A Day In The Life Of………

A Mystery Shopper and Recruiter

About a month ago now, my wife and I were hired to recruiting mystery shoppers in certain countries for the launch of the Apple IPhone.

My first thought of this project was that it would be easy. Of course, that was furtherest from the truth as we were met with one complication after another, whether it was technical problems with the website, to answering simple questions that were readily available online… (And of course, not to forget the person who liked to send a message every 5 minutes with questions like “where are you? I am waiting for you to come online!” and “Hurry up. I need to go out!”).

Recruiting is not an easy thing to do in any business, and this is no different. Now, dont get me wrong, I do not mind answering questions and replying to emails, but when one spends 12 to 15 hours a day recruiting, answering questions (to the likes of what I mentioned above) is not something that I particulary enjoy.. Especially when it cuts into time for myself and time for my writing and book promotion.. Both of which I have VERY little time for these days 😦

Still, virtual recruiting has advantages. I dont have to go to an office and fight traffic everyday, and I have got to meet some really nice people online. Both perks of the job..

One thing is for sure, Virtual Recruiting sure beats the days when I had to do telemarketing!!! (More on this later)

Which brings me to my next point. Mystery Shopping (Names below have been changed)

Mystery Shopping. Some have asked me what the heck is that? Well, to put it in the simplest terms as I can. Mystery Shopping is a research tool used by many businesses to measure customer service. It is designed to see if product placement is carried out at a level that is expected. Unfortunately this is not always done, as in the case of Apple IPhone.

Anna and I elected to do the assignments in Samara and Novokujbyshevsk. Doing both areas was a definate conflict of time.

The assignments in Samara were straight forward enough, although the placement for IPhone at the selected stores was not as the client would require. Here is the run down on what happened:

We would enter the selected store, and firstly look to see if the IPhone brand was displayed, either with a large wall poster or IPhone Display. In most cases, the best that the stores could offer was the product was either in a case display cabinet, unable to be used for demo purposes, or they have no product available at all. Worse yet, not one place we visited had any sales material of the IPhone, and most sales associates had no clue when it came to giving us a demo. (Although one individual, Retvek, showed the only professionalism we had seen all day!).

Our first stop was Megafon in the downtown. Walking into this store was the exact same as going to a bank. You stand in a queue and wait for a teller. I wont go into full details on each assignment, but let’s just say that of the 6 locations all over Samara, this took us all day to get done as we had to wait for a tram or buss to go to the area we needed.

Okay, onto day two of assignments. Our only assignment was in Novokujbyshevsk. Simple? Not really. Novokujbyshevsk is only about 50 kms from Samara, however, the best way to get there is by train. So off we went to the train station. Upon arriving at the station we had the joy of waiting an hour for the right train to go to Novokujbyshevsk. When it finally did come, we spend the next 90 minutes on the train, then once in Novokujbyshevsk, we had a 20 minute wait for a taxi-bus to go into town. Needless to day, travelling 3 hours for a 50 km trip I was not impressed with at all!

Well, what can I say about Novokujbyshevsk? I think with all due respect, and not to offend anyone, Novokujbyshevsk is a town that is on the borderline poverty, and for anyone in this town to be able to afford an IPhone would literally cost them 4 months salary (or more). (Granted, that is taking into account if an individual happened to forego the basic living expenses such as food, power, and rent). Obviously Apple did not think to much when it came to product placement. They should have targetted cities where people could afford such luxuries. Not small towns where the streets are pretty much deserted at 3 o’clock in the afternoon!

Novokujbyshevsk reminds me of a town that one would see in a b-grade horror flick… you know the one I mean here… Hardly anyone on the streets apart from the local teenagers, old buildings where blood sucking vampires lurk, and tumbleweeds rolling down the main street…. Now if you can imagine this, that is how I would describe Novokujbyshevsk. In Samara it is common to see homeless dogs, but not in that town. In Novokujbyshevsk it is common to see stray cats…. Hmmmm, makes one wonder just what they put in those hot dogs 🙂

Needless to say, we did our assignment and higtailed it out of there before the sun set (Who knows what could happen.. especially in my imagination 🙂

So for a simple assignment, the trip took 5 hours travelling time, there and back. And then when we got home, I had the fun of catching up on the dozens of emails I had not replied to the day before. (Not to count the ones for my book, which I Still have not managed to get around to replying to yet!)

Now for something completely different, I thought I would add my own review of a PS2 game I played recently, which is, a recent release (I think).

The Simpsons for PS2.

Okay, without adding the walkthrough details, this game is pretty cool. There are 16 levels in this game, with all characters based on the tv show. Each level has hidden objects and missions, and some levels have the added fun of a mission within a mission.

It takes a bit to figure out what you are meant to do in some levels, but in all this is a cool game for young and old alike.

Although this is not normally the type of game I would play in my down-time, I would recommend this for anyone who is a fan of the show. Watch for the Dance Off with God on level 16 and the cool end scene. There are cameo appearences by itchy, Scratchy and Matt Groening. Highly addictive, and the scenes are just like watching the tv series. The graphics are well down and alhough it makes numerous references to upcoming games and tv shows, I would play this again.

Bitten By Books Carnival Winners:
Bitten By Books Haunted Bloggy Carnival was a huge success with thousands of dollars in prizes given away to contestants by some great authors.

I want to thank the following people who have each won a copy of The Chosen:
Merici Habib
Rachael D.
Theresa Dell
Jennifer Savage
Amber Katze
Jean Delehant
Sena Sagani
Carrie Parker

Your copy of The Chosen is on its way!

Finally, to do my own take-off of Jerry Springer here, I will add my Final Thought:

Balancing life as a Husband, Recruiter, Mystery Shopper, and Writer certainly is a challenge. I have come to understand the challenges other recruiters would feel in similiar roles, and certainly, Performance Based Recruiting is something I should know already, considering I used to work for Lou Adler (And got to meet the guy on one occasion when he was in New Zealand), but alas it seems the older I get the more knowledge I seem to loose :-).

Must add a note to self : Learn to relax more and not feel responsible for the needs of a company when family needs come first 🙂

Posted on November 15, 2008, in Rants & Ramblings of..... and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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