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Better Understanding Capitalism, Corporate Psychology and Mystery Shopping


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We maintain two roles beneath the capitalist blanket - the role of the consumer, the worker, or both... and while we are most likely inherently aware of the tactics, manipulation, and psychology used behind marketing, advertising, and product placement - there is a darker realm of exploitation geared toward workers and the customer experience alike. The seemingly common task of a secret-shopper, or 'mystery shopper' surveying for quality assurance is often thought about and rarely regulated - but this form of corporate sleuthing actually poses great risks for all involved.

It is clear from the article excerpts below that there are concerns within the realm of secret shopping - but how often do you think about the risks, and does the act of secret shopping sit well within your mind as a form of quality assurance monitoring? Should a worker not be - at the least - given the right to withdraw consent from such psychological experimentation and manipulation? Read the below excerpts, and full article to find out more - and let me know what you think!

"When individuals maintain the role of the worker in today’s society they are not only subjected to their employer’s brand, company ethics, and beliefs, they are typically forced into adhering to corporate policy and guidelines (which were created through corporate industrial psychological practice and study) or they risk loosing their livelihood. Today’s worker is, in a way, forced to subjugate themselves to ethics which may directly conflict with their own ideals, or ideals that are otherwise questionable, and against that which is considered humane or ethical. While factors such as these are clear and consented upon going into a job, the positional obedience, emotional trading, and normalization of the tasks by which we conflict with can create cognitive dissonance in a worker which can both create or exacerbate psychological illness.

Often overlooked and rarely (if ever) consented upon is being subjected to “Secret Shopping”, or “Mystery Shopping” while maintaining the role of a worker. While many activist workers may be aware of and despise both governmental and corporate industrial informants – workers, including independent contractors and those working on sales commissions, are conditioned by corporate managers to fear the “Mystery Shopper”.

Unregulated, the mystery shopping industry will not only maintain it’s current course but it could also heighten the amount of risk that comes from performing such experimentation. In theory, there are some states, counties, and cities that may already have rules and statutes which could be subjected onto mystery shopper corporations and workers. These rules range from wire-tapping to third-party consent laws, however accountability and enforcement against mystery shoppers and their agencies has yet to be fully realized beneath this jurisdiction. Two states that takes better regulatory measures would be California and Nevada, Of which, Nevada requires mystery shopping assignments need to be assigned through a licensed private investigation company. Anyone caught conducting an assignment without a license in Nevada can face fines of $2,500 or more."