Over the past several months or so, there have been a few discussions, or mentions in various threads, about the difficulties in being able to contact schedulers or mystery shopping companies (MSCs) after hours or on weekends, as well as a couple of other pet peeves. I’m not going to reference the specific threads, but I made notes about certain things that came up and will address them here.
1. “I’m doing a shop on a Saturday and a problem has come up. Why can’t I get a reply to my email/phone call?” Most MSCs operate as 9-5 businesses running Monday through Friday. Especially the smaller MSCs that are family run, having the phones covered 24/7 is asking a bit much. Everyone needs downtime from work. By the same token, if I run into a problem not covered by the shop instructions on a Saturday, and I document it with an email that is sent within the required reporting window, and if I have completed the other sections of the report, then I do not expect to be penalized for not having the report submitted “on time.” There are a few MSCs that do have staff available after normal hours, and I applaud them because it makes getting the report done on time so much easier. But if you’re not able to be staffed after hours or weekends, then it is reasonable to expect accommodations to the deadline if a problem arises.
2. “I might be able to get more jobs if schedulers or MSCs wouldn’t have their numbers blocked.” I have to admit to being old school to a degree on this subject. I find it disquieting to call someone and hear them answer, “Hi James.” I still haven’t gotten totally used to caller ID on every phone. I am, however, much like the person who posted the comment. If I get a call and it says “Restricted”, “Blocked”, or something similar, I won’t answer the phone. If I know the call is coming from “Scheduler Sandra”, I will still answer with “Hello”…I’m not a mind reader. There have been occasions where I have received an email from a MSC and they say that they tried calling me. I’ll ask if they have their number blocked. If it turns out they do, I politely explain that I don’t answer blocked numbers because I’ve discovered that 99%+ tend to be junk/spam calls. While I am on the “Do Not Call List”, as my personal phone is also my business phone, it doesn’t do a lot of good as businesses are not covered by the “Do Not Call List.”
3. “I was docked two points because the MSC had to contact me for clarification [or the variations of grammar error, word usage, etc.” Don’t take this one personally. We all make mistakes. Often times we write something and we know what we meant to say, but it didn’t get written that way. Yet we go back and proofread it, and we don’t catch the error because we “know” what we were writing. As I said in an earlier article, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is did you get paid for the job? This is one of those occasions where you have to either develop a thick skin or else be like a duck and let it roll off your back. If an editor spends 15 minutes on a report, that means they can do 32 reports in an 8-hour day. Unless it was something exceptional, don’t expect a personalized reply. And don’t push for one. It could end up hurting your ability to get assignments in the future.
While it would be nice if MSCs and schedulers were available 24/7, we have to remember that they, like us, are human. We all need downtime or else we will burn out. We need to accommodate and be accommodating…and be able to document the attempts to make contact if there is a problem.