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Many of us already had the experience of going out the door to do “some” shopping but ending up with half of the bank account empty. But did you now that some people are actually paid by a company to go shopping? In that case, they all of a sudden get the label of “Mystery Evaluator”. Of course there is more to it. These shoppers then become secret agents of what is called “Mystery Customer Research”. 

Now, what exactly is this taboo called Mystery Customer Research? Mystery Customer Research is a simple act of shopping where everyday people with an eye for detail go shopping, go to a restaurant or take an airplane, while they actually get paid to do this! These “undercover shopaholics” then fill in a questionnaire evaluating the service they had been given. This way they help companies obtain valuable information concerning their own services, enabling them to improve customer satisfaction, and consequently increasing profits.


So what does Mystery Shopping exactly look like?

shutterstock_97220222_resizedTom Johnsson goes to a fast-food chain. On his way over, he pays attention to whether there are street signs guiding him to the restaurant he is looking for. Once he gets there:

  • He checks whether the restaurant and its employees are clean and not too smelly.
  • He also focuses on the time spent queuing.
  • Once he gets to order his meal, Tom observes whether the cashier is friendly and helpful.
  • When he takes his first bite, he must try not to lose himself in the delicious taste of his fast-food hamburger.
  • After he gets home he has to fill in his questionnaire with every single little detail of the visit.


However, Tom is happy to have his burger for free, and the fast-food chain will be pleased as well when the questionnaire is filled in correctly. This scenario will be repeated by many shoppers, in multiple restaurants of the chain, during a period that can vary depending on the desires of the brand in question. The overall evaluation will enable them to look for solutions as how to do better on both general and shop level.

It goes without saying that there is more than mystery shopping alone. Sometimes the evaluator is only asked

  • To make a phone call,
  • To act as future client, or
  • To give feedback to the salesperson after the mystery evaluation is performed.


But the aim of all this will remain the same: to improve customer satisfaction. Either you are a Mystery Evaluator or a normal person with no secret life, I’m sure you would like the extra spending money or getting nice products for free. If you simply want to enjoy the experience as a Mystery Evaluator, then this is your chance to try it out.


Author: AnneloreAnnelore Valencia_edited

Annelore has been an employee of Bare International since September 2011 and is based in the Antwerp Office. She has a Master’s degree in English & Spanish literature & linguistics and a Master’s in Management. She likes discovering new places, travelling, reading and going out with friends to enjoy some very good (Belgian) beers.

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The day before I started writing this article, somebody asked me a typical get-to-know-somebody-better question: “Tell me Davy, what is the best holiday you’ve ever had?”. I liked this question, on one side for the obvious reason that it’s always nice to think about vacations, but also because it brought up some very nice memories of trips I had been on the last couple of years. All of these had their own story to tell and were great in different ways, but as I had to pick one, I decided to mention the one I had been on almost 4 years ago.


Period: August 2012. Type: road trip. Location: la bella Italia!


To start with: I had never been in the boot-shaped country before. Most of my childhood holidays actually took place on and around Mediterranean coasts, but these were located in Spain; and years later I managed to miss the typical school excursion to Rome that so many Belgian teenagers go on. So, all these years later, it was about time to discover why so many people love going there, but a quick look at the map of Italy made clear that choosing the perfect location would be more difficult than expected: The mixture of cultures in Südtirol, the beautiful nature of Lombardy, the Venetian lagoon, the cities and food of Emilia-Romagna, the Ligurian seaside, the Tuscan hillside… and then I had only checked the central Northern axis of the country, not even getting as far as the Eternal City in the middle. I decided not to look any further, and planned out a route which would lead me to places in almost all these regions, offering a nice mixture of mountains & seaside, cities & countryside, culture & relaxation, making sure that the trip wouldn’t get too exhausting. I didn’t want to return with a higher stress level than the one on which I had left of course. It would also mean a thorough test for my car: would it be able to cope with the height of the Alps?


Okay, I know. You are now probably thinking that I am exaggerating, and – admittedly – I guess I am. It’s not as if I were driving around with a 50-year-old car that only manages to climb a hill when it has a height difference of maximum two or three percent. No, the vehicle that would lead me there was an 8-year-old Renault Clio, with 65 brake horsepower at her (Clio was one of the muses in Greek mythology, so I considered my car to be female) disposal. So, she wasn’t the toughest car you’ll ever see, but I can tell you that she didn’t disappoint me one bit.




Truth be told, on the highway she was no match for the Audis, Porsches and BMW’s of this world as these cars overtook her quite easily, despite managing to squeeze out an – for her standards – impressive maximum of 163km/h (before you think that I broke the law there: it was in Germany, in a long straight line without any speed restriction, so it was fair game).

However, once in Italy, she turned out to be one of the very finest around. Not only did she cross the Alps as easily as any other car, on the twisty-turny Italian roads (especially those around the Cinque Terre) she had the clear advantage over the same Audis, Porsches and BMW’s that overtook her so greedily a couple of days before, thanks to her excellent manoeuvrability and surprisingly good acceleration after every corner. It was the entire David (any reference to my own name is purely coincidental) and Goliath story all over again, and certainly contributed to the good feeling I was left with after that holiday!


In the years that passed since then, that very same car has taken me to some more very nice places in Europe, sometimes for leisure, but twice for professional purposes as well, more specifically to visit my colleagues in our Hungarian office in Budapest. And as the journey is at least as important as the destination, organizing a road trip there gave me the opportunity to visit other cities and landmarks on the road as well, such as Salzburg, Vienna, Lake Balaton, Prague and Dresden; piece by piece places that also popped up in my mind when I was asked about my favourite holiday.


In the end, I believe it is fair to say that this car has played an important role in my holiday experiences of the last couple of years, and I like to consider this blog post as a last tribute, because unfortunately I had to say goodbye to her two months ago.

Let me assure you, the following sentence is not meant as a sexist or macho remark in any way, but: She simply got too old, so I had to trade her in for a younger model. There are fewer and fewer places in which a 12-years-old diesel car is still considered welcome (Antwerp, the city in which I work, is no exception), so it was time for me to purchase a new car, obviously following the steps I have mentioned in my previous blog post.


So, the newcomer has big wheel caps to fill, but I have full confidence in her and already will give her a first big chance to prove herself in a couple of weeks from now:


Period: June 2016. Type: road trip. Location: la bella Italia!


Alla prossima!



Author: Davy

Davy is active in the BARE International office in Antwerp. He has a Master’s degree in Multilingual Communication, and can get himself understood properly in 5 languages. Professionally he’s mostly busy with cars and wireless speakers, topics he’s fond of in his private life as well – apart from other hobbies, such as travelling, cooking, cycling and football.


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new pgae

Do you have the feeling you need start doing something new? You need a change in your life but don’t know how to survive the job-search? This article can help you explore the secret signs of burn-out and explain what benefits mystery evaluation can bring you while you are not working full-time.

Do you get too tired by the end of the day?

You say you don’t have time to exercise, go out, learn new things, because you are way too exhausted in the evenings. Unless your job consists of demanding physical work, this should not be the case. It’s not the work that makes you tired. It’s the negative feelings about it, that silently take away your energy and motivation.

Do little things at work annoy you more than they should?

You want to throw that coffee machine out the window. Even the eyebrows of a coworker you are sitting next to annoy you. Once your mood is not in the right place, you are more susceptible to letting things around you bother you more than they should. Just ask yourself… would you react the same way to these things if you were at home in a good mood? If not, it means that you feel frustrated and you need to change something.

Do you express your mood in days?

-How are you?
-You know, it’s Monday. – you answer frowning.

-How are you?
-I feel great! Are you kidding? It’s Friday.

The only thing that makes sense in your life is the weekend and spending the whole working week craving it? Five days waiting for 2 days? Job crisis alert!

Changing a job is never easy

– I don’t have time to search for a new job or go to job interviews. Who is going to pay my bills while I am not working? – you ask.

Searching for a job can be a difficult time in one’s life. Browsing job portals, adjusting your CV, going for interviews, etc. But don’t forget: you have the power to organize your day. Finding additional sources of income has never been easier. We are living in a time of “online sharing”. You can share your car, or even become an Uber driver. Do you excel in a language or know much about your city? Teach language or offer guided tours! It will take you just a few clicks to publish your ad online.


Are you a fan of shopping? Are you particular about customer service? Then you might also want to become a mystery evaluator. You just have to register in the database of mystery shopping companies and look for projects on your job board. You can decide when, where and how often you would like to carry out a mystery visit.  You go shopping anyway, don’t you?

If you become a mystery shopper:

  • Spend more time moving around, which is far more exciting than sitting in an office looking at the same walls for months.
  • Meet new people. Not only you will get to know sales advisors and gain important information about sales techniques, you will also be in contact with the employees of the mystery shopping company. Networking can never hurt, especially taking into consideration that these companies regularly hire their best evaluators for their own teams.
  • Practice your communication skills: Most likely you do not have experience as an undercover agent. Mystery evaluation is full of surprises, sometimes you have to improvise and get yourself out of unexpected situations. Don’t forget: your identity can never be uncovered. Enjoy the adrenalin rush and become the best agent in town!
  • Learn a lot about brands, help improve customer service standards and get paid in the meantime. This can be especially useful if you are looking to work in retail or marketing in the future.

No-one can promise that these types of income will compensate you for losing a full salary, but it is fun and might be enough to help you out for a couple of months until you find a job where you even like Mondays. Just don’t forget: Google is your friend! Explore your opportunities! Life is too short to do something you don’t like.




Author: Szintia 1601260_10203075703433404_7153695029350124384_n

Szintia is an employee of Bare International.
Besides her work in the Social Media and Recruitment team, she loves sports, travelling, and she is learning her 6th language. She is a Couchsurfer. She has a master’s degree in Strategic HR Management and she is a professional pastry chef.

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It was a cold and rainy day in January when I stepped into the train carriage. I was on my way to Brussels where the 94th edition of the “Autosalon” was held. This yearly European Motor Show is my “pick me up” to cope with the cold winter days. One of my colleagues at BARE International was able to provide me with a free ticket and here I was sitting on the train all by myself. In case you are wondering… I indeed am one of those rare women who are actually into cars. Besides, if you are familiar with the term window shopping than imagine going to those motor shows as the ultimate version of the concept. Not only can you visually admire hundreds of cars under 1 roof, you can also sit in them, smell the ‘new-car-smell’ and feel the soft leather seats.

My half an hour train ride to Brussels went smoothly and so was my bus ride to the final destination. I must say that it was strange to be going to a car show by public transportation. I was following the advice given by the media to avoid parking issues on the location. How ironic is that?  I soon found myself queuing at the entrance feeling the anticipation of hours to spend looking at those shiny new cars. 5 More minutes as I’m checking in my coat and by now I’m already imagining long road trips enjoying the comfort of a new car and the variation of beautiful sceneries passing by like a perfectly directed movie.

shutterstock_1703995_resizedTime to go in and I cannot wait to start checking out the first cars. I try to hold in my excitement but it still shows as I am smiling from ear to ear like a little girl in a candy shop. I noticed that the entrance I took was not the main entrance and suddenly I found myself surrounded by Asian cars. I remembered thinking if this was a good thing or not. I’m currently driving my third Hyundai and I am still a big fan. On the other hand aren’t we all curious about new things? As I was walking past the Nissan, Kia and Honda stands I was not really feeling their new models.

Until suddenly, there it was… this beautiful white Mitsubishi Outlander. It was love at first sight! This car was speaking to me with its perfect size, its elegant but sporty lines, its ecological mindset and even the name speaks to my imagination! It was saying: “Yes, I want to be adventurous with you but let us still be sophisticated.” And “Yes, I love to be wild with you but I am also there for your family.”  I spent at least 20 minutes buzzing around the car, sitting in the front and back seats, inspecting the trunk and opening all the doors. I was sold!

If you know me personally, you will know that once I see something I like, I have no interest in anything else. As happy as I was I also know that all the cars I will see after this one will never come close to evoke the same sensation as this “Outlander”. After spending 3 more hours and passing by the Mitsubishi stand to say goodbye, I knew that the biggest task was still ahead of me. I had to convince my partner to buy this beautiful creation. How is that working out for me? Well, it is March now and we are still driving my Hyundai Tucson. It will still be my trusted companion for some more years to come and it is better for my trusted car not to know about my secret new love… just yet.



Author: Wara 20150625_172744_resized

Wara joined BARE International almost 7 years ago. Born in Thailand and moved to Belgium as a child, she knows how it feels to be “stuck” between cultures. Thanks to her optimistic mindset, she always tries to see a positive outcomes in everything. Her goal in life is to be happy, to live by example in order to inspire people around her… especially her son.

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