It is unlikely that you will ever be asked if you are the mystery shopper; however, it is best to be prepared, just in case.
As a secret shopper, you should always try to be inconspicuous. Although many people believe that mystery shoppers are there to be difficult customers, in fact we want to be typical customers who will not stand out or draw attention to ourselves. Our job is to blend in and do not do anything that would make us memorable.
Despite your best efforts, it is possible that you will be spotted as the mystery shopper. It may be because of something you or a companion does, or it may just be that the shop requirements are such that it becomes clear that you are the mystery shopper. In more than 15 years of secret shopping, I have never been identified as the shopper, but it is wise to be prepared.
Here are some things to think about in case you are outed as a secret shopper.
First, if you are asked, “Are you the mystery shopper?” the best answer is, “What’s that?” Most people do not know about mystery shopping, so acting as though you do not know what a mystery shopper is would be your best course of action. Play dumb. You may even want to rehearse this a bit, so that you respond appropriately if you are ever asked.
The next question is whether you should continue the shop or just wrap things up and get out of there. That depends on the circumstances. If you have just arrived, it might be best to just abort the shop and leave at your first opportunity. If you are near the end of the shop, you may want to finish the scenario and get all of the information you would need for a report so you can do the report if needed. If this is a hard to fill shop they may not be able to find someone else to do it and they can not send you back in again after you have already raised suspicion, so getting all of the information needed for the report would be the best course of action.
Contact your scheduler as soon as possible after you leave the client location to ask what you should do. The scheduler may tell you to go ahead and do the report or they may cancel the shop. If the company is good to shoppers, and you were not spotted because of something you did, they may offer to pay you some or all of your promised fee even if they have to cancel.
What if you think you were identified as the shopper, even though they didn’t say anything? It may be that you are just hyper-aware and a little paranoid. You see or hear something and assume it means that they know you are mystery shopping them, but they may have no idea. One question to ask yourself if how they did on the report. If you think you were spotted, but they didn’t do many of the things they are supposed to do, chances are you imagined it. (Or they are really, really stupid.)
If you believe you were spotted, then it would be a good idea to take yourself out of the rotation for that location, at least for a while. And think about how you can do a better job at being an undercover customer to avoid detection on future shops.