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Man of Mystery - Part I PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 21 September 2006

A Shiftless Baristo Column

Sept. 21, 2006

 A first-person inside-story perspective on the mystery shopper 

PART I of III Parts: I was a mystery shopper!


A Shiftless Baristo Article



Man of Mystery – Part I of III Parts: What is a mystery shopper?

 A first-person inside-story perspective on the mystery shopper 

Copyright 2006 by Eric S. Chen for


Espresso-store companies commonly contract the services of mystery shoppers, or rather, of the firms that organize, train and send mystery shoppers to perform undercover observation of the store environment.


What is a mystery shopper? How does the arrangement work? More to the point, is this something that a working baristo can do on the side for a few extra bucks?


Hold your breath no more! I can tell you – from firsthand experience. Yes, I myself, The Shiftless Baristo, have been a mystery shopper and have performed mystery-shopper assignments.


First, I must state a big caveat. So far, each and every mystery-shopping company that I have signed up with requires their agents to sign an NDA – a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Generally, these NDAs specify that the agent must not disclose that they are an agent of that company, must not reveal any client proprietary information, or reveal the identity of specific clients. I take my agreements seriously. So don’t expect to read here any names or any company-specific information.


Another thing that you won’t read here is a first-person account of a mystery-shopper review of an espresso shop. I have sometimes received copies of invitations to perform such studies, but to avoid a conflict of interest I have to decline any offer to mystery-shop either my employer or any direct competitor.


What I can do is tell you in general what kinds of things are commonly reviewed during a mystery-shopper assignment, and common-knowledge information about the industry such as you could find published in various places, or in your own internet research.

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