Requirements silly and could out you as shopper....

In the age when nearly every business has a website and a Facebook page, some MSCs' requirements are stupid, imo.

I'm doing a shop today and am required to call the location to verify their hours, address, and if they carry the product brand I'm to shop. Well, their website and Facebook page have all of that information on them, and the name of the business includes the brand name. It's like having to shop a Cadillac at "Bob's Cadillac" and call to ask if they sell Cadillacs. Uh, no.

Why would I need to call ahead to ask all of those questions, other than to perhaps verify what time they close (acting as if I didn't just read it on the website)? Don't most people these days at least do a preliminary look at a business's website if they're looking to buy a big-ticket item?

I called, but when I have to do this, I try to not be so oblivious and obvious with my questions. I might ask, "Oh, I see you're on Elm Street; you're right next to the whatever, right?" or "Do you have a CTS on the floor?" I'm not calling Bob's Cadillac and asking, "Do you carry Cadillacs?" This isn't a Cadillac shop, but the premise is the same.

Seems to me that people calling and asking the exact same questions (the location has another shop this week for a different product) could be a clue to the business that you're a shopper....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/04/2019 06:42PM by BirdyC.

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How about the mystery shopping company leaking your info to the client ahead of time, so that the client can get a high score? Yes, this has happened!!! No, I can't say the name of the company.
Asking for receipts of all your cash purchase requirements at the strip club as proof of your visit grinning smiley

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 29 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
@Tarantado wrote:

Asking for receipts of all your cash purchase requirements at the strip club as proof of your visit grinning smiley

So you're still sitting there after your lap dance for the dancer to come back with your receipt after ringing her tip into the register? ROTFLMAO!
I've had an electronic store where they want you to inspect the restroom but do not ask where it is. If you ask, it could out you as a mystery shopper. I've had restaurant shops where they tell you do not ask for a bag to go after your meal. It could out you as a mystery shopper. I don't think the people writing this stuff have ever done mystery shopping.
I hate when they use an old template to implement a new job/client report, but they don't weed out unnecessary, not in the guidelines or extraneous information/questions in the new template/client report.
There was one shop I wouldn't do for years because they had the same required opening question for almost the entire 11 years I've been shopping. It was like hanging a little bell on me that announced "This is a shopper!!" The question was recently changed to something broader, which most normal people would ask. Of course, maybe it may be 10 years before they change the required question again....
It's totally normal for online information to be wrong anyway. Stores change their hours and don't update Google. Product lines change. Stock runs out.

The stock questions are a different thing. I still do it. I do my best to be natural. Adding pauses to a line can help. Like you're trying to find words and it comes out weird. Normal speech is like that. Most people don't speak in composed sentences so you have to break those up a bit.

And if they're onto you, it's not your fault. Just do your best. Get paid.
Personally I do not think the calls necessarily out me. The other day I was going somewhere. I looked at the web page for the location and it said the location was open that day and listed the hours. I called them anyway (not a shop) because it was labor day and I just did not really think they would be open. Turned out they were not. When I have had to call I sometimes ask if the restaurant is busy just then and if it is I say I will come a little later. If I know it is a packed parking lot I will ask if they can see the lot and if it is full right then. Of course I live in a city where parking is always difficult. I also sometimes will ask if they have something in stock (not a shop) because I don't want the bother to drive over, find parking and then find out they are out of what I came for...not cadillacs usually.
There are many silly things I have had to ask but not usually on pre or post calls. But the big city is big and busy and the phones seem to be always busy when I am in somewhere. Lots of people make calls to the stores.
Receipts are another thing though. I had a woman YELL at me. As a normal customer, I would just leave. I bought my under $3 thing. When I asked for a receipt, she mouthed "Oh, sh--."

Other times, the associate has tried upselling or whatever but I don't listen. It's all over by that point.
There's only so many times people can go to the local hospital and ask for the security guard because you lost your keys or lost your car. If I was a security guard, I would view half of all people who lost keys/car as MSers

Also, the big box store where you have to carry a large/heavy item around without a shopping cart. Um.....I get shopping carts at all stores upon entering, but ESPECIALLY at this store, because the items are USUALLY big and bulky.....
@Tarantado wrote:

Asking for receipts of all your cash purchase requirements at the strip club as proof of your visit grinning smiley

10 foot pole for me.

A Dad shopping the Ark-LA-Tex and beyond.
The biggest issue is when one shopper does the same shop time and time again asking the same question or some version of it over and over. Even though the schedulers realize shoppers do that job multiple times over perhaps those who structure the surveys up in their offices far from the real world of mystery shopping have no idea or really don't care.

Having a shopper go in and almost purchase a pricey item and then leave the pricey store after buying some small trinket is another one. Come to buy a $5,000 purse every three months and then leave with a stick of gum?
For hospitals, I used to have to go to the lost and found at the hospital I worked at quite often. The shelves were overflowing with all sorts of items...keys included. I purchased my best umbrella when they had a lost and found sale for the employees of items that had been there for years and years. They never sold the keys or the false teeth. That was the most frequent thing lost at the hospital.


@Jill_L wrote:

There's only so many times people can go to the local hospital and ask for the security guard because you lost your keys or lost your car. If I was a security guard, I would view half of all people who lost keys/car as MSers

Also, the big box store where you have to carry a large/heavy item around without a shopping cart. Um.....I get shopping carts at all stores upon entering, but ESPECIALLY at this store, because the items are USUALLY big and bulky.....
Is that a 10-foot stripper pole?

@ShoppingDad wrote:

@Tarantado wrote:

Asking for receipts of all your cash purchase requirements at the strip club as proof of your visit grinning smiley

10 foot pole for me.
I can see the point about calling to verify the hours and ask about the location as if you're not familiar with it. But it's odd to have to ask about the brand when it's part of their name. If you can do all of that and not sound scripted, that's one thing. I can, but I did have to be specific in asking about their brand in order to sound natural. So I asked about brand and specific line. I guess for me with the shop I did yesterday, a problem was that this place is known county-wide and everybody knows they carry this brand. Of course, the MSC probably doesn't know that, and the instruction to simply ask if they carry the brand is standing language.

Some of the questions you have to ask on the phone and in person, though, are really totally unnatural. Or, as mentioned, so repetitive that you probably do risk being outed precisely because of the questions. People who shopped Chipotle a lot, especially the same ones over and over, were hard-pressed to come up with new questions to ask. How many times can you ask where they are and how to get there, what their hours are, if they had barbacoa back in yet....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/05/2019 12:35PM by BirdyC.
I'm doing a fitness facility shop where during the phone call I had to ask if they would give a discount if I paid in cash. It's a location that has been shopped recently and will get shopped again, I imagine. I wonder how many times that question will get asked before the employees start to wonder? At any rate, the associate did not know I was the shopper, as he did not ask for my name or contact info or try to schedule an appointment for me to tour the facility.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

I'm doing a fitness facility shop where during the phone call I had to ask if they would give a discount if I paid in cash.

That sounds like a bizarre time to ask that question! I see a lot of shops where you have to ask it at the time of the shop, but not on the initial phone call. I wonder how many "real" customers would ask that until they were there in the facility and talking membership....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

I'm doing a fitness facility shop where during the phone call I had to ask if they would give a discount if I paid in cash. It's a location that has been shopped recently and will get shopped again, I imagine. I wonder how many times that question will get asked before the employees start to wonder? At any rate, the associate did not know I was the shopper, as he did not ask for my name or contact info or try to schedule an appointment for me to tour the facility.

Asking for discounts is a normal thing.... At least for me.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 29 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
@eyelove2shop wrote:

If they're discussing membership rates asking about discounts isn't odd imo.

I didn't say asking about discounts is odd. I said that asking about a discount for cash in the initial phone call is odd. Once you're there on the tour, and they're trying to get you to buy a membership or are discussing the rates would be the time, imo, that most normal customers would ask about there being a discount for cash.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
@Tarantado wrote:

Asking for discounts is a normal thing.... At least for me.

I think asking for discounts is pretty normal for many people. I asked for one on a shop yesterday, but once I was at the location, not when making the initial call. That's what I find odd.

Do you ask for "discounts for cash" when you're simply making a general inquiry or setting up an appointment? Or do you ask for it once you're at a location and speaking to someone who can give you a discount or who is discussing membership and rates with you?

Many shops instruct you to ask about a "discount for cash," but the ones I've seen have you do it at the time of the appointment or the service.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/05/2019 04:49PM by BirdyC.
@BirdyC

When I make the initial phone call, I block my name and numbet. So, I don't think they connect me to my phone call.

As for asking for discounts- pre intetnet and non mystery shopping my mom did as much fact finding by phone as possible. If she was going to ask for a cash discount it was on the phone call to each gym or whatever to narrow down the number of actual stops she needed to make. And that is a question that the website likely can't answer.
@BirdyC

When I make the initial phone call, I block my name and number. So, I don't think they connect me to my phone call.

As for asking for discounts- pre internet and non mystery shopping my mom did as much fact finding by phone as possible. If she was going to ask for a cash discount it was on the phone call to each gym or whatever to narrow down the number of actual stops she needed to make. And that is a question that the website likely can't answer.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/05/2019 04:55PM by prince.
@BirdyC wrote:

I think asking for discounts is pretty normal for many people. I asked for one on a shop yesterday, but once I was at the location, not when making the initial call. That's what I find odd.

Do you ask for "discounts for cash" when you're simply making a general inquiry or setting up an appointment? Or do you ask for it once you're at a location and speaking to someone who can give you a discount or who is discussing membership and rates with you?

Many shops instruct you to ask about a "discount for cash," but the ones I've seen have you do it at the time of the appointment or the service.

Speaking on what I'd personally do, I'd ask over the phone. I like to get all pricing in front of me ahead of time so I can quickly figure out if I'd be wasting my time and gas. Salesmen who insist I come to the location in person turn me off completely.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 29 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Well, it really does surprise me that people ask for cash discounts before they go someplace in person. I feel that my bargaining position is stronger once I'm there and they're asking for the sale. Sometimes, too, there's not supposed to be a discount for cash, and they won't quote you one over the phone. But once you're there in person and they want the sale badly enough, those cash discounts miraculously appear.

I'm not sure how a potential "real" customer of a gym/fitness facility could assess over the phone and without seeing the facility whether or not he or she would want a membership. Unless the place's pricing was way out of line compared to other facilities. I'd want to take the tour and find out about their services before deciding if I'd want a membership.

If I'm buying the latest in gourmet coffee makers, that's another thing, though. I probably wouldn't drive to a store unless I was sure there was a sale or other discount available.

Maybe this is a regional thing or something that "runs" in some families. My mom was a helluva negotiator when it came to cars, but always once the salesperson was trying to make the sale. I just don't know a lot of people who ask for discounts over the phone; maybe I don't know enough people....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/05/2019 05:33PM by BirdyC.
I have asked if there's a cash discount over the phone for non-mystery shops. In my area, places such as salons/spa and some grocery stores offer discounts if you pay cash. They prefer not to use credit cards since there is a fee the merchandant charges.
@eyelove2shop wrote:

I have asked if there's a cash discount over the phone for non-mystery shops. In my area, places such as salons/spa and some grocery stores offer discounts if you pay cash. They prefer not to use credit cards since there is a fee the merchandant charges.

Around here there's rarely a discount for cash anywhere, at any type of business. Although a few small restaurants we frequent simply don't take credit or debit cards at all to avoid the fees. One place we shop at, instead of offering a discount for cash, assesses a surcharge for using a card.

So maybe things do vary in different regions of the country....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
@BirdyC,

Years ago AMEX used to be the most expensive card fee wise for the vendor, I don't know if they still are. They used to have a program where you could report vendors that charged you additional for using their card.
@wrosie wrote:

@BirdyC,

Years ago AMEX used to be the most expensive card fee wise for the vendor, I don't know if they still are. They used to have a program where you could report vendors that charged you additional for using their card.

I think that by law, vendors can charge a fee for card usage, but it's not supposed to be more than either the actual charge or some percentage limit. But the place we shop at was, I'm sure, charging more than that. Maybe they got reported, but we haven't been there in awhile, so I don't know what they're charging now.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
I frequently ask for either cash discounts, senior citizen discounts and/or military discounts over the phone. It's such a natural thing for me to do, as I've done it for years. So I don't ever feel uncomfortable doing so.
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