Most mystery shoppers appreciate that mystery shopping companies take the time to make small changes to their reports. It’s difficult to complete a “perfect” report without devoting a lot of time to editing and revisions yourself before you submit the report. Imagine the nightmare of going back and forth with all of your providers on small typos and subtle changes to clarify your meaning for every report that you turn in! Having a mystery shopping company that will take the time to make these small revisions for you is definitely a time-saving benefit.
Some mystery shopping companies take editing to a new level, though. These providers can sometimes cross the line between editing and re-writing, putting you in a difficult spot!
The Meaning Changes. You have taken a considerable amount of time to perform your site visit and complete your report according to your observations. It can be very discerning and even unethical for a mystery shopping company to go beyond a minor editing job and change the meaning of your words. When “The salesperson did not approach me for eight minutes” turns into “the salesperson approached me immediately,” there is some funny business going on without a doubt. While many mystery shopping companies don’t provide you with access to your “final” report, there are some that do. When you see this type of major re-writing occurring in your reports, you have a few options.
Address The Issue Head-On. Many mystery shoppers who run into this issue are often pretty angry, and rightfully so. After all, if the provider simply wanted a certain type of report with already determined wording, what was the point of the mystery shopping performing the site visit? The bottom line is that mystery shopping is a business with intricacies that occur out of eyesight of mystery shoppers. It is entirely possible that the mystery shopping company wants to give their client, the retailer, glowing reviews of their site location for the purposes of business development with that client.
While you may want to run your grievances with the “editor” up the ladder at the mystery shopping company, it is possible that your complaints will fall on deaf eyes. There is, of course, the other possibility that the higher-ups at the mystery shopping company are not aware that this is happening, and your complaints may result in change. Unfortunately, you won’t know what you are up against until you actually address the problem. Filing a complaint with the mystery shopping company could win you kudos or it could knock you onto the list of mystery shoppers that company will not work with in the future. The risk is yours to weigh.
Weigh The Risk. Before you hastily draft an email to the mystery shopping company’s higher ups, take the time to check the mystery shopping forums on-line. You can check with your fellow mystery shoppers to see if others have had this same issue with this provider. If you find that this is a regular occurrence with a specific employee at the provider, you may have a better chance of getting somewhere with your complaint. If, on the other hand, extreme editing seems to be the norm at that provider’s office, it may be better to develop your own policy of not working with that provider in the future.
While anger at the situation may cause you to hastily file a complaint with your provider, it may be best to give the situation some thought and even research the situation on the mystery shopping forums on-line to determine the best course of action.