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A Cute Way to Reference Mystery Shopping February 17, 2011

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Every year, the second grade teacher at my children’s school has a “Star Student” week – each week a student is highlighted. They get to bring in favorite items, pictures of themselves and their families, and at the end of the week the parents and siblings come to the classroom to be interviewed by classmates.

The first year I went, I wanted to think of a way to make mystery shopping sound fun and exciting to these 7 and 8 year olds. When the teacher found out what I did, she was very excited and used it as a good learning tool.

I explained that mystery shoppers go to all kinds of places of business to make sure that the employees are doing their work, that they are polite and helpful, and basically being good employees. The teacher ran with this idea and explained to the kids that even adults have to follow the rules, and be polite to others.

Of course, the kids thought it was cool and referred to mystery shopping as being the “Polite Police” and “Service Spies.” It let them know too that even as adults, we still have to follow rules and act right, even though we don’t have parents and teachers watching us.

Needless to say, I did get quite a few phone calls from parents and even a couple of the teachers wanting to know how to become a mystery shopper! That always happens, doesn’t it?
Until next time…happy shopping!

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Don’t Do This When You’re Reimbursed for Purchases February 16, 2011

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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This might seem to be common sense, but I’ve seen a bit of an increase in returning merchandise purchased during a mystery shop. In talking with a couple of shoppers who were guilty of this (and identified by this act by the client), they claimed that they didn’t realize that returning the merchandise was not acceptable.

There can be many reasons for a shopper to return purchased items – maybe it was something they really didn’t need, but there was a purchase requirement. They could have changed their mind, or in a few cases, they may be trying to get extra money out of the shop – after all, if you are paid for the purchase and then return it and get your money back, you’re getting double the reimbursement, right?

This is a good way to not be paid at all for the assignment, and it’s not ethical. Many times clients can get a heads up on this, especially when you go to make the return, depending on the shop. As you can imagine, it puts a bad taste in the client’s mouth – they feel like shoppers are trying to “double dip” as they are paying you for the merchandise, and then when it is returned, you’re getting your money back. This alone can lead to a decrease in the mystery shopping industry’s reputation.

Along the same lines, making a purchase and return can make you more memorable, which compromises your ability to shop this business in the future. Since shoppers are not typically forthcoming about returning items, MSC’s are not aware of this until it is brought to our attention by the client – it definitely puts us in a difficult situation.

This is an important factor to keep in mind while mystery shopping. If you truly don’t want or need anything at the business you are shopping, it might be a good idea to pass on that assignment. Or, better yet, think of something you can purchase as a gift or just something a family member or friend might need.

It can be tempting to return purchases, but please keep in mind that it can compromise your ability to do future shops, and compromises the reputation of the industry as a whole.

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