I normally don't do it on a shop just because people would start to wonder why I was eating at XYZ restaurant so often, but that's a personal preference on my part.
We post a lot on social media when we go out. We always "check in" and often post photos of our dinner or whatever we are doing on Instagram or Facebook. Obviously I would never say on social media that I am a mystery shopper. I'm not even telling my friends, really. But is it verboten to do "check ins" and such even if you are just doing them as you always would?
I belong to a lot of restaurant and shopping rewards programs. One example is a restaurant group in my area that has several different branded restaurants. No matter where I eat, I get points and then I can redeem the points for free meals. If I were to secret shop a place with rewards, it bad form to use the rewards card to get points when I know I will be reimbursed for the meal later?
Most restaurant shops I have seen are pretty specific that you are not to use coupons or things like Groupon or Restaurant.com discounts etc.
You are, however, allowed to use gift cards with most. We are coming up to the holiday season when many restaurants I shop will offer $5 for every $20 worth of gift cards I buy or similar deals. My most frequent restaurant shops are in the $45-$50 reimbursement range so generally I will pick up $25 or $30 gift cards so that I can use one and then a credit card to pay the remainder and the tip. There are also resellers on line who sell discounted gift cards and I understand that Costco sells discounted gift cards. And of course in the months when my credit card is giving me 5% back on restaurant purchases I will either be a buyer at the restaurant of gift cards for future use or be using the credit card to pay rather than parting with my gift cards.
One mostly local chain (so little chance to find discounted cards on resellers or at Costco) has about 10 locations. We do shops generally twice a month for this client.
We have been visiting the same small chain for more than 8 years. Luckily we adore the food. There is a 3 month rotation on visits so some times we can do 3 or 4 locations in a month, but usually we just stick to 2-3.
I have performed shops where the guidelines specifically say NOT to use a rewards card at all. You can not use it to pay for part of your meal or whatever service it is and you can not use it to earn points for future visits. Some shops/reports want to see if the employee offered and explain their rewards program to you. If their is nothing written in the guideline or the report, email your scheduler, get the answer in writing and keep that written communication in a folder on your computer.@Flash wrote:
Edited to add: I suspect there is no harm in collecting rewards points when performing a shop to use when you are not on a shop. In reports I always mention any freebies I have been given as 'come back' incentives and I have never gotten any comment. It just hasn't felt quite right to use them.
If you then busted out your "I come here all the time" rewards card after telling them you didn't know about the restaurant and hadn't been there before, it would be a little fishy.