Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mystery Shopping and Name Badges

Some retirees earn extra cash as mystery shoppers. Not me. I’ve been there, done that, and don’t think I’ll do it again.

In the late 90s, I shopped a restaurant chain in Current City for about a year. I felt like a spy, which, in a way, I was. Taking notes was difficult with servers hovering around, asking if everything was okay. If a server seemed suspicious, I pretended to be editing a writing project.

Most of the time I was able to write positive comments about the food and service. However, I usually wrote up at least one employee for not wearing his or her name badge. Maybe it seems nitpicky, but I would not give an employee a pass on that item.

Once upon a time I worked for Major Big Box Store. Management constantly wrote up employees who weren’t wearing their name badges. Before leaving home, I always made sure that I had my name badge—well, except one time. That evening I borrowed a name badge from an associate who had clocked out for the day. Nobody noticed that it wasn’t mine.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Wasn't Laughing

Got a certified letter Tuesday. Good news.

Got a certified letter from Texas sent to my address at The Apartment Complex in December 2004. Bizarre!

I think the December letter must have been someone’s idea of a joke. The envelope was “sort of” addressed correctly; i.e., the address did include the name of a household member. First red flag: The envelope was handwritten, with a stamped, not printed, return address.

Second red flag: The letter was typed on an obvious copy of the (legitimate) company’s letterhead, with the address blocked out. The body of the letter comprised three semi-literate sentences. The assistant manager's signature did not match the handwriting on the envelope.

The inside address did not include household member's name. It referenced a “Mr. Last Name.” No first name, just Mr. Last Name. I had no idea as to who this person was. Mr. Last Name, it seemed, was three months behind in rent payments for his office space—in Texas. The assistant manager, Ms. AC, requested that he pay the past due amount of $628.30 by December 10.


A quick check with the property management company confirmed that no one named Last Name lived in the The Apartment Complex. (However, I believe that Last Name actually is the name of a town/city in Texas.) I had never been to the Texas city referenced in the return address. Furthermore, in 2004, I hadn’t been anywhere near Texas in three years.

Fortunately for me, in an effort to appear professional, the assistant manager “copied” the company’s regional director and collections manager on the letter. Thank you, Ms. AC. You made my research efforts a lot easier.I wrote a complaint letter to the regional director. She responded with an apology that was fairly literate, but more confusing than the original letter.

Someday, somewhere in cyberspace, I will post an article about how I researched and “resolved” this fiasco. (There was some screaming involved on my part.) Maybe I’ll even post a photo of the letter and the envelope—with the names of the company and letter writer blocked out .