The USPS Inspector General has released a report finding that the postal service’s Mystery Shop program was compromised by the public posting of mystery shop schedules and scenarios, and by the ability of current USPS employees to enroll as shoppers:
We determined that the integrity and objectivity of the Mystery Shopper Program was compromised, because information regarding the program is posted on the contractorâ€™s website where it is accessible to the general public. Specifically, we found that information regarding mystery shop sites, as well as the dates and scenarios of scheduled evaluations, was available to anyone who accessed the contractorâ€™s website.
Mystery Shopper Program was Compromised
We found that in January 2011, a Postal Service employee was able to enroll as a
mystery shopper on the contractorâ€™s website. Although the employee did not complete a Post Office evaluation, the employee was allowed access to information regarding the locations, dates, and scenarios for scheduled mystery shop evaluations. Upon accessing the information, the employee distributed it to 44 Postal Service unit and retail managers via e-mail. This occurred because the information is available to the general public on the contractorâ€™s website.1 As a result, advance notice of upcoming mystery shop evaluations was accessible, which compromised the objectivity of the program. We also found that three other employees enrolled as mystery shoppers on the contractorâ€™s website between November and December of 2010;2 however, none completed a Post Office evaluation.
USPS Management accepted the findings, but said it would not seek a refund of fees paid to the Mystery Shop contractor, Synovate.