Feel A Bit Dishonest

I really like being a Mystery Shopper so far. I do feel a bit bad after a shop. Kinda seems like we are lying to folks and wasting their time. Some say it is just like acting but, it does not feel that way. Does this dishonest feeling pass in time? I certainly hope so. Probably just my hang up hey?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/08/2017 03:27AM by TyShop.

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Wait until the first time you give a really good review. When you catch an employee doing good, your report could get them a raise, a bonus, a promotion......... Or you might give a bad review and save an employee's job because their company might identify that they need more training.
I tried to get someone to try mystery shopping, and she said "oh, no, I could never do that! Spy on people? No way!". Her response surprised me, because I had never thought of it in that way.

I do sometimes feel really bad about wasting a sales person's time, when I KNOW I'm not buying that new car or that set of clothes washer/dryer! And I've been doing this since 2008. So, no, the feeling doesn't go away. At least, for me it hasn't.

We provide a valuable service.
And I feel the opposite. That car salesperson spends all day many days with people who either had no intention of buying a car but just like to shop and test drive or decide after the meeting to look elsewhere. In the case of the mystery shopper I like to think we are there to zero in on any issues that salesperson or dealership might have with presentation or technique so they can do a better job next time and maybe earn more commissions in the future.
TyShop
At first, I felt bad about it, as well, but started looking at it as acting and then I would improve my performances. Whenever possible, I try to be actually shopping, but it doesn't always work out that way, so I focus on the employee. It's always been hard for me not to prompt the employee for the right answers. One of the worst times I had though, was when an employee at a convenience store, sort of accused me of being someone who goes around spying on workers and telling on them. I was really unhappy for a long time after it happened.

But then I realized that if the employees were doing what they were supposed to be doing, the managers wouldn't need someone to evaluate them. If employees were working like responsible adults, then the public wouldn't have to be concerned about food poisoning at convenience stores, or tracking filthy oil back into the floors of their cars at gas stations.

I'll always remember when the twin towers went down, there was this business owner who was just totally devastated at the loss of his business. Finally a friend tried to comfort him by saying he could rebuild. The owner replied that the friend didn't understand, it wasn't that simple. That yes, he could rebuilt a building, but it was his people he could never replace. His people were good employees, who didn't need a manager breathing down their necks all the time to get the job done.

And car sales? I almost never do them, and if I do them, I am always sorry. I sympathize with the employees trying to make their livings only to find out they were talking to a mystery shopper. Some say the employees have to be evaluated, but the truth is it's a waste of time. Car salesmen won't make it very long if they aren't selling any cars. The shops are well paid, so I guess some shoppers like them. I'm sure they have good arguments.

Sorry so long. Sorry no editing tonight.
Every car sale shop that I have ever seen requires that the shopper NOT visit during peak sales hours for that location. So, care has been taken to minimize the impact on the SA's opportunities to interact with serious customers. In additio, the goal is to identify areas where the SA may need further training to improve their odds of actually making a sale when working with real prospects. This is a service of value to the employees, not "stealing" from them! This is acting to test wheher the SA knows the script or not!

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I learned many things while shopping. For example, I helped my daughter on what to say when purchasing a new set of tires so it sounds like she was informed of what to look for. I did a few car dealer shops. When I am ready to purchase, I will consider one salesman that was really nice and informative but the dealership itself needed to work on customer service. This salesman allowed me to drive off on my own and wanted me to spend at least 1/2 hour driving the vehicle. How did I know? He was surprised that I returned back so soon and invited me to drive around a little bit longer to enjoy the features of the vehicle.
I disagree as to they tell you what hours to shop, my dealership says shop any time it's open except the last hour.
Making an appt. the Salesman tells you when he's available. I did one a week ago and for the first time did feel bad wasting his time. He definitely knew what he was doing, had been doing it for 15 years. I received quite a deal and really didn't know how to get out of there without buying. I felt bad, wish I could have bought that car.
Why don't they just evaluate the ones that need it, not the good ones with good records, that is a waste of time.
My dealership days are over for those reasons.

When you know better you do better....

Oprah
Whether the MSC specifies hours or not, I automatically choose non-peak times. Not only does it mean a sales associate isn't being tied up during prime money making time, the shop goes faster with no wait time for me.

There are a couple other things we can do to minimize our impact. The old pick and stick trick which simply means finding a vehicle (or apartment or anything else) we "love" right away so the associate isn't spending additional time showing us every car on the lot. This one is not going to be popular among those who think taking a test drive is fun, but if a test drive is not required, I never take one. If you feel the least bit bad about taking up an associate's time, neither should you.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
They give you a target, so making an appt. is part of the report, the online communication, phone call must go into report. I am also always told what car to shop and last appt. told the Salesman so he had one available, that included color and features I wanted. I went to their web and researched car. I actually have never waited, I do (did) high end cars including fee, so there is no wait time. Intellishop isn't the MSC I do dealerships for.

When you know better you do better....

Oprah
I know which shop you are talking about. Having a target and making an appointment is a little more unusual. I've done car shops for at least six different MSCs, but never that one. For the others there were specific models and in a few cases the need to go online before the visit to pick out something on the lot. It seems all of mine were walk ins so sometimes a wait was unavoidable whether for the high end or moderately priced cars.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
I have done every sort of vehicle from sub-compacts to Porsches and out here the clients really restrict the times that the SAs can be shopped.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Wow! I did not expect so many responses. THANKS EVERYONE! I sort of felt silly asking but, I'm glad I did. I suppose there is something about most everyone's job they don't like. I just have to keep it in the back of my mind that I am perhaps helping people instead of wasting their time.
All comments are sincerely appreciated.
It's funny you feel bad about lying. My husband has a hard time believing most of the things I say outside of the mystery shopping world. I have had to ask him to accompany me on some Video shops. Our names, work and number of kids change consistently. He says I'm so good that even he is shocked while on video. It's actually kind of funny now at how soon I can come up with a comeback during a shop.
@Unlicensed Detective wrote:

.It's always been hard for me not to prompt the employee for the right answers.

I have issues with not prompting as well. It is in my nature to ask questions. I recently found out that is one of the descriptions of a nerd! I ask a million questions where ever I go mystery shop or not so keeping my big trap shut is hard for me! but because of that I am always well informed on many subjects
There are many different MSC's that do dealerships. i can think of two where you just walk in, pay is low for those two, I started with them, and moved up. They all have their different scenarios.

When you know better you do better....

Oprah
Do you mean Intellishop and Bestmark? They definitely post low fee shops and there is no way I am completing any car dealer for $17 or $20. OTOH, they bonus well, even into triple digits, and have off the board shops with much higher starting rates.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
I do feel that some of these comparison studies with different competitors can be a waste of their time knowing upfront that I have no required purchases and intend to not make a purchase.

Then again, these salesmen know what's involved in their field of work, as they'll spend lots of time cold calling, visiting clients or potential clients, etc. knowing that a portion of them won't be calling you back or submitting any Request for Quotes for an opportunity.

I used to feel bad always saying 'yes' whenever a vendor wants to swing by and give their sales pitch to me while taking me out to lunch, but then realized that they're given a budget to work with by their company anyways, just like how these sales floor reps are given a set amount of overhead (hours) to work.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. Will travel within ~100 miles of these areas and can create long weekend routes! Will travel further distances with reasonable arrangements! Badged for Denver International Airport.
@sandyf wrote:

@Unlicensed Detective wrote:

.It's always been hard for me not to prompt the employee for the right answers.

I have issues with not prompting as well. It is in my nature to ask questions. I recently found out that is one of the descriptions of a nerd! I ask a million questions where ever I go mystery shop or not so keeping my big trap shut is hard for me! but because of that I am always well informed on many subjects

Terrific! I'm a nerd. lol Oh yes, I knew it (while working to hide it from view). lol
@LisaSTL wrote:

Do you mean Intellishop and Bestmark? They definitely post low fee shops and there is no way I am completing any car dealer for $17 or $20. OTOH, they bonus well, even into triple digits, and have off the board shops with much higher starting rates.
yep, but they don't bonus where I live, and no never would I do them for the going price which was 14.00 Bestmak and 17.00 Intellishop where I live.

When you know better you do better....

Oprah


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/08/2017 10:44PM by Irene_L.A..
I have only ever really felt bad about wasting a salespersons time ONCE and it was just because they truly hit 'home' for me. I was in Forest City, Pennsylvania for regular work and there was a nice bonus on a Chevy shop. I picked up the shop and no one in this town could have known me from Jane Smith. It is a good 11-12 hours from my house by car.

The shop said to wrap up and not take up too much of the sales persons time -- 30 minutes was preferable. I tried to wrap up after a really good shop. The salesman I worked with appeared to be 65-70 years old and even mentioned retiring soon. He took his time, seemed to think I was genuine about the car, went through all the motions that I went through at another dealer when I really did buy my Equinox -- Just an overall fun guy to work with. We looked at cars, took a test drive on the automatic and on a standard that someone had ordered and returned, and he knew a ton about the vehicles and changes made in recent years. He also knew a ton about my particular car and sold me on the newest model of it by mentioning storage, new features, etc that he had picked up by glancing over my Equinox. Guy coulda sold me a new SUV and I would not have been mad.

Anyway, shop is wrapping up, he's giving me info, his business card, telling me when the sales are and when their best pricing is, telling me about bonuses off for being a student, extra off for owning a Chevy, yada yada and then suddenly says "can I ask you a somewhat personal question?" I started thinking what on earth he could be about to ask me. Then... guy says "your accent is kind of unique... you sound like you're from where I grew up at." I laughed. There's no way that is a possibility so I asked him, "well, where did you grow up at?"

He replies.. "______ County, WV in a place called **town**-- then we moved to a little house near X______." I am pretty sure by my expression he must have known the name was familiar to me. It isn't where I live now, I used a fake name for the shop, my plates are not attached to the area, literally no way to identify or connect me with this area since my license/car/learners/home etc are all in another state. I thought he had to be joking; **town** is the "city" (it has 1800 people) closest to my little farm town at about 25 miles distance and X______ is a tenth of a mile from my grandparents homestead. I seriously thought he was messing with me. I told him where I was from and he started naming off all sorts of businesses, people, and places in the area, and stood talking to me for another half hour. He really was from the area I grew up and was so excited to meet someone else from there. I left feeling excited there were people from my town up a little more north in the city, but also kinda sad that I wasted his time. He probably was hoping I'd come back and talk more.

ETA: I blocked out the town name 1) because I don't want y'all coming over to visit my grandparents even though they'd feed ya tongue sticking out smiley and 2) because even though it is the name of the town, it's a somewhat derogatory name from when the area was coal camps and segregated. The city/state still haven't gotten around to giving the place a new name...

MegglesKat
Before taking up my first job, I discussed this with an Uncle of mine, and he was impressed how the clients want to keep their name in good regard and conduct mystery visits to evaluate CS.

That day and no guilt.
I worked at an Accounting firm and they have generally accepted accounting principles and I had to know them, practice them and be able to explain them completely, and I'm not that bright. If I can do that then expecting a burger joint employee to suggest a coke and side, or a car sales person to hit the 10 points is not that much to ask. Part of my job was looking forward to Corporate or the IRS comma' callin'. I'd say 70% of the shops I do fail to hit all the marks. It's an opportunity for them to realize their job has meaning in a grander scheme. Part of their job, and their pay, is to be regularly evaluated by a shopper anyway.
When I do a shop I don't feel like I'm lying, being deceitful or wasting the salesman's time. I'm doing a job as is the salesman. I do a lot of gas station shops where I reveal after a short time. The attendants, managers, owners have come to accept that this is standard procedure required by the company. I also do a lot of banks and a 10 minute presentation doesn't take a lot of time out of the bankers day. When I do other shops like cars, phones or electronics I choose those that I have a possible interest in the product. I am in the market for a new computer, will need a new car soon and I want to know what other phone packages are available. So I consider these type of shops as information gathering. I tend to stay away from shops that I have absolutely no interest in the final product. This may make me a poor actor but I believe it makes me a very believable shopper. And, perhaps, the reason I don't have guilt feeling about deceiving people and wasting their time.
@LIJake wrote:

I tend to stay away from shops that I have absolutely no interest in the final product. This may make me a poor actor but I believe it makes me a very believable shopper. And, perhaps, the reason I don't have guilt feeling about deceiving people and wasting their time.

I also tend to concentrate on things I'm actually interested in, or could be potentially interested in. I haven't done a car shop in a long time, but next year, when I am considering getting a car, I may do a couple just to see what's out there.

In the beginning, I did a wide variety of jobs and saw what different shops were like. Now, I concentrate on the ones that suit me best. If you feel like you are lying, and it continues to bother you, you may be in the wrong business. Or, you could move toward revealed audits, and do less mystery shopping.
I want to add, for the mot part we are doing a service and I have seen improvement. Most of my jobs give good service especially upscale retail, but the dealerships seem like a waste of time when you have to evaluate a good salesman, they should target the new ones only. Restaurants need our service, and I'm happy to do it, bar audits as well. I see no improvement in places like the big box stores. But if the client want it, who are we to say.....

When you know better you do better....

Oprah
Any serious salesperson who can't deal effectively with the "lookers" along with the serious buyers needs to be in a different line of work. I sold advertising before msing. Selling something you can see, feel and demonstrate is much easier than intangibles. Hopefully your report will either reward the salesperson for doing a good job or point out their shortcomings and encourage him/her to improve their skills.
I have been mystery shopped-- I think... Many years ago, a tall, stooped chap approached me and asked if we sold [*****]. Now, I was in my element at that time, and I immediately thought of three possible translations of the sounds that came out of his mouth. It wasn't the first one. It wasn't the second one. It wasn't the third one. It was the eighth effort to convey something that remotely resembled something in this language. A few days later, my boss informed that we sold [*****] and to my credit, I did not bust out laughing. I think I might have said, "I know. But the customer did not know. Ya wanna know how they pronounced that?" I hope that I was more polite than that. But it was a long time ago...

Anyway, the potential to do well is real. Time and personalities separate our impressions from any feedback provided for the people we evaluate. I always hope that the information I provide is only beneficial. But I cannot control what happens between my shops and the delivery of information about them. This is the part that most concerns me.

For the love of God, unless you’re prepping for Rigoletto at the Met, go easy on the eyeliner.
― Cheryl Cory
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