Bad shoppers

When you do shops do you ever think about the people who get written up and fired because of you not doing an accurate job? So you shop a mattress store and the salesperson does their job to the fullest extend they can based off of what you do, but you don't do your job of being a shopper. You want to get out fast so you try a couple beds and then give no feedback other than you like them both and then make up an excuse like "I will be back with my husband later" or say it's not for you it's for your sister so you can't choose one for her and leave. The sales associate can't do their job because you won't pick a specific mattress even though they have given you multiple options. But the requirement is that they must overcome your objections on the mattress that you pick and ask you to buy. The salesperson can't ask you to buy because you haven't picked anything. So because they did not hit all the check points they get written up, put on a 90 day performance plan and are fired if it happens again. You go along happily with your 20 bucks while someone else's job is ruined over a simple shop that you could not take the time to do properly.

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The ones I see are only $15 bucks. But seriously, I am sorry this happened to you, or anyone. As in any group of people, there are always the lazy, incompetent ones. There are probably more in this industry since, unlike in-person employment and workplace, we work on our own and do not have anyone overseeing us directly. The only time a shopping company knows that shoppers are cutting corners is when we do not turn in the quality report they are expecting or a client tells them. Many companies that are shopped will review video and dispute the mystery shop. Is it possible for you to do that? If you got a bum shopper, let the company know.

sestrahelena
If they said they were buying for someone else, they made a mistake according to the ones I do
I try to be 100% sure before I record and describe things that are missed. I take my job so seriously that one of my big fears is wrongly accusing an employee of doing something wrong; I always give the employee the benefit of the doubt unless I am 100% sure...to a fault. I know a banker who gets mystery shopped....she told me about a couple of times where the shopper came in and talked for 2 or 3 minutes and then said they had to leave and took a card...and then sent in a bad report. She was able to contest it and used video to confirm the short stay. But this isn't always feasible. I fear this happens when shoppers accept the sh@tty starting pay and then realize they have been duped into accepting less than minimum wage. Mystery shopping companies invite bad reports by paying less than minimum wage for new, naive shoppers instead of paying experienced shoppers a living wage.
I have read comments on a defunct site from some shoppers who say they give $5 worth of work for $5 pay, with the implication being that they took a poorly paying job, then basically blew off most of the requirements. Shoddy behavior! I have seen people walking through some of the big box or office supply stores with lists in their hands. They walk by an employee and write something down on the list, no interaction. I just saw the same thing in a grocery store the other day. I wish there was a way to weed out these types of shoppers, but when I have seen the behavior, I didn't even know who the MSC was. Frustrating! I think this is a big part of the disastrous decline in pay; poor quality reports that do not provide value to the client.
I highly doubt you got fired because of one shopper's report. You were probably not doing your job properly for some time before that and they finally had proof. Why don't you learn from your mistakes and move on? Life's too short.

@badshoppers wrote:

So because they did not hit all the check points they get written up, put on a 90 day performance plan and are fired if it happens again. You go along happily with your 20 bucks while someone else's job is ruined over a simple shop that you could not take the time to do properly.

Kim
@Sandy Shopper wrote:

I have read comments on a defunct site from some shoppers who say they give $5 worth of work for $5 pay, with the implication being that they took a poorly paying job, then basically blew off most of the requirements. Shoddy behavior! I have seen people walking through some of the big box or office supply stores with lists in their hands. They walk by an employee and write something down on the list, no interaction. I just saw the same thing in a grocery store the other day. I wish there was a way to weed out these types of shoppers, but when I have seen the behavior, I didn't even know who the MSC was. Frustrating! I think this is a big part of the disastrous decline in pay; poor quality reports that do not provide value to the client.

Actually, that was here. His name is John.
@Sandy Shopper wrote:

I wish there was a way to weed out these types of shoppers...

Video. Video does not lie about what has happened on a shop.
When I started shopping in 2007, the MSPA emphasized that mystery shops were *not* to be used for firing an employee or for provoking other punishments. Errors made by employees were picked up by the shoppers, and shop results were used to enhance training, or to reward good service. Or so they said.

The kinds of shops that could result in a salesperson losing a job were performed by private investigators, and paid accordingly. They might have hired a $300 PI after a couple of $20 mystery shopper reports, but the ms reports were not the basis for firing.

How things have (gradually) changed.
The amount of time does not equate to the quality of interaction.

In general, some locations are smaller and have less to show and discuss. Larger locations have more space to traverse and need more time to show and discuss what they have. And then there are employees who are quick about their business and cover the required elements in a short amount of time.

Now, let's talk about a specific industry. At this time in history and due to pandemic effects involving raw materials, some locations have less inventory than usual on hand. Some raw materials have been diverted for medical uses, and some consumers have chosen to buy these products in larger amounts than usual. These changes have contributed to a greater demand than supply. I love that employees are taking the time to discuss how their industry has been affected by the pandemic. They get kudos for educating a potential buyer about life, this industry, and everything.

Are you sure you want to blame shoppers for the way some shops are happening now?

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/17/2021 09:06AM by Shop-et-al.
I can't tell you how many times in 12 years that managers have approached me and thanked me for my time and courtesy (revealed audits, of course!). They say things like "Wow, the guy who usually does these is in and out in 5 minutes", or "I appreciate your being so polite."

I do not understand (although certain posters have bragged in this forum of doing exactly this thing, in and out in 5 minutes) how anyone can do a revealed audit in 5 minutes and NOT be fudging the reports. The same audit takes me 45 minutes and an average of 70-80 photographs. And the report usually takes me an hour.

I probably ask for, and get, a lot more money than the guy who is in and out in 5 minutes. But the client gets a report that actually shows infractions.

Which is why I don't do revealed audits for $10...or even $20 (remember, the one nearest me is 45 miles away, and most are 100 miles or more).
@Susan L. wrote:

When I started shopping in 2007, the MSPA emphasized that mystery shops were *not* to be used for firing an employee or for provoking other punishments. Errors made by employees were picked up by the shoppers, and shop results were used to enhance training, or to reward good service. Or so they said.

The kinds of shops that could result in a salesperson losing a job were performed by private investigators, and paid accordingly. They might have hired a $300 PI after a couple of $20 mystery shopper reports, but the ms reports were not the basis for firing.

How things have (gradually) changed.

When I started shopping in 2014, when I was 21 years old, I did a few alcohol mystery shops to check if the server or bartender was carding people who looked young. A few of them, when you weren't carded, required you to print out a form and give it to the manager which says the employee must be terminated. While I know a restaurant or bar can lose a lot of money for serving liquor to someone who's underaged, no one actually broke the law since I was 21- but I still know that some people were directly fired for a failure to perform by then.
I always try to accurately report what actually happens. If someone gets written up because of that, I don't feel it is my fault, I just tell what I experienced.

I had one employee at a BWW bar shop dispute his shoddy service. He basically ignored me while gushing about his new born baby to his regulars. I responded that I had previously given this same employee a glowing report just a couple months earlier. I never heard a peep back on the disputed shop.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/17/2021 12:57PM by wrosie.
A close friend manages a tire store in a regional chain that used to be shopped. (Due to our friendship I could never have shopped it -- not that the low fee for the inquiry shop was ever tempting.) It bounced around from Alta360 to Intellishop (where the fee was even lower) before disappearing completely. I asked my friend and he said the managers had convinced the owner to stop the program after three instances of proven false reports.

By the way, one MSC that does a lot of mattress shops requires almost no narrative and does not have a shopper rating system. It certainly makes their shops easy to report, but one can also see how it creates disputed reports like the one that seems to have inspired this post.
It is my opinion, there is no excuse for fraud. That being stated, I do believe there can be a contributory reason for such a situation: Low fees. Generally in this business, the MSC receives the quality for which they ante-up. Immediately after the Corona became a problem, many of the bottom payers dropped their fees to lower levels. Did that action profit them?
One thing that I keep coming back to in the OPs comments is that the shopper gave a bad report. I've had lots and lots of experience as a scheduler supervisor and an editor, in addition to mystery shopping for many years. In my experiences, shoppers who are fudging the reports don't put in a lot of negative behavior because they don't want the report to be reviewed against previous reports, store videos or the store management's experience with the store associate's typical behavior. The give a "they were pretty good but not perfect" type of report that will pass muster without additional scrutiny.
@Sandy Shopper wrote:

One thing that I keep coming back to in the OPs comments is that the shopper gave a bad report. I've had lots and lots of experience as a scheduler supervisor and an editor, in addition to mystery shopping for many years. In my experiences, shoppers who are fudging the reports don't put in a lot of negative behavior because they don't want the report to be reviewed against previous reports, store videos or the store management's experience with the store associate's typical behavior. The give a "they were pretty good but not perfect" type of report that will pass muster without additional scrutiny.

Agree 100% with this. Long time former editor/scheduler also. Or you get 100% perfect shop with absolutely no critical feedback that won't be disputed.
These can be time consuming in general and sometimes in specific ways. Waiting to get an unobstructed view of an entire pump versus waiting for human-free angled shots. This is best when wind is whipping the skin off of your nose or you are frying because you forgot sunscreen that day. Mmm Mmm! The more infractions, the merrier--if you like to upload pics.

The basic mystery shops are so easy, even with infractions, that I want to do only those assignments. The audits deserve so much time, which is not predictable in advance, that their base pay should be $30 or more. Maybe more. Definitely more?

I never took the comments during gas station and other audits seriously. Those remarks might have been intended to influence the report or to inspire me to gossip about another shopper/auditor. OTOH, I believe that ceasesmith is polite at work and their complement was well deserved. You go, ceasesmith!


I
@ceasesmith wrote:

I can't tell you how many times in 12 years that managers have approached me and thanked me for my time and courtesy (revealed audits, of course!). They say things like "Wow, the guy who usually does these is in and out in 5 minutes", or "I appreciate your being so polite."

I do not understand (although certain posters have bragged in this forum of doing exactly this thing, in and out in 5 minutes) how anyone can do a revealed audit in 5 minutes and NOT be fudging the reports. The same audit takes me 45 minutes and an average of 70-80 photographs. And the report usually takes me an hour.

I probably ask for, and get, a lot more money than the guy who is in and out in 5 minutes. But the client gets a report that actually shows infractions.

Which is why I don't do revealed audits for $10...or even $20 (remember, the one nearest me is 45 miles away, and most are 100 miles or more).

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/18/2021 01:41AM by Shop-et-al.
I do not believe any of what you say about the salespersons performance and job security. I worked a retail job many years ago. I got shopped every month. My score was usually good or perfect. NOTHING ever came of it. No promotion, nothing critical, nothing. In most retail situations, they are glad when you show up for work on time. Any retail job where they are that critical of your performance, you should walk away from that garbage job.
Something seems off to me with the original letter here:

" But the requirement is that they must overcome your objections on the mattress that you pick and ask you to buy. The salesperson can't ask you to buy because you haven't picked anything. "

the shopper did not follow the guidelines.
The role of the mystery shopper in this type of shop is to let the salesperson lead the conversation. It is up to the person being shopped to hit their marks and guide the interaction. Unfortunately, there are a few shoppers that will fudge and not follow the guidelines. I imagine if that occurs, it might be difficult to do what you are supposed to do. Most, if not all places have video to prove what occurred. Shoppers would much rather write a good report because negative ones will probably come under some type of scrutiny. Having said that, I can't imagine someone losing their job because of one report.
I have always wondered how negative reports are handled. Do clients usually challenge them with the MSC? Do you have any interesting stories to share?

@Sandy Shopper wrote:

One thing that I keep coming back to in the OPs comments is that the shopper gave a bad report. I've had lots and lots of experience as a scheduler supervisor and an editor, in addition to mystery shopping for many years. In my experiences, shoppers who are fudging the reports don't put in a lot of negative behavior because they don't want the report to be reviewed against previous reports, store videos or the store management's experience with the store associate's typical behavior. The give a "they were pretty good but not perfect" type of report that will pass muster without additional scrutiny.
@MSF wrote:

I have always wondered how negative reports are handled. Do clients usually challenge them with the MSC? Do you have any interesting stories to share?

I helpped set up the mystery shopping program for a company that I work for. Our retail managers used to review video tape even though they weren't supposed to. In our case, if there was a dispute, we would review the dispute before passing it on to the MSC. A lot of the times it was pretty easy to identify a shopper as they recited the script verbatim and our staff was given copies of the shopper guidelines and questions that were being asked.

What would typically happen is the MSC would reshop the location at their cost.

We no longer shop our stores.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/2021 02:03AM by foodluvr.
I've never done a mattress shop, but sometimes I will encounter a person during a shop that doesn't do all the "right" things, but is overall fantastic. There are also some shops I do often and no one has EVER asked "that question" that is always on the form. I don't worry about it too much, as I don't think someone is going to get fired because they didn't orientate me to a menu or describe a special cocktail (given that otherwise they were just fine). I think really, if anything, gaps in what corporate wants/ what associates do is on management. It's a training issue. If people weren't trained, and/or if management isn't ensuring the procedure is carried out, that's really on them.

That all said, my sister used to work at chain and lost her job because of a secret shopper. Of course, I never got to see the report, but she must have done something super bad. She's a hot mess, so I think it was good that they fired her-- she's a sweet girl but she was just totally not good for business there. She was a server, and you could argue the manager didn't train her properly, but there is also EOE so you need a reason to fire as well. The one thing that might suck is that if someone is fired because of a secret shop then they won't get unemployment, but if they are a server or cashier the unemployment benefits would be so low that it is a wash.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/2021 01:42AM by rothers27.
@badshoppers wrote:

When you do shops do you ever think about the people who get written up and fired because of you not doing an accurate job? So you shop a mattress store and the salesperson does their job to the fullest extend they can based off of what you do, but you don't do your job of being a shopper. You want to get out fast so you try a couple beds and then give no feedback other than you like them both and then make up an excuse like "I will be back with my husband later" or say it's not for you it's for your sister so you can't choose one for her and leave. The sales associate can't do their job because you won't pick a specific mattress even though they have given you multiple options. But the requirement is that they must overcome your objections on the mattress that you pick and ask you to buy. The salesperson can't ask you to buy because you haven't picked anything. So because they did not hit all the check points they get written up, put on a 90 day performance plan and are fired if it happens again. You go along happily with your 20 bucks while someone else's job is ruined over a simple shop that you could not take the time to do properly.

I hate to inform you that is why the MSC is paying you the $20. Your job is to report what you see and not to make judgments. Have you watch any of the videos here / [www.youtube.com]
Having been on many sides of retail as a sales person, manager, owner and shopper I can tell you it is RARE and one would be fired for one bad shop unless they did something like make a racist comment or use profanity with the customer. If someone is fired it has usually been consistently bad performance on the retail associate’s part. A good owner/manager takes that information and retrains or increases the number of shops to get more information. As a shopper we all know a bad reports takes twice as long as a good one. However, the shoppers job is to give an honest account of the experience without bias. Sometimes they can hit every question they are supposed to and still provide horrible customer service. This is where shoppers have to be creative and use phrases like “associate asked required questions but asked in a way that they seemed distracted or disinterested in my answer.” “Bob missed one of the required questions but maintained a upbeat and positive attitude the entire time. He made shopping for a mattress fun and engaging.” If you are smart you have some of these phrases as short cuts programmed and reporting takes less time. If you are giving people good reports just to make your job faster and easier then you are cheating the whole reason for the program. Shame on you. Please stop shopping. You make the rest of us look bad.
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