We’ve talked in the past about mystery shopper scams and the way unsuspecting mystery shoppers can be tricked into different ways of parting with their money. We recently heard a story that has us scratching our heads a bit and wondering if this is a scam or not.
A mystery shopper competition in the United Kingdom is offering customers £100 ($141) gift cards to spend in Aldi in exchange for a review. While this is not an unusual practice per se, it still has us thinking this may be a scam for a couple reasons.
For one thing, $141 is an awfully high amount for a grocery store review. Typical mystery shops run between $8 – $20.
But most importantly, Aldi has said they are not involved with the shopping campaign at all.
They released a statement that said,”Aldi has confirmed that this opportunity isn’t genuine and is in no way connected to the business. Please alert readers to the fact that this is not an Aldi opportunity.”
For another thing, Aldi does not sell gift cards. So there’s no way this mystery shopping contest is offering Aldi gift cards. (Maybe they’re Visa gift cards, which Aldi accepts, but there’s no such thing as an Aldi-branded gift card.)
According to a Cambridge News article, if the shoppers are selected, they only have to visit the store and then provide “honest feedback” about their visit.
To qualify, shoppers must provide their personal details and agree to submit a 500 word written review within a week of the visit, as well as a video and photos.
And there’s the rub: shoppers are being asked to provide their personal details. While your basic personal details are not that hard to find — name, address, email address — anything more than that is liable to make you the victim of identity theft.
At no point should you ever share your birth city, mother’s maiden name, or social security number to someone who’s promising to send you a large gift card.
If these are the kinds of personal details you have to provide to qualify for this kind of “contest,” chances are it’s not on the up and up.
That’s because it could just be an outright lie; they may not send you a card in the first place, but they’ve got your details and can use that to sign up for credit cards in your name.
Now, this could be on the up-and-up. It could be a totally legitimate contest being run by a marketing agency or even an Aldi’s competitor. And the contest website even says they’re not involved with Aldi’s and that this is not an Aldi’s-sponsored contest.
Still, it makes me wonder what kind of mystery shopping campaign it is. Here in the United States, no one would publicly hire mystery shoppers for $141 to go check out a store without some connection to the store.
There might be companies that would do a secret shopping campaign to gather competitive research, but they certainly wouldn’t announce that they were doing it. They would usually hire a mystery shopping agency, or they would do a lot of their own competitive research with their employees.
As we always say, the bottom line in avoiding mystery shopping scams is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Someone offering you $141 (or even $100) in a mystery shopping contest is probably not a legitimate campaign. Avoid it, hold onto your personal details, and only work with agencies that are members of the MSPA Americas (the Mystery Shopping Professional Association).
If you would like to become a real mystery shopper yourself, you can sign up at our website. Or to hire a mystery shopping agency to run your own campaign, please visit the website for more information.
Photo credit: David Smith (Geograph.org.uk, Creative Commons 2.0)