Question from a mystery shopper:
There is a mystery shopping company that sends email notices about shops they say they have just posted to their web site. I have tried several times to apply for one of these shops, but every time I get an email notifying me of the shops, by the time I go to the company’s website, all of the shops are taken. I have actually been at my computer when the email came to me, and even if I check the website immediately, the shops are gone already.
Why do they send emails telling me about shops they have already filled?
I understand your frustration. I have experienced this, too. It has little or nothing to do with the mystery shopping company, though, and everything to do with how email works.
Let’s say the scheduler uploads a large group of assignments, then tells the system to notify shoppers within X miles of each assignment. Except in rare instances, schedulers do not handpick the shoppers who will receive notices of mystery shopping assignments, and they have no control over the order in which the emails are sent.
We will assume there are 10,000 shoppers who will be notified of the assignments. Their system can not send 10,000 emails at exactly the same instant. Instead, they are sent in batches. Each group of emails may be sent a few minutes apart, so it takes a while for all of them to go out.
Once the email is sent, it does not go directly from their server to your computer. The email may be routed through several servers before it reaches your Internet Service Provider (ISP). And, just as you may get caught in a traffic jam when you are trying to drive somewhere, emails can be delayed when online networks are especially busy. An email can take anywhere from a few seconds to a day or longer to reach its destination.
Even once the email reaches your ISP, it may not come directly to your inbox. Many ISPs have spam filters and other checks they run on incoming and outgoing emails, and that can further delay receipt by seconds or minutes.
All it takes is one other shopper in your area getting the email a few minutes before you do, and the assignment may be gone before you even get the email notice.
Don’t give up hope. I chased after one assignment for several weeks before I finally got it–but I did get it.
One other thought: If you have some good karma points with the scheduler (e.g., you have taken on some hard-to-fill shops for her recently) you might ask if you could be assigned one of the shops before they are posted.