Questions such as this one come in often:
I was on a mystery shop and had really bad service. If I had been paying my own money, I would have looked for a manager and complained, but I wasn’t sure if I should do that on a mystery shop. Instead, I am going to write a letter to their corporate office. They need to know how bad this was!
Although mystery shoppers need to, for the most part, act like “normal” customers, there are some things we need to do differently. One of those things is not to make ourselves memorable or do anything that would make us stand out. That usually means no complaining to the manager.
But what about after the shop? Should you write a letter, fill out a comment card or call corporate to let them know how bad your visit was?
You should never have any contact directly with the client about a mystery shop. Even if you had a horrible experience, even if you don’t tell them you were mystery shopping them at the time, even if anything.
I have seen shop guidelines that specifically say that if you fill out a comment card for the shop, you will not be paid. Those mystery shopping companies and clients obviously feel strongly that you should not provide any feedback outside of your shop report.
Why you shouldn’t contact the client doesn’t matter. Mystery shopping companies and clients do not want you to do it, so don’t do it. It could jeopardize your standing with them. One possible reason, though, is that some companies provide a freebie of some kind to complaining customers. For example, a restaurant might comp a future meal. This is intended to compensate the customers for the fact that they paid for what they deemed to be an unsatisfactory meal, and to encourage them to return and give the restaurant another chance. However, as a mystery shopper, you did not pay for your meal.
Here is the most important point: You were doing a mystery shop, so they will know how bad it was. You did a report, right? The report gives them all the information they need about what happened during your visit. You do not need to give them another version of the report by filling out a comment card or writing a complaint to the manager or the corporate office.
It may be frustrating that you have to describe your experience in objective terms and not use the dramatic and colorful writing you would like to employ in your complaint. “This was the worst service ever! Your employees need to learn to respect the customer and not be rude! I will never, ever do business with such a poorly-run business again!!!!!!!” Those comments certainly do not belong in a mystery shop report, but they also are not useful in a complaint letter. Describing what happened, in simple, objective language is the best way to make your point. And that is what you do in your mystery shop report.
So do your best job to describe in your report, without emotion or drama, what happened. Then let it go.