How To Handle A Difficult Scheduler (… And Keep Your Cool!)

You did the shop, and you followed the written directions to the T. Despite a family emergency, you went out of your way to make sure the report got filed on time and accurately. And now, after all that time and effort, the scheduler says there is a problem with your report and doesn’t want to pay you! Frustrating situations such as these happen all the time to mystery shoppers. What can you do about it?

What’s The Word? First, go back and review the instructions. Make sure you really did follow them as precisely as you thought you did. Keep in mind that one misstep could invalidate the whole shop. For instance, if the shop was to be completed between 4 and 8pm, and you showed up at 2pm, then that shop doesn’t meet the need that it was intended for. Likely the company wants to check on customer service of a particular employee or under certain management working that particular shift, and not of the earlier shift. So shopping that earlier shift is of no use to the company. Likewise, each requirement of the shop was made for a particular reason.

You reviewed the guidelines again, and oops! You did make a mistake. Call the scheduler back and own up to the mistake. Explain your confusion in the instructions, and request the opportunity to make it right. If the damage is beyond repair, hopefully the scheduler can be persuaded by your professionalism in making this call to not drop your shopper rating. If you’re able to re-do the shop, make sure you follow the instructions on the next go-round.

On the other hand, if the shop was done to the letter, explain calmly to the scheduler where you believe the issue is and why you think your report is correct. But you also need to listen intently to hear where the scheduler is coming from. If it appears your talk is getting both of you nowhere and you’ve reached an impasse, carefully consider your next step. You can consider requesting to make the shop “right.” Of course this would be out of the goodness in your heart, since we know the instructions weren’t written clearly enough and you should be getting paid for the work you’ve already done.

Or you can escalate the situation to a supervisor. If this was a small shop, with a required purchase of something you were going to buy anyway, you may not want to escalate the situation to a supervisor. This may just be one of those times you cut your losses.

Escalating the situation may not turn out a result in your favor, and you may end up making enemies at the provider or severing ties completely with them. If you think the shop was big enough to fight for, or perhaps there was an unreimbursed purchase required, by all means fight for what you believe is fair.

Keep in mind, though, as you escalate the situation, keep a steady and calm tone with each person you speak with. State your case, and refer to the shop guidelines for supporting documentation. Be careful not to be labeled as “difficult.”

Just Breathe. Speaking to a close-minded individual who doesn’t want to pay you for work you did correctly can be a very frustrating experience. Even the calmest and most rational of shoppers will feel their blood start to boil in a situation like this. But flying off the handle with your scheduler is the last thing you want to do.

When all else fails and every tactful word that you could possibly say has left you, remember some basic rules from childhood.

Take a couple of deep breaths. Count from 10 down to one slowly. If you need to, take a time out. Get off the phone in a professional manner with some excuse, and say you’ll call the scheduler back soon. After some time to cool down, both of you may be in a more conciliatory mood and you may be able to calmly work things out. If nothing else, it will give the scheduler time to realize where she’s wrong.

When It’s Time to Cut The Ties. A tense time like this can make or break a relationship. After you see what this scheduler is made of, the two of you may end up forging a great relationship. She may see that with your professionalism and calmness, you are fabulous to work with. Your offer to correct the job (even when she knows she’s wrong in the first place) shows you’re a team-player. Most shoppers would have screamed at her for this error, but you kept your cool through it all. Now you’ve got a scheduler who wants to throw the great shops to you!

And like any good relationship, you will also have a good sense of who this person is. If this was really just a miscommunication, perhaps it’s something you can see around and forgive. After all, we’re all human. But if this event has shown you that this scheduler is unscrupulous and difficult, consider if you would be able to count on being paid on the next shop you do with this scheduler.

If the answer to that question is a resounding no, absolutely do not work with them again. With so many providers to work with, and each provider offering a variety of regular shop assignments, there’s no reason to continue working with someone you can’t trust. Count your losses on this assignment and cut your losses.

Follow the instructions of a shop to the T to avoid any potential issues. But even when the shop is done correctly, issues can and do arise. It’s how you handle them that makes the difference. Will you make lemons out of lemonade, or will you just switch to orange juice?