The Top 10 Mistakes Mystery Shoppers Make

Eeek! It’s never fun to screw up an assignment. But, it is always fun to get paid for good work. That’s why I wrote this article, to help shoppers have more fun by avoiding the common errors. For new shoppers, some of these might be rather surprising.

  1. Forgetting to check the restroom. Many times the restroom is required to be checked at the end of the shop, but not always. The shopper does everything perfect, from capturing names to getting down all the times for greetings but for some reason, forgets to check the restroom. If the shopper catches it after getting into their car, they can often run back in to check. They might get a few strange looks but it is advised shopper grab their stomach and look like they are having a colon attack. Not checking the restroom at all, can cause a shop to be reassigned or the shop rejected. It is best to go back if you can.
  2. Not cancelling or rescheduling due to extreme weather. Shoppers are a dedicated bunch. They will do almost anything to avoid cancelling or rescheduling a shop. But the weatherman is predicting a hellacious storm, complete with ice and sleet, along with deep snow and high winds. The shopper should always think of their safety first. If they have a mystery shopping company that does not care much about the shoppers well-being during a dangerous storm, perhaps it might be time to re-evaluate their relationship with that particular company.
  3. Not making that pre-call to the store to verify the hours and location. Shoppers get busy. They have 8 shops to do that day. They don’t bother much to check where the location is on their GPS and they don’t think they need to call to find out the hours and if the location is still open. (closed store). So, they drive 50 miles to their destination and find an empty building. They might get paid for a closed store or they might not, depending on how each mystery shopping company addresses a closed store location. Did the shopper call? Did they get a voicemail or a recording that the number is no longer in service? Even then, it becomes a dilemma because they need to prove the store is closed by taking photos and possible nearby shop owners verifying the store is closed that operate near the vicinity of the closed store.
  4. Believing that you will be deactivated after too many shops. It is true that if you perform very few shops for a particular mystery shopping company, you could find yourself deactivated. But the misnomer that certain companies deactivate after 500 shops or 1000 shops, is simply not always true. (I can vouch for performing 3,000 for this company and so far, so good). I think it’s more a cumulative factor of cancellations, rejected reports, too harsh of reports, late submissions and failure to consistently get receipts and business cards. Some shoppers believe the stigma is true and have found them selves deactivated. The truth is: we can all find ourselves deactivated for any and all reasons. The best way to approach this fear, is to do as many shops as you can for that company. Make all the money you can, if you fear they will let you go soon. In reality, none of us are immune to being deactivated. The question, is when?
  5. Drinking too many alcoholic drinks on a shop or not enough alcoholic Drinks. Shoppers who perform bar integrity shops or dinner shops find themselves being asked to order 2 drinks. Sometimes they might order more than 2 drinks or conclude that it is 2 drinks per person. Sometimes a shopper does not enjoy alcohol at all and only orders one drink. Sometimes the shopper orders iced tea when they should have ordered a beer. The point is: If you don’t like drinking alcohol, perhaps these shops should be passed on. Whatever the case, read your guidelines and if this is not clear, call or email your scheduler to find out the real truth about how many drinks you should order.
  6. Deactivating yourself when upset with a mystery shopping company. You are really ticked off. You did a great shop but for some reason, it was declined. Perhaps the employee disputed your report and the mystery shopping company wanted to appease the client and accepted the rejection. Perhaps you have waited 4 months to be paid and are tired of the late checks. Maybe the 200 questions on the report have zapped your energy and you decide you can’t handle this mystery shopping company anymore. So, you deactivate yourself. Unless this company harms puppies or has you do shops that nobody would do (like putting an item in a purse and seeing if you get caught) then the best thing to do is to block the emails or just not accept their shops for awhile. Deactivation is pretty drastic unless all the company does is IKEA shops! But remember, companies get new clients all the time. Don’t you want to be there when they have the Around The World Cruise shops, all expenses paid?
  7. Not getting a Business Card. You get spooked by something, or maybe a distraction. Something did not go as you planned. You did a great job on the shop but for some reason you forget the business card. You know what that “usually” means, you likely might not get paid for the shop. What if the employee does not have a business card? I always look around and find an excuse to have a piece of paper in my hand, such as logo store sheets with prices. Then, if the employee does not have a business card, you can kindly ask him to write his name and phone number on the piece of paper. Always. I have never had a shop rejected by doing this because that would be like punishing the shopper for the employee not having a business card. (which he should have, if we are required to retrieve one).
  8. Taking reimbursement-only shops and being upset about it. You pretty much know when you see the front page instructions of the shop, such as “Pays $25 for your meal.” and a “0” for shop fee. You know. So you take it anyway. Then, maybe your meal comes to $29 and you are upset. Don’t be. Know going in that you reimbursement might not cover what you spend. Accept it and then the next time you see that shop, decline it. Or, if you really loved the food, accept it and know you might have a few extra dollars spent you won’t likely get back.
  9. Letting the bank teller run the show. We’ve all likely had it happen. You need a banker (not a teller) to tell you about the banking products. Or you need an appointment for a Loan Officer (but not for today) so you go inside the bank and teller wants to over-ride your shop by trying to be the banker. Don’t let her do it. Walk away and sit down. Tell her you will wait for a banker. Don’t let her ruin your shop. The same applies to the teller who says she has a loan officer for you to talk with RIGHT NOW. But you don’t need “right now” you need a future appointment. Tell her you can’t stay and you want to make an appointment. If you don’t do it just like that, you won’t be paid if the loan officer comes walking out of his office and tries to talk to you. (you still need an appointment) Grab your stomach and say you can’t talk to anyone today as you have bowel cramps. Whatever you have to say, say it!
  10. Failure to report serious issues: Food Poisoning, Car Damage. You just shopped an amazing French restaurant and 2 hours later you are clutching your stomach, throwing up green bile, in the death throes of pain. What do you do? You call your scheduler immediately, so she can contact the client, to let them know there could “possibly be food poisoning” at his location. Not sure? Still sick? Still report it. At least let them eliminate the possibility. No sense in getting other patrons sick. There are ways they can find out if it is true food poisoning. Next dilemma: You get your car parked in the Valet. You get your car back with a pancake size dent on the side of your car. The Valet Guy is new. He is too scared to report it. He hopes you don’t see it. Answer: Let the mystery shopping company know, so they can contact the client. Of course, you are 100% sure that the dent was not there when you handed over the keys. Being “absolutely sure” is best before complaining. Once again, common sense says the client would like to know the Valet Guy dented your car and did not report it.

In Closing: As mystery shoppers, we all make mistakes. Hopefully we can minimize those mistakes and learn from them. These are just a few of the tip of the iceberg.

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