You had every intention of completing the mystery shopping assignment you accepted, but the deadline is nearly here, your kids have the flu, your car is in the shop, the cat just threw up on the carpet, and you are not feeling all that good yourself. You do not see how you can get the shop done on time.
Why not just call your best friend and ask her to handle the shop for you? Well, there are lots of reasons why not. We will look at those reasons, then examine what your options might be.
The main reason why you should not get someone else to complete a shop that was assigned to you is that you were probably selected for a reason. The client may have specific criteria regarding who performs the shop, and you were chosen because you meet those criteria. It may be demographics (e.g., your age, family income, or other characteristic), experience or another factor. Whatever it is, it matters to the mystery shopping company and their client.
You also have to consider that your friend may not do as good a job as you would, causing your shopper rating to fall. That will hurt you the next time you apply to that company. And, if the mystery shopping company learns that you deceived them by handing off your assignment to someone else, there will not be a next time because they will probably deactivate your account.
So what can you do? If at all possible, find a way to do the shop. The mystery shopping company is counting on you, and you agreed to take this assignment. If doing the shop is impossible, let your scheduler know right away. Today. This minute. Some companies will be understanding, as everyone has an emergency now and then. However, they have heard every excuse in the book for not doing a shop, so some will not be sympathetic to your situation. (Did you know that shoppers “flake,” that is, cancel at the last minute or just do not do the shop, about 25% of the time?)
Sometimes the scheduler can offer an extension of a day or two on the deadline. Perhaps with the extension you can get your car out of the shop and find someone to stay with your sick kids (and the cat) long enough for you to get the job done. Do not ask for extensions lightly. Asking for more time month after month will hurt your reputation and make it harder for you to get assignments.
If you do have a friend who could do the assignment, especially if that friend is already registered with that company as a mystery shopper, suggest them to the scheduler. A friend of mine called because she was ill and could not complete a shop. She gave me some basic information about the type of shop and asked if I could do it if the company approved. Then she called the mystery shopping company, told them she was sick and could not do the shop, and said I was available. They called me a few minutes later and assigned the shop to me. Although the shopper created a problem for the scheduler by canceling, she also solved the problem by recommending a replacement.
You can also avoid these problems by not overbooking yourself with too many shops and by doing mystery shops as early as possible. If you have two weeks to complete the shop, do it on day one or two, not day thirteen or fourteen. That way if you have an emergency, there is still plenty of time to get the shop done.
Take your secret shopping assignments seriously. When you have an emergency, handle it professionally and deal honestly with the mystery shopping company.
What about when you have inclimate weather and there are fog advisories, ice storm warnings and freezing rain? I had a shop to do this past weekend in a town that is 35 minutes away from me. I could do the shop on the 7th or the 8th. I planned on going the 7th but the fog was so bad and it was raining with intermittent freezing rain. The weather was only supposed to get worse over the weekend. I called the company and they said that they would take me off the schedule but then they called back and said they would keep me scheduled if by chance the weather got better and I was able to go. I called them back on Saturday and got a message that they were closed. I then received a call on Sunday, wanting my report. I spoke with a different person this time and he wasn’t very understanding. He looked at some weather report online and said that it wasn’t that bad. I finally told him that since I was actually here in the bad weather and there was freezing rain and ice all over everything, I didn’t feel like I should put my life in jeopardy for a $5.00 job that I am driving 35 minutes away for. I have done a couple of other shops for this company and have always done a good job. What should I expect and has anyone else had this happen to them? I don’t cancel a shop unless it is an emergency.
Cathy Stucker says
The most important thing is to communicate with the mystery shopping company. Keep in mind that the mystery shopping companies have heard every excuse in the book for not completing shops; however, they do know that emergencies happen. Most companies are especially good about working with you when you have a history with them and they know you are reliable. You may have just gotten someone (on Sunday) who was having a bad day or had heard several really bad excuses already that day.
I know it is annoying to have someone question you that way, especially when you are a shopper who can be depended upon. I agree that I would not risk my safety and my car for a $5 shop. Chances are that the scheduler you dealt with earlier will be fine with you rescheduling under the circumstances.