One of the most difficult things to ask a client as an indie sex worker is, "Can I please get a deposit for that booking?" Most of the time, it's a good test to see who is legitimate and who is just wasting your time, but often you lose legitimate clients, because they're worried about paying you before they even see you. Not every worker asks for a deposit or has the ability to, and last minute bookings pretty much never incur one (don't think you can get around us like this, by the way - multi-hour bookings, even last minute, usually do need one), but with money now so firmly in the electronic realm, it's becoming a lot more common.
Here's the thing, clients. When you hire a lawyer, you pay them a retainer. When you get a loan, you pay a deposit. There are many professions which will require a down payment of money before you receive the service, to ensure that you can pay, and that you will attend the sessions that you have promised to. When you hand wave at the idea of paying a sex worker a deposit, you are saying that you don't respect us or our profession in the same way as any other - and, I think you'll find our industry is older than any bank or law firm. We take deposits for the same reasons as everyone else; when you don't turn up with the full payment, we lose money that could have been given to us by the legitimate booking whose slot you took. As stated in a previous blog post, not everyone can afford for this to happen to them, and you might be literally taking food from their table and children's mouths.
Giving a deposit is not even a hard thing to do - so many timewasters act like I'm making them hike up a mountain to talk to an ancient monk at a temple and learn an ancient art when I ask them for a deposit! These methods are all super easy and most only require around four minutes of your time. I'm sure you're a very busy person, but instead of wasting that four minutes arguing about why you're too lazy/paranoid to give a deposit, try one of these...
1. Cardless cash. If you're with Commonwealth, Westpac, St. George, Bank SA, or Bank of Melbourne, you can do cardless cash when someone asks for it - right from the app! You tap some buttons, give them the code that comes up, and they have 30 minutes to get the cash from an ATM, and you get a notification when they do. You don't even have to leave your seat.
2. Direct deposit. Same day if you're with the same bank as them. Right from the app, or your laptop. I think you can also do it over the phone with the bank if you have all your information with you.
3. Cash to a teller or Smart ATM. This one requires a smidge of effort on your part. You get up, go to the nearest branch of your bank, or Smart ATM if your bank offers this, and put cash into the bank account a worker has given you. Hardly Everest, but definitely comes under the "effort" umbrella.
4. Gift card. A lot of workers use Prezzee for gift cards. It's very easy to make an account real quick and send a gift card to the email they gave you, with a card that is something they requested. Or, if you find that they like something else (like, say, Net-a-Porter), that is not on Prezzee, you can go onto that website and buy the card, then send the code to them. Note: this one requires communication with the worker as to what they approve of and/or would prefer. Sorry, it does need some effort. But it's fast and very easy.
"But Sienna, what if they run away with my deposit and I never see them?"
Firstly, it is your responsibility as the client to check that the sex worker you are hiring is legitimate. That means looking for multiple advertisements and advertisement history, checking that their pictures are verified on websites that offer image verification (basically, the website checking that the person in the pictures is real, and is the person placing the ad), checking for social media engagement, looking for reviews from people who have seen the worker before, and perhaps asking for a phone call. It's important to note that not all workers will have all of these things, especially brand new ones; for those, you can ask if there's another worker who has most of these things to vouch for the newbie and their work ethic. The more legitimate the worker, the more they have to lose for ripping you off, and the less likely they are to do so. You clients are the ones who don't have highly public profiles, you can contact us on a burner phone and simply book and not turn up, with no repercussions (and as previously stated, we are not going to out you); to avoid the possibility of you doing this, these are the precautions we take. You might think you're more likely to get messed around by a worker than they are by clients, as mentioned by a particularly condescending commenter on one of my previous posts; but I assure you, if you saw our inboxes full of people who didn't show up or who asked for pics or asked dumb questions and never booked, you'd spit out your cheap whisky.
Secondly, a deposit is usually not the full amount. It's a nominal percentage, around 10%, but sometimes maybe more, at the worker's discretion. I rarely charge deposits, especially for regular clients, but when I do, it's around 25% for long bookings with first time clients. Most of the time, deposits are $100 or so - we're not bloody running away with that money, we won't get far, it's $100. I'm not hopping on any planes and retiring with that cash, and I know full well I'll get the rest of it once I do the booking. It's just there to secure your booking and compensate me for my time, should you cancel last minute or not turn up at all. And I'll note - if you don't turn up, I still take a loss; it's just that you do too when I make you pay me a deposit. Some workers ask for the full fee to be paid in advance, and some clients prefer to pay the entire fee in advance. Do watch out for someone with no reputation who asks for the fee straight up, or a large deposit like 50%. Watch out for providers with no contact other than an email address who ask for these things - basically, be sensible, and your research will help you make informed choices.
Thirdly, running away with a deposit means we don't get repeat business, and our names are soiled. I don't want to be known as the provider who stole from a client - no one would ever trust me again, and I'd lose regular clients. Fellow sex workers will shun thieves as well, because they give the entire industry a bad name, and make it harder for everyone to collect retainers. We have a lot more to lose financially than you do in this case. If the worker cancels the booking, then they will return the deposit, but if you do - that's on you, and that's why your escort got a deposit in the first place. And don't bloody lie about why you're cancelling ten minutes before the booking; we are not stupid, we see through you - and we will keep the deposit in this case. I have so many mentions of dead family members in my inbox, it's not funny; it's like a grandma dies every time you hire a sex worker - I didn't set out to kill grandmas, but it appears this is my burden to bear...
To finish, I'll share a funny story. It isn't mine, I shamelessly stole it from a friend.
Chloe* was touring, and she went to Sydney on tour from her hometown, the Gold Coast. An enquiry came through from a younger guy, and he booked, and paid her quoted deposit. When the time came around for him to be in booking, he wasn't there, so Chloe texted him to ask where he was. "Oh, I'll be on my way soon, I've got a bit of time from Ashmore*." Record scratch. Ashmore? That's in the Gold Coast. Chloe is in Sydney. Did he...?
Yeah, turns out he did. He didn't read her website, completely missed her telling him the address for the booking was in the Rocks*, and because the Gold Coast is an hour behind, was secure in the knowledge that his booking wasn't for a while. When Chloe corrected him, he had the nerve to tell her that he would just have the deposit count towards a future booking - no, buddy, that's not how deposits work! Chloe told him she'd be keeping the cash, and future bookings would incur the same charges, and he got quite upset with her; it was an honest mistake, you give back the deposit if you don't complete the service, right? Chloe stuck to her guns, and eventually turned him around; he realised that his stupidity should not mean that she loses money, and he apologised!
In sum: do your research (read our ads for the love of god), pay deposits if asked for, and don't get cranky when they're not returned because you cancelled last minute or didn't bother to show. Ultimately, if you refuse to do it, even after reading this post? Find someone who doesn't enforce deposits, don't argue with the workers who do. It's tacky.
*Names of people and suburbs have been changed.