When Mystery Shopping Providers Cross the Line: What Can You Do?

As mystery shoppers, we don’t often have much to complain about. We work from home, set our own work hours, and enjoy the luxury of picking and choosing the assignments we want to spend our time on. Yet if there is one complaint so many mystery shoppers have, it is when our providers cross the line and make demands on us that are just unreasonable or even unethical at times.

What’s Going On?

If you visit the mystery shopping forums online regularly, you know that stories about providers who ask mystery shoppers to alter reports or falsify information are not exactly rare. Other providers are known for trying to reduce mystery shopper compensation without justification, and still others have altered shopper ratings without justification, which affects a shopper’s ability to work on future assignments. The fact is that many mystery shoppers can work for months and even years without running into some of these problems, but when they do happen, you need to know how to handle them.

Making a Decision

Oftentimes, when a mystery shopping provider does cross the line, the question of ethics comes into play. The question of whether you will do as you have been asked to do or if you will accept a certain action is up to you, and often this is a personal decision that only you can make. Consider if crossing this ethical line will allow you to sleep easily at night or if it will be a source of stress and anxiety for you. Factor that with the consequences of not complying. Always remember, though, that there are other mystery shopping providers who you can choose to work with, and so you should not ever feel forced into doing something you are not comfortable with.

When Pay is Involved

There are times when a mystery shopping provider has docked pay because of a certain issue or event that took place with the assignment. When your paycheck comes into play, no longer is this simply a question of ethics, and so you may want to consider these issues a little more carefully. First, consider what you are losing by the deduction to your paycheck, and consider if it is worth escalating the matter further. Sometimes you can escalate the issue internally with the provider by bringing the issue to the attention of someone higher-up, and if the compensation is large enough, you can threaten legal action or reporting them to the Better Business Bureau. However, often the compensation on most assignments is low and not worth the fuss. Sometimes it is better to cut your losses and not devote any more time or effort to working that that provider.

Spreading the Word

Of course, one thing that you can and should do if you are unhappy with the actions a mystery shopping provider has taken is to spread the word about your issue to other mystery shoppers. This can be done with a quick post on the online forum. Your story often will not just help you to feel a little better through venting, but it will also save other mystery shopping providers from enduring a similar experience, too!

Because of the low compensation that many mystery shoppers receive on assignments, in many cases, it is often best to get the loss of a $10 or $20 assignment, spread the word to other mystery shoppers about what happened to you, and then move on. However, you do always have the choice of pursuing the matter further internally at the provider’s office or externally through legal channels or the Better Business Bureau if you feel that those actions are warranted.