Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Mystery Men, Inc.

For all your mystery guest needs.
  [vote for,

Many service industries use mystery guests to assess the quality of the services they provide. There are mystery shoppers, mystery pub patrons, mystery law clients etc. To the best of my knowledge, these mystery customers are almost always in the direct employ of the company they assess.

Mystery Men, Inc. would be a nationwide network that provides a comprehensive mystery customer service for all aspects of the service industry. The difference with Mystery Men is that the mystery customers recieve a nominal salary . They are, however, allowed to avail themselved of every service provided by those they assess. So the perks are great - free hotel stays, free drinks, free consumer electronics, free shoes, free haricuts. In this way, (almost) the entire cost of living of the Mystery Men is removed, which makes the small salary justifiable.

Using their modem-equipped laptops, the Mystery Men contact central control with a list of what services/products they require and the (complex) central software allocated jobs on the basis of what is available. The money - provided by the assessed companies - required to perform these jobs is wired into the accounts of the Mystery Men.

In return, the assessed firms get a detailed area-by-area rundown of the quality of the sevice they provide, all for little more than the cost of the items bought.

Potential problems:
(a) the allocation software will be very complex.
(b) start up costs will be high
(c) Mystery Men will have to be willing to travel a great deal so that they won't be recognised.

calum, May 03 2002

Conferno http://www.conferoinc.com/
"...a marketing services firm specializing in field evaluation services..." [phoenix, May 03 2002]

Netscape search for 'mystery shopper service' http://search.netsc...ery+shopper+service
166 +/- hits [phoenix, May 03 2002]

Google search for 'mystery shopper service' http://www.google.c...ceid=mozilla-search
About 22,100 hits [phoenix, May 03 2002]


       sometimes I wish I had a mystery man.

It may be just that I don't understand, calum, but I don't understand how the mystery men would stay a mystery if all the things they get are free. wouldn't the company under investigation realise pretty quickly?
Also, it's a vicious rumour, but apparently hotels and many other service businesses treat the big-spending customers better than the plebeians. You need a subset of Mystery Men who find a challenge in existing on a shoestring and who will test the hotels, electronics shops and hairdressers for the help they give in helping you get good deals in your shopping, obviously only within their profit margins but hey that's capitalism...
sappho, May 03 2002

       Substitute ‘mobiles’ for ‘modem=equipped laptops’ and your Mystery Men seem vaguely similar to our Mallrats.
reensure, May 03 2002

       Of course the travel could be accomodated by mystery-shopping the airlines, railroads, etc.
beauxeault, May 03 2002

       // free haricuts //   

       Free French beans?
waugsqueke, May 03 2002

       I used to be a part time mystery shopper in Edinburgh in my student days. Rather than working for the company itself, I worked for a consultancy that was hired by various companies to assess the level of service in their outlets. It involved being as awkward as possible and pulling out just before the point of sale. The pay was good but it wasn't very rewarding.
stupop, May 03 2002

       Sappho, there's nowt mysterious about them. They still have to pay for all the goods/services they acquire but with the money given to them (indirectly) by the companies they are assessing.   

       reensure, are mallrats the baggy-trousered latchkey kids who hang around shopping centres affecting expressions of studied ennui? Apologies for my parochialism but I can't see how these kids are like the Mystery Men.   

       beauxeault, yes. In fact, this would be an excellent job for a "I want to spend my gap year travelling round Australia" type.   

       waugsqueke, if you want, yes. Provided there's a greengrocers wanting QA'd. Sorry, I jest. In fact, a haricut is a specialised type of haircut worn only by Hari Krishnas. I was merely proving that Mystery Men is an Equal Opportunity employer.   

       stupop, did you 'do' Jenners?
calum, May 03 2002

       Sadly not Calum, they always seemed to give me places like Dixons, The Link and JJB Sports for some reason.
stupop, May 03 2002

       I'm suprised this hasn't gotten a few more '+'s. Sounds like a reasonable program, and hopefully used to improve customer service for all. +.
spartanica, May 03 2002

       ¯calum: Not exactly latchkey kids, no, but there are vast numbers of those as well. My acquaintance in high-end clothing shakes his head and goes through the description better than I, but suffice it to say they've probably reserved a speed dial key in their mobiles for their q-tip administrators. Lack wholly in what I'd call ‘couth’.
reensure, May 03 2002

       phoenix, I did the google search (after posting the idea, admittedly) and none of the links I followed operate on the same basis as Mystery Men, Inc. The current mystery shopper model involved people who have jobs already performing mystery shopping tasks on a part-time basis in the city where they live. They are paid an hourly rate for this task.
Mystery Men, Inc employees are full time. They travel in their job and perform a wider range of mystery guest/shopper/customer/client functions. The assignments are allocated on the basis of what the Mystery Man needs.

       I am unsure as to whether the links you provide show that Mystery Men, Inc is baked. The general concept is well baked but the methodology and structure I propose are not. Hmmm, can anybody help resolve this issue for me?
calum, May 03 2002

       If the mystery shoppers require the services they are evaluating, won't this bias their opinion? Wouldn't it be better if the shopper didn't need the service, but was there to evaluate only?
waugsqueke, May 03 2002

       A practice among product placement analysts is to have a shopper visit every outlet selling products that were drop-shipped by route drivers. This is done on a routine basis, say bi-weekly, and the shopper visits her company's shelf and purchases a package with the least recent expiration date and a package with the most recent expiration date. The shopper then delivers the products back to their producer for analysis of quality, condition, and price.   

       There is no doubt a significant amount of trade in goods of this type when one considers the size of the market carried within gasoline/merchandise outlets nationwide.
reensure, May 03 2002

       [calum] I can't find a service that keeps it's shoppers on full-time employment either.   

       Sorta makes you wonder if there isn't a reason.
phoenix, May 03 2002


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