The thought of being discovered as a mystery shopper at the job site can make a mystery shopper’s heart race. A small percentage of mystery shoppers will have this unfortunate event happen to them. But if you find yourself in the middle of a potential blown-cover fiasco, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
It’s Merely A Suspicion. An attentive salesperson may pick up on certain things you do or say and piece the clues together. Yet the salesperson may hold back on saying anything directly to you about it in the hopes of getting a good mark from you or even to avoid potential embarrassment. If your salesperson suspects you are a mystery shopper, you may hear leading questions from the salesperson as he tried to dig for more information from you. Or he may play the role of the perfect salesperson and move into an ultra-service-oriented mode despite an attitude to the contrary at the beginning of your assignment. You may also have a salesperson who wants to play with you a little bit, perhaps intentionally trying to look for holes in your cover story and blow them wide open.
If you pick up on the fact that your salesperson is suspicious of you, remain cool and collected. Keep your mind focused on the task at hand and complete your assignment. You may feel the need to bolt for the door, but resist this urge. You stand no chance of getting paid for your time and efforts if you fail to complete the assignment.
When They Call You On It. A bold salesperson may come right out and ask if you are a mystery shopper. First and foremost, deny that you are a mystery shopper. Act even a little offended and put off by the possibility, or play the “dumb card” and act like you don’t believe mystery shopping is even legit. Then, remaining calm, exit the store as soon as it is safe to do so without drawing even more attention to yourself. At this point, there is no need to continue on with completing the assignment requirements. When your cover has been blown this wide open, you certainly will not get paid for your efforts.
Make The Call. After you leave the store, immediately notify your scheduler about the events of your assignment. If you merely have suspicions, make it clear to the provider that the salesperson did not make any direct comments about mystery shopping, but it’s possible your position may have been comprised. Be sure to tell the scheduler that you have completed the assignment requirements in their entirety, and ask if you should submit the report. Also ensure you will be paid for the assignment if you submit the report.
If your salesperson came right out and made his suspicions clear to you, you won’t be getting paid on the assignment. But it’s still important to let the provider know what happened right away so they can handle things on their end. They will need to contact the retailer as well as possibly locate another mystery shopper to complete the assignment. You may be unhappy about not getting paid on the assignment, but avoid the urge to raise a fuss about it. Keep in mind that the findings of your on-site visit cannot be used by the retailer. And whether it is your fault or not that your cover is blown, another mystery shopper still needs to be sent out to get the results the retailer is paying for. Keep your relationship with the provider intact to ensure future jobs with them.
While being identified as a mystery shopper is not a pleasant experience, it is an experience you can learn from if you handle it in the right way.
I have two stores that I am very suspicious they know what I do. I can hardly step inside the door before a familiar associate is greeting me, and a few minutes later, some management type is asking if I need assistance. As a Black male, with a grey beard and hair locs, I guess it makes me an easy target to remember. Consequently, I try to avoid scheduling either store, unless the bonus is too attractive to pass up (LOL). However, since both stores are reasonably close, I will shop them when I am not on assignment, and soak up all the excess attention.
I too suspect an associate at a convience store thinks I am the mystery shopper. I always receive excellent service and she provides a receipt now without me asking. Like Angalifu, I enjoy visiting this store when I am not mystery shopping just to throw her off and to receive great service. It is funny though to watch her try to sneak her name tag on when she sees me entering the store.
I was asked outright while doing a bank assignment. The employee said she was curious because she had been working at another branch and had seen me there. I did the “I don’t know what mystery shopping is” thing. I actually asked the employee what mystery shopping was, playing really dumb and she explained it to me. I continued with my scenario and make it a point to use these branches when not on assignment so no one else get suspicious when I am actually doing an assignment.
I have had the experience of being identified in a hardware store. The sales person got all exited and said that she knew who I was. As a consequence she asked me whether she should get someone else to serve me. I acted like I didn’t have a clue of what she was talking about. Since I played dumb, ignoring what she said, she suppressed her exitement and finished serving me. I informed the scheduler of course. This location is not close enough for me to shop at regularly when not on assignment, as mentioned above, however that is a great idea and when possible, I will try to make a point of visiting the store whenever I can.
I ask myself, how would a regular customer react to such ‘discovery’ comments form staff. To the average customer such comments or suspicions would seem absurd. I helps to think of how to react, ahead of time.
I’ve nver been “blown” so to speak,but if I were to be asked if I were a mystery shopper. I would say, “Oh you think I’m mystery shopper? Wow, Do you think they pay well? I could use another job.”
I was “busted” after the fact at a local restaurant. Because I used to work at an adjoining business most of the staff know me and I get a lot of attention when I go in. I am in quite often and now I have fun letting them wonder if this is a mystery shop or just lunch.
I am looking at some of these comments and I was under the impression that you could not shop the same location for one year. Does that apply to only some shops?
Something strange happened to me while shopping. I was advised by the scheduler that I might have been “pegged”. I was very anxious to find out how this happened so that I would not make the same mistake again. I emailed her three times trying to get this information and she would never discuss it. I have never been able to get any information from her as she would ignore my questions. I was paid the the assignments. Has this happened to anyone else?
Dear Maggymae: Please tell us the name of this particular shopping company and the scheduler so we can avoid them. I’ve noticed there are some companies where the scheduler is also the owner, and they use that you were ID’ed or some other loophole so they can get the information to give to their client but not have to pay you.