Maybe you've heard of them. We bet you've probably seen them. They look just like you and me, roaming the aisles of the Walmart or Macy's.
"Secret shoppers" (also known as "mystery shoppers") are customers that patronize a specific store, maybe even a specific department within the store, and evaluate their experience. Typically, they're commissioned by marketing or merchandising firms for customer service research or regulation compliance; but they're also used to provide customer feedback to the stores themselves to make improvements.
The shoppers can shop whenever they please, and are anonymous to store employees. The Federal Trade Comission (FTC) says that secret shoppers are paid for their work and reimbursed for their purchases, which they get to keep, although the job can really only be done as a part-time gig.