05/24/2009: "10 Things You Can Do To Keep Your Copywriting Clients From Scamming You."
Michel Fortin, copywriter, said that a client for whom he did some copywriting for seven months ago (last year) asked for a refund yesterday. He said that If he couldn't get a refund, he would charge back the fee on his credit card. The reason he gave for wanting a refund was that he "needed the money." Plain and simple.
Clients are beginning to try to rough us up. So, as I see it, we're going to have to fight back. I'm no longer going to accept credit cards, for example. I've also tightened up my contract.
I'm finding clients want to pay you a few nickels and work you to death. These same people would probably never think of behaving this way if it were not for their fears and insecurities.
In my practice, I've only had one client stop payment on a check. That check is posted on this site. When you search on his name, it's the first thing the searcher sees. I assume this may cost the person some business. This is the price we pay when we defraud someone.
I've had one client hit me with a chargeback. I took care of him by similar methods. Yet another client had to be prosecuted. Beyond these few clients, I've had no problem with the many people I've written sales copy for or consulted with.
Recently I had a client who paid me a very small fee ask me to write more for him. He claimed he wasn't happy with what I wrote for him. I gave him what I contracted to give him. But he wanted to keep me working for a small fee. I said I would not. He said he would do a chargeback. If he does, I'll either press charges or make his name public. Work once done cannot be undone. You can return a book to Amazon. You can't return work that a copywriter performs, that a doctor performs, that a lawyer performs. These are professionals who perform professional services. They do not give refunds or guarantees. Period.
But clients are getting nasty because they're scared and insecure. Bad Client Behavior Is On the Rise says Advertising Age in a post today. All of us in our business are feeling it.
Here are my suggestions as to how we copywriters should handle this growing problem.
1. Always charge your full fee in full, upfront. No exceptions.
2. Always use a legally binding agreement.
3. Do not accept credit cards except from businesses you absolutely know you can trust.
4. Accept company checks, money orders, certified, cashiers checks and wired funds only.
5. Do not accept personal checks.
6. Do not begin any work until any check clears. Service other clients first.
7. Never use Paypal. They do not fight for your rights.
8. Use Amazon Payments in the few instances you must take a credit card.
9. Watch for red flags.
10. Do a background check on all prospective clients.
None of us has lived through anything like this before. Your clients are scared and insecure. The young ones are mortified. They've only known good times, prosperity.
My grandmother and mother lived through The Great Depression. They told me that to them it didn't seem so bad because everyone was going through the same thing. My family made it through the horrible economic tumble by being industrious. My material grandpa worked for the Santa Fe Railroad. My paternal grandpa owned a shoe repair shop. Since people repaired their shoes rather than buy new ones, he did well.
But I still recall how The Great Depression left a terrible scar on my grandparents and my parents. How they felt about banks and money and work changed their lives. They lived in constant fear. Today, that's the new norm again.
People know that if they don't have professional sales copy they'll not survive. So, many are beginning to scam us. They're especially trying to scam those of us who have been around longer and have good reputations and a lot of experience. Why? We can do them the most good and get them the best results.
I'm changing the way I operate my copywriting service. I'm offering prospects two or three options, including the single draft option. That's the option where the client agrees to accept the copy with no changes or revisions or other work. They accept the first draft. I don't recommend this option. But, it's all some clients can afford. You might consider that in your practice.
While we must have compassion for our clients, we must not let them scam us. Now is the time to put protective measures in place to keep from losing the money that you work so hard for.
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