Why is Secret Shopping Secret?

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What’s the big deal about keeping your shopping assignment secret?

When you accept a secret shopping job, you must agree to keep your shopping experience secret.  Most people would think that it would be fine to tell your friends, “Hey, I was just down at the ABC Store and bought an ABC Thingy-Do and got it for free!  The friends would be impressed and would want to know the details.  But you’re not allowed to do that!  Why not?

Your mystery shopping job is secret in order to protect the confidentiality of the business you are investigating.  You never know if the person you tell knows someone who works there and might blab about how they know the mystery shopper who just was at their place of business.  The business management that arranges for secret shopper jobs does not want confidential information about their business performance to be leaked out to their employees or customers.  They are paying you to fill out a confidential report so that they can take steps to fix the weaknesses that you might discover or reward employees for doing a good job.

You must not be detected as a mystery shopper when you visit the place of business.  So carrying around a notebook and writing in it would be a big give-away.  So would being obvious about checking the time or carrying a stopwatch.  If the employees of the business suspect that you are a secret shopper, they will go out of their way to make sure that they serve you well and follow every procedure that they have been taught.  If they don’t know you are a secret shopper, they will treat you in the same way they treat all their customers.  And that’s what you are there to evaluate.

Most of the secret shopper jobs that I have done have shown that the businesses are living up to about 85% of the expectations that the shopper report lists.  However some do better, and some do worse.  On the last shopper job I did, the service was considerably worse.  I’m sure that the business management will use the observations that I made to correct the wrong practices of their employees.

So remember that when you do a shopper job, you are not doing it so you can gossip about the business you investigated or about what a good deal you got.  You want to be a trusted mystery shopper who will be eligible to take on many more shopping jobs.




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