Getting paid can be one of the most frustrating aspects of mystery shopping. While there are a select few mystery shopping providers who pay via PayPal or mail you a check within a few days to a week of completing an assignment, there are far more mystery shopping providers who take far longer to process your payment. Here are some top strategies for getting a slow-paying mystery shopping provider to get your payment processed:
A Friendly Reminder. Every mystery shopping company has their payment process, which typically involves first reviewing and approving your report and then processing your payment. In an ideal world, the process would take about a week if not less. In the real world, it is not uncommon for this process to take four to six weeks. Mystery shopping companies post their payment time frame on their websites, so before you take any drastic measures, be sure to check the provider’s website and ensure your payment is actually “late”.
Once you have determined that your payment is technically “late” per the payment terms that particular provider has dictated, send a friendly email reminder to the provider stating the job description, the date the job was completed, when payment should have been received, and the amount outstanding. Ask for an update as to when the funds will be made available to you. While a phone call will work just as well, it is always better to have a “paper trail” documenting your attempt to collect payment in the event the matter escalates into a legal issue. If you do make a phone call, send the provider a follow up email either confirming the details of your conversation or stating that you attempted to reach them today about a payment outstanding.
Taking The Next Step. While most mystery shoppers don’t want to squabble with nasty and costly legal proceedings over a $20 or less payment, there are some steps you can take before writing off that payment – and the mystery shopping company, too! First, after several attempts to collect your payment via phone and email, send a certified mail via US Postal Service with an invoice and a letter stating your payment is now overdue. While you may not actually take the matter into Civil Court, the provider may be spurred to action by the threat. However, threatening legal action may result in you not working for that company any further. Be sure this is a consequence you are OK living with before you threaten legal action. Often, simply sending a friendly letter via certified mail gives the impression that you are about to take that next step of legal action.
Spread The Word. If you have tried everything and are simply fed up with trying to get your money, be sure to let the mystery shopping community and local law enforcement professionals know about your issue. Take the time to post a comment about your issues on the mystery shopping forums online. It’s not surprising that many mystery shoppers will not work with a company that has not paid one of its mystery shoppers. You can also report your issue with the local Better Business Bureau as well as the Attorney General’s office. You may still never see your cash, but taking these steps can often make you feel better about causing the provider some additional headaches.
A Legal Matter. You certainly have every right to pursue the matter in a civil court. This can be a costly and time-consuming manner, but may prove to be effective. If you are owed a significant amount of money, this may be the route you want or need to take. Filing a civil suit requires you to get proceedings started in the location of the mystery shopping company’s office. The result may be a judgment in your favor, but you may still have a hard time getting the company to pay the judgment.
These are just a few of the many courses of action you can take in attempting to collect your funds. Every provider will respond differently to each situation, but it may help to get some advice on specific providers on the online mystery shopping forums as well.