As a mystery shopper, you will receive positive and negative citations from time to time as you complete mystery shopping assignments. Positive citations are not usually issued for simply doing your job, but rather for going above and beyond the call of duty or perhaps helping out a provider with a last-minute assignment. These are a great thing to have on your record and can open you up for consideration in the plum assignments that most mystery shoppers don’t have access to.
Negative assignments, on the other hand, are essentially a slap on the wrist or a warning. You may get a negative citation for canceling an assignment at the last minute, for not showing up at an assignment without canceling, or any other mystery shopping no-no’s.
What Does It Mean? In most cases, a negative citation is simply a slap on the wrist. While it’s not serious, it does mean that you need to be on your best behavior for awhile. Negative citations will typically disappear from your record with time. The amount of time depends on the seriousness of the issue as well as the provider. However, while the citation remains on your record with that provider, you need to avoid doing anything that will cause another negative citation. If you receive too many negative citations within a period of time, or if you receive just one very serious citation, you may not be permitted to work with that provider again.
Watch the Score. For mystery shopping providers who utilize a “shopper rating” or a scoring system, you can typically expect your score to drop like a rock when you get a negative citation. This can affect your ability to get future assignments with that provider, and may only give you access to the lower-paying or less prestigious assignments. This is essentially your time to hunker down and take your lumps. Take a few of the “bad” assignments, do a great job on them, and work your score back up.
Talk It Out. Whether you had a shopper rating drop from a 10 to a 2, or you have been permanently removed as an eligible mystery shopper for that provider, if you feel you’ve been unjustly treated with your negative citation, you may want to open up a dialog with your provider to state your case. Some mystery shoppers have had success at getting the most serious aspect of their negative citation removed, being reinstated as a mystery shopper with the provider or with most or all of their shopper score restored. However, if you were honestly at fault with the issue at hand, you may do nothing more than irritate and annoy your provider. As with other aspects of life, choose your battles wisely with your mystery shopping providers.
The bottom line is that most negative citations will not largely affect your ability to earn an income as a mystery shopper or permanently hurt your record with that particular provider, and most negative citations are not a cause for concern but rather a warning.