Friday, November 14, 2008

Recording information: Discretion

These days, there are recording devices everywhere, especially in retail outlets. See those clear black plastic "balls" hanging from the ceiling at the department store, discount store, drug store, grocery store, and just about everywhere else? They contain cameras and your actions are being recorded. Don't get paranoid, those cameras are there for the protection of the store and their customers.

So, you've done part of your shop and you need to write down some information before you get your next set of data to report. Most shopping assignments will specify that you may not leave the store and return to complete a shop. So, how will you get your notes on paper without being discovered?

Tip Sheet Next week's post will deal specifically with the tip sheet. In short, it is a piece of paper you've prepared with brief notes on the information you need to collect. You can jot information on your tip sheet discreetly if you are careful, but with all those cameras, you still could be discovered.

Cell Phone Of course, during a shop your cell phone will be set to "silent" so you don't get a call during an important interaction. But you can still use your phone to send yourself a text message or email about the data you've collected so far. You can leave coded messages on your home voicemail as well. You can also use your cell phone as a prop to pretend to phone home for the shopping list you "forgot" or directions on how to get to your next stop all the while writing down the info you need to remember.

This is a trick I have fun with. I'll say, "Hey, did B-Bruce call? Well, tell him we need 62 cases of model 35, the dark brown short ones." The B-b stammer tells me the first name starts with B. If I'm nowhere near the person I'm describing, just I'll use their name. If not, I'll stammer and that "b" clue is enough to remind me of their name. 62 cases is 6'2" tall and model 35 means he's about 35 years old. Dark, short, brown all refer to his hair. Please do not use this trick during an interaction or during a timed event.

Bathroom Stall Inside the stall with the door shut you have a legal expectation of privacy. This is a safe place to get out your paper and pen and make notes. Once you leave the stall, you no longer have an expectation of privacy and your actions can once again be recorded.

Because I take my children with me on some shops, we have a rule: No talking about shopping except inside our own house. You don't know who is standing next to you at the ATM, who is browsing the next row over at the library or who might overhear you talking about a mystery shop. Just like being a superhero, it's just safer to never, ever admit your secret identity in public. Ever.


Kathy said...

On one shop, I went into the women's restroom in a grocery store, one that did not have a stall with one toilet. I did my notes by way of a small camera to take notes of the bathroom, and I was taking them unnoticedly... when I walked out of the restroom and completed the rest of the observation, while standing at a meat counter, the manager walked up and was standing too close for comfort, while I was talking with one of the butchers and joined in the conversation...

The point of this story... be careful in the restroom areas... a camera may be on watching...a camera that shouldn't have been in the restroom...

Shopgirl said...

Ew. Disgusting and disturbing! I hope you alerted the shopping company to this clear breach of personal privacy. This kind of thing can bring about a lawsuit!