Am I the only one who had the cops called while auditing a gas station

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I was trespassed by the owner of one station and then when I went a mile down the road to do the next one, he owned that one too. He called the cops who met me there.

I explained to them what I was doing and there wasn't a problem.
Since there are people who take photographs to identify the type of card reader and pump, and then their cohort comes and quickly attaches the illegal card reader to the pump card reader to get credit card numbers, etc., they will call the police just in case. I know it has been cold, but I would not wear a hoodie, either. lol.
Many years ago by a clerk who thought the date on the top of the authorization letter was the only date that the letter was valid, and that I was pulling a fast one on them. Cops weren't the brightest, either, but the MSC was great about it.
I had one years ago where the owner (arab) told me " Get off my property or I kill you." I left went down street turned around parked across street and took one photo I needed for refusal. Funny thing is I only needed that overall photo and it would have been a normal good shop. Month later station was no longer a mobil.

Shopping Western NY, Northeast and Central PA, and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. Have car will travel anywhere if the monies right.
About 10 years ago, I was doing a debranding audit in NJ. The manager? owner? told me to leave and recruited the gas attendant to make sure I got into my car. I stayed in my car to grab a few photos. Then the police arrived and told me that I was trespassing and that my letter of authorization from the former oil company did not come close to giving me permission to trespass.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
I have had some customers threaten to call the police. But I don't usually do Straight mystery shops at gas stations, I usually do the mystery shops that turn into audits. So the owners already know that what I'm there for and why.
No, but I have been thrown out for doing a pricing audit. Some owners are just rude AF. Also had one trail me outside after a mystery-shop assignment and verbally assault me. I got to tell him to his face he just failed.
This happens to me from time to time. Last year, I had completed a mystery shop / audit for a station and thanked the employees and was finishing up the report out in the parking lot. The police show up, ask me to stay in the car and then explained that the employees had called them because they didn't know who I was.

It turned out that the second employee from the station had went out to smoke, noticed I had been setting there for a while, and called the police not realizing it was me in the car. Funny thing is, that is one of my regular stations. So, I still get to go there with the person who called the police on me and listen to the other employees say, "Isn't that the person you called the police on that one time?" It's a small town and she was new in that area. So there was no problem and the police thought it was funny and told her, "I don't know how to tell you this, but you just called the police on your inspector and this is not going to look good on a report."

Remember to just try to be friendly and polite as you can, even though some people are difficult to get along with, I have been able to get stations (who throw everyone else out) to let me do my work. Sometimes they still fail, but I am just doing my job. smiling smiley
I was given a trespass warning by an owner when doing a debrand (he had failed the debrand audit numerous times, and was fed up with them). What bothered me was that the MSP kept posting this location, even though I reported that any future representative who shows up at this location will have the police called, and would not be aware that the owner had issued a trespass warning. For future audits, I had to take the photos from the street, and he did finally get everything debranded correctly.
@myst4au wrote:

About 10 years ago, I was doing a debranding audit in NJ. The manager? owner? told me to leave and recruited the gas attendant to make sure I got into my car. I stayed in my car to grab a few photos. Then the police arrived and told me that I was trespassing and that my letter of authorization from the former oil company did not come close to giving me permission to trespass.

Actually, it does. It was in the contract that the station had with the oil company that debrand audits can take place for a certain amount of time after the station has been debranded.

"The station owner should check his old contract." That's what I've always wanted to say but, of course, haven't because they're already P.O.ed so let it go.

sestrahelena


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/21/2023 01:56PM by sestrahelena.
Yes, @sestrahelena is correct. The LOA is legally binding by the oil company and protects you for conducting the debrand audit and if you had to contest the trespass citation (if cited), or other issues stemming from same. The location knows they could have a legal problem if they have the signage and other components still posted from the previous oil company that once was at the location.
I would not count on the branding contract to protect me from a criminal trespassing charge, at least not after the point they tell me to leave. The contract has civil and monetary penalties for not debranding, or for not allowing the audit, I presume. Maybe they can be sued by the brand for not allowing the audit, but it would not be a defense against a criminal charge, especially as our contracts specifically require us to leave immediately if asked.

Edited to add: Of course, it would be a 100 percent defense if they tried to press charges for us trespassing before they asked us to leave.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/21/2023 04:23PM by mystery2me.
The situation I encountered was a bit different. No police were involved.
When I revealed myself as the MS, the employee - maybe the owner? became very upset, saying that he just paid the $90 for the site inspection.
Being very polite and understanding, I asked him when was the last inspection? He showed me the report and showed me the month on the report (3 months prior).
I explained that his shop was a quarterly shop - meaning, of course, it is performed every 3 months. So, his site was due the inspection. I politely said that if he did not want me to do the inspection, I could leave, but would have to take photos of certain items outside - across the street if need be.
He shook his head and said to go ahead and do the inspection - he would contact his jobber or rep or whoever it was.
The funny thing about this entire interaction was that he showed me his report from the MSC (I presume) and how much he was charged ($90.00).
The report was rather fascinating - The first page (in color) was very much like the one we give to the employee who is wearing their nametag and uniform and asks about the rewards card. The report was absolutely silly with backslapping and "good job!!" and "well dones".
I have done this same shop for quite a few years now (as the rotation allows). The restrooms are full of graffiti, they sell drug paraphernalia, the employees never wear either their required uniform or nametag and never, ever have they asked about the rewards.
Outside the pumps are often dirty with decals ripped or torn off as well as other items that are supposed to be reported.
In short, the place is all too often a mess - not the worst, but in no way the cream of the crop. I do not understand how he got such a glowing report.
French Farmer,

Glowing reports are much easier to do. You don't have to explain the violations. Sounds like that's what the last shopper did.

Now knowing they have to pay $90 to get shopped, will I ever be paid less than that? I think not as the client and the MSC would be making money on each shop without batting an eye.
So many times, I can't count them.

Especially, for some reason, in KS.

Maybe it's my out of state tags? I dunno.

Even had one Kansas cop insist on escorting me to a homeless incampment for my "kind of people"...LOL, I hate driving into kansas anymore!

I assure you, I am the least intimidating person on the planet. For some reason, cops' radar says old people equals disguise for nefarious purposes?
Cease, I have often asked that question. I no longer fly because apparently disabled old white women are terrorists in disguise and subject to enhanced searches. EVERY single time I flew from CA to AL, BOTH directions, to visit my grandsons when they were little.
@wrosie wrote:

I was trespassed by the owner of one station and then when I went a mile down the road to do the next one, he owned that one too. He called the cops who met me there.

I explained to them what I was doing and there wasn't a problem.

Glad the cops were understanding.

I’m not sure when this was, however if it were I, I would retain legal counsel and take action against the owner. Calling the cops on someone conducting legitimate business is a disaster waiting to happen for that owner.
I haven't had the police called, but i have had them pull up and question what I was doing. I usually just show them a letter of authorization and tell them they can check with the employee.
@BuffaloNY101 wrote:

I had one years ago where the owner (arab) told me " Get off my property or I kill you." I left went down street turned around parked across street and took one photo I needed for refusal. Funny thing is I only needed that overall photo and it would have been a normal good shop. Month later station was no longer a mobil.


I don't do revealed shops just for this reason alone.
I had done a gas station shop on the other side of the state a few years ago. A couple days later my daughter tells me that a police officer had stopped by our apartment (200 miles from the gas station!). He had given my daughter his business card and asked my husband to call when he got home. As it turned out, a friend of the gas station clerk had seen me taking pictures and called their local police, who ran the license plate of my car, and then called my local police department to have them question the owner of the car (registered in hubby's name). I (instead of hubby) called the police and when they mentioned the name of the police department they were making the enquiry on behalf of, I laughed and said I (not hubby) had just been there a few days ago. I explained that I had done a mystery shop in that city and the officer replied that a friend if the clerk had seen me take pics and got my license plate number and called the police. The clerk had told the friend they were sure I was the shopper, but the friend didn't want to take any chances. I never saw that clerk again (3 month rotation and I do that location every quarter), so I've always wondered if the friend got the clerk fired, possibly for socializing with friends at work when they should be working.
Agreed. Most of my debrand LOA says to take photos from off the property.

Do not read so much, look about you and think of what you see there.
Richard Feynman-- letter to Ashok Arora, 4 January 1967, published in Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track (2005) p. 230
don't think cops were ever called, but i have been kicked out a couple times. the one time i did a sinclair station, the manager/cashier ripped up my LOA like a sociopath, and basically chased me off the property, taking photos of my license plate. a full service site owner starter freaking out at a mobil and demanded i delete my photos. have had a few guys go off on me when i asked for them to turn the canopy lights on, cussing up a storm.
@wrosie wrote:

French Farmer,

Glowing reports are much easier to do. You don't have to explain the violations. Sounds like that's what the last shopper did.

Now knowing they have to pay $90 to get shopped, will I ever be paid less than that? I think not as the client and the MSC would be making money on each shop without batting an eye.

WTF?
You do realize the MSC has expenses too right? "Without batting an eye".... please tell me you don't really think this?!?!
Sassie/Shopmetrics/ whatever platform isn't free! Schedulers, editors & project managers also need to be paid. Then there are the basic costs of the MSC like keeping the lights on, internet, etc. And I don't know about you, but every business I've ever known is operating to make a profit, soooo.

I do NOT base what fee I will agree to take a shop for on what the MSC is being paid. I figure out that for myself based on my own factors. And limiting the MSC profits isn't crossing my mind.
I never understood how the former company could authorize access to the new company. Main reason I never done either too much drama potential unless there's a Huge bonus.
@myst4au wrote:

Then the police arrived and told me that I was trespassing and that my letter of authorization from the former oil company did not come close to giving me permission to trespass.

A Dad shopping the Ark-LA-Tex and beyond.
And to think for all these years I thought that I was the only one with a story to fit this topic....

I was doing a mystery shop for Maritz that involved taking some pictures, one of the pictures being a site view from the street or across the street. At the time that I took the site view picture, the large gas tanker transport truck was dropping a fuel delivery, and the driver was outside his truck. The driver saw me taking the site view picture, which concerned him. He noted my license plate and called the authorities. I lived only about 2 minutes from this station, and I went home after performing the shop.

About 30 minutes later, my doorbell rang. It was a Homeland Security Officer that was assigned to the State Patrol in my state. He was in full gear...bulletproof vest, weapons, the whole deal. He asked, "So what were you taking pictures of over at the gas station?" I started chuckling and explained the situation. I happened to have the directions printed and I let him look at them. I was a terrorist for half an hour, that was enough.
I did a gas station once and the associate kept screaming "Why you take pictures?" I ignored him, but he kept screaming it until I drove away.
One day, I think one of these guys who over react may just grab our cell phone and throw it on the ground. I hope I could keep my cool and then take out my other phone and photograph what they just did, lol.
Never had the cops called on me, but once I was doing like 5 stations in a town about 30 miles away from my home, and the cops followed me from shop to shop, finally pulling up beside me and letting me know they had been watching me and asking what the hell I was doing. Podunk territory with nothing better to do.
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