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CRAIN'S NEW YORK BUSINESS
July 16, 2007- SNOOPERS GO OUT ON TOWN-GET PAID TO SHOP, DINE, BUT JOB NO PIECE OF CAKE

"The service at midtown restaurant Pershing square came up a bit shor during a recent lunch. Rebecca Franks and her husband, Jonathan, duly noted that they were not told about the daily specials when the waiter took their order. He also neglected to remove a discarded Sweet'N Low packet. More egregiously, he didn't replenish an empty ice tea glass quickly enough.

The biggest faux pas$ A busboy inexplicably removed all the utensils before the entrees arrived.

Welcome to the world of mystery shopping, where customer service becomes the subject of painful scrutiny.

The Franks, who run their own mystery shopping firm-aptly named Perfectly Frank Inc. - were enjoying a casual lunch at Preshing and were not on the job. Each day, though, the couple sends their spies to evaluate countless other restaurants, hotels and spas across the city. Mostly women, mystery shoppers enjoy the services at these places for free in exchange for completing a report on their experience.

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With hospitality-oriented business trying to improve their customer service amid a glut of competition, mystery shoppers are in greater demand than ever.

"It is very important to us to make sure that the average diner has a wonderful experience at our restaurants,"say Mathew Glazier, president of the Glazier Group, which hired Perfectly Frank to visit its six restaurants about every two months.

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