When customers get in the way of your evaluation

You never know what you'll experience on a mystery shop when it comes to customers. While I almost never make comments or non-verbal gestures while conducting a shop, its human nature for others to intervene in order to be social.

While conducting a restaurant evaluation earlier this week, I was sort of taken aback by a customer that did an incredibly good thing for the purpose of benefiting me, even though it was almost at my detriment. What did this customer do? He "paid it forward", meaning that he paid for my meal without telling me. The server indicated this at an unexpected moment. A major aspect of the shop was to obtain a receipt. When I went to pay for a dessert just for the sake of obtaining a receipt, the customer paid for it AGAIN. I nonetheless walked out ofbthe restaurant without a receipt, and with that feeling of defeat due to the possibility of re-doing this shop.

I called my scheduler immediately, and explained what had happened. Given that this was a video shop (thankfully), she indicated that the client would understand this unusual and rare occurrence (it was very rare for me). She noted that in this situation, turning in the shop without a receipt would be okay.

My lesson on this day- when in an unusual situation, always, always, ALWAYS contact your scheduler if occurences such as this happen.

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This happens to women a lot. Not paying it forward necessarily... Maybe you were attractive to him?

I had to quit doing bar shops at BJ's for awhile. I had to re-do them more than once. Guys were picking up my tab.

Some guy kept buying my drinks in Miami Beach too. It was an integrity shop. Super annoying, since I wanted to get out of there and get some sleep.
No, he wasn't hitting on me. The customer was his wife, and was polite with me after entering the restaurant at almost the same time. Paying it forward was just a thing for him to do, I suppose.
Yes, it does happen frequently.

This happens to me every single time I do my sports bar shop on the last shoppable day. The first time, I was unnerved because I can't reshop. Luckily, the scheduler told me to explain what happened, and to get a receipt the next time. I did the report and got paid my fee.

When it happened again a few months later, I asked the server for the receipt. She gave me both with no questions asked. I explained what happened in my report.

@SoCalMama wrote:

This happens to women a lot. Not paying it forward necessarily... Maybe you were attractive to him?

I had to quit doing bar shops at BJ's for awhile. I had to re-do them more than once. Guys were picking up my tab.

Some guy kept buying my drinks in Miami Beach too. It was an integrity shop. Super annoying, since I wanted to get out of there and get some sleep.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Heck, I've even had clerks at convenience stores insist on buying my peanuts or crackers or whatever for me.

Very, very sweet, but embarrassing. Golly, do I actually look like I can't afford $1?

But the customer intervention I most recall is doing a JetSki shop. I was asking the salesman about safety, and another woman customer came over, asked me if I could swim, and immediately went into safety issues in depth!!! I just went along with it, and when she was done, I turned to the salesman and said "You should hire her! She's terrific!" He smiled and said, "I already did. She's my wife!"

That was a fun report.
I had a customer (60+ years old so not an idiot kid either) decide that it was hilarious to flip me off when I was trying to take an overall site gas station picture the other day. Who does that?!? Fortunately, I noticed it while I was taking the picture so I was able to retake it.
I was doing a grocery store shop and asked the butcher the required question and a customer answered it before the butcher could.

Another time i was doing a bank credit card inquiry and the banker called my name. I got up and he asked how he could help me. I said i was shopping around for a credit card and a customer told me that i should just look online.
@KarenMSW wrote:

I had a customer (60+ years old so not an idiot kid either) who flipped me off

Sorry about that, but what makes you think I'm over 60?

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2019 02:14AM by Aquiest.
I've had people try to pay for my items in C-stores. I had to say, "No, thank you". The people thought I was being rude but, it wasn't rude; it was more fear! I'm thinking, "Oh my gosh, no! Please don't pay for it!" There is nothing in my demeanor when I'm doing a shop is screaming, "Pay for my items for me!" so, I am baffled why people keep trying.

Shopping Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2019 12:55PM by ArkLaMissshopping.
Ha! This is so funny to me. I'm usually offered free drinks when i'm having drinks on my own tab but never when i'm "working".
@pegleg2000 wrote:

I was doing a grocery store shop and asked the butcher the required question and a customer answered it before the butcher could.
That exact same thing has happened to me on a grocery shop before, too!! What can you do?? Just listen, and then ask the associate, "Is that person right?" or "can you add any other details?" or something like that!
@eyelove2shop wrote:

Ha! This is so funny to me. I'm usually offered free drinks when i'm having drinks on my own tab but never when i'm "working".

You are twice lucky. It seems every time I get something comped or someone infrequently comes along and picks up my bill (I am old now so it happens way less often) it is on a shop. And every time I mutter to myself, "Why does this only happen on a shop. I almost never get things comped when I am not getting reimbursed."
We have a grocery client with a scenario where the shopper is supposed to leave an item on the bottom of the cart to see if the cashier or bagger is checking the carts for missed items. If it is not noticed before the total is called, the shopper brings it to the cashier's attention before cashing out. At least a few times a year, the customer behind the shopper in line jumps in with a friendly reminder to the shopper about their cart bottom item. Whoops! It can't really be helped, and the question end up N/A'd.

Administrative Manager for Shoppers' View
p: 616-608-1594 | e: christinew@shoppersview.com | w: www.shoppersview.com
Many years ago I had a dinner shop that required a bar visit before. So Mom and I show up and we start talking to another guy and his trophy babe at the bar. He wanted to pay our (small) tab., I said he didn't have to do so ut he insisted so he did it. Luckily I made sure to check the tab first and get the order number, just in case. He paid and when it came time to write the report I noted it but also had the order/receipt number of our order so the client could look it up and verify it - and my guess is - check the video, too. Got paid for the visit. When something "waaaaaay out of the ordinary" happens just make sure to remember as much of it as you can and include it in the report. Do this and most MSC/Clients will be OK with it once you tell them all that happened.
@SoCalDude wrote:

So Mom and I show up and we start talking to another guy and his trophy babe at the bar. He wanted to pay our (small) tab., I said he didn't have to do so ut he insisted so he did it.
You must be as cute as bgriffin.

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
I scheduled the shop before the date in Vegas hotel. Not-yet-boyfriend came, saw me, entered the store when I was just about done with the shop and paid for the stuff; reimbursement was $95 for fashion jewelry and took the receipt, of course. I was happy, confused, caught off guard. I told scheduler that I am running behind schedule and I returned next day and completed the shop, and got more stuff! I wish they still had that shop.
I had that happening this week. In the middle of sales conversation, another customer goes "oh I'm looking for one as well, I'll just come along". She kept interrupting me and also asking things that the sales person was supposed to tell me herself, and also answering questions I had to ask.
I did a grocery store last week and asked the required question at the deli. The store employee referred me to the customer behind me and said she would know better than he would.
When doing my bar audit, I wear my old wedding band, it helps as I place my ring finger where everyone can see it. I may say if we engage in conversation, my husbands traveling and I didn't want to cook, so a drink and a couple appetizer;s work...and I feel grown up...smiling smiley

Live consciously....
@Aquiest wrote:

I did a grocery store last week and asked the required question at the deli. The store employee referred me to the customer behind me and said she would know better than he would.
WHOA!!! Wonder what the MSC thought of that when they read the report about THAT interaction!!
I'm a badged shopper at an airport. Part of each shop is asking an "airport knowledge" inquiry. About once every other shift an airline or airport employee overhears me and gives the directions before the employee can answer. This is especially common at the coffee and fast food locations which are frequented by the employees.
So this totally made me think of that post from several months ago that sparked quite a debate. The shopper had her fine dining meal paid for by an acquaintance and was told by the MSC that she would receive the meager shop fee only, not the reimbursement (which the shopper had factored in as the lion's share of the compensation for performing the shop). So my question to you is, how did the MSC compensate you? Did they reimburse you for the meal and pay you a fee?

@Eric in Tampa wrote:

While conducting a restaurant evaluation earlier this week, I was sort of taken aback by a customer that did an incredibly good thing for the purpose of benefiting me, even though it was almost at my detriment. What did this customer do? He "paid it forward", meaning that he paid for my meal without telling me. The server indicated this at an unexpected moment. A major aspect of the shop was to obtain a receipt. When I went to pay for a dessert just for the sake of obtaining a receipt, the customer paid for it AGAIN. I nonetheless walked out ofbthe restaurant without a receipt, and with that feeling of defeat due to the possibility of re-doing this shop.

I called my scheduler immediately, and explained what had happened. Given that this was a video shop (thankfully), she indicated that the client would understand this unusual and rare occurrence (it was very rare for me). She noted that in this situation, turning in the shop without a receipt would be okay.

My lesson on this day- when in an unusual situation, always, always, ALWAYS contact your scheduler if occurences such as this happen.
@MSF wrote:

So this totally made me think of that post from several months ago that sparked quite a debate. The shopper had her fine dining meal paid for by an acquaintance and was told by the MSC that she would receive the meager shop fee only, not the reimbursement (which the shopper had factored in as the lion's share of the compensation for performing the shop). So my question to you is, how did the MSC compensate you? Did they reimburse you for the meal and pay you a fee?

@Eric in Tampa wrote:

While conducting a restaurant evaluation earlier this week, I was sort of taken aback by a customer that did an incredibly good thing for the purpose of benefiting me, even though it was almost at my detriment. What did this customer do? He "paid it forward", meaning that he paid for my meal without telling me. The server indicated this at an unexpected moment. A major aspect of the shop was to obtain a receipt. When I went to pay for a dessert just for the sake of obtaining a receipt, the customer paid for it AGAIN. I nonetheless walked out ofbthe restaurant without a receipt, and with that feeling of defeat due to the possibility of re-doing this shop.

I called my scheduler immediately, and explained what had happened. Given that this was a video shop (thankfully), she indicated that the client would understand this unusual and rare occurrence (it was very rare for me). She noted that in this situation, turning in the shop without a receipt would be okay.

My lesson on this day- when in an unusual situation, always, always, ALWAYS contact your scheduler if occurences such as this happen.

@MSF The MSC is going to compensate me for only the shop fee, since the reimbursement does not apply in this situation.
When this happened to me (my boyfriend's boss picked up our tab) we rescheduled the shop and got another free meal the next night!
I would tell the employee that I wanted his opinion. Of course if he refused, I would report that the employee did not give me the answer but found some who could. I would put in the comment space at the end of the report that the employee referred me to a customer.
I would still ask the employee. I would tell the customer that I wanted the employee's answer as an expert in the business.
A former employer used to require a receipt for everything (to prove that I was not receiving "gifts" from sales reps), so I've told that to servers, but then ask them to choose a different customer for the "pay it forward"
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