For a few years I have done the odd mystery shopping assignment which involves going to a company, using their service and then writing up a report on what areas you found positive and giving constructive criticism to improve their service for other customers.
It has been a few months since I did an assignment however this week i did two separate ones, both in restaurants. The first one was in a Wetherspoons ( my spiritual home) and the other was a more upmarket restaurant that had table service.
The thing about mystery shopping is it makes me feel like a spy. I wander around pretending to look for the toilets. I observe the staff from behind a menu and pretend to be taking photos of my guest when really I’m reminding myself of what the drink looked like.
My normal self gets replaced by a pompous fusspot and I make mental notes about a speck of paint work that needed to be redone or only giving me 4 onion rings instead of 6. Actually i was pretty angry about that one!
What I try to remember is that the idea of this is to give the company constructive criticism so they can improve their business so although I may not actually care that my drink wasn’t served on a napkin, if that’s the company’s policy then they have staff that aren’t following their instructions so may need re-training.
The visits usually involve trying a drink or two and ordering a meal and giving feedback about how they were served and what they looked and tasted like.
If you know me, then you’ll know that I have very weird opinions on food which range from terror to disgust whenever someone tries to add some new flavour to my meal. I can spin this as a positive as i definitely know what a steak or a plain burger should taste like as i always eat the same thing in restaurants. This also allows me to see how staff react to my weird requests which also can range from completely fine to a really?!?
Mystery shopping is more of a job than a night out as rather than enjoying a chat with Kitty, I tell him to go check out the male toilets to check there is enough toilet paper or start discussing exactly how many tacos are an appropriate amount.
Once you get home, you have to complete a long form where you rank and comment about: the location, staff, food, drink, toilets, wait time etc. It usually takes around an hour to do, if you put a lot of detail into it. Many of the mystery shopping companies will rank your report so it is important to put in a lot of detail if you want to get chosen for future assignments.
Payment is usually a refund of your meals and drinks and maybe some money to cover your expenses. Depending on the restaurant and whether you are allowed to take a guest, this could range from £10 to a £60 reimbursement.
However not only do you have to complete the visit you should factor in the length of time it takes to write and check the report.
If you are interested in trying Mystery Shopping then there are a few websites that I use:
Or if you have a favorite restaurant or shop why not ask them which company they use.
Rankings in comparison to Roller Derby
Fun – I quite enjoy being a spy however it is work so you do have to write a report after the visit.
Value for money – You usually get a free meal and a drink so it only costs your time.
Join-ability – Limited assignments, you need to be able to write a report and you need to pay for the meal upfront which may stop some people from being able to join in.
Spam-ability – I do tell my friends about it however it isn’t something that I constantly bug people to do.
Total of 10/20 Give it a go if you fancy a free meal.
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