You always do your best as a mystery shopper…until that one day. Maybe you didn’t get an important bit of information for the shop, or you went on the wrong day, or at the wrong time or to the wrong place. Or you completely forgot to do the shop.
Dumb mistakes? Yeah, but every shopper has probably made a dumb mistake or two somewhere along the line. So what do you do now that you have really messed up on a shop?
Some mystery shopping companies have a “one strike and you’re out” rule, and if you make a major mistake that would cause the client to reject the shop report, they will deactivate your account. Others will consider your history with them and other factors. Even the companies that will automatically deactivate you may reconsider if you take the right approach.
When you realize you goofed up, fess up and apologize. I once missed doing a shop on the required day because I didn’t realize that location closed earlier than others, and I got there too late. Dumb mistake—I should have verified the hours when I was planning the shop. As soon as I got home, I emailed my scheduler and told her what had happened.
I didn’t know if there was any flexibility in the deadline, but I told the scheduler I would do the shop first thing the next day and immediately submit the report, if that was acceptable. She said that would be fine, and I was able to complete the shop and submit the report. Whew! No harm, no foul, as it turned out. Many times (but not always) the company has a little “fluff” built in to the deadline. Don’t count on it, but it could save you in case of an emergency or a dumb mistake.
Offer to do the shop on the day of their choosing. That may be the next day, or it may be another day if they are coordinating with other shopper visits. And what if that is not acceptable? Apologize again and ask what you can do to make up for your error. You caused the scheduler extra work, and may have caused lots of problems for the mystery shopping company. If you have a history with that company, remind them that you have always been reliable in the past, and this was a one-time occurrence. Many companies will not want to lose a good shopper over one mistake, even a big one.
What if you don’t have a history with them, or maybe with anyone? Impress upon them that you understand the seriousness of messing up a shop, and that it wasn’t because you took your assignment lightly. The fact is that there are a lot of shoppers who do not care about doing a good job—the “flake rate” for mystery shops averages about 25%—and you do not want to be lumped in with them.
If you are sincere in your dealings with the mystery shopping company, all may be forgiven. If not, well, there are lots of other companies out there. Just don’t make that mistake again! Once was enough for me to learn my lesson and make sure I verified all the location information before the shop. If you haven’t made one of these big mistakes, learn from my experience and don’t blow a shop–ever!