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Thousands of Brits have found a novel way to pay for their shopping and take free trips during the downturn. They have become mystery shoppers.

Hundreds of British companies are employing part-time 'spies' to pose as customers to check that their outlets and employees are up to scratch. It is a service mainly used by shops, restaurants and pubs, but is also widely used by cinemas, travel companies, airlines, theme parks and hotels. Mystery shoppers are the eyes and ears of their businesses.

Whilst acting as a typical customer, an undercover mystery shopper or diner visits a location and performs specific tasks such as ordering goods or services whilst observing sales and service techniques. They might also ask the staff specially prepared questions or register a complaint. The shopper then leaves the premises without revealing who they are and completes a questionnaire to be returned by a specified date.

Robert Brady, who founded the Read full release