Here's a unique assignment shoppers may not have heard of: Funeral homes and cemeteries. In this scenario, mystery shoppers gather information by posing as a relative of the deceased. At first read, you probably think the idea of shopping burial and cremation services is morbid. Thinking about the expected death of a loved one - even when hypothetical - can send some shivers up your spine. If you feel uncomfortable or disrespectful pretending to be bereaved, remember that most families want quality care for their loved ones, even after death. Losing someone is very emotionally draining and doesn't leave a whole lot of energy for funeral plans. You're not simply taking a secret shopping job at a cemetery. You're doing research so you may relieve some of the burden for those who are grieving.
Even the Federal Trade Commission conducts annual mystery shopping at funeral homes. Of course, when you take on a funeral home mystery shopping job, your purpose won't be to bust anyone for broken laws. But you will play an integral role in the quality of service a family receives.
What you'll do
There are two types of assignments for the funeral industry. According to Mystery Shop Maven, the first asks you to check a gravesite. You'll be checking the quality of maintenance for both the grave and the cemetery grounds. This sort of shop is usually done as a service to a long-distance relative who wants to confirm that the deceased is being treated respectfully.
The second type of assignment is a phone call to a funeral home. These calls aim to evaluate quality of service for those making funeral arrangements, as explained by Mystery Shopping Magazine. The idea of cold-calling a cemetery is nerve-wracking for most but don't be too quick to turn down this type of job. You'll impress your scheduler with your willingness to take on the unorthodox. You won't need to spend gas money to complete the task and you'll have a shorter report to write because calls are recorded. If time or money are tight, the could be an ideal job for you. You can even make several calls in an afternoon.
Who you'll be
You don't need to develop much of a cover for a gravesite check. Chances are, you won't be speaking with anyone but you still want to look like a regular cemetery visitor. For this reason, you might be asked to bring flowers to place on the grave. Don't forget to double check that no one can see you taking the required pictures. You'll probably do some light cleaning, so you can report how many weeds needed pulling or whether the grave marker was clouded with dirt.
When you make your phone call, you'll pose as an immediate family member of someone recently deceased or someone expected the die within days. Here's where you really need to know your backstory. You are the relative making all the decisions regarding burial arrangements, and you'll appear suspicious if you're unable to answer the funeral director's questions.
What you'll need to know
First and foremost, know personal details of the relative who is deceased or soon-to-be deceased. It's not unusual for a funeral director to ask you where remains are located, as they often make the transport arrangements.
Perhaps you're planning a funeral for a religious relative. In this case, make sure you know specific religious customs and be consistent in what you say. You want to gather information on how a funeral home handles religious customs. If you're not a part of the religion specified in your assignment guidelines, don't pretend you are. If you've identified yourself as a relative through marriage, you're less likely to look suspicious.