How am I giving myself away at Five Guys?

I'm sure the lady I knew I was a mystery shopper within a couple minutes. Just after I ordered and was standing there waiting for the food, the black shirt that took my order said 'Come here' to another crew member and whispered something while the crew member stared at me. AND last time I did a shop, one of the crew members cleaned up the store alll around where we were sitting pretty much the whole time!!! And acted suuuper friendly.

Here's all I can think it might be: Either it's because I have my two kids with me, who aren't tiny, they are 11 and 14, and we share, or I act like just they're sharing.......or it's because after I waited for her to ask if I want anything else after the burger, I was very sure of what I wanted. So it might have seemed odd that I waited so long and then only said the rest after she asked. Maybe I should go mmmmm,,, uuummmm, and then 'decide' I want fries.....and then a drink?? Instead of (loooong pause.......) 'Would you like anything else?" "Yes, little fries and a regular drink."

Or because I'm holding my phone so I can time how long it takes, but everyone holds phones. ?? Or they have pictures of me and my kids at every location in the state!

Which do you think it is??

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/06/2021 11:22PM by Plarka.

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It really doesn't matter unless you are told by the MSC that you have been spotted. What you related is speculation. Until the MSC says something to you, you are under no obligation to say anything to anyone. I was told by two different tellers in two different banks about 10 years ago that they thought that I was a mystery shopper. I replied that I didn't think I was very mysterious at all. That was the end of that. Service never improved. If it had, that would have been great. I think that I mentioned last month that about 8 years ago, I thought that a Five Guys had "made me" since they always stated cleaning, etc. So what did I do? I went in when I wasn't doing a mystery shop which might have driven them crazy.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
Go with your instincts. They're usually spot on. They are most likely alert for MSers from what I read. Act undecided next time?
If you have done that location before, they probably identified you from the security camera footage after they received the report. Some businesses even print out pictures of the shoppers and post them so employees can be aware and be on the lookout for them. There is no way to remain anonymous when they can identify us on camera. Just don't worry about it.
I've had several locations for different clients where they knew who I was and I knew that they knew. If they are getting good reports a smart manager will not report you as a mystery shopper. It's in their best interest to have you continue to shop them as they can trust you to give fair and honest reports. Of course if they consistently have discrepancies that's a different story.
Do you ever go there when it's not a shop? I have found that the best way to remain anonymous is to occasionally visit the restaurants I shop when it's not a shop and order something that is not the shop required item. I usually have a coupon on those not-a-shop visits, but I wouldn't go just to establish anonymity. I only go when I would be dining out anyway.
Question, does something bad happen if this place figures out that you are a MS? Do they take you off the list to shop the location in the future? What is the purpose of showing the visited location anything about the MS if they want the MS to remain anonymous and do a good job?
If you are 'identified' at one location you can be banned from all locations. That ban was supposed to be permanent when I was supposedly identified 6-7 years ago. A couple of years later the 5G shops suddenly reappeared on the list of shops I could select.
I dislike this practice. It is anathema to the concept of keeping the mystery in mystery shopping. Has mystery shopping gone the way of gay (lighthearted, happy, etc.)? Is it now just an open book test?


@mjt9598 wrote:

If you have done that location before, they probably identified you from the security camera footage after they received the report. Some businesses even print out pictures of the shoppers and post them so employees can be aware and be on the lookout for them. There is no way to remain anonymous when they can identify us on camera. Just don't worry about it.

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~ Unknown
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I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/07/2021 06:51PM by Shop-et-al.
It is an exercise in gamesmanship like any other. My understanding is that the crew on site for a shopper visit is eligible for financial rewards for a good visit. Whether it is gamesmanship or not, in my area the result is that when I walk into a 5G, whether it is shop or not, the place is clean, well lit, well stocked and well staffed with a friendly crew. They never really know when a shopper will appear so evidently the carrot and stick approach ascertains that they do keep the standards. I cannot say that for chains that have stopped shops. (A recent Steak 'n Shake visit--they are no longer shopped at least in my area--revealed 16 of the 23 tables/booths had not been cleared and wipe down and the rest of the tables/booths were occupied with people drumming their fingers as they waited for their orders.)
Holding your phone to do the timing might be a bit of a giveaway if someone saw you doing it. Unless you hit the timer and then pretend you're making a call and texting.

At one point I was temporarily suspended from doing Five Guys' shops. The explanation was that this was to ensure my anonymity in the future and that I could be reinstated in three months, I think it was. Maybe longer.

Either I had been doing so many shops at the same locations, the MSC felt that in general, I was at clear risk of being ID'd as a shopper. What seems more likely, though, is that I did a shop about 15 minutes from here, in a different town, but one I do fairly often. I'd done one there and had seen a manager I'd never seen at that store, which wasn't busy at the time. There might have been just one or two other dine-in customers. A few days later, I did one here in my town, and the same manager was at that store! It might have been my imagination, but I think he was staring at me. If he recognized me, he might have suspected I was the shopper.

Anyway, I was let back into the program when they said I'd be eligible for it again.

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 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/09/2021 08:37AM by BirdyC.
@kenasch wrote:

If they are getting good reports a smart manager will not report you as a mystery shopper. It's in their best interest to have you continue to shop them as they can trust you to give fair and honest reports. Of course if they consistently have discrepancies that's a different story.

I have to agree. As a shopper I never would falsify a report in order to pander to the crew to not report me as their shopper, and I appreciate that cleaning in the diningroom negates the trash that was under the table in the corner when I arrived because it got cleaned up. Overall it strikes me that 5G must be a decent place to work because employee retention is outstanding with some of their folks who were college kids half a dozen years ago still there, but as managers, still smiling, still being outgoing and diligent. I have no doubt but that they recognize me as their shopper. It still amazes me that after all these years the locations are still as shiny and clean as when they opened. With thousands of burgers fried and tons of potatoes through the deep fryers, there is not even a haze of grease on their tiles or brushed stainless exhaust vents above the cooking areas.
There's one Five Guys location near me where the crew isn't as enthusiastic, but they're still polite and efficient. But the other Five Guys locations I've been to, the crews have been fantastic! Energetic, friendly, working together.....
I'm sure I was outed in the Concord NH location. When your burger is delivered direct to your table in 2 minutes and the manager grabs my cup and fills my drink for me and then volunteers to refill it. I must have done the shop twice/month for 5 years. I still gave them an honest assessment.
Where I live, there are several 5Gs so I can rotate between about 6 that are reasonably close. That said, I walked into a blue bank recently where I had been 5 months before and they recognized me — not as a shopper, but as someone who had been there before. The banker I dealt with was insistent that her manager knew I had been there before. I play dumb — which comes naturally.
You're probably just being paranoid, so don't worry about it. Also may I suggest picking up a $25/$35 smart watch from Amazon, I use the stopwatch feature on mine for timing at restaurant's. I keep the face pointing towards me when I'm timing and it's way more discreet.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2021 03:53AM by piebaby.
I use a stop watch app on my phone, only need to hit volume to mark a timing point. I leave the phone on my pocket. I just look like an idiot that likes to put her hands in her pocket.

Lady Marius
Canadian Mystery Shopper
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