Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Don't let your disability stop you being a mystery shopper

Claire's picture
By: Claire

Claire, who’s been involved with Newcastle Disability Forum and Disability North has been a mystery shopper for some years now and has found mystery shopping to be a most rewarding experience. Claire writes:

I saw the House of Lords Select Committee report on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability which said that the Government is failing in its duty of care to disabled people. See the House of Lords report here. Because of this report, now more than ever, I think more disabled people need to get involved in research like mystery shopping.

Sometimes, as a result of my disability, I can become depressed, but after completing a mystery shop I feel that I’ve contributed to improving the lives of other disabled people.

Over the years, I’ve carried out mystery shopping which has helped me as well as other people. I found out about installing a wet room, which I was thinking of getting done anyway; evaluated the way a main line train company operated the Assisted Travel Scheme; and had a sales person bring an adapted chair to my home for me to try out.

As a mystery shopper, you receive payment for each mystery shop you complete. If you normally have assistance, this is also paid for and sometimes, within reason, extra travel costs.

Mystery shoppers don’t need to have a professional background. They’re briefed to observe, to collect information, and to record it accurately. You may be asked to visit local shops, make enquiries by phone, take home visits from sales people, or check out the online chat provided by some websites. All you need to be is an ordinary ‘Joe’ or ‘Josephine Public’ and act as you would do anyways as a shopper.

My mystery shopping has been for the research charity Rica. To become a mystery shopper for them you join RicaWatch, their consumer panel.

Rica has over 15 years' specialist experience of carrying out research on service quality, sales practices and accessibility for older and disabled people. Mystery shopping is an effective way of uncovering poor sales practice as well as highlighting good customer service. RicaWatch panel members carry out over 700 mystery shopping inspections per year for organisations such as Age UK Trading, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) and Motability Operations.

If you’d like to become a mystery shopper, join RicaWatch here.