Negative assignment reports

One of my biggest pet peeves about mystery shopping is having to write a negative report. I had to write one this morning. I go into an assignment hoping the employees do a good job and I always try to include something positive about the location I evaluate. The assignment I had yesterday, I really struggled with including something positive.

I'm just curious about how other people handle this issue. I hope that if I do this location again, they improve. I know as mystery shoppers, we write unbiased reports, but I always hope for the best.

Arguing with fools is like playing chess with a pigeon...
...No matter how good you are, the pigeon will s@^t on the board and strut around like it won anyway.

Not scheduling for ANY company.

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I'm okay with marking off people for not follow their company's standards. I know from speaking with a project manager with an MSC I work for every once in a while, he told me to be black and white about it if standards were not met, as their client needs the feedback for their training. And I'm okay with that.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
I had to write one earlier in the week. It was a new car shop with an associate who was more interested in his company paid trip the following day than trying to sell me a car. The kicker was the vehicle for a test drive. He was taking me out in one of the courtesy cars instead of a brand new vehicle I might want to buy and he couldn't find the key. While we were waiting for another sales associate to return with the key he kept going inside to get on his phone leaving me outside twiddling my thumbs. After ten minutes he actually made the comment, "If she doesn't get here soon I'll get the spare key." WTF? This was said on one of his trips back into the showroom so when he finally grabbed the spare key that had been there the whole time, I asked why he didn't start with the spare. His response was, "I thought she would be here by now."

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
This was a pretzel shop. I was the only customer and the employees were in the rear corner talking to another employee from a different store about ordering pizza. I was ignored for 4 minutes. When I received my pretzel, it was broken, inconsistently prepared and hardly any salt on it.

I've been doing these shops for three years and this is honestly the worst experience I have had.

Arguing with fools is like playing chess with a pigeon...
...No matter how good you are, the pigeon will s@^t on the board and strut around like it won anyway.

Not scheduling for ANY company.
I recently did a Handyman shop where they come to your home. I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I signed up for it. But, I went through with it. I was scared to death that the guy they would send out would be a sloth and I'd have to put in a negative report. The target would clearly know who the shopper was and where she lived. Luckily, I picked a project that ended up being so cost prohibitive ($1,000 for 2 electrical outlets to be added to my garage), the guy knew there was no way he could sell me on it. They never even made a follow-up call like they should have. I was dying inside when he spoke of requiring three inspections, this and that. My male friend installed the two existing outlets in the garage for me for $75 (included the boxes). I won't be so stupid to ever take an assignment at my home again. The $40 enticed me. I figure I got off real lucky with this one.

Shopping up and down the Colorado Rocky Mountain front range.
Hard to put a positive spin on that!

I always try to note clearly if they appear to be short staffed, because I find a lot of times that is at the root of uneven service. I actually gave a special commendation to the server in the absolute worst experience I've had at a local brewpub chain that I shop a lot. She missed a ton of points that are normally no-brainers for these guys. However, she was running the entire front of the moderately busy 30-table house by herself, while the other server (/manager, I assume) was on the phone (at the bar!) to the corporate office about some issue, disappeared for 10 minutes once the call was done, then returned to the bar and bellyached to my server about the phone call while still not helping her catch up. Unfortunately, evaluating the manager was not part of this assignment.

We are all here on earth to help others....What on earth the others are here for I don't know.

--W. H. Auden
I loved that assignment. The guy was here for 40 minutes and the report took me less than 30. Over the years I have completed at least five in home shops and had a sixth no show I was paid for anyway. Only one was a slightly negative report. After a great presentation he copped an attitude when I didn't purchase immediately.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
Yes, all negative reports are harder to write than positive ones. BUT....Wait until you do a hotel valet parking shop where the doorman issues no claim check (i.e., never enters the transaction into the system) and pockets the cash "parking fee." That report, on video, is actually going to get someone fired. More and more clients of cash handling activities are deciding that assessing the please and thank you" behaviors of their employees alone, may be costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue. I know that a new MS client (parking garages) ordered test shops (non-video) at 9 locations. Even with just still pictures of falsified claim tickets and other nifty ploys, there was clear evidence of fraud in 5 of the 9 locations. The client ordered video (at a higher fee) for all of its locations. It is really hard to report that someone took the $1.50 in quarters out of your car when they parked it, when you know he/she is going to lose that job.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Agree with everyone here... I simply try to be objective, period. Especially after a very positive or very negative experience, I actually wait longer to write my report so I can think and put things in perspective. A couple of days ago I had a shop at a new casual restaurant, and I felt pretty negative about it when going out. Didn't like the food, didn't think it was a good concept, the bathrooms were dirty, as was the drink station,etc. I decided to wait until the next morning to write it. Looking at it with a cooler head, I removed my thinking about the restaurant concept -That's not what I was there to evaluate, Then realized the staff treated me pretty well, and the restaurant was clean though it had problem areas that needed to be fixed. So that's how I ended up reporting it more objectively.

But yes, negative things need to be reported, that's what we're paid for! Otherwise they can't address those issues. Will a manager or an employee get the boot? In some cases is possible, but consider that many other employees will also get the boot if the business or a particular location fails.
"I actually wait longer to write my report so I can think and put things in perspective."

I thought it was just me. I have even asked for extensions for this very reason.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
It's such a good point, @jnoyolapicazzo, that sometimes your immediate reaction to an experience (whether you're shopping or not) isn't always the same as your reaction after you've had a chance to think about it for awhile. I usually try to complete my reports asap, but now I'm wondering if (when there's time) I shouldn't let an experience marinate for a few hours in some cases.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
I believe some distance from a shop perceived as bad can be a big help. We like to think of ourselves as totally objective. In reality, other influences can color our judgement. Maybe it's the end of the day and we have headache. Or it could be in the middle of a large route and a shop we expected to take five minutes is dragging on. Or maybe we just need a big ole glass of winewinking smiley

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
I had to give a negative report of a restaurant that I was afraid would out me and sure enough it did. But the service was so against what the company stood for that I had to be true to myself. I read many comments here about adjusting pizza toppings so people are kept on as mystery shoppers and the same things done to keep on with other companies. That is not why we are hired to review companies. We are hired to tell the truth.
Negative reports are more difficult for me to write. They take more time, because I find that I want to make sure that the facts are presented in a way that is as objective as possible, and still lets the client know what actually happened. One trick I try to use when writing my narratives is to write the poor performer shops in the middle of my reporting, especially since I normally have multiple shops to write up. It gives a chance to cool down any hot feelings I have, and be able to gauge again how the report will look against the standards that the client wants reported.

Philadelphia Based, covering Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland
I just did a phone shop for one of those places that delivers fancy fruit baskets. When I asked what kind of things were available, the woman rudely asked if I had internet access, and then said that I should go to the website to find out what I wanted and buy it there. The phone call was over before I knew it, and then I realized I didn't have a chance to ask one of my required questions. I turned in a very negative report, and it got rejected. Good times!

"The future ain't what it used to be." --Yogi Berra
LOL...I ran into the exact same thing! I told the gal that I didn't have a computer and I would really appreciate her assistance as I was at work and not allowed to use the Internet for personal business. She backed down, but still gave a crappy presentation. But I did get my two questions in. I wrote the report objectively. The company has the recording, they can make their own conclusion as to how rude their employee was. I presume the recording goes to them.

Shopping up and down the Colorado Rocky Mountain front range.
@COMystery wrote:

I wrote the report objectively. The company has the recording, they can make their own conclusion as to how rude their employee was.

Well, I didn't use the word 'rude' in my report, but she did say in so many words that I shouldn't be bothering her with questions on the phone if I didn't know what I wanted. I was like, "Uh... okay..." and then she ended the call. The report did ask about their attempts to close the sale and whether you felt that they valued your business. I hope she gets some more training even though the shop was rejected...

"The future ain't what it used to be." --Yogi Berra
I always note in the narrative if an employee appears to be "new".The interactions may be slower because he/she has to ask an experienced employee for help. That employee is probably doing his best! There is so much to learn and remember at a new job. Signed, Night Owl at 5:14 pm.
@walesmaven wrote:

It is really hard to report that someone took the $1.50 in quarters out of your car when they parked it, when you know he/she is going to lose that job.
I wonder if they lose their jobs over the first incident? That would be harsh. How about when they smelled so awful that you had to have the car detailed after having it returned to you? (Think Seinfeld episode in real life.) Or when they eat the jelly beans you left in the console?

Now scheduling travel shops for the day after Christmas through mid-January.
One thing that I can pretty much count on is a negative report has a greater chance of being returned for further clarification, if not outright rejected. Of course we want to give good reports and the MSC's and companies also want positive feedback but that is not always possible and I hate that feeling of dread when typing up a negative report. I was at a revealed gas station audit last week that was awful. I have done this shop many times and was just hoping the owner was not there because he is always difficult and nervous when there is an audit. This time he was just rude. Would not answer any questions and scribbled illegibly on the audit sheet. I keep waiting for it to come back in my inbox for more detail - yuck. I just love it when everyone does their job correctly - makes my work so much easier.
I had to do a negative report for a loan shop. With the limited amount of information I provided, I should have been turned down for the loan as specified in the guidelines. I was not. I left out of the store with a loan. Hated it too because it meant I had to make a second trip later to pay it back. Two trips for the same pay since the employee was suppose to reject me.

The employee was not rude or anything, he was just trying to get a loan out. When he asked for information and I said I didn't have it with me, he would just say, "that's okay," and type stuff into the terminal. For employment, he just said give him an address and a phone number and not to worry because no one would be called.

I wrote up an accurate report and have since been called on the phone to perform two additional shops. I didn't feel bad outing the guy. I was just glad he was not in the shop when I paid the loan back. I don't know when he will find out he was mystery shopped and didn't want an angry employee on my hands.
I had a very negative experience with the junk removal people. I was excited to accept the job because I was just getting back into mystery shopping after a 6-7 year break. I wanted to reestablish myself with the companies I used to do work for. I accepted the job, and had my scenario planned. When I had to offer them cash to take my junk away... they quickly accepted. They kept dropping their price lower and lower. I had to refuse the service. They were looking at me like I was crazy...does this crazy lady even want her junk hauled away?? It was very awkward to say the least. They even told me that it was off of the books. They would take the cash and split it. My stomach turned over and over knowing I was going to have to report this. They had to be reprimanded in some way for this. If they were, they knew exactly where to find me. They could easily show back up at my house to retaliate. I didn't even think about a negative experience when accepting the job. I will never do an in-home shop again.
@deelitefullyme wrote:

I had to do a negative report for a loan shop. With the limited amount of information I provided, I should have been turned down for the loan as specified in the guidelines. I was not. I left out of the store with a loan. Hated it too because it meant I had to make a second trip later to pay it back. Two trips for the same pay since the employee was suppose to reject me.

The employee was not rude or anything, he was just trying to get a loan out. When he asked for information and I said I didn't have it with me, he would just say, "that's okay," and type stuff into the terminal. For employment, he just said give him an address and a phone number and not to worry because no one would be called.

I wrote up an accurate report and have since been called on the phone to perform two additional shops. I didn't feel bad outing the guy. I was just glad he was not in the shop when I paid the loan back. I don't know when he will find out he was mystery shopped and didn't want an angry employee on my hands.

This is a good example of the type of work ethic that could lead to a bad ending for someone. Imagine if someone came in for the loan and had no source of income. As bad as these loans are the loan sharks (whoops I mean loan companies) do have standards and try to lend to people who have a chance of paying back. I feel bad for the people who find themselves in a position of having to take out these loans. But imagine someone without the means to pay it back where the employee described above just allows them to slip through. Two weeks later when the loan is not repaid and the person cannot afford to do so they may end up losing their car if they have one or even worse. We have these jobs to make sure things like this are stopped before it gets out of hand.
@walesmaven wrote:

It is really hard to report that someone took the $1.50 in quarters out of your car when they parked it, when you know he/she is going to lose that job.
I wouldn't feel bad about this, personally. The person is stealing from me. They are probably stealing from others, too. This is wrong and reflects very badly on the company. Losing their job is light punishment for an offense that could result in jail time.
It seems like a bad plan to have integrity checks like this at home. It does seem to put the shopper at risk. It isn't hard to imagine a fired worker coming to visit. The company might want to rethink this.
@kelli79 wrote:

I had a very negative experience with the junk removal people. I was excited to accept the job because I was just getting back into mystery shopping after a 6-7 year break. I wanted to reestablish myself with the companies I used to do work for. I accepted the job, and had my scenario planned. When I had to offer them cash to take my junk away... they quickly accepted. They kept dropping their price lower and lower. I had to refuse the service. They were looking at me like I was crazy...does this crazy lady even want her junk hauled away?? It was very awkward to say the least. They even told me that it was off of the books. They would take the cash and split it. My stomach turned over and over knowing I was going to have to report this. They had to be reprimanded in some way for this. If they were, they knew exactly where to find me. They could easily show back up at my house to retaliate. I didn't even think about a negative experience when accepting the job. I will never do an in-home shop again.
@kelli79 wrote:

I had a very negative experience with the junk removal people. I was excited to accept the job because I was just getting back into mystery shopping after a 6-7 year break. I wanted to reestablish myself with the companies I used to do work for. I accepted the job, and had my scenario planned. When I had to offer them cash to take my junk away... they quickly accepted. They kept dropping their price lower and lower. I had to refuse the service. They were looking at me like I was crazy...does this crazy lady even want her junk hauled away?? It was very awkward to say the least. They even told me that it was off of the books. They would take the cash and split it. My stomach turned over and over knowing I was going to have to report this. They had to be reprimanded in some way for this. If they were, they knew exactly where to find me. They could easily show back up at my house to retaliate. I didn't even think about a negative experience when accepting the job. I will never do an in-home shop again.

Kelli79,
I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about this, because I was considering doing one of these if they came in my neighborhood. They are still too far from me to do these, but I've been thinking how I could do one if one came up in my neighborhood. You've given me something to pause and consider. I, too, think now that I shall pass on one if they come around in my area. People are just nutty today, and you really never know how someone will react if they lose their job for not following directions. So thanks again!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/2016 06:53PM by guysmom.
This has to be the single biggest misconception which just keeps getting repeated over and over again. Eight years, thousands of shops, yet not one of my negative reports has been rejected. Some, not all, have resulted in clarification requests. To me it is not an attempt to discredit the report or the shopper. It is the MSC's due diligence before sending a report that could result in disciplinary action.

@teriraia wrote:

One thing that I can pretty much count on is a negative report has a greater chance of being returned for further clarification, if not outright rejected.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/2016 02:54PM by LisaSTL.
I have to add to Lisa's experience. I've shopped since 2008, and I've never had a single negative report rejected. I will say that negative reports much more difficult to write. Lisa is absolutely on target when she states: "it is not an attempt to discredit the report or the shopper. It is the MSC's due diligence before sending a report that could result in disciplinary action. "
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