Question from a mystery shopper: I got an email from a mystery shopping company about a restaurant mystery shop in my area. I went right out and did the shop, but I couldn’t figure out how to put in my report and get paid. When I sent them an email, they said they had not assigned the shop to me. I spent $30 and now they say they aren’t going to pay me. What can I do?
You will probably need to consider this a valuable lesson about mystery shopping: Never do a mystery shop until you are certain that it has been assigned to you.
In order to do an accurate shop, you must read the guidelines and report forms before the shop visit. Without access to the guidelines and report form, you do not know what the client requirements are and what you are to evaluate on the mystery shop. The guidelines will say when the shop needs to be completed, the scenario to be used (if any), purchase requirements and other information you need to complete the shop. The report form gives you the questions you must answer during the shop.
If the shop has not been assigned to you, you probably would not have access to these important documents. (There are some exceptions to this. Notably, if you are able to self-assign the shop you can typically review all of the shop documents before you self-assign. However, in this case you say that the company “had not assigned the shop to me,” so it does not sound as though self-assigning was an option.)
Mystery shopping companies send lots of emails about available assignments. Those emails may be sent to hundreds or even thousands of secret shoppers. They are not sent one-by-one to individual shoppers.
Getting a notice that a shop is available does not mean you are being given that shop.
In most cases, the procedure is that the mystery shopping company notifies shoppers that an assignment is available. Interested shoppers are directed to go to the company’s website and apply for the shop. Never assume that you will receive a shop just because you applied for it. There may be many other shoppers who also expressed an interest in that assignment and it may not go to you.
Even if you receive the assignment, it may not be appropriate to rush right out and do the shop. Shops are to be completed on a date, or within a range of dates, specified in the assignment.
In the future, wait until it is clear that the shop has been assigned to you. When it is, carefully review the guidelines and report form and do the shop as required.