About Us

The Story

SurfMerchants LLC is a Boston-based internet development firm started by Tony Felos, John Hsu and Greg Ansin (who have been in business together since 1989, about the time that Al Gore invented the Internet). As a nuts and bolts web database-centered company that shunned speculative ventures, SurfMerchants missed the spectacular rise and even more spectacular demise of the flashy dot com era.

Instead, we were researching the fledgling field of online mystery shopping and learned that there was severe dissatisfaction with the leading online systems of the day - they were unreliable, came with extremely shoddy support, and were usually offered by current or former mystery shopping companies that could easily become your competitor tomorrow. The market was calling for a serious development firm to offer a truly professional service with no conflicts of interest.

SASSIE version 1 was created in 1999 with the invaluable assistance of Service Sleuths, the first SASSIE subscriber. Despite its limitations and truly appalling graphics, it made instant waves in the industry. The attention helped SurfMerchants LLC win the 2001 bid to redesign the Mystery Shopping Provider Association's website, www.mysteryshop.org, a position we retain to this day.

Adding much needed features such as automated scheduling and instant PDF report construction, SASSIE version 2 was released in 2001 to widespread acclaim. SASSIE version 2.2 and the www.mysteryshop.org website were the subject of a featured seminar at the MSPA 2002 conference in Cancun, Mexico.

In 2003, SurfMerchants announced the industry's first custom build mystery shop service with ATHENA, based on the SASSIE engine and also held its first user training conference in Boston, MA for eleven of its users.

In addition to its mystery shopping services, SurfMerchants LLC continues to build database-powered websites for organizations such as Canon Inc., Bunker Hill Community College, Dudley Moore Charities, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Treasury Dept and Arthur Andersen LLP (where admittedly there hasn't been much work recently!).