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When it's okay to turn down a mystery shopping assignment

The beauty of being a mystery shopper is that in a way, you are your own boss. When you accept a shopping job, of course you must be punctual and deliver evaluations to the client on time, but before all that, you as the shopper get to decide which jobs to take. For many shoppers, especially those just starting out in the industry, it may seem that accepting any available job or the first offer that comes your way is the best move. While it's good not to get super picky about work, there are times when saying "No" is acceptable.

Too challenging or dangerous
It is important to pay attention to instincts and gut reactions when reading shopping gig descriptions. There are many shops that require investing a lot of time, money and effort into them. Hotel shops, rental car shops and bank shops each pose different challenges. Some may require signing up for an account and closing it after a certain period of time. Another example presented by Mystery Shopper Magazine detailed a shopper's decision over whether to complete a shop for Porsche, the luxury car company. It involved driving the car throughout New England and taking it into service shops over the course of several months. It also required the shopper to break engine parts on his own. He turned it down after realizing he would have bitten off more than he could chew.

Looks like a scam
If there is even the slightest chance that a shop could be a scam, do not take the job. See if you can discuss the shop with a client or licensed mystery shopping company directly. Find out who is involved and where the report should go before agreeing to anything or giving out any contact information. Most importantly, if you are asked to deposit a check and send money back to the source, report it to authorities and do not accept the shop.

Pay is not equal to labor
When it comes down to it, you are performing work so you can get paid. Though mystery shopping is not the most lucrative profession, take a step back to evaluate each assignment. If the time, energy and travel distance are far more involved than the monetary compensation, feel free to turn it down and find another gig. Also make sure you understand the reimbursements that will be sent your way after the shop is complete. Find out when that money will arrive. If you cannot afford to dish out extra cash for something like a luxury hotel shop, search for a less expensive option. 

Finally, make sure the location is feasible for you to complete a shop on time. Mystery shopping assignments that require lengthy travel can be difficult for shoppers without a car or affordable method of transportation. Even if a shop pays well, if you have to travel a long distance to get to it, consider the amount of gas that will be reimbursed, whether or not a hotel is involved and how much time away from local shops the gig will take. In addition, even if a shop is local, make sure the neighborhood is safe to visit. Gas station shops and restaurant shops may send you to neighborhoods that either aren't very populated or are unfamiliar. Don't push yourself to accept a job in a location you are very uncomfortable visiting. As Mystery Shopper's Manual recommends, make sure the companies you apply to for jobs have clients in your area. If not, try a new approach.