Even the most diligent and responsible of mystery shoppers will run into emergency situations that crop up at the last minute, and these can throw you for quite the loop. Whether your car runs out of gas, you get a flat tire, you fall ill suddenly, one of your kids or close family members falls ill or has an emergency that you have to tend to, or something else altogether, such things inevitably happen at the last possible moment when you simply have to make it to a site visit to work on an assignment. When such things happen in other situations, you inevitably lean on the person who you can most depend on to help it emergencies – your spouse. Many mystery shoppers have asked a spouse to fill in for them and work on the assignment on their behalf. The fact is that in many cases, you can get away with doing this, but the question remains – should you?
Shopper Agreement. Most, if not all, of the mystery shopping providers who you work with today specifically forbid any type of falsification of reports, and this includes who the actual mystery shopper is. Some agreements spell out that the contracted mystery shopper be the one who completes assignments as they are assigned while other agreements lump this topic into the area dealing with falsification of reports. In any case, it is a no-no in the mystery shopping world, and if you are caught doing it, you likely will not be permitted to mystery shop with that provider again.
Taking the Risk. If you are aware of the risks and decide for whatever reason that you want to take the gamble, you should of course make sure that your spouse completely understands his or her role in the assignment. Hopefully you will have taken your spouse with you on at least a few assignments as a companion and he or she has first hand knowledge of what is required in any general mystery shopping assignment. You should, however, be aware that even if your spouse performs the assignment beautifully, other factors such as an employee with a great memory, video cameras operating at the site location, and more can all add to the risk of having someone else perform your assignment for you.
Other Options. If you find that untimely events and emergency situations seem to arise fairly often with you, as they do more so with some people than with others, you may want to go ahead and get your spouse signed up to be an actual, legitimate mystery shopper with each of your providers. This way, if an emergency does arise and you need to cancel at the last minute, you can always call the scheduler and offer your spouse (“who by the way is a shopper with your company, too”) to do the assignment. You surely want to get the OK from the provider before you swap out assignments, though. Keep in mind that most providers do not have any minimum number of assignments you need to complete during a year, so he or she absolutely can mystery shop in no other capacity than as your back-up if that is what the two of you wish to do.
Nobody likes to cancel out of an assignment at the last minute, and the fact is that it can ding your shopper rating. However, there are serious risks associated with having someone else shop for you without permission to change who the mystery shopper is. Keep these points in mind, and consider having your spouse sign up to mystery shop as a back-up for you, too!
Have you encountered this situation before? What did you do? What would you do in this situation? Let us know. Add your comments in the form below.