USPS responded by basically saying No harm, no foul. But bonuses were given out based on mystery shopper scores. Some managers had an unfair advantage.
The USPS Office Of Inspector General Released the following audit report:
The Postal Service uses the Mystery Shopper Program as a diagnostic tool to measure conditions that impact customer satisfaction, promote safety, educate customers about products and services, and foster revenue growth. Management includes the program results in the National Performance Assessment (NPA) score, which is part of the Pay for Performance (PFP) evaluation system. The program uses independently contracted individuals to pose as customers (known as mystery shoppers) to evaluate Post Offices.
The Postal Service uses a contractor who specializes in providing mystery shopper services to manage the program. The contractor recruits mystery shoppers via its website, and the Post Office evaluations are supposed to be conducted anonymously. see full report
We determined that the integrity and objectivity of the Mystery Shopper Program was compromised, because information regarding the program is posted on the contractor’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 contractor’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 contractor’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 contractor’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 contractor’s website between November and December of 2010;2 however, none completed a Post Office evaluation.
We recommend the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations:
1. Modify the Mystery Shopper Program contract and implement internal controls to ensure advance notice of dates, sites, and scenarios for mystery shopper evaluations are not available to Postal Service employees and the general public.
2. Consult with Supply Management to determine whether the Postal Service is entitled to a refund as a result of the contractor allowing unauthorized access to information regarding the mystery shopper program on its website.
Management agreed with the findings and generally agreed with the recommendations, stating they have taken steps to ensure information about Postal Service shop sites, dates, and scenarios are not made available to employees and the general public.
Specifically, the contractor has blocked access to its mystery shopper job boards, and systems were put in place to ensure only individuals with proper authorization can access shopper schedules and other related information. Additionally, management determined that any damages resulting from the objectivity of the Mystery Shopper Program being compromised are immaterial given that the accessibility of information about Postal Service shop sites was isolated and limited in nature. Therefore,management will not seek payment of money, the adjustment or interpretation of contract terms, or other relief related to the mystery shopper contract.