by Greg Mayer

On a recent visit to Arkansas, I came across the following sign in a fast food restaurant.

I’m not sure what a “Mystery Shop” is, or what “Key Drivers” are, but  I would refudiate any offer to have their sign maker work for me.


  1. Posted January 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Why did you say, “fast food restaurant” instead of Mickey D’s?
    ~Rev. El

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      For one thing, I never refer to “McDonald’s” as “Mickey D’s”. If I recall correctly, calling itself “Mickey D’s” was a lame attempt by the McDonald’s corporation to sound hip.


      • Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        OK. Let me express my question more accurately: Why did you say, “fast food restaurant” instead of McDonald’s?
        ~Rev. El

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          I wasn’t trying to get anyone at the joint in trouble– so, I intended to leave out the name and specific location. When I cropped the picture I saw McDonald’s was visible, but figured leaving out the location was sufficient for my ends.


  2. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I would refudiate any offer to have their sign maker work for me

    Why? Aren’t they accurant enough to your taste?

    • jt512
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      Refudiation breeds content.


  3. NMcC
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Ass somewon whose in the printt/zignage rac… er…trade, I can asure yew that that is ann in-house job!

  4. WingedBeast
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    My issue is that the cleanliness and accuracy had the lowest scores.

    Is each score out of a potential 30?

    If so, that suggests about a 50/50 chance of getting what you ordered versus getting something wrong and caked in germs.

    • Jacobus van Beverningk
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      ‘accuracy’ was not on the list.

  5. palefury
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    In a Memphis, TN video store, the staff were arguing over how to spell “CUSTOMER” and decided that it was spelled with three Os.

    Never over estimate the US educational system!

    • Filippo
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Never underestimate the disdain of way too many U.S. citizens – and Grade 4-12 students – for intellectual pursuits. Teachers stand or fall on their own merits, but students have (increasing) responsibility for their learning. (They had better, as their parents and other adults aren’t going to be around forever to entertain them and compensate for their laziness.) Go observe a teacher – or try your own hand at – pulling teeth to get certain students to shut their mouths, pay attention, keep the cellphone hidden, and do the bloody assignment.

      Is it still that 50% of Amuricuns cain’t correctly answer the question, “True or False: the Earth goes around the sun and takes a year to do it”?

      • palefury
        Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        I did not mean to insult teachers, they work extremely hard and get paid far too little.
        The problem is the system, particularly evident in Memphis city schools, there is not enough money, and the powers that be are always bickering over politics rather than focusing on the important stuff like actually teaching the kids. Not to mention that a lot of these kids come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and both the kids and the teachers literally have to risk their lives to show up at school.

    • AnonymousCoward
      Posted January 24, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Is that costomor, or custooomer?

      And which is worse?

  6. Draken
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Why, a Mystery Shop serves Mystery Meat, don’t you think?

  7. Dave
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Mystery Shoppers are people paid by the company to come in -unknown to the employees- and review the service they get.

  8. William Jordan
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Not sure if you’re attempting sarcasm here, but if not, I think you mispelled

  9. MikeM
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Creative people can think of two or three different ways to spell a word.
    W.C. Fields

    Mispeling accurancy is cute.

  10. Andreas
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure how much of the post is sarcastic, but I assume that a mystery shop refers to mystery shoppers:

  11. JesseS
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    A Mystery Shopper is a person paid by a company to go in and use a store or service and rate them while they are doing it secretly.

    So for a fast food chain they’d probably head in, order a non-standard order (like a cheeseburger extra cheese, no pickles) and pay attention to how accurate the order was, how friendly the staff was, how well cooked it was etc, then go use the bathroom and check to make sure it was clean and all the various items like soap and toilet paper are stocked etc.

    The key is that they show up at random so the store can’t ‘be on its best behaviour’ just for the inspection and then be lax the rest of the time.

    The ‘Key Drivers’ is just a really weird way to describe the criteria most restaurants get graded on.

    • Doc Bill
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Well done, Jesse, you win the Retail Friend Award. Pick it up in the lobby.

      Yep, that’s right, some companies use paid Mystery Shoppers to evaluate stores.

      I work part-time in retail for the second largest company in the US of A, take a guess, and we use real shoppers for feedback, although our standards are extremely. If a typical goal is 10%, our goal will be 1%. Exceptional is what we shoot for.

      It makes for interesting dynamics when an organization, retail outfit, research lab is motivated by goals.

      Ah for the days when my only goal was to be not flayed alive in Graduate Seminar. Yes, give me that brutal beating every time!

    • Luh
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Read the sign again cx

  12. daveau
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t anyone know how to proofread anymore? Personal pet peeve: apostrophitis.

  13. MikeM
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Now you’ve done it, whyevolutionistrue the 4th hit on google for “accurancy”

    One of the other hits is some one asking the difference between precision and accurancy.

    • Jacobus van Beverningk
      Posted January 23, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Well, that’s easy: one is an actual word, the other one is not.

  14. Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I can haz accurancy? Maybee they iz adding to lolspeek.

  15. E.A. Blair
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    The list is a prime example of what is, in writing teachers’ circles, called non-parallel construction. The items in a list are supposed to be all the same part of speech. This list is a jumble of nouns and adjectives, and should read, “Quality, Frendliness, Accuracy, Speed and Cleanliness”.

    • Posted January 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink


      The list could have been created by pulling key words from a bunch of questions on the Mystery Shopper’s checklist, though, and in that case it would be alright except for the glaring error and the low scores. (I mean, who cares if they are friendly or have quality products if the place isn’t clean?)

  16. Jacques
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Do they not realize it’s meaningless without a scale? Don’t shoot the sign maker.

  17. David-in-Toronto
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I guess earning 26 points for “quality” is a good thing… unless it’s out of 100.


  18. CanadianChick
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I think it SHOULD read Friendliness, not Frendliness, E.A. Blair.


  19. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m guessing “quality” and “accuracy” is out of a scale of 100.

  20. Posted January 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    What’s their score for Pedantry?

    Incidentally, I understand that Americans have this word “normalcy”. Someone please explain?!

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      A normalcy is the condition where the waves and wind are not too big nor too small, though what is normal in one ocean may not be the same in another.

    • M31
      Posted January 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      ‘normalcy’ is best known for being used in the phrase ‘a return to normalcy’ which was promised by Pres. Harding right after after WWI, I believe during his campaign.

      Meaning ‘getting back to the way things were’ not that that was particularly possible after WWI.

  21. M31
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I was once in a McDonald’s and there was some kind of non-mystery inspection going on–guys walking around with clipboards, stuff like that.

    I had the best McD meal I ever had–fresh buns, hot burger, I’ll bet they even changed the grease in the fryer, woo hoo!

    Here’s a service I should launch–‘tipping off’ restaurants that the health inspector will be in tomorrow.

    • GroovyJ
      Posted January 23, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      By the sound of it, a better service would be tipping off patrons when the health inspector will be in tomorrow.

  22. Dr. I. Needtob Athe
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    My favorite restaurant has a professionally made sign in their window advertising their newest menu choice, which includes a “diner salad.”

    They acknowledged the error when I mentioned it. I don’t understand why they can’t get it fixed for free.

    • Posted January 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      They probably OK’d the copy before the sign was made. My experience is that most printers and sign makers don’t do copy editing.

      One of my favorites was on a truck stating the electrician was “Wake Counties Best”. Plurals and possessives are always fun.

  23. Kiwi Dave
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps ‘accurancy’ is a true fast food believer’s entirely reasonable portmanteau of ‘accuracy’ and ‘inerrancy’. Or not.

    • Posted January 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      If it is, no one can refudiate it with an argument like that! 🙂

  24. Diane G.
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink


    Great capture, GCM.

  25. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps accurancy is to money as atheism is to theism. Penniless, in other words.

  26. Miles McCullough
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    26 + 22 + 17 + 18 + 17 = 100.

    The numbers all add up to 100, so it must just be a way of rating the emphasis on various aspects of service.

    Perhaps the worst part is that friendliness, accuracy, speed, and cleanliness are all good traits to specify in a quality assessment survey, yet the highest rated factor was “quality.”

    Clearly nobody involved in the survey had any idea what they were doing.

    P.S. I am from Arkansas, so I shall quote the true prophet, Jeff Foxworthy: “Here’s your sign!”

  27. Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    I like that they’ve written (5) FIVE. Covering both bases there.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      “And the number of the counting shall be (5)five…. (7)seven is right out.” Armaments, chap. 2, v. 19.


    • Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      It’s a bit of legalese to double check a number, and it’s creeping into general use by people who think it’s required.

      Which reminds me, has anyone ever seen the “Health Regulations” that signs say require people to wear underclothes when trying on swimming costumes, and forbid changing babies on public tables or exchanging shavers?

  28. John Hynes
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    Many years ago, I went to the job center at school, and on the board was a posting for “mystery shopper”. Being curious, I asked the woman at the desk what it was. Before I knew it, I was one. Thus began two years of driving all over Northern California and shopping at many different kinds of stores, usually accompanied by very eccentric partners. Never Mickey D’s, though.

    BTW, if you work in retail and someone drops some cash on you and walks out without waiting for you to ring it up, make sure you do so!

  29. rhr
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing how many errors are packed into this sign. I can forgive a single misspelling (I’ll probably make two in this post), but the grammar here is truly botched.

    “Mystery Shop Results” can’t possibly mean what the author intended despite the fact that under the flexible grammar of abbreviations there are probably dozens of ways to interpret those words. The reading of “shop” as a noun is almost inescapable. “Mystery Shop” could be a verb like “hang glide”, but it would presumably be intransitive. And even if it were transitive you don’t want “results” as the object.

    And “Fast” is not a key driver! This person simply has no functional understanding of the parts of speech. What’s sad is that they’re probably a high school graduate who can tell you the definition of noun and verb as well as the next person.

    • Posted January 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      I dunno, having a fast in a McDonalds may be the healthiest option.

  30. John H.
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Once seen on a corporate poster (where I work slave): “We act accountability.”

    I wonder who was accountable for the grammar on that one?

  31. Kevin
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Allow me to translate.

    The fries were delicious, but the counter clerk seemed slightly distracted because I didn’t order fries and she dropped a couple on the floor before putting them back on my tray.

    That’s about as accurant a translation I can give.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Best of Science News, Jerry Coyne. Jerry Coyne said: Accurancy: […]

%d bloggers like this: