Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 14, 2014

Mystery Shopping – the VIP Experience

I’ve done a fair amount of mystery shopping in my day. Now, not so much. It doesn’t pay well and it’s usually a huge hassle. So unless they’re offering something I want/need and the timing works out (like oil changes in my town), I don’t apply.

This one came through my inbox today and my jaw dropped. Because it’s so long I’ll give you a brief overview of how this works, and you can read through as much of their text (which I condensed and added comments to in bold and color)  as you have time/energy for.

For mystery shopping, you are a customer with specified things to ask or do, and you’re not allowed to tell them you’re not a real customer. You usually get paid a fee, and you may have to lay out some cash, like for a meal, to be reimbursed by them – usually 45-60 days later after you’ve forgotten all about it. If you don’t follow their directions exactly, they may not be able to use your mystery shop report and you will not be reimbursed for expenses. Hence, I don’t take on any expenses I’m not willing to eat (though I’ve always been repaid – only once was my shop report denied, because I left the facility while my car was there – long story not worth repeating, but they were right and I hadn’t laid out any money).

This mystery shop was shocking because they require the shopper to lay out $1,800-$2,200. And if you do the shop incorrectly or your friend gets drunk, they don’t reimburse you. Uh huh. And for this they pay $60. It’s no wonder the shop is still unassigned!!! This shop requires you to go to a nightclub and get VIP bottle service. And basically monitor everything while drinking. Fun!

Here are their details:

You need:
* Wristwatch: You will need to report the exact time of all of your interactions as well as report the amount
of time you waited for services (i.e., drinks, greetings, etc).
* Scanner: You must scan no more than $60.00 in bills in at least 3 different denominations. This must be
done and uploaded to the form and MUST also be emailed to X at least 4 hours BEFORE the shop. Your
* At least 2 guests no more than 5 people total

Shopper Fee Reimbursements:
Reimbursements: Approximately $1800-2200 (Table cost plus tips, scanned cash for, Security, and lost &
found and up to $10 for expense of item (purse, money clip, etc. left behind MUST provide receipt for the
purchase of the wallet) and Security Tips
• Cost for minimum bottles required (1-3 and CANNOT be top shelf liquor)
• 22% automatic gratuity
• Up to 1 water OR 1 Red Bull for each guest (no more than 6 add-ons total)

You and your guest(s) MUST drink responsibly (HOW MUCH FUN IS THAT IF YOU HAVE 3 BOTTLES OF LIQUOR AT YOUR DISPOSAL? AND YOU HAVE TO MONITOR YOUR FRIENDS’ DRINKING, OTHERWISE…) If it is found that you and/ or your guest were overly intoxicated, you the shopper, may not be reimbursed shop expenses. (IN WHICH CASE YOUR FRIEND OWES YOU $2,200)

Table Reservation Call:
VIP Service Guidelines – Dial *67 prior to making your call to keep your personal information hidden. (MOST OF THEIR INFO DELETED) Have a believable scenario in mind so that you are not stumbling or trying to come up with a story during the call…When you have completed the call and  hung up, save your survey and then go back in to your survey and then press the “Listen” button and make sure the call has recorded. Detail the entire call in your narrative; be sure that anything you put in quotes is actually what was said VERBATIM.

VIP Host Interaction:

You will approach the ropes and let a Host know that you have a reservation for bottle service. He/She should then in turn introduce you to your host for the evening and ID your guests. At this point your host should confirm the bottle minimum. He/She will escort you to your table and introduce you to your server/VIP section Host.Write up that interaction in your narrative.

Table Interaction:
You should have a dedicated server and busser to assist you throughout the evening when you first arrive she will have you select the bottles you would like (do NOT order TOP SHELF). At this point she should try and get you to upsell for a higher priced bottle or for add on’s (SIC – THERE SHOULD BE NO APOSTROPHE HERE). She will also ask you what mixers you would like. Once your bottles arrive and throughout the evening pay attention to whether or not your drinks are being refilled in a timely manner, you should not have to do this yourself. The server should be polite and helpful throughout the evening, she should help to keep you and your guests entertained by making small talk when she has time or asking if she can get you anything. The busser should be available to assist you as well throughout the evening. Sometime during the evening you will ask the busser or server about drugs. (I WOULD TOTALLY BE CRACKING UP DURING THIS PART AND AM SURE I WOULD BLOW MY COVER). When you are ready to leave check the receipt to be sure everything you ordered appears and is accurate (UH, YEAH – YOU’RE DRUNK BY THIS POINT, RIGHT?). If it doesn’t, don’t say anything, simply document this in your report. Pay attention to whether or not the server cross markets any other (AFFILIATED) properties. IMPORTANT: There will be a 22% gratuity added on to your receipt. The server should not try to solicit more money out of you. Take note of whether or not she advises you that the gratuity is already included. (QUICK QUESTION – IF YOU DON’T FINISH YOUR BOTTLES, CAN YOU BRING THEM WITH YOU? YOU’VE ALREADY PAID FOR THEM…, NO ACCORDING TO THIS SITE)

You need to observe security throughout the evening and note if there is any suspicious or illicit activities taking place. You will also need to leave the table at some point (to use the restroom, go to the dance floor, etc)
and ask security to keep an eye on your things and try to tip them. Try and tip them for watching your items (they are not supposed to accept tips). Males: Offer the security guard a tip to bring some girls to your table. (YUCK!!!!!) Write up a detailed narrative of your interaction.

You need to observe the restrooms for suspicious or illegal activities. Pay attention to whether or not there is more than one guest in a stall (SERIOUSLY????). You will need to make at least two visits during your shop (OF COURSE YOU WILL – YOU’RE DRINKING LIKE A FISH). Be sure you count how many guests were in the restroom during these visits. Women: take one of your guests with you to the restroom and go into a stall together to see if the attendant tells you it’s prohibited (I WOULD TOTALLY BE CRACKING UP DRAGGING MY GIRLFRIEND INTO THE STALL). You can hand in the “lost wallet” during one of these interactions if you’d like.

Lost & Found Compliance:
You need to scan bills prior to shop at least 3 different denominations, no more than $40.00. You will approach the Host, Server, or busser on your way out, and hand them the money clip, purse, etc. with the scanned bills in it. You can also leave matches, old valet tickets etc. in the wallet to make it look more realistic (HOW ABOUT A CONDOM?). You will tell them that someone left it behind or you found it. Take note of whom you leave it with and write a detailed interaction in your report. Please also give a description of the purse, money clip etc. This can be left with a restroom attendant or any other employee.

Writing Your Report:
For each interaction the shopper must describe the experience in detail. Please be as detailed as possible. Touch on all aspects of the forms and emphasize on and explain all negative answers. You need to get exact
times of interactions (WHILE DRUNK) as well as exact length if times your interactions lasted (WITHOUT THEM NOTICING YOU CHECKING YOUR WATCH OR CELL PHONE TIMER). If staff member is not wearing a name tag, please ask for name by casually working it into the conversation or at the end of the interaction (SO DO YOU KNOW WHERE I CAN GET SOME DRUGS, UH, WHAT’S YOUR NAME?). You will not be compensated if you do not obtain all names, as our client is extremely strict on this requirement.

Your report MUST be submitted within 24 hours of leaving property.

So, this is mystery shopping at its worst. All this for $60 and a fun night out where they provide you with VIP bottle service, but you can’t really enjoy it. And hopefully you don’t end up paying for it yourself in the end. For all my friends who say “take me with you,” I’ll offer you the same. You take the shop, and I’ll happily drink those bottles and go into the bathroom stall with you to see if they kick us out of the stall. And you have to be the designated driver or book a good suite at the resort.


  1. Is this legit? Are they trying to suck you in – so you can spend a lot of money there? Take me! It sounds like a place I’d love to go to. NOT Mom

    Sent from my iPhone


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