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True life: I'm a mystery shopper

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True life: I'm a mystery shopper
Posted Sept. 19, 2008
Erin Konrad
Editor in Chief

I can get you fired. I can get you in trouble with your boss, but I can also get you that bonus you were hoping for.

I am a mystery shopper. I get paid to see if you are performing your responsibilities and giving customers adequate service. I have been doing this for three years, and love every minute of it. It is actually a lot more work than people would think, but I love getting to do a little acting when posing as a normal customer.

It all started when I wanted a job that required very little effort. I was doing some research online when I found a company that advertised a need for secret shoppers. I thought it must be a scam—there were tons of testimonials from “everyday” people who have bought new cars and made thousands of dollars from their shop jobs. And while I don’t make near that much, it has been a good job for me. After researching which companies had good ratings in the Better Business Bureau, I decided on a company where I could sign up as an independent contractor. I started making some money within a couple of weeks.

The way it works is I get emails from service companies who let me know when certain businesses need my help. I apply for each job (usually I have to give a writing sample), and then I wait for a response. From there, if I have been accepted, I get instructions on how to complete the shop job. I conduct the shops, and then go home and input all of the information on the computer. I often have to upload photos of the location or copies of receipts of any transactions I have made. It is actually a great deal of work for not that much money, but I enjoy it.

I have conducted shops for tons of companies including Dell, Carl’s Jr., Burger King, OSH, Pacific Sunwear, Tilly’s, Target, Applebees, Circle K and many more. I’ve gotten free pairs of jeans from Levi’s and American Eagle, and I’ve gotten free food from Lucille’s BBQ and Farmer Boys.

Part of my job is to evaluate customer service. These tasks include things like timing how long it takes an employee to greet me when I have entered a store or whether someone checks on me when I’m trying on clothes in the dressing room. They have to ask me whether I want fries with that or whether I want to open a BevMo credit card.

Because I’ve interacted with many people during these jobs, I’ve also met some people who I am sure were not doing what they were supposed to while they are clocked in. I had a Mattress Gallery job, and when I entered the store, the employee was sitting at her desk with her feet up. She was actually painting her toenails. I’ve had a shop at Radio Shack where a poor high school kid got chewed out by his boss right in front of me. (I got to put in my report that he was being aggressive, so I hope he was not there to antagonize anyone after that.) I had a Togo’s shop job where they told me they were out of bread—needless to say, their report was not too positive.

Overall, though, I evaluate people who are really hard working. They give me smiles and thank me for coming into their stores. I love meeting these people, because I get a chance to give their companies positive feedback about them. A shop job I did at Kmart probably got someone an extra bonus on their paycheck because they did a good job at the check stand. The guy at the NAPA car parts place who spent extra time trying to help me got a good write-up to give to his manager. I love knowing that at some point these people might get a pat on the back for their hard work.

And the free cheeseburgers from In-n-Out don’t hurt my love for the job either.

Erin Konrad, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at erin.konrad@laverne.edu.