Bar Integrity Shop

I just completed my first bar integrity shop for Mercantile. Wow, that was a lot of detail.

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I do them monthly, yes, alot of work, but they pay a small fee...the old MSC didn't pay a fee at all, but report was easier...welcome to the club!!

Live consciously....
Thanks Irene! I did like getting the fee. Here's hoping they get easier as I go along...
I hate having to take the pic's now, before you didn't have too, so, I'm not doing as many as I used to, just takes too much time on the report end. I love their BBQ chicken salad, what's your favorite meal there?

Live consciously....
I agree that taking and uploading the pics is a bit of a pain. The location here is a stand alone with a restaurant on either side in different parking lots. So I have to drive through the other two lots to get pictures with my car window rolled down as I drive by. I'm sure I look a little suspicious.

I have really been enjoying the chicken lettuce wraps right now. The 1/2 sandwich with fries and soup/salad lunch special is a great deal for how much food you get. But I must admit I save that one for when I'm not being reimbursed since it's so cheap winking smiley

Have you seen that the cocktail, take-out and dining shops for them are back on TUAU this month?
TUAU has one after 9:00PM, too late for me. I do love the takeouts. Started doing two new restaurants, so, I'm eating way too much as is...will wait till next month and try TUAU again.

edited to way..just got email from TUAU asking me to do a lunch at the one 2 miles from me, no bar involved. They do have a fair amount left for March, but no bar ones, I grabbed it and will able to get a "take out". Much prefer these from the new ones, easy peasey!!

Live consciously....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/09/2011 04:31PM by Irene_L.A..
If these are "integrity" shops you could be held liable if the state requires you to have a private investigation license. In Washington State it is a misdemeanor if you are not licensed. California requires this as well.
If the mystery shopping company is a licensed investigation agency they can not use independent contractors unless the contractor is licensed.
IF someone is let go based on your observations and it ends up in court or an unemployment hearing you could be summoned and if you are not licensed guess who is liable....the IC.
Best advise, before doing the shop check with the state to see what their PI laws are and if you would be violating those laws in doing an integrity shop.
I do have my PI License for Vegas, none was offered in CA.

Live consciously....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2011 05:39AM by Irene_L.A..
Is it a sheriff's card allowing you to work for a PI agency in Las Vegas or are you an actual PI in Vegas with all the necessary insurance, bonds and did you go through all the testing it takes to become a PI? AND is the company you work for licensed in Nevada?
It looks to me that Merantile has taken over the actual bar shop portion, and TUAU is doing the rest of the restaurant (dining room, cocktail and take out).
Doug, I have a work card and work under a Vegas MSC that partner's with other MSC's, they are in Vegas and licensed to do this work. I have to ask why the MSC hiring an Independent Contractor for a bar Integrity wouldn't make sure we have a license if that state requires it. I will not be doing anymore in CA where I live due to this. Mercantile does not check, just sends emails to all registered with them. We have an Atty. on the forum from CA, I will pm him and find out more information on this subject.

Yes, TUAU has lunch, dinner shops and take out (no bar Integrity) back for March, did one yesterday, certainly they are more fun and report easier.....

Live consciously....

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2011 04:37PM by Irene_L.A..
In short, you don't need to be licensed to do Mercantile's bar integrity shops (in California). All of these citations come from the California Business and Professions Code:

Let's first see how the state of California defines, "Private Investigator":

> 7521. A private investigator within the meaning of this chapter is
> a person, other than an insurance adjuster subject to the provisions
> of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 14000) of Division 5 of the
> Insurance Code, who, for any consideration whatsoever engages in
> business or accepts employment to furnish or agrees to furnish any
> person to protect persons pursuant to Section 7521.5, or engages in
> business or accepts employment to furnish, or agrees to make, or
> makes, any investigation for the purpose of obtaining, information
> with reference to...
> ... (b) The identity, habits, conduct, business, occupation, honesty,
> integrity, credibility, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency,
> loyalty, activity, movement, whereabouts, affiliations, associations,
> transactions, acts, reputation, or character of any person...
> ...For the purposes of this section, a private investigator is any
> person, firm, company, association, partnership, or corporation
> acting for the purpose of investigating, obtaining, and reporting to
> any employer, its agent, supervisor, or manager, information
> concerning the employer's employees involving questions of integrity,
> honesty, breach of rules, or other standards of performance of job
> duties.
> This section shall not apply to a public utility regulated by the
> State Public Utilities Commission, or its employees.

So, at first glance it appears that in California, all "mystery shoppers" are defined as private investigators. In California, in order to do PI work, you need to be licensed:

> 7523. (a) Unless specifically exempted by Section 7522, no person
> shall engage in the business of private investigator, as defined in
> Section 7521, unless that person has applied for and received a
> license to engage in that business pursuant to this chapter.

But wait! If you look up the exemptions, mystery shopping (and Mercantile's bar evaluations) appear to be, as they define the exemptions, exempted from the PI license requirement:

You are exempted if you are...

> 7522 (n) (1) A person or business engaged in conducting objective
> observations of consumer purchases of products or services in the
> public environments of a business establishment by the use of a
> preestablished questionnaire, provided that person or business entity
> does not engage in any other activity that requires licensure
> pursuant to this chapter. The questionnaire may include objective
> comments.
> (2) If a preestablished questionnaire is used as a basis, but not
> the sole basis, for disciplining or discharging an employee, or for
> conducting an interview with the employee that might result in the
> employee being terminated, the employer shall provide the employee
> with a copy of that questionnaire using the same procedures that an
> employer is required to follow under Section 2930 of the Labor Code
> for providing an employee with a copy of a shopping investigator's
> report. This subdivision does not exempt from this chapter a person
> or business described in paragraph (1) if a preestablished
> questionnaire of that person or business is used as the sole basis
> for evaluating an employee's work performance.

So, what does this mean? As long as you are being provided with the standards the company wants you to judge (working with a questionnaire),and as long as the client is giving you directions in what to report, you're fine. You don't need to be licensed.

And also, the client can't discipline any employee based solely on your evaluation. They can only use it to identify a possible problem.

EDIT: Dammit Jim! I'm an attorney, not a paralegal!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2011 01:14AM by Nichtoliver.
If you are doing a shop to determine the honesty of an employee then you do have to be licensed. There is a fine line in California and the best suggestion is to call the licensing bureau and ask.
In Washington State it is a misdemeanor for anyone to do any type of integrity shop without being licensed, meaning the IC has to be licensed and not just working for an investigator. In Nevada the sheriff card just gives you permission to do mystery shops, it does not make you a private investigator.

An integrity shop is testing the honesty of an employee which is different from observation of customer purchases and services.

Again, if I were a shopper I would do two things:

1. Contact the state that you are doing an "Integrity" shop in and tell them what you are expected to do then ask if you need to be licensed and
2) Have the MS company email you stating the observations you make as an unlicensed PI will not result in any disciplinary action against the employee.

Again, instead of depending on these posts contact the state directly.
I understand that in some states that's the case. However, provided certain conditions are met, California doesn't requires a PI license for integrity shops as long as the client gives the shopper a survey to base their report on. In addition, the client can't take adverse action against an employee solely based on the report.

And I agree, it's always best to call somebody and ask. Especially if you're dealing with a state you're unsure of. However, also keep in mind that the bureaucrat you get on the phone might not know of each specific exemption and say, "Yeah, you need a license, I think I've read that somewhere."

Just because somebody's an "expert" doesn't mean they know what their talking about 100% of the time. The best bet is to ask, research it yourself and then come to a conclusion.

EDIT: Also, if you pay careful attention, Mercantile labels their bar shops "Bar Survey" (to indicate that a survey is involved and there's no need for a license...but then it the comments it says "Bar Integrity Audit"winking smiley.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2011 10:38PM by Nichtoliver.
BUT, you know how that goes. Although the bar can't take adverse action, and I am playing devil's advocate, let's say the shopper observed the bartender putting $10 in his/her pocket without ringing the sale. If one of the questions on the survey asks if all orders were being rung, this is an integrity question.
Now the bar owner fires the employee because the question was answered "no".(even though no adverse action is to be taken). The employee goes to an unemployment hearing (or criminal hearing). The employee has the right to view the form and any other evidence.
The "shopper" could be called on to testify. A good lawyer would ask if they are trained and licensed as an investigator. If the answer is "no" then the shopper could be in some hot water. Taking it a step further, if the employee was simply putting his tips in his pocket and was not stealing then the shopper would be more than likely to be liable along with the bar owner. I doubt if the shopper has $1,000,000 in liability insurtance and E&O insurance.

Whenever we do ANY integrity shops we use private investigators. If it is a regular bar shop it is stated clearly in our contract with the client hat this is not an integrity shop and to be used only for training purposes.
And if the "good lawyer" asked the shopper if they were a licensed investigator, a good answer would be, "No, pursant to California Business and Professions Code section 7522 N, I don't need to be."

And if an employee was discharged in way that violates California Labor Code, it's the employer who's responsible. The shopper didn't discharge the employee, the employer did. It's the same as you getting crappy service at a restaurant, filling out a 1-800 survey with negative results and leaving comments regarding what the employee did, the employer reviews the results and fires the employee after reviewing surveillance camera footage. The customer who called in the complaint wouldn't be in any sort of trouble...unless they lied with the explicit intention of causing the employee harm, in which case it's libel.

Hopefully that makes sense. I'm halfway buzzed.

From California Labor Code, section 2930:

> (a) Any employer who disciplines or discharges an employee on
> the basis of a shopping investigator's report of the employee's
> conduct, performance, or honesty performed by a person licensed
> pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 7500) of Division 3
> of the Business and Professions Code shall provide the employee with
> a copy of the investigation report prior to discharging or
> disciplining the employee. Where an interview occurs which might
> result in the termination of an employee for dishonesty, the employee
> shall be handed a copy of the latest investigation report on which
> the interview was based during the course of the interview prior to
> its conclusion. This section shall not be applicable if the licensee
> conducting the investigation is employed exclusively and regularly by
> one employer in connection with the affairs of only that employer
> and where there exists an employer-employee relationship and the
> entire investigation is conducted solely for such employer by such
> licensee.
> (b) For purposes of this section, a "shopping investigator" is a
> person who: shops in commercial, retail, and service establishments
> to test integrity of sales, warehouse, stockroom, and service
> personnel, and evaluates sales techniques and services rendered
> customers; reviews an establishment's policies and standards to
> ascertain employee performance requirements; buys merchandise, orders
> food, or utilizes services to evaluate sales technique and courtesy
> of employees, carries merchandise to check stand or sales counter and
> observes employees during sales transaction to detect irregularities
> in listing or calling prices, itemizing merchandise, or handling
> cash; or delivers purchases to an agency conducting shopping
> investigation service; and, following any one or more of the above
> activities, writes a report of investigations for each establishment
> visited.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2011 12:03AM by Nichtoliver.
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