I got stuck with a phrase or a word to describe people who are specifically paid to go into a store or restaurants during slow hours to make the business look busy, so that real customers would come in, thinking it's a busy place, and food must be good.

  • 2
    I never knew restaurants did this.
    – Dan Bron
    May 21, 2015 at 11:05
  • Borrowing a phrase from the movies I would probably call them "extras" (not very specific to restaurants, so it probably doesn't make a good answer, but still).
    – user19876
    May 22, 2015 at 7:43
  • I am sorry, but what is slow hours?
    – kitty
    Dec 28, 2015 at 21:15
  • 1
    @kitty slow hours are times during the day when a business doesn't have many customers.
    – Rob K
    Mar 21, 2017 at 20:02

3 Answers 3


Producers of televised award shows such as the Oscars want any shots of the audience to appear as though every seat is occupied.

When individuals leave the audience to appear on stage (to receive an award, or to present an award, or to perform) their seats could remain empty for several minutes if seat fillers were not employed. This is an actual term which is widely used in television.

  • Is it used for restaurants or outside the context you mention?
    – user6951
    Jun 21, 2015 at 9:14
  • @PAZZO It certainly could be used anywhere it seemed appropriate or where people are employed to give the appearance of a full house.
    – Ast Pace
    Jun 21, 2015 at 17:13

I think the word you want is "shill", although I've seldom seen it used except in association with casinos/gambling: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shill


You already got it! :)

Anything that is done to 'attract' falsely can be called 'paid'. Recently, the topic of 'Paid media' was on the rage in India.

So, one of the options you can opt for is...

We arranged for 'paid customers' to walk into the store. Seeing them, others got attracted; it's a business trick, you know!

These are basically 'fake customers' and should not be confused with 'mystery shoppers'.

  • Anything that is done to 'attract' falsely can be called 'paid'? That view is not supported by any dictionary or thesaurus. I can think of 'lure', 'induce', 'entrap', in fact many more words but 'paid' is definitely not close. Moreover, the phrase 'paid customers' does not have any support on google either.
    – Pranab
    Dec 28, 2015 at 20:42
  • If you depend too much on Google, I'm afraid you'll be missing a lot! :) And, jargon not necessarily have an entry in dictionaries. @Pranab Paid customers/clients And, I'm from marketing background as well.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 29, 2015 at 6:13
  • It might be used incorrectly by non-native speakers including marketers, but "paid customers" is more correctly a form of "paying customers", and does not mean a stooge or a paid seat filler.
    – Pranab
    Dec 29, 2015 at 15:56
  • I'm a native speaker, and no, "paid customers" is most definitely not a form of "paying customers". A paid customer would be someone paid [receives money] to be there. A paying customer is someone who is paying [gives money] to be there.
    – Rob K
    Mar 21, 2017 at 20:00

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