Accepting Challening Assignments

At what point should we turn down a mystery shop because some aspect of it is beyond our capabilities?

There was a recent discussion on www.mysteryshopforum.com about a shopper who was asked to do a shop that included evaluating a golf course at a resort. The shopper stated on the forum that,

“The description did say it included golf, and it did pay well. I figured the editors at [the company] know me by now and the demographics I fit into, and they assigned the shop to me lickety-split after I requested it, so at first I figured it wouldn’t be so bad. I did research the place (and, to be perfectly honest, their golf course doesn’t look all that great, but then again I don’t know how to identify a ‘good’ golf course that lacks a windmill and a pirate ship, but this place has also hosted some tournaments so the jury’s out) but after actually BOOKING…I started to get some second thoughts.”

The OP was given advice that ranged from go ahead and enjoy it to realize that you’re in over your head and back out. As of this writing [mid afternoon on 9/11/14] the OP hasn’t communicated their decision. But this raises the question, at what point should we bail on a shop if our comfort level is exceeded?

A couple of years ago, I had signed up for information on a series of Porsche shops that involved being trained in how to break an engine part, going in for service and evaluating the repair. I would have actually had the car titled in my name for the 6-8 weeks the series of shops would have taken. At the time, all I knew about Porsche was that they were 400+HP high-performance sports cars. The route would have taken me through New England and the Mid Atlantic in late February through April…the time of year when ice can still be encountered on roads. I turned the shop down, because I wasn’t sure I could handle that powerful a vehicle in potentially hazardous weather. Based on later experiences of having actually driven Porsches on shops, I would take the shop if it were offered again. I now know that, even though it’s a 400+HP high performance sports car, it’s also engineered to do only what you ask it to do.

There comes a time where saying “No” may be more important than taking the job. It all depends on your individual comfort level. Look at Steve Spurrier. He left the University of Florida to coach the Washington Redskins. After two disappointing seasons, he left the NFL. He realized that was a completely different game from coaching college football. Since then, he’s returned to college football, becoming the winningest coach in the history of the University of South Carolina. He realized he was out of his league. As shoppers, we need to realize the same thing. There is no shame in saying “No” after finding out more of the details. The shame is in trying to go through when you’re not prepared in any way for the project.

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