This is a guest post from C. McDaniel of Spot Check Services Ltd.
You’ve just completed and submitted your shop… now you get a notice saying your report has been REJECTED… WHY did it happen to YOU?
Everyone runs the risk of making a mistake at some point during their shop, whether you’re a newbie, or the most seasoned mystery shopper. Depending on the nature of your error, it can be nothing more than an email informing you of your error. But in those cases where the error was crucial, it can result in your shop and report being rejected by either the client or the mystery shopping company. The word REJECTION isn’t pleasant in any case, and the fallout can be detrimental to you as a person, as well as a mystery shopper.
As the Quality Control Manager for Spot Check Services Ltd, I have personally reviewed countless reports where the shopper has overlooked a part of the shop criteria crucial for the shop… failure to order the right menu items, failure to ask for specific product, failure to spend the required amount, or failure to visit the required departments. The list goes on and on. When I get a report rejection from the Quality Control department, I read through the report to make sure the rejection is justified before sending the notice to the Shop Manager, and ultimately the shopper.
While no one intentionally makes errors that result in a rejection, the results can be devastating to the shopper, the mystery shopping company, AND the client. For YOU the shopper, you run the risk of spending a potentially large sum of money on dinner, a hotel room, groceries, or an oil change. When your report gets rejected, you are out that money, as well as your time, because you skimmed and overlooked a specific shop criteria, or perhaps thought, “Oh, that’s not important.”
It makes me sad when a rejection comes through, and even more so when a shopper has outlaid their hard-earned money. It’s natural to want to fight or refute a rejection of any kind, and mystery shops are no exception. Most shoppers will put their tail between their legs, accept their rejection, and try to do better the next time. Others will fight tooth and nail as they try to prove their point in the hopes of having the rejection overturned. Unfortunately in the majority of cases, it was their own doing by failing to thoroughly read and understand the shop criteria BEFORE embarking on the shop.
So as a mystery shopper, what can YOU do to help your cause? I can not emphasize enough the importance of carefully reading ALL SHOPPER INSTRUCTIONS prior to doing your shop. Even if you have done a particular shop 100 times before, things change… shop times, shop dates, purchase requirements, spending requirements, etc., etc., etc.. Don’t take anything for granted and stick to the rules, they’re there for a reason. Many mystery shopping companies allow you to PRINT/PREVIEW your instructions and questionnaires. When I do a shop, the minimum I do is print out the instructions for reference. I then make notes on the CRUCIAL CRITERIA to look out for.
It is also VERY important to submit your shop information AS SOON AS POSSIBLE while the information is still fresh in your mind. This will significantly increase the accuracy of your information. Timeliness is also crucial as the client requires your information while it’s still relevant.
For more information on mystery shopping with Spot Check Services, click on the link www.spotcheckservices.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck and HAPPY SHOPPING!
Want to learn more about writing great mystery shop reports?
Kerry Sigman says
I love the mystery shopping companies that go through the extra step of pointing out any new or changed requirements. This definitely helps shoppers to pinpoint areas they should take an extra look at. While I always go through the instructions it is just helpful to have any changes highlighted in the paperwork.
Thanks for the tips!
Cathy Stucker says
Kerry, that is helpful, especially when you have been doing a shop for a while and know the requirements pretty well. Although you should always read the guidelines, even when you have done a shop before, having changes and new information highlighted draws extra attention.
Charlie Downey says
The same old message of ‘Read Guidelines. Act upon them,’ bares repeating as it is the main criterion. On a separate issue, what do we do with a client company which simply will not accept that its employee did not do what she/he was trained to do in the interaction, and gave poor service. When the mystery shopping company says the ‘client is disputing your report’ it indicates denial of poor service standards. As usual, it is the mystery shopper who is disbelieved. Mystery shopping companies should have the guts to deal with that one with their clients. Sometimes they don’t.
Cathy Stucker says
It is frustrating when a report is questioned, and it puts the shopper and the mystery shopping company in a difficult position. There are mystery shopping companies that are willing to throw the shopper under the bus to preserve the client relationship, but I also know of instances where the mystery shopping company defended the shopper only to learn (e.g., shopper admission or video proof) that the reports were incorrect.
Because most of the time it is a “he said/she said” situation, it is hard to resolve these issues fairly.
Tom Carr says
I am just begining to read the information on becoming a mystery shopper. This information on rejected reports was very interesting!
I have ordered your book on Mystery Shopping and am looking forward to becoming a much wanted shopper.
Cathy Stucker says
The best advice I can give you is to pay attention to the guidelines and do your best work. Mystery shopping is not really that hard, but you must take it seriously and be a pro.
Good luck with your mystery shopping career!
I don’t think it’s fair that the mystery shopper doesn’t lose their job when they are rejected. When the mystery shopper fails the person they are judging that person is fired. Where is the justice in that?
Cathy Stucker says
If a mystery shopper has a report rejected, the company may choose not to use them again. (Mystery shoppers are contractors, not employees, and are not “fired.”) It depends on the situation.
As for employees losing their jobs because of a mystery shop report, it rarely if ever happens. A mystery shop report may be a portion of the documentation used to terminate an employee, but it is highly unlikely that if an employee receives one bad mystery shop report they will be fired.
Employers are not going to sacrifice a trained employee because they didn’t say “thank you” to one mystery shopper. It costs too much to replace them. On the other hand, if an employee is not doing their job properly, mystery shop reports will be one of the ways that fact is documented.
I can see that these comments are out dated, but I’m hoping for current opinions.
I’ve been doing shops for 6 whole weeks. Already I’ve had two reports rejected and I think I see a pattern. Both reports contained negative information about at least one employee. The first shop had conflicting shop dates. When the date and facts were verified the client still refused the report ! In this case the company that I worked for paid me because they recognized that I had done my job. A second company is now refusing my report. Their reason being that I did not use one of their scenarios. I have shown them their own paper work twice, where it clearly states that a scenario of my own is acceptable. The scenario must be about a product that an employee would be familiar with, so that they could offer assistance and/or options. I had two real life situations. I went to the store that I use in real life. The employee was able to relate and respond to my issues. So why was my report rejected …. I wrote a negative report about the cashier. She did not know how to ring up red tag items. The receipt had no descriptions, only sale prices. It took her 5 minutes to complete my transaction.
Are other shoppers experiencing clients rejecting negative reports?
In my opinion the rejected report/shop is not my problem. It is the company’s problem and the cost of doing business. I should not have to cover their losses.
Why do clients pay for mystery shoppers, and then reject negative reports?
How low can a company be- to take the fee out of the shoppers pocket, when they know the shopper did their job?
Can you tell I’m annoyed? Being treated unfairly brings out the intolerant side of me.
Cathy Stucker says
Other shoppers have speculated that reports were rejected because they were negative. I have not worked for every mystery shopping company or done reports for every client, so I can not definitively answer this. However, I have never had a report rejected for any reason, and I have written many reports that contained negative information. Assuming that reports may sometimes be rejected for containing negative information (which I do not know to be true), I do not believe that it is common.
What can you do about it? Whether the reasons for the rejections are that you erred on the reports or that they were negative, you may not be a good fit for this company. It happens. I have stopped working for companies because I did not like the assignments they offered, because I thought their requirements or procedures were ridiculous and for other reasons.
Apply to lots of mystery shopping companies so that you have many opportunities. Choose to work with the companies you like.