Mary Portas: Secret Shopper
About the Show
Mary Portas works with some of Britain's best-known brands and high-street chains to give shoppers the service they deserve
Series 1 Summary
In this brand new series Mary Portas has changed sides. Rather than helping businesses to maximise profits, she's now championing the shopper, and battling to get Britain's biggest chains to put customers first.
Mary believes that Britain is cowering under a cloud of poor customer service and that we've never had it so bad. By using the stealth weapon of secret shopping, she exposes shoddy customer service and uses the evidence to give company bosses a wake-up call. And, with the help of her covert cameras, she's planning to start a retail revolution.
The giants may be delivering bumper profits but they won't be smiling for long - Mary and her gang of shoppers have caught some of Britain's biggest brands with their trousers down. Together they have unearthed shoddy shop floors and minimal service from apathetic shop staff.
Having got to grips with the problems, Mary believes she's got the answer to this malaise.
Mary turns her attentions to poor service in the `fast fashion' sector.
She needs a chain that is willing to let her show them how to give their shoppers the service they deserve. Up steps Chris George, MD of swiftly expanding fast fashion chain Pilot.
Pilot has 44 shops, with more in the pipeline. Mary's mission is to transform the chain's worst performing store in Essex into a haven for shoppers, and to then challenge Chris to roll her ideas out across the rest of his empire.
But with a team of disenchanted shop girls and an MD who hires shop managers without meeting them first, she's not going to have an easy ride.
Mary Portas goes undercover in the world of sofa superstores, revealing an industry that puts sales commission - and not shoppers - first.
We've all seen the adverts for Bank Holiday sofa sales, but do the superstores really offer a good deal? Mary's covert cameras reveal the sales techniques well-known superstores use to persuade customers to buy.
Mary is invited onto the premises of CSL Sofas, a northern chain run by Bentley-driving, go-getter Jason Tyldesley. Almost as soon as she's through the doors, Mary deftly picks apart Jason's idea of customer service, tears up his price-match promise and takes in hand his Rotherham store, along with its team of raucous sales guys.
If she can prove her novel ideas work, Jason is willing to put his hand in his pocket and roll Mary's ideas out across his chain.
Mary explores the infuriating world of mobile-phone retailers.
Mary plans to start a revolution in the phone shops. Her secret cameras reveal them to be one of the least user-friendly retail environments on the high street. Staff bombard you with technical information that has little to do with finding the right phone for you - and you can't even try before you buy.
The worst offender, Mary thinks, is Fonehouse, a national chain run by CEO Clive Bayley, who thinks his customer service is a cut about the competition. Mary quickly bursts his bubble and persuades him to give her control of his flagship store in Angel Islington, London. So can she show him what good customer service is really about?
But getting her ideas rolled out across the chain won't be easy, because she'll have to convince a group of successful franchisees as well as CEO Clive that customer service is worth spending serious money on.
Mary wants to start a revolution in the world of estate agents.
Buying a house is the most important purchase of our lives, but Mary thinks estate agents have been letting us down in a big way. Last year complaints rocketed by 40% and Mary's secret cameras show why.
Estate agents are caught with their trousers down as they pull out all the oldest tricks in the house-selling book; multiple viewings, misleading particulars and lack of specialist knowledge are among the long list of things that drive us up the wall.
But Mary wants to stop the rot. She hooks up with north London chain Martyn Gerrard and persuades boss Simon Gerrard to let her loose on his sales team in a bid to make them more customer focused. But, before long, tensions rise as Mary realises that she and Simon have very different views on what good customer service really means.
Mary Portas: Secret Shopper synopsis
Mary Portas works with some of Britain's best-known brands and high-street chains to give shoppers the service they deserveEpisode Guide >