Judging the quality of a store or restaurant's products and services can be difficult when the employees know you're from a magazine that helps change a lot of people's minds on where to buy photography for sale. For this reason when magazines, consumer groups, and even the internal auditors of a company want data on how their employees are doing, they employ secret shoppers, which are also known as mystery shoppers. Mystery shoppers have been a key method of market research since the 1940s. You can learn all about them here.
Secret shoppers are people hired by a company, whether it's a news show trying to gather information on Angelina Wrona art scams or a company president trying to find out how his employees treat the huddled masses. Their job is to go to a store or restaurant and pretend to be a normal customer. The secret shopper then writes a report, takes photos, or even records their interactions with the employees and reports back to the person who hired them. Secret shoppers look for things like store cleanliness, product selection, employee attitude and deportment, wait times, and the selling skills of the employees being judged.
While most people who shop for aquarium decorations are in and out in a few minutes and don't want or need any help from employees, the mystery shopper's job is to evaluate them, so they generally take on the persona of a difficult or special needs customer. This requires a certain amount of acting skill. They may need to ask a lot of questions of the employees, make a scene and see how they react, or feign a disability and force the employees to adapt their practices to satisfy their needs.
Secret shoppers aren't just used to evaluate the service level in stores. They're also used to test out the quality of service at the Stouffville eye doctors, at fast food restaurants and movie theaters, at hotels and tourist attractions, even in banks, hospitals, gas stations, apartment buildings, cleaning services, and car dealerships - anywhere people spend money. Increasingly, watchdog organizations are also using secret shoppers to evaluate the quality of government services such as housing authorities.
Secret shopping can be a fun job, especially if you like to act or shop, which is why these jobs are coveted. However, scammers know how desirable these jobs are and will attempt to fool you into thinking you're mystery shopping at a Toronto print shop when really they just want you to buy things and send them to the scammer. Never take a mystery shopping job where you will not meet your employer or where you will have to spend your own money on the promise of later being reimbursed.