a phone call from one of the companies asking if I was available today to do a mystery shop in a phone store. My task was to go in and pretend I had made a claim on my phone insurance which I supposedly had with them but still hadn’t received the phone two weeks later. The major flaw I saw in this brief was that I didn’t have a phone or an insurance policy with them which the mystery shopping company assured me wasn’t required but I was convinced would foil my cover as soon as they typed my name into their computer and they realised I was full of shit. So I spent most of last night reading the instructions on the brief and coming up with an elaborate back story including a phone purchased by my aunt and an insurance policy taken out at the same time as one for my dad and not being sure what exactly was in my name. This coupled with the fact that I was on my lunch break and in a hurry would hopefully explain why they wouldn’t be able to find my name on their system.

When I entered the store, a lady came up and greeted me (so far so good) then when I made the enquiry as to where my phone was she went and got a leaflet and told me to call the number on there (not so good as I knew there was a whole process she was supposed to take me through). I explained that I had already been trying to call that number but could never get through or always put on hold. She said that all they could do was call the same number as I did. Just as I was beginning to think about taking the leaflet and walking out, a male staff member came from behind and explained that they could get someone to call me back if I had a minute he would take a few details (and now we’re getting somewhere). So I went and had a seat and the original woman came over and watched what he was doing. I figured she might have been new or didn’t know what I assume is always the same procedure the mystery shopper goes through because I’m pretty sure the guy was a manager that had overheard my enquiry. The guy asked a few details why I was trying to remember as much details about the two of him as possible including eye colour, height, build, ethnicity, accent, age, hair coulour and any other rediculously small detail that was required. Then I noticed he didn’t have  a name badge and I remember the brief being adamant that in order to get paid I had to get the name of the person who served me. After he asked me what time I would like to call back I had to think quick as to how I was going to get his name without giving the game away that I was the mystery shopper, so I asked if they had the new IPhone in store which was nothing to do with the mystery shop. He went and borrowed his colleagues and showed it to me. I came up with some crap about how my dad needed a new phone and asked if I could send him in to chat to him. That’s when I asked his name. I was quite proud of the ingenious way of getting his name. I left the store, took a photo of it which was required and it was all finished within 10 minutes which isn’t bad for £10. The only problem is all the preparation reading the brief yesterday and the half hour it took to put the details in the questionaire today hardly makes it worth it but still quite an amusing day.


Jul 31 / mystery shopper

A ridiculously long mystery shop in a furniture store


The other day I was called up by a mystery shopping company which I registered with several years back but have so far never worked for. They wanted to know if I was free to do a mystery shop in a large furniture store. This store sold just about everything for the home. I was told I would need to go in and make several enquiries in “a few” different departments. When I took the phone call although it sounded straight forward from experience I know that is often not the case so said I wouldn’t do it on such short notice for less than £35. They were offering £25. In the end they agreed to pay me the extra and sent me the paper work.

After spending several hours reading through it I wish I had asked for £50. As I suspected the lady on the phone had made it sound a lot more straight forward than it was going to be.  Not only did I have to read through all the paperwork, memorise all the things that needed to be observed and measure my kitchen before I even got to the store, I had to allow a minimum of three hours to complete the mystery shop in the store. First of all I had to go in and design a kitchen which sounded like the most fun and longest part of the whole shop. Then I had to move on to the bedroom department and enquire about a bed and a mattress. Then finally I had to ask several questions about a new wardrobe for the bedroom. All in all dealing with four different members of staff and remembering names and times I encountered them.

When I got to the store I went straight to the kitchen department. I had to tell a member that I was looking to purchase a new kitchen. Then they were supposed to show me how to plan one out on the in-store terminals. Only the member of staff I approached constantly kept leaving me to deal with other customers. What was only supposed to take 15 minutes ended up taking over an hour which is no surprise seeing as I was expected to record  a lot of details about the department, design my entire kitchen, ask the member of staff questions and then get quotes for everything and the cost of delivery. I don’t see how it could really take less than an hour. Then I had to move on to the bedding department. The member of staff who assisted me there was actually very good and answered all my questions as well as give me all the information he was required to do. I could have asked a different member of staff about a mattress but it seemed stupid seeing as they were next to each other. Finally it was on to the wardrobe department where I met the most unfriendly member of staff during my time in the store. She never smiled once and didn’t really elaborate on anything so she didn’t do so well in the report! In fact she didn’t really give me any of the information I needed.

By the time I left the store over two hours latter I had a wedge of paperwork and leaflets which were only going to be thrown away and I wasn’t looking forward to filling the questionnaire out online because I had been feeling ill all day. When I started filling out the questionnaire online it was clear this was going to take me longer than the actual shop did. It wanted details about every single member of staff I encountered, times, names etc. The departments I visited, the products shown to me. I understand their need for thoroughness but there is only so much you can say when you keep getting asked the same question over and over again. In the end the questionnaire took over two hours and I had a splitting headache by the end of it. As if that wasn’t enough, yesterday I got an email asking me to clarify about ten of the answers I had written.

It’s exactly these sort of shops which puts me off mystery shopping and is why I only do one every few months. Even though I was only in store for a couple of hours, from start to finish it took me the better part of a day (about 8 hours in all) to read the instructions, travel to and from the store and complete the shop and fill out the online questionnaire. So not really worth the £35 I got and certainly not worth the £25 they were offering in the first place.


May 1 / mystery shopper

A Supermarket Mystery Shop

Today I did a mystery shop for a large chain of supermarkets. There was quite a lot involved. First of all I had to evaluate the fruit and veg section to check all the produce was correctly displayed and not out of date. Then I had to make a purchase from the deli and the chicken counter while evaluating the staff that served me. After that I had to make an enquiry to another member of staff for something I supposedly couldn’t find and finally had to take everything I bought to the checkout and evaluate the member of staff that served me there. All in all it involved assessing four members of staff, remembering their names, what they looked like and how friendly they were. Not to mention all the fruit and veg. It was quite a lot to take on board but I just wrote it down on my phone as I went around the store. Altogether it took me about 45 minutes and I was reimbursed £10 on my final purchase. One added bonus was that when I was in the store there was a demonstration for the sharpest knife in the world which I listened to and almost purchased for £27 to sale back on ebay but decided against it as I know presentations generally sucker people in to buying things they don’t want or need. The guy doing the presentation was very good at doing that because at one point he demonstrated how sharp this knife was by sawing into a hammer. Although I didn’t buy the knife I did receive a free fruit slicer!

Apr 18 / mystery shopper

Another Pizza Delivery

So it’s Wednesday and I already had plans but I received an email yesterday asking me if I would be available today to order a pizza for a mystery shop.  At first I declined but then I figured it was a bit of extra cash and it just meant I had to put my plans back a  few hours so I agreed to do it. I’ve just finished and I wish I hadn’t bothered as I’m convinced I’ve done it wrong. The mystery shopping companies are pretty strict about what you have to order. I’ve done the pizza delivery one several times and it’s always the same thing either a pizza or pasta with one side. The only trouble is when you order anything from a pizza place without a voucher or special offer it works out ridiculously expensive.

I called up the take away chain and placed an order for a large pizza and a side of potato wedges and it come to over £18! I mean come on do people actually pay that sort of money for a pizza? So the women suggested I do a meal deal which gave me an extra side and it cost less. Who wouldn’t do that? So I agreed but it dawned on me as I hung up that means I didn’t order exactly what was required. I mean I did, I just got one extra thing. To be honest if they don’t pay me for that I think I’ll stop doing mystery shops for anything less than £10 profit because it just isn’t worth it. You basically don’t even get a free meal because you have to pay something towards it and it isn’t even necessarily something you want or you can get a better deal by simply ordering your own thing off the menu. Plus the amount of time it takes to fill in the questionnaire afterwards is ridiculous. Anyway we’ll see what happens.

Feb 28 / mystery shopper

Dining in at a fast food restaurant

Today I had to go and order a meal in a fast food restaurant. I haven’t done a dine in assignment for ages but I am convinced either they knew I was a mystery shopper or the staff are trained pretty well because the order went ok but then the person in the dining area followed me over and offered to get me a paper to read. Who gets that sort of attention from the staff in a fast food restaurant?

I forgot how it feels to be a mystery shopper because I hadn’t done it for a while but there is a kind of secret spy feeling about it. Only secret spys probably get paid a whole lot more! I also forgot the ridiculous am0unt of detail required when you have to fill out the survey afterwards.