Nice Work If You Can Get It
Nice Work If You Can Get It
By Elaine Viets
Someone who says he’s Dr. Gregory Anthony sent this email to Willetta Heising. If Willetta’s name sounds familiar, she does the award-winning "Detecting Men," "Detecting Women" series. Willetta is currently working on the fourth edition of "Detecting Women."
She sent me this email because I write the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novels. My mother was a mystery shopper, so you could say I grew up in the business.
This e-mail is genuine – a genuine scam. It begins:
"We are a company that conduct surveys and evaluate (sic) other companies. We get hired to go to other peoples (sic) companies and act like customers in order to know how the staffs (sic) are handling their services in relation to their customers. once (sic) we have a contract to do so, you would be directed to the company or outlet, and you would be given the funds you need to do the job (either purchase things or require services), after which you would write a comment on the staffs (sic) activities and give a detailed record of your experience" (sic)
Note the devil-may-care punctuation and free-form English. The so-called Dr. Anthony may have an English name, but his writing loses something in the translation. And I’m sick of writing (sic). Here’s the rest of his email:
"Examples of details you would forward to us are
"1) How long it took you to get services.
"2) Smartness of the attendant
"3)Customer service professionalism
"4)Sometimes you might be required to upset the attendant, to see how they react to clients whey they get tensed."
"Smartness of the attendant?" Come on, doc. How dumb do you think we are?
Dr. Anthony continues: "And we turn the information over to the company executives and they would carry out their own duties in improving there services."
And, we hope, their English.
"Most companies employ our assistance when people give complains about their services," Dr. Anthony said, "or when they feel there are needs for them to improve their customer service. your Identity would be kept confidential as the job states (secret shopper) you would be paid $500 for every duty you carry out, and bonus on your transportation allowance, and funds would be given to you if you have to dine as part of the duty"
Five hundred dollars per mystery-shopping job? If mystery shopping really paid that well, I’d turn off my computer and hit the malls. But wait! There’s more from the doc:
"Your job will be to evaluate and comment on customer service in a wide variety of shops, stores, restaurant and services in your area. No commitment is made on this job, and you would have flexible hours as it suits you. If you are interested do send in these information:"
Dr. Anthony wants your name, address, age, occupation. (Funny, "sucker" isn’t listed). He also wants your bank name and "attached copy of Valid Identification So we can look at your distance from the locations which you have to put your service into, and your address would also be need for your payments."
Right. I believe you, Dr. Anthony. Just like I believe my HMO wants to give me the highest quality care, regardless of the cost.
Like all professions, mystery shopping has potential problems. When you see a dubious offer, do your own mystery shopping.
Check with your state attorney general’s office or the Better Business Bureau. Look at the Mystery Shopping Providers Association www.mysteryshop.org/ and make sure your potential company is a member of MSPA. Also, check MSPA’s site for mystery shopping scams.