For years, mystery shoppers have been mumbling under their breath and even voicing loud complaints about the apparent age discrimination against them by mystery shopping providers. As mystery shoppers, we’ve all seen the requirements on various available assignments for a mystery shopper to be between a certain age range. And more often than not, the age range that the assignments specifies is for younger mystery shoppers. As mystery shoppers, we have to ask what is going on with this apparent age discrimination?
From The Provider’s View. Companies such as restaurants, movie theaters, retail stores, and more contract with mystery shopping providers to get realistic feedback on the shopping experience (or dining experience, movie-going experience, etc) from their typical customer. There are a large number of assignments for stores that don’t target a specific age range. For instance, grocery stores, gas stations, general merchandise stores, casual dining and fast food restaurants, and so forth are good examples.
Then there are other stores, such as lingerie stores, home décor stores, children’s clothing stores, arts and crafts stores, and more, that have a specific customer base. While you can argue that men can purchase items at a lingerie store just as women can, or that a grandparent can purchase clothing at the children’s clothing store for a grandparent, these are not the “typical” customers for these types of stores.
The stores, restaurants, and so forth engaging the services of mystery shoppers want feedback on the shopping experiences their target market has during their visit. Thus, some mystery shopping assignments have age requirements. These age requirements are not meant to discriminate against you, but rather to give the store an accurate idea of the shopping experience from their target market.
What You Can Do. First and foremost, don’t be offended by the age requirements. While it may be frustrating that you are not eligible to complete the assignment based purely on your age, it simply boils down to who the target market for the store is. But don’t worry about missing out on possible income, because there may be a chance for you to complete the assignment. If the job posting has been on the job boards for awhile and nobody has snatched it up, you can contact your scheduler about the possibility of completing the assignment. Be sure to point out that you can play the part of a grandparent shopping for a gift for your grandchild, or you can be looking for a lingerie gift for your wife. When you make your request, be sure to state your age clearly so there is not a question of your eligibility to complete the assignment later after you’ve already filed the report.
While the age requirements on mystery shopping assignments may initially seem like age discrimination, the requirements are actually in place to ensure the report is accurate for the store’s target market shopping experience. But don’t worry, because even with these requirements in place, you may still have a shot at completing the assignment simply by asking for an exception to the age requirement!