Working With Your Providers: When Editing Requests Cross the Line

There are three kinds of mystery shopping providers that you can work with. The first accepts your report as the ultimate truth of your observations on-site and rarely asks for revisions. Often, they will correct a typo here and there on your behalf. The second type of provider will make some significant changes to your report, and often this can change the meaning or intent of your writing. This is often done without your knowledge, and you may never find out you are working for a company like this. The third type of provider is fraudulent like the second type, but this provider will ask you to make their suggested revisions. These revisions go beyond adding a forgotten comma or correcting a misspelling, and instead ask for changes to the meaning of your writing. Often this is done to make a negative report look more positive.

Mystery shoppers largely an ethical breed, with the desire to report the truth and improve the service industry through their efforts. So it goes without saying that most mystery shoppers are not agreeable with the second and third types of providers. When this happens to you, you do have a few choices:

Confrontation. If you grossly disagree with the changes that you are being requested to make, you can confront the provider. Typically, this is best done over the phone, which enables easier two-way communication. Approach this conversation from the stand point of you wanting to get clarification on what you are being asked to revised, and make sure that the scheduler hears from you that what you are being asked to write on the report is not what actually happened. There are times when a confrontation works out well and reveals that there was a simple mis-communication in the written word on the report and via emails.

Choices, Choices. If you are at a bypass and you feel that the revisions you are being required to make cross the line of ethics in some way, you have a few choices. You can certainly make a complaint with higher-ups at the provider. It is possible that managers do not know their staff are making such requests, although doing this also comes with the risk of being black-balled from working with that provider. You can also choose to make the requested changes, collect your paycheck, and not work with such an unethical provider again. Or you can hold your ground and refuse to make the changes, thereby giving up your paycheck.

Fortunately, most providers are as ethical as most mystery shoppers are. Some mystery shoppers work in the field for years without ever having to address such an issue. However, if this does happen to you, keep in mind all of your choices. You also likely want to post your story on the mystery shopping forums online to let others know about your experiences. There is a chance that your post can uncover a nasty trend with that particular provider, and if enough mystery shoppers stop working for that provider as a result of your post, you could be responsible for effecting positive change in the industry!