In integrity shops, the secret shopper may be asked to verify that cash handling procedures are being followed, or even test an employee to determine if they are behaving honestly.
Integrity shops are often performed in bars. The shopper will observe things such as if the bartender is providing free drinks to friends or favored customers, “overpouring” when serving drinks, or drinking while on duty behind the bar. Secret shoppers also watch for improper cash handling, such as leaving the register open between sales, or not ringing cash sales and placing all of the money in the tip jar. All of these actions cost the business money.
Bars are not the only place integrity shops are performed, though. They may be performed in retail settings, too, to determine if cashiers and sales persons are handling cash properly, giving improper or unauthorized discounts, or even giving away merchandise to friends or cohorts.
One type of integrity shop is performed by two shoppers. The first buys an item, pays with exact change, and walks out without waiting for a receipt. The second shopper observes whether the cashier properly rings up the sale, or simply pockets the cash.
There are many other types of integrity shops, but what they all have in common is that employees are observed to determine if they perform their jobs honestly or not. Theft by employees is a serious problem for businesses, and integrity mystery shops are part of the loss prevention programs at many companies.
The nature of these shops means that they may be subject to regulations, such as requiring that they are performed by a private investigator. In many states, you may not have to be licensed as an investigator yourself, but you would be required to work as an employee of a licensed private investigator. For information about private investigator laws, see the CrimeTime web site at http://www.crimetime.com/licensing.htm.