A mystery shopper posting on Reddit’s “Antiwork” forum complained that they would no longer be engaging in the activity after they realized that workers were being punished for helping customers rather than pushing expensive brands. The Redditor said they were assigned to go shopping at electronics chain Best Buy for a streaming box like a Roku or Fire and had a great experience with the employee who helped them, but according to the questionnaire they were given, they didn’t.
Mystery shoppers are often hired by companies to test whether they’re employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, but this is usually assumed to be in terms of doing what’s right for the customer. Instead, this shopper should have been tricked into wasting their money, according to the assignment they were given.
“I get an assignment for Best Buy, I’m supposed to be interested in a streaming box (Roku, Fire etc.) and ask an employee for help. The employee who I interacted with was super helpful. I told him about my TV and what I wanted, while pretending not to know much about technology,” they wrote.
The Redditor found the worker to be extremely helpful, having given them honest advice about streaming box brands, recommending one for user experience but saying that going cheap was not going to leave them with a brick.
“He said that honestly it didn’t matter which brand I bought and that he found one particular brand to be pretty user friendly which was great for new people, but otherwise it was okay to just get the lowest cost one. He made sure I understood how it plugs into my TV, ensured I have a way to connect it, and made sure I was taken care of.”
This is probably the dream interaction of anyone who’s had to go into a store like this who actually didn’t have much knowledge on what we were buying. People are often afraid that they’ll be misled and have more expensive options pushed on them when it isn’t necessary, or given long spiels on items they don’t want.
This employee, rather, gave only the information that was needed and strove to help rather than upsell. Unfortunately, if the shopper answered honestly on the questionnaire, this model employee could have been penalized for not advised to spend far more money than they needed to.
“But that’s not what he was supposed to be evaluated on at all! He was supposed to push me towards one brand in particular, tell me about every single feature of that one specifically, push me to have someone come out and install it for me, make eye contact, smile, introduce himself by name, make sure every single streaming box offered by them was in stock, etc.”
It’s disappointing, though not surprising, to find that stores like Best Buy only care about profits, and don’t seem to care one bit about either their workers or their customers outside of how much money they can squeeze from all of us. This Redditor, however, will no longer be participating.
“If anyone asks, he totally did all those things, and I’m not going to be a mystery shopper anymore.”
Reddit commenters widely supported this decision, with some sharing their own experiences with mystery shopping, either as a shopper themselves or another kind of worker who was evaluated with this system. Best Buy is also getting some of their dirty laundry aired over here.