Deposits and providers: 3 ways to avoid scams.

Deposits 101

Deposits are a really sensitive personal issue for clients and a loaded business issue for providers. At its best, the deposit represents one very simple thing.

  • For provider: Requiring a deposit is an act of self protection against people who would harm their business time by abusing their time.
  • For the client: An act of confidence and trust in the provider to uphold any agreements that the deposit represents between them.

Deposit requirements (or lack of them) is a very personal decision based on what makes the most sense for the provider and their audience. If a provider requires a deposit, it will be based on what they think makes the most sense for their individual business. There is no universal rule or specific amount that everyone abides by across the board. To each his/her/their own.

Business is not about buying and selling. It is about relationships. Good business is built on good, trustworthy relationships. If a fine dining establishment treated its customers like beggars, no one would support that business. If the local lunch truck on the roadside treats its customers like they are valued friends that they want to take care of, they will have more business than they can handle.

Successful business isn’t about how much someone is willing to kiss our ass for our dollars. Successful business is about being the business that people can trust to be fair, reputable (do, say and sell what you promise AS promised) and values you as much as you value them. It is also about being the customer they want to give that level of service to.

This is the same kind of person no one has any love for, personally or professionally. Click photo to go to full video and story behind this photo.

We all like getting a deal or spending less than we have to on something (especially if it is something that we can get anywhere or from anyone) but the one thing we love more and will always prioritize higher are the services and things that we trust and feel good about.

  • I can buy my apples from a farm that is not convenient for me but I know the farmers and I always feel good about supporting their business because I like and trust them,
  • or I can buy my apples from the local farm that is more convenient but I never really feel like they care if I am there or not
  • or I can go to the local grocery store where the quality is consistent, the location and service is convenient and I don’t care if the staff recognizes me because I just need to get in and out for a utilitarian reason.

Only two of these businesses are going to receive my time, money and/or recommendations. Only one of these is ever going to be a business I feel great about having a relationship with and would actually miss if it weren’t available to me anymore. When you support someone’s business, you are supporting their continued presence in your future. If you like it, support it.

How to protect yourself against deposit fraud

This is not foolproof but it WILL help you avoid misunderstandings and lost money in many cases. These are basic and perfectly acceptable questions to want answers for when someone is requiring a deposit on anything (whether it is a new car, a Walmart lay-a-way plan or someone’s time).

  • How much is required for this deposit?
  • Are refunds of this deposit possible if something comes up?
  • How much advance notice do you need for a cancellation to receive a refund of the deposit?
  • Is the deposit a full refund or partial? If it is partial, how much is it and how is that determined?

Everyone has their own ways and methods of doing things so NEVER assume that a deposit policy exists or will be the same across the board for everyone. By communicating clearly what the deposit conditions are to reserve something for you (time, goods, or services in any business), it eliminates any misunderstandings and helps to avoid hard feelings about “lost” money when there is a no refund deposit policy in place. Also, if this is a legitimate issue of being defrauded, you’ll have proof that this is what happened so that you can pursue this matter as needed, and not be viewed as another “Hard Luck Harry” story being told to get sympathy or justify your cynicism.

This is common sense 101 and I am sure you have enough of it to know which questions are fair ones to ask and which ones are going to have you tagged as a potential problem that no one is going to get near.


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