Guidance

Mystery Shopper: scope and remit

The scope and remit of the Mystery Shopper scheme, which provides a route for suppliers to raise concerns about public procurement practice.

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Before using the Mystery Shopper service

You are required to read the terms set out in our scope and remit. This sets the outcomes that we may be able to achieve in relation to your concerns. By submitting feedback for the Mystery Shopper scheme to take up, you are accepting the scope and remit of the service.

Use the service by sending an email to MysteryShopper@crowncommercial.gov.uk or by telephoning our helpdesk on 0345 010 3503.

More information about Mystery Shopper

The Mystery Shopper scheme:

  • provides a clear, structured and direct route for suppliers to raise concerns about public procurement practice (even when attempts at resolving issues with a contracting authority or a first-tier supplier have failed) and provides feedback to enquirers on their concerns
  • takes a proactive approach through spot checks on procurement documents

This enables us to:

  • identify areas of poor procurement practice so we can work with the contracting authority to put them right, and help ensure similar cases do not arise in future
  • take action to reduce the likelihood of similar issues arising in other authorities
  • identify examples of good practice that we can share with other authorities

The scheme covers:

  • central government departments – (list of government departments
  • the wider public sector (eg local authorities, NHS trusts or education establishments) in England; we do not investigate procurement carried out by devolved bodies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
  • prime contractors working on government contracts – we will work with contract managers to address feedback about unfair practices and other issues in the supply chain of government contracts

The Mystery Shopper scheme also carries out spot checks on procurement processes as well as continuing to deal with referrals raised by SMEs and other concerned suppliers. This extension of the Mystery Shopper scheme was announced in the report Small Business GREAT Ambition.

The Mystery Shopper team examines procurement documents, typically from online portals, and discusses their findings with the contracting authority responsible for the procurement. Cases are selected at random from a spread of organisations, either looking at general procurement issues or focusing on particular aspects of the procurement. The team will publish the results of cases in line with the government’s commitment to transparency.

The results of cases are published regularly on the Mystery Shopper results page. See also the Mystery Shopper progress reports.