Selected Article
Title Companies Hire Undercover Buyers To Rate Service
Date Published 11/07/2003
Author NBC

They may look like regular shoppers, but they're looking for information and putting stores and restaurants to the test. And you could become one of the secret shoppers being paid to buy on the sly.

Dan Davis looks like an ordinary customer, but when you see him shopping, he's really on a mystery mission to rate customer service.

"I've got to say, I've been just about everywhere in America, doing the most amazing things for these guys," Davis said.

Companies hire people like Davis to give them a peek at their customer service, and it's an exploding industry.

North Richland Hills-based Shadow Agency employs Davis, supplying him and other secret shoppers with hidden cameras.

"It's kind of like an athlete watching game film. They get a copy of what we do back, and then they're able to watch it and kind of analyze it to see what they did right and what they can improve on," Davis said.

Vickie Henry has been running Dallas-based Feedback Plus since the mid-80s.

"We never want mystery shopping to look like Big Brother spying on you," Henry said.

Her shoppers look for first impressions, all the way to closing the sale, and then fill out an online report about their experience.

The reports are a valued tool at Three Forks restaurant.

"For us, being a steak house and being along here on the toll way with so much competition here, it's very crucial to see what you might need to improve," restaurant manager Chris Vogeli said.

Henry's shoppers make an average of $12 an hour, but different companies pay different amounts.

The bottom line is that mystery shoppers eat free meals and get paid to shop.

"Who doesn't like to shop? I think maybe, as a male, I may be the exception," Davis said. "But I love to shop. And it's just so fun to be in an environment where you can go in and just be interested in all different types of products."