Mystery Shopping and Secret Shopper Services

Mystery shopping
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Mystery Shopping Overview

Market research companies typically use mystery shopping to measure the quality of retail customer service company employees provide. Mystery shopping companies send “secret shoppers” into the facility to interact with the business and its employees, posing as normal customers.

Then, the shopper prepares and submits a detailed report on their experience. The mystery shoppers are usually paid for their work and reimbursed for their purchases.

An Example of Mystery Shopping

For example, a movie theater might want to test the service its managers, ticket sales agents, concessions, and ushers provide. The individuals would visit the movie theater, buy tickets, buy concession items, and watch the entire movie.

Later, they would complete a detailed report of everything they saw, including the parking lot, the physical building, the lobby, the men’s and women’s restroom, the ticket booth, the concession stand, the hallways, the theater, seats, screen, lighting, and more. The cost of the mystery shopping agent’s movie tickets, popcorn, drinks, and parking costs would be reimbursed.

Businesses use the information from such reports to identify security issues, building maintenance concerns, employee behavioral issues, food quality, product presentation and delivery, environmental conditions, and much more.

This type of “covert investigation” can also be used to manage the quality and performance of goods and services. Instructions to mystery shoppers can include a script of behavior, questions to ask, complaints to give, purchases to make, and measures to record, such as the time it takes to receive attention from an employee or receive a service, or the responses to questions.

Private detectives sometimes provide such services to their clients, especially in loss prevention.

Other Names

Mystery shopping is also known as Mystery consumers, Buyers, Secret Clients, Secret Shopping, Experience evaluations, Mystery Customers, Anonymous Audits, Employee Evaluations, Performance Audits, fulfillment assessments, and Telephone evaluations.

More Information

For more information on mystery shopping, visit the following websites:

  • Mystery Shopping Providers Association – This association provides secret shopping directories. A one-stop source of information on finding secretive shopper services.
  • The Mystery Shopper’s Manual – Enter your name and email to get a free email course on secretive shopper services. Your email address will not be shared with anyone. Ever.
  • – Covert shopping programs that provide accurate feedback and insightful information to business owners. A leading clandestine shopper company for many years.
  • Coyle Hospitality – Providing legitimate mystery shopping services for upscale hotels, spas, and restaurants worldwide, Coyle Hospitality Group sets the standard for mystery.
  • Shoppers’ Critique – Shoppers’ Critique is unlike any other shopping company. We have years of experience providing high-quality, highly credible, and insightful information.

Fraudulent Offers, Scams, and Schemes

Beware of offers received via email on this topic. Some scammers use offers for jobs in this field to lure unsuspecting individuals into giving up their bank account information. If you’re interested in pursuing a job in this area, visit one of the websites above. Don’t respond to emails you receive unless they are from one of the sites you signed up for.

See our article on Fraud, Scams, and Schemes to learn how to protect yourself.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


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