You have shopped a client many times for a particular mystery shopping company, and have suggestions about how they could improve their program. Should you contact the client with your suggestions?
While doing a mystery shop, you noted a problem that your business (or your spouse’s) could fix for the client. Should you advise the client what you discovered and how you can help them?
Or perhaps you have a comment about the mystery shopping company: you are unhappy with how much they pay shoppers or how long it takes to get paid. Is it a good idea to let the client know what is going on?
In short, the answer to all of the above questions is, “No.” You should never contact a client unless you are specifically instructed to do so by the mystery shopping company. And it is rare that shoppers are asked to deal directly with the client.
The Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA) you signed with the secret shopping company probably prohibits you from contacting the client directly without authorization from the company. It may also prohibit you from having other business dealings with the client, particularly any that present a conflict of interest, such as using information gained through a mystery shop for another purpose.
The Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s Code of Professional Standards and Ethics For Mystery Shoppers states:
I will not contact a client directly without approval of the shopping company;
Certified mystery shoppers who violate the Code can lose their certifications.
Your relationship is with the mystery shopping company that hired you to perform the evaluation. If you are hired by a scheduling service, you will usually have a relationship with both the mystery shopping provider and the scheduling company. However, unless you are hired directly by the client being mystery shopped, you do not have a relationship with that client and should not attempt to contact them.
This is an important issue to mystery shopping providers. They spend a lot of time and money developing relationships with clients. A shopper, who has not been privy to all that has gone on in that relationship, can be very disruptive by making contact or sharing information inappropriately. And the client may not appreciate being contacted. One of the reasons they hire mystery shopping providers is so they, not the client, will handle the secret shopper program.