The check arrived in an overnite mailer.
It was for more than thousand dollars, and was meant for the purchase of a Rode Podcaster interface, and my first week’s compensation. The client had hired me to record weekly podcasts using equipment the specified (the Rode equipment).
But….the check came from an Oklahoma drilling company, and had no accompanying paperwork. Furthermore, I was to deposit the check, then send part of that amount to the equipment vendor, and keep the rest for myself.
I called the Oklahoma company, and they told me they were on the trail of an unapproved check disbursement.
This is a classic, albeit elaborate scam. The check would backfire, I would be out hundred of dollars, and there was never any podcasting job to begin with.
I had been contacted by FB messenger for this phantom job. Their messages were convinicng, but I’d written blog after blog about this very sort of scheme. I knew it was a ruse.
Even outside the realm of fraudulent predators, many a seeming VO job prospect can lift your spirits well before the meat is on the plate.
I can’t recall how many emails, texts, messages, and phone calls I’ve had from prospective clients all over the world, making immediate offers for this job or that work…and nothing ever happened…’never heard from them again.
This sort of thing can be depressing for freelancers. We live and die by our moxie, word-of-mouth, and referrals. To hear from a new prospect out of nowhere, from your SEO efforts, or as a result of an outreach program is fulfilling. Your marketing works!
But people are flighty. Clients are seeking only the best deal (read: cheapest). If their first question is how much you charge for a 30-second spot, your answer could be the end of the conversation.
I’ll usually ask what their budget is, or how much they’d be willing to pay and still feel like they got a good deal.
Still other clients agree to your rates, you complete the job, and you wait for months to get a check. Sometimes a partial payment arrives, with a promise to send more in a month. Ugh. I’ve been stiffed a couple of times…never getting a check, and losing what I thought was yet another good client.
A letter from a lawyer friend on the legal firm’s letterhead works sometimes, but unless there was a signed contract, and you have bottomless pockets to actually hire an attorney and take a client to civil court, there really isn’t much you can do…especially for overseas clients.
I personally do not require a contract of my clients. I’ve been told our email exchange constitutes a legal record of our agreement if it ever comes to that. Like I said, I’ve been dropped a couple of times, but overall, 99% of my clients pay well and on time. If they don’t, I cut ’em from MY roster!
Finally, there are the confusing myriad of digital payment schemes, now: PayPal, Stripe, Square, Venmo, Cash, Zelle, Chase, TransferWise…and the list goes on. I usually ask for a check in the mail. A few of today’s clients just aren’t equipped to do that anymore. If they insist on paying digitally, I ask that they pay the transfer fees. Some voice talent say that paying the 2.9% Paypal transfer fee is just the cost of doing business today. I find that hard to swallow. I always ask them to pay the fee. If they refuse, I’ll suck it up, but I do so through clenched teeth.
When the payment arrives, I deposit, or transfer to my bank, but I still can’t rest that it’s good.
When the check or digital record is verified by my bank, and I see the sum move out of the “pending” column on my account, I can finally breathe.
What’s been your experience on this topic?