The job is simple: Go in, buy a bunch of cucumbers and lube, and then tell whichever watchdog group hired them whether the cashier remained professional or giggled and winked the whole time. We talked to Betty, Irving, and Amanda, three mystery shoppers who told us that ... (click for full)
  1. The Things Mystery Shoppers Measure Are Absurdly Specific
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    Mystery shoppers carry stopwatches to time exactly how many seconds it takes to be greeted and served, all while memorizing more words and figures than an astrophysicist. Well, a crappy astrophysicist, anyway.
  2. Mystery Shoppers May Actually Risk Death
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    "I just finished an assignment that required me to observe if I had been carded for a mixed drink," Betty recalls. "I hadn't been carded. When this happens, it's always a weird moment for me, because deep down, I know that the employee is most likely to be let go ... On this visit, the manager lacked tact and fired the employee on the spot in front of me."
  3. The Job Can Ruin Your Soul, And Also Possibly Your Linens
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    I used to think all I needed in a hotel were clean linens and no bugs," Betty told us. "But I've seen too much ... I now know that bedspreads and duvets are washed and changed three or four times a year, tops. There is a hotel I stayed at recently that advertised cleaning the bedspread after each guest, but when I smelled it, it definitely did not smell fresh. You should also check the crease in the mattress for bugs or signs of bugs.
  4. Mystery Shoppers Are Even Used At Funeral Homes
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    It might seem like a cruel prank, but this is a necessary service. For example, on one assignment, "I said I was interested in learning more about cremation. After receiving the information, I waited for a followup call. My job was to measure the usefulness of the followup information, the presentation/consultation itself, etc." If you get a bad taco, you're probably going to forget about it in 24-78 hours, but bad service at a funeral parlor is a lot more damaging.