Friday, October 10, 2008

You'll get a thicker skin

I work very hard to earn good scores on my mystery shopping reports. Toward that end I am truthful. The great majority of stores capture you on film from the moment you park your car until you leave the parking lot and can dispute any untruths or exaggerations you report.

Being an independent contractor, my income depends on my scores. It's not a bonus, and I don't have a salary. There are no sick days, no paid vacation and no insurance. I don't get paid extra for finding things wrong with shops, nor for "perfect" shops. I have no incentive for slanting reports in any way. The best shot I have at a great score is to fulfill the shop's requirements, report exactly what happened, quote exactly what was said and get my reports in on time.

If you are a mystery shopper for very long, you will encounter an angry employee who was "burned" by a mystery shopper. Their frustration can stem from what they consider an unfair evaluation, or be directed more at the corporate response to the evaluation. Managers getting bonused without the employees receiving recognition is often a sore spot. Some employees see mystery shoppers as spies, sent by the corporate office to "catch" them being bad.

There has been much discussion among mystery shoppers about a post that was made to a Starbucks message board almost four years ago. I do not post the link here to encourage badmouthing of mystery shoppers, but to warn you: Do this job long enough and you will be outed as the shopper at least once. You will be maligned and slandered, called names, misunderstood and called a liar. It's as much a part of the job as making a mistake big enough to cost you a shop fee. It happens, you learn and move on.

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