When I was a teenager I was fired from a theater chain where I worked in concessions. We were supposed to try and upsell popcorn and drink sizes. The mystery shopper was a very old woman that ordered a small popcorn and small drink. I didn’t try and upsell her because I figured she was living on a fixed income and I wasn’t going to push unnecessary expense on an old woman. Got fired about 30 minutes after the interaction.
I was once mystery-shopped at a Petsmart by someone who asked for help finding food and toys for her guinea pig. We had a great interaction, talked about guinea pig needs, nutrition, etc.
80% on my mystery shop score because I forgot to ask the GP’s name. My bad I guess, but…wow I’m glad my retail days are over. I just don’t care what your rodent’s name is.
I got secret shopped as a server and didn’t hit the supposed marks, but the shoppers had a great time and said they’d come back and ask for me. Didn’t stop the manager making an example out of me to the rest of the team as what not to do even though I SECURED A REPEAT CUSTOMER FOR THE COMPANY dfjjffhgsfhjjg
I work for a retail store that received a mystery shop the day a nearby forest fire reached our town. The fire didn’t reach inhabited areas of the county until later that evening but the store was already really smoky at the time of the mystery shop. The employees basically bombed the shop because we were more concerned with the progress of the fire than asking customers a zillion probing questions. The smokiness of the sales floor was cited in the section for additional comments.
Didn’t matter that the event ended up being the biggest natural disaster in the past 100 years in the entire state, that damned mystery shop was still allowed to stand and count against us on our yearly evaluations.
I went to TGI Fridays as a mystery shopper many years ago. The bartender told me not to bother upgrading to the large cocktail because they didn’t put any more alcohol in it. Obviously, that was bad for the business but we gave them full marks anyway cos it was a classy move and they get rewards for a good mystery shopper score.
I work at a bank and we are suppose to build a relationship with EVERY customer. I’m a normal understanding dude that knows not everyone sitting with me has 30 minutes for me to speak about their job, family, what they like doing for fun, where do they bank outside etc. one day my market director comes in and sits in a nearby cubicle to eavesdrop to see if I’m building foundation with clients. The first client I sit with specifically wanted to refinance with our lending advisor he’s worked with before. I simply set up the appointment and the guy is super thankful I was able to get what he wanted in a timely matter. My MD on the other hand was not happy. I did a horrible job in her eyes. I still don’t understand till today what I’m suppose to do. “I’m here to refinance with Robert, he’s helped me before” “great how was your weekend” “tell me about your family” “what do you do for a living” “what do you like doing for fun” doesn’t seem genuine nor beneficial to either of us in that moment
I got written up as a waiter because two mystery shoppers came in and asked for a dessert to be split. This was not a dessert you could split (it would look awful since it came served in a mason jar) so I instead to give them two for the price of one (totally within my ability to do and even got permission from chef). That was the wrong answer though and I was dragged into the office the next day to sign a write-up, so i put my two weeks in instead because it was total BS.
I used to work in retail at a large national chain store and I could immediately tell which customers are the mystery shoppers because the flow of conversation and line of questioning seemed very unnatural. Maybe the mystery shoppers aren’t very good “*actors*” either. I think of them as aliens in human body suits. They talk like weird NPCs even though I am ACTUALLY the NPC. 😒 Anyway, as soon as I detect them, I make it so obvious that I am overly helpful with my obviously fake smile and fake enthusiasm. I pass every time and get rewarded with Starbucks gift cards. All in the name of “customer service” but really, it’s all about the sale.
I used to be a mystery shopper when there was no work. Pays s**t and I’m really not keen into the idea of making some poor soul stuck in retail life more miserable… so I just gave the best evaluations each time.
I worked in a f*****g psych hospital and we had these. It wasn’t in person, but someone would call in having x problem with their child and we had to ask them all these very specific questions and make an appointment for them. I got one caller and I asked all the questions, but told them we had no appointments until 3 weeks out, which was the truth (these were not emergencies–they were people wanted to be evaluated for PHP/IOP/OP, not inpatient hospitalization). I was told that I should have given them a sooner appointment. Like, we literally didn’t have one? And I didn’t know it was a mystery shop?
We all got really good at identifying the calls and just making them an appointment for the next day even though there were no real appointments. We got a fax about ten minutes after a mystery call telling us to cancel the appointment, so we knew right away if it had been a mystery shop. If not, we had to call the actual person back and be like, uh, we need to reschedule you.
Oh, it was a for-profit hospital, in case there were any doubts.
Man years ago I worked at Yankee candle and one of our requirements with every customer is to keep offering them items until they tell you “no” 3 times. We had weekly secret shoppers and meetings going over what the secret shopper said. I’m the worlds worst sales person and hate pushing people into things they aren’t comfortable with so it was just life sucking. Plus customers hate to be bothered so much I have no idea why so many places require it.
People who are rude to employees because they find it annoying are the worst because it’s like “sorry I know this is annoying but I will get fired if I don’t do this” just play along and let people live
I used to work for a luxury department store and our mystery shoppers were usually chosen from our pool of top clients.
One of my top shoppers called me ahead of her mystery shop to coach me through the expectations so I’d get my bonus.
I was a mystery shopper. I lied through my teeth, giving max or almost max points. I only ever gave one negative audit, and thats because the interaction was so negative, if I was a real customer, I would have walked out.
The company I used to work for would secret shop us so often that I knew the secret shoppers by first name. It hit a point where we had an agreement they’d mark my team high, and they can collect an easy paycheck.
We ran that scam for YEARS.
I once worked at a gas station and failed a mystery shop that was specifically about cigarettes. The lady came in and started asking if I could recommend the lowest tar brand, one with charcoal in the filter, one with less X chemical than the rest. Uh no, that was not part of my $8/hr training.
I’ve mystery shopped in the UK for about 12 years. As long as the staff hit the brief vaguely (mention the right brands etc) I’m not marking them down, I also don’t mark down obvious new starts or folk who are overwhelmed, I’ve worked in retail and hospitality and remember how soul destroying it can be, plus this is the UK – too much enthusiasm is unnerving!
You wouldn’t believe it.
A co-worker of mine got marked off because he wasn’t wearing a name badge.
His name is embroidered into his shirt.
I got a failing grade on mine. Why? This MS comes in for big item pretending to not know a lot about it. I generally don’t handle these big items and in particular they were asking about a very uncommon add-on to these items, and I called my manager over for help. Well, my manager gets hit by the technical problems comet and can’t log in to the system to see the ordering info.
So because my manager had tech issues when logging in, **I** was the one who failed.
Thankfully my work doesn’t care about that sort of stuff and my manager was pissed about this thing.
When I worked at circuit city I got torn apart by secret shoppers for not doing all the pushy sales stuff. The tactics they pushed were so disingenuous they made me squirm. That’s when I learned I’m not cut out for sales. At the same time, I got plenty of gratitude from actual customers for being genuinely helpful, like the employee OP shopped. I think at the end of the day the stores know what they’re asking for. They want big aggressive sales of high margin products. They don’t want us nice guys who respect the customer’s budget.
Mystery shopper programs are absolute trash. One day I’ll post my company’s shopper report because it is f**ken intensive. It’s pages long and full of ridiculous requirements that no customer in their right mind is going to want to encounter. There’s also no way an employee will remember every talking point because there’s so many! I remember we got scored low on greeting once because “the greeter was not prompt or enthusiastic.” Not only is that all subjective, we’re short staffed! The greeter was probably ringing because no one else was able to. They’re already spewing a separate script at the register. We barely have the manpower and time to get basic things done with all the service requirements pushed on us. Of course we’re gonna score low on “presence” because we’re running around trying to keep our shelves filled and can’t just wait by the door to attack everyone who pops in with the ever growing script.
There’s something unethical or immoral, idk yet, about mystery shopper programs. They give me strong 1984/handmaids tale/Soviet union vibes. I have such an intense hatred for the whole thing.
I conducted a secret shop at a high end jewelry store a few years ago. The scenario was very specific and took about 2 hours. The salesperson was so patient and helpful. Based on my script, it was apparent she thought she would be getting a significant sale, and with it, a good sized commission.
I felt so bad when I realized I was essentially ghosting her. She sent follow up emails (as per store policy) but I was not allowed to respond. She wasted 2 hours on me instead of a potential real/ paying customer. I gave her good scores but I still feel badly when I walk by the store.
Years ago my husband and I went shopping for a soundbar, budget of $200 tops. The guy in the sound area insisted soundbars were trash and made us sit through a demo of a $3500 surround sound system. We were so f*****g annoyed because obviously if we had the means, we would get the best, but we told him multiple times what our budget was. We went and found a different employee in the music section who helped us with finding a good, mid range soundbar for $180 and made sure we had a compatible TV. The other employee saw this and stood with his arms folded.
It’s so dumb cause had the other employee not helped us find what we needed and we were only left with the first, we would have walked away buying nothing.
When I was growing my small retail chain, I came up with my own mystery shopper program and I would deputize my friends and family and their friends. It had four questions and a place for comments:
1. Were you greeted pleasantly when you came in?
2. Did we say goodbye and thank you for coming by when you left?
3. Did someone check-in with you at some point to see if you had any questions?
4. Were we nice?
It had some other check boxes about times of day, how many other customers were in the store, etc.
That’s it, that’s all that really matters in retail. You can teach sales, you can teach technology, but you can’t teach nice.
At Borders bookstores we were required to sell “make books”. The idea was that our staff could “make” a bestseller by harassing people into buying it. Now, that’s partly true. There have been books that went huge because booksellers loved them. You develop a relationship with your store’s clientele and community, and some trust your recommendations. Some people would come in knowing exactly who they wanted to talk to, like going to our resident science fiction enthusiast for recommendations. We received promo copies of books for exactly that reason. These “make books” were not our choices, though. We never liked any of them and had no enthusiasm for them, only quotas we had to meet.
A fun example of Borders practices, when Opeth released Damnation, it was a significant departure from their usual style. I loved it and played it in the store. We sold all five copies we had, an unusual occurrence for anything outside the biggest hits. I ordered 15 more, kept playing it in the store, and sold out again. It was cool selling this death metal band’s acoustic album to a soccer moms and hipsters, and it’s a great album that deserves the love. I ordered 15 more again, sold out again, an tried to keep it going. I got an email from corporate to stop ordering those CDs because it wasn’t a big seller. It *would* be.
I had a customer I’m convinced was a SS. They came in asking for a gluten-free due to allergies. I warn them we work in a sandwich shop, cross-contamination is highly likely, while we can take steps to reduce it, there’s not a whole lot we can do. She asks why and I explain, well if the guy making a sandwich with regular bread touches the lettuce, then I put lettuce in your sandwich, boom, cross contamination. I explained we can take veggies from below the counter but even then, the person who just made a regular sandwich restocked the veggies so still, cross-contamination. The only way we can truly, completely prevent CC is the shut down operation for 10 minutes (cleaning the grill, the tools, grabbing/prepping new veggies, etc), not something we can realistically do. She was shocked at how upfront I was about it. What makes me think she was a SS is that she tried instructing me through making a “gluten-free, allergy”. Basically just putting down a wrapper, grabbing new tools, and that’s it. Most customers have no clue what steps we’d have to take and she seemed to know exactly what we’re ‘supposed’ to do. And I was sitting there like, SS or not, if you’re allergic and cross-contamination is a worry to you, do you really think that’s enough?
My Mom worked for Rite Aid a few decades ago and was fired because a secret shopper was sent to set her up. Basically there was a long line and the “shopper” pretended she needed Imodium, saying it was an emergency and she couldn’t wait in line given how she was feeling. Being a decent person, she totally understood, made sure there was enough to cover the purchase, and agreed. Shopper gave my Mom cash and left.
However, as this was happening, a group of teens who were known for massive theft came in. My Mom put the money in her apron to put in the cash register after she watched these kids (management had been on the associates because theft was so high). This store also had cameras pointed at the cashier, so every transaction was recorded.
Secret shopper saw my Mom pocket the money, she was fired the next day. Even though she rang through the transaction that afternoon. She fought for unemployment and was eventually granted benefits but the entire situation was so unbelievably sh**ty. Why companies insist on setting their employees up for failure is something I’ll never understand!
When I used to run a Blockbuster, we would all try and spot the secret shopper and then if we thought they had come in, I’d be the one to help. Then I would call the 3 closest stores and tell them who I thought it was and what they were doing. We would get the same call from our neighbors and we would typically all score highly cause we were never not aware of who the shopper was. F**k corporate, our numbers are good, that’s all that should matter.
I worked at Buffalo wild wings for a couple months. I “failed” a mystery shopping guest experience whatever they’re called and was required to attend an unpaid “Sunday school” re-education one on one with the manager.
He sat me down around 7am and lectured me that I must introduce myself by name, tell the customer about the beer of the week, ask if they were visiting for a special occasion, wing sauce, and a handful of other things. I missed maybe 4 of the mandatory interactions.
I told my manager I remembered the interaction well, and won’t forget it. It was Monday April 15th 2013. All of the 47ish tvs they had hanging on the walls switched to breaking news. The Boston marathon bombing. Everyone, including myself sat in silence thinking another 9/11 was taking place. When I told manager twatwaffle about the distraction he replied “BWW holds a certain standard and a bombing in another city is no excuse for missing 4 marks.”
I walked out on them a couple weeks later during the Kentuckey derby. F**k BWW
I got called in to my manager’s office to explain why I didn’t get a perfect score. Based on the review, I could tell exactly who the customer had been.
Really old guy, asking more questions then anyone else ever had during the busiest time of day while I was left all alone in the store. I was at this counter that held both a regular register and customer service, doing both things at once. Somehow I managed to keep the whole crowd positive, helping with returns and using the time people filled in forms to check someone else out, everything to keep that line moving. It was the most insane day I’d had but I managed, with a smile and happy customers at that.
But because I balanced answering the very detailed questions with what should have been at least two other employees worth of work, I got marked down.
Not. Enough. Eye contact.
I got a phone call at work one day from someone who had my name and extension and said she was returning my phone call. I knew every file on my desk, and every phone call I had made, so either she was inexplicably mistaken, or she was one of the auditors that we had been informed would be calling to rate our service.
I highly suspected she was an auditor, so I was on top of my already superior customer service game, but just in case she was an actual customer, I had every intention of finding out who had her file, and helping her with whatever was necessary. She hung up as soon as I put her on hold, and I got a poor rating for not helping her. Like wtf. She was a fake customer, who didn’t ask me for anything other than to say she was returning my call, and I assured her I would locate her file and help her if I could just put her on hold momentarily. What the f**k else was I supposed to do? I was so mad.
I did one of these once. I was supposed to go into a club in nyc and get a drink at the bar. I get to the door but they randomly kept me waiting at the door and didn’t let me in. The door man seemed to single me out and let everyone in but me at some point. I am a nicely dressed decent looking young lady. They eventually let everyone else but me in a few at a time. Most people only waited 5-20 minutes. A few groups of people tried to tell them I was with them because they saw what was happening and they felt bad and I’m super friendly and talked to everyone waiting, but they didn’t let me in. It made me feel terrible, like I wasn’t good enough or that I was ugly or the unpopular kid in school purposely being left out. Then after like an hour or so, I get tired of waiting and started getting cold and I pull the head door guy over and show him the email saying I’m a secret shopper which I’m not supposed to do, but I still need to get in to test the bar. He reads it and goes from being smug to being very serious and urgently telling the other guy to let me in now. And the other guy was like “what? Her? But I thought..”And it was obvious they had decided they were never going to let me in. I go in and do the bar thing and leave. Let’s just say the door people got a terrible horrible review.
Many moons ago I was secret shopped and got my store a big fat zero.
The SS Assignment: go to furniture
-see how knowledgeable furniture associate is about different lines available
-how helpful is the associate with space planning?
-did associate offer any extra add ons.
I was a brand new cashier at the cash wrap, two days out from training, standing at the front of the store with the registers greeting customers as they came in. SS showed up promptly at open and said they needed help in furniture at the back of the store. I took a moment to let them know I was a cashier then called for a furniture associate, walked the customer back to furniture and told them the name of the person that was on their way to talk to them.
They rated me. I did not know about the furniture, didn’t help them with planning and didn’t offer any add-ons. Big Fat Zero Score.
It was also one of our last secret shops because they never followed the assignment.
I’ll never forget the time I was serving a secret shopper in Footlocker. This lady just kept demanding that I provide her with a very specific Adidas shoe from the PS sizes in her size which was not possible. I knew she was a secret shopper the whole time and probably wasted an hour of real sales/shoe talk time with her ridiculousness. Checked off all my boxes except she wrote she was not happy as I couldn’t provide her with the product she “wanted”, that didn’t exist.
One of my favorite retail memories was working for Godiva Chocolates and how huge a deal it was to get anything other than 100% from a mystery shop. They could write in “this was the best customer service I’ve ever received ” but if we lost a point because our apron was on incorrectly that’s ALL we would hear about from our manager and District manager. She ( DM ) would rip us to shreds. One day we get a mystery shop report sent to us and it was the lowest score…horrible. Everyone is panicked to see who it was. It turns out it was the DM when she was in last.
I worked at Blockbuster in 2004-2005, and I was working one time as a massive winter storm was bearing down on us, so naturally everyone wanted to rent a movie or twelve. Lines around the store all day, everyone was working the register, we had no time to check in and shelve returns, etc. It was a nightmare. They freaking mystery shopped us that day, and we of course failed, because we barely had time to think, much less upsell. We were all wearing our jackets, too, because the register area was FREEZING that day due to the door constantly opening. Our store manager at the time was actually pretty great and stood up to the district manager over how ridiculous it was to mystery shop us that day, but it still pissed us off so much that they would do that on truly our worst day ever on the job.
I once got done by a mystery shopper because he was “looking for a reel for his wife” and was pointing to a type of reel that would have been a good size for his hands, but way too large for a woman to comfortably hold.
I confirmed it was for his wife, and then directed him to the smaller, and cheaper, version that would be better suited to a woman’s hands. Told him that if it was too small for her, they could bring it back to swap for the larger one as long as it wasn’t used, but was sure that the smaller version would be best if her hands were around the size of mine. I even held my hands out to show him the size of my hands.
He decided to buy the bigger one, and then gave us a bad review because I “gave him poor advice and didn’t try to upsell.”
Not my fault if you’re a dumb customer.
I quit not long after that. I hated retail so much.
When I was a waitress and eventually a bartender for TGI Friday’s, I f****n’ dreaded being mystery shopped. Because the GM made it abundantly clear that if you scored anything but 100% on a mystery shop then you were fired on the spot. Which actually transpired with a coworker of mine at the time. She didn’t do something super asinine like offer a specific alcoholic beverage or something and she was fired for that.
I had a regular table of gold card carrying corporate heads for the company who were based at the HQ in that city and came in at least twice a week, always requested my section, and tipped me sideways. Never stressed me out like the mere chance of serving a mystery shopper. F**k that s**t.
My team failed a secret shop all because I wasn’t enthusiastic enough at the register. I had just got off my break, during which I learned that someone I knew in my childhood had (TW) killed themselves. Felt even worse after I learned everyone lost money because of me.
I’ve done mystery shopping too, but I’m not about making someone’s life harder just because corporate is staffed by a bunch of d***s.
I got busted by a mystery call from my regional manager because I didn’t get his info and offer to call him back. That’s because I was handling actual customers already standing in line in the store. F**k that guy.
I’ve mystery shopped for a long time just so that I can give service employees good reviews. Someone else is going to do it, it might as well be someone nice who understands what it’s like working with the public.
I have mystery shopped apartments, game concessions, stores, restaurants, fast food, gas stations, security guards, golf courses. Always give them good reviews.
I will never forget the secret shopper I had at a restaurant I served at back in college. They gave us a pretty mediocre score. Something about apps coming out late or something. Thing is, they were plastered! This was in a hotel and they hit up the free drinks before coming to eat and ordering more drinks. I actually had to cut them off. Also they were out having a smoke when I delivered the apps lol. S**t was funny honestly
I did a few secret shops I think I know exactly the ones (this one in particular was Google products) I had to tell a dude Hey, I am a secret shopper just answer the questions so I can leave. He was so confused and I think he thought I was being a creep or casing the joint about to steal. I stopped secret shopping after that interaction.
I used to be in retail and we would get secret shopper reports that would list more employees than were actually even working (how do you write someone up who doesnt exist for not doing their job?) or would give information that was verifiablably false. ALL THE TIME. The shoppers were usually memorable because they were so awful. It was like they went out and recruited Karen’s for the job. Such a waste of money spent on bullcrap.
As senior management I fought this nonsense all the time.
I worked for a childrens amusement chain as a traveling manager so at any given time I could be present for four shops in one given week. Not only did my bonus hinge on this but I would routinely get written up based on the outcome even if the shopper had interactions with a newer employee whom I had never met or mentored.
The most common reason was “did the employee up sell you at the concession counter?” They would always answer no. They were required to buy something to eat or drink and rate taste, temp and presentation. When they described their selection the same people would say, “I bought a hotdog and the employee suggested a combo with included chips and a drink, it was all tasty and fresh”. That’s an upsell you idiot! Management wouldn’t let that count and we would still get in trouble since the customer perception was they weren’t upsold… isn’t that better then?
I did mystery shopping. It is a pain in the a*s and the extra cash isn’t usually worth it, unless you like the product you have to buy. (I did actually start running with two pairs of running shoes that I got).
I always evaluated every staff member at the highest level and said that they had done everythign that they were supposed to.
I also regularly pointed out, politely, how stupid it was. I think the Domino’s pizza staff were supposed to do four (at least) different upsells for the transaction (buying one pizza) and you were supposed to rate how natural each one was. So I said the guy was amazingly natural, but no-one would believe that he just naturally made four different “friendly recomendations” to a customer.
I also always highlighted when the staffing was too low. I doubt anyone ever gave a f**k, but it made me feel better. There was no way I was going to have my evaluation used as justification to screw someone over. Although to be fair, I think that it was more so the marketing teams could pat themselves on the back than anything else.
I worked at Borders Books and Music for several years before it went under, and at one point we were supposed to recommend specific books to everyone in the store, even if they’d already decided what they wanted and just needed to be checked out. Almost everyone but the most obnoxious and superficial employees would be written up after we were hit by a secret shopper. Morale plummeted obviously, but the people in corporate still thought this was a good idea.
When working as a hotel reservations agent, one of our mystery shopper questions was “Did the agent ask permission to put you on hold?” The only options were Yes or No. meaning if the shopper was not put on hold, they would answer no and this would be a fail.
All this did was waste everyone’s time because the agents would put every call on hold, even when not necessary, so the mystery shopper could answer “yes.”
Worked as a laptop salesperson during an IT fair. Manager told us to push a certain “gaming-looking” model which doesn’t perform as well as the higher specced model which costs less than 5% more than the one i was supposed to push.
An avid gamer seeked my opinion, and i recommended the better specced model, and getting my a*s handed to me by my manager in front of the customer. Guess he somewhat knew about computers as well, and stood up for me to my manager. He even came back the next day to buy 2 more laptops from me. One “compliment” easily trumps the c**p genuine salespeople face on the daily basis
I was always intersted in doing mystery shopping but whenever I would try and look it up it was super sketchy websites online and no one ever called me back.
There were a couple of places I worked that they were pretty easy but I remember one place where I was confused because I got a call from a customer, I got them in the door, I closed the sale and then I find out that they were a secret shopper and I scored 33/100 on it. How do I only score 1/3??? and it was like an hour long meeting with my boss who was like yeah you suck at this. Not sure how I suck. I am leading the f*****g this place in sales. We have more demand than supply. I literally can’t sell more
I (along with a coworker) once helped somebody who ended up being a mystery shopper at a high end clothing store. The mystery shopper basically asked for something we didn’t sell. We recommended other stores on the strip that might have a good selection for what she wanted. I’m sure we were supposed to guide her towards something we did have and try to make a sale. We got an extremely bad review on that obviously.