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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.