An undercover operative poses as a customer, making test purchases to identify retailers selling counterfeit products, operating without a license or simply to test customer service and staff knowledge.
Mystery shopping is often associated with the sale of alcohol to underage customers, as the police frequently use this kind of operation to catch problematic retailers. In fact, there are many other applications of mystery shopping, often started from accounts given by local authorities, private individuals and employers. This method can also be used simply to test customer service or staff knowledge or conduct retail appraisals.
Our mystery shoppers come from all walks of life, meaning we can always deploy someone who can carry out the job without drawing attention to themselves. We work from specific accusations regarding a retailer or product under scrutiny. The shopper will visit the store wearing a covert body-worn camera to obtain video footage of the transaction and any dialogue with the retailer. Evidence gathered in previous investigations has helped uncover the production and sale of counterfeit goods, and we have identified countless licensing infringements in a range of industries.
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What our customers said
Counterfeit Sporting Merchandise
Our client, a major English football team had been battling the sale of counterfeit goods and illegal ticket selling internally before contacting an investigator. There were two major issues and both required an entirely different approach, the first issue was with merchandisers selling counterfeit and unlicensed goods around the ground on match days, the second issue was the purchasing and resale of tickets by organised criminal gangs
Illegal Sale Of Alcohol
Trading Standards contacted us regarding illegal, out of licencing hours sale of alcohol. The licencing hours in the UK are quite strict and usually finish between the time of 22:30pm – 23:00pm each day of the week. However not all retailers will follow these rules to the letter of the law and from a relationship with Trading Standards we were tasked with proving one local off-licence were illegally selling goods after hours. Read more about how we proved the sale of illegal alcohol.
We assist employers, who might otherwise avoid investigating dishonest staff because they lack experience or fear legal action.
Lying about injuries for financial gain creates stigma and undue stress for those who rely on compensation and injury payments.
Process servers provide a trusted method of delivery that ensures documents have been received.
Mystery shoppers collect vital intelligence about the customers experience and can find evidence of unscrupulous retailers.
Mystery Shopping FAQ's
Yes, with an increase in e-commerce our team have frequently been asked to make test purchases from online retailers as well as in stores.
This can provide an opportunity to test product quality, packaging quality, courier speed and also online/after sales support.
Mystery shoppers can provide valuable insight into the behaviour of your staff, their product knowledge and seasonal/promotional sales pitch. Using a mystery shopper can also be a method of obtaining evidence of illegal sale of counterfeit or unlicensed products.
Yes, mystery shopping isn’t always conducted to identify criminals and illegal activities, we are frequently employed by businesses and managers who want to gain insight into the behaviour of their customer facing staff.
This could include asking floor staff about particular products in order to identify requirements for product training, making certain purchases and establishing whether the staff are trying to promote season and promotional products, general transactions with problematic members of staff who have had concerns raised previously.
Yes, all of our test purchases are conducted in a legal, lawful and ethical manner so any of the information we obtain can be prepared in a format that is sufficient to be used in court should it be required.
The mystery shopper is indistinguishable from any other shopper, they will be hand-picked to ensure that they are suitable for the task at hand and they will have a cover story should they be questioned.
The manner in which they carry out the test-purchase, their behaviour and the language they use will be no different to the average customer.
Mystery shopping tasks are priced on a variety of factors such as the location of the store, the nature of the issue we are investigating and how specific the mystery shopper needs to be.
A task that requires a bilingual shopper of a particular background to build rapport with a shop keeper and purchase counterfeit goods will be entirely different to a task that requires somebody to make a single visit to see if a cashier is polite
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Businesses don’t succeed without a measure of control. We want to trust in our colleagues, of course, but how much do you really trust their procedural behaviour and customer service abilities? If they’re falling below your standards, it’ll reflect badly on the brand as a whole.
Procrastination during work hours is a given in any business; try as you may, you’re never going to be able to clamp down on texting, social media and office pranks completely. Besides, this could have a negative effect on morale. Where things get serious is when employees begin to lie about their hours.