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Take Checks?
Old 4th August 2019
  #1
Gear Maniac
Take Checks?

Good day, all -

What are thoughts on taking checks (personal or other) as payment for services (studio, producer, recording, engineering, and so on)?

I "checked" with my bank and they said theoretically you can't be 100% sure a check is fully cleared and funded even 6 months later. The money could be reversed out of your account. I've had it happen before, where checks seemed to clear, I had the funds, and then weeks later those funds reversed because in the meanwhile the funding account ran low, whether through negligence or intentional dishonest behavior on the part of the payer.

Makes me think maybe not worth accepting checks at all (except for maybe cash-equivalent types, like certified checks). Especially for "one-off" pay jobs where the client doesn't have the incentive of maintaining a good long-term relationship with you.

What do others think? What policies do others have of which payment methods to accept?

Cheers.
Old 4th August 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

No. Not even certified checks. I won't bore you with my experiences.

In this day and age, and with everyone in any biz being easily able to accept credit cards ( you are a biz....not a bedroom engineer with no cash overhead), accepting checks makes no sense....from the aspect of what can and does go wrong.

Don't do it. Not money orders either cuz lemme tell you fraud horror stories that happen even with those.

I've accepted credit cards since 1984 or so (still do) and that's the only way to go. Even the concept of chargebacks are nil in my case. In my entire history, I've never had a chargeback.
Old 4th August 2019
  #3
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Wow. Thx for this thread. I took a check payment for a quickee 2hr session just the other day. Had no idea that the funds could be reversed even after they clear. I better rethink this. :0/ Thx again for the info!
Old 4th August 2019
  #4
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Wow. Thx for this thread. I took a check payment for a quickee 2hr session just the other day. Had no idea that the funds could be reversed even after they clear. I better rethink this. :0/ Thx again for the info!
Yes, it was an unpleasant shock to me. Not only were the funds reversed, but I had to pay the bounced check fees to my bank.

Check with your bank to be sure what they say; maybe they provide some protection. But really it sounds like it's not worth the risk, especially with clients you don't know well, or have a long-term trusted working relationship with.
Old 4th August 2019
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I take checks from businesses. Individuals and bands pay cash, card or Venmo.
Old 4th August 2019
  #6
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
I’ve been taking checks from clients, as well as cash and paypal, venmo and cash app for 8 years now. The only issue I’ve had is when the client makes an error in writing the check, such as writing a different amount numerically than with numbers (the bank will always give you the lesser of the two). So I’ve learned to give checks a quick scan as soon as I get them. Most of my clients are repeat customers, so I can’t imagine any of them trying to screw me like that.
Old 4th August 2019
  #7
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
I’ve been taking checks from clients, as well as cash and paypal, venmo and cash app for 8 years now. The only issue I’ve had is when the client makes an error in writing the check, such as writing a different amount numerically than with numbers (the bank will always give you the lesser of the two). So I’ve learned to give checks a quick scan as soon as I get them. Most of my clients are repeat customers, so I can’t imagine any of them trying to screw me like that.

PayPal (business) has been solid for me as well since I can send a customized invoice and then they have the option to pay via CC etc, although amounts larger than $400 (I think) take between 3-14 days to clear.
Old 4th August 2019
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I'll do PayPal as a last resort.
Old 4th August 2019
  #9
Gear Maniac
FYI: I've had "business" checks bounce too....
Old 4th August 2019
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
FYI: I've had "business" checks bounce too....
Any coat-and-tie business that issues purchase orders and pays on invoices is either going to pay by check or ACH. That's simply how it works.
Old 4th August 2019
  #11
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Any coat-and-tie business that issues purchase orders and pays on invoices is either going to pay by check or ACH. That's simply how it works.
I hear you. It's just no guarantee that the checks will clear.
Some businesses are not run well in terms of finances.

(The ones I am referring to here eventually failed and shut down; surprise surprise)
Old 4th August 2019
  #12
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
I hear you. It's just no guarantee that the checks will clear.
Some businesses are not run well in terms of finances.

(The ones I am referring to here eventually failed and shut down; surprise surprise)
No sh/t, Sherlock... I love the passive aggressive ignore the actual point of the discussion and instead focus on winning some tiny part of an argument that’s taken out of context

that’s not how the business world works in real life. When you’re dealing with clients and vendors face to face not everyone has a PayPal, etc... they have an accounting dept that processes accounts payable and writes checks

As you might imagine, the hip hop act who cells their CDs on Hollywood Blvd probably doesn’t have an accounting dept... nor would the singer/songwriter/barista... these kinda folks would be cash money for me
Old 4th August 2019
  #13
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
No sh/t, Sherlock... I love the passive aggressive ignore the actual point of the discussion and instead focus on winning some tiny part of an argument that’s taken out of context

that’s not how the business world works in real life. When you’re dealing with clients and vendors face to face not everyone has a PayPal, etc... they have an accounting dept that processes accounts payable and writes checks

As you might imagine, the hip hop act who cells their CDs on Hollywood Blvd probably doesn’t have an accounting dept... nor would the singer/songwriter/barista... these kinda folks would be cash money for me
Sorry if my comment came across that way and caused any offense. I didn't want an argument; right now to me it's about hearing about the experiences of others, and also the norms of the industry, what's expected, how those norms are changing or not, and so on. I've had a few bad experiences, and want to learn how to avoid repeats like that!

That is, as the original poster, I intended the point of the discussion to be about collecting info and experiences, to help formulate a good policy of how to deal with payments. I want to find the right balance between being cautious without unduly limiting or excluding customers by making policies too strict.

Again, sorry if I offended.
Old 4th August 2019
  #14
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'll do PayPal as a last resort.
Why do you say "as a last resort"? Are there certain risks with that approach?
I thought that was one of the safer ways to get paid?
Old 4th August 2019
  #15
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
PayPal (business) has been solid for me as well since I can send a customized invoice and then they have the option to pay via CC etc, although amounts larger than $400 (I think) take between 3-14 days to clear.
I didn't realize there's a credit card limit like that on PayPal. Do you mean using a PayPal credit card? Or using another third-party credit linked to PayPal?

I'll research those PayPal policies more.

Then there's Venmo; not sure about the pros and cons. So far that's only been used to pay me for smaller gigs and such, but I've also had contractors (electrician, for example) want to be paid by Venmo.
Old 4th August 2019
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
Why do you say "as a last resort"? Are there certain risks with that approach?
I thought that was one of the safer ways to get paid?
Paypal is safe for the one paying, because they are pretty quick to side with the buyer. Which is good, but can be a hassle for someone running a small business - if someone decides they want their money back it’s not too hard to get it back.

In general though I’ve used paypal extensively with no real major issues.
Old 4th August 2019
  #17
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by unitymusic View Post
Paypal is safe for the one paying, because they are pretty quick to side with the buyer. Which is good, but can be a hassle for someone running a small business - if someone decides they want their money back it’s not too hard to get it back. .
Oh I see; didn't think of that.
There's also a fee to the payee if they use a credit card through PayPal, I believe.
Old 4th August 2019
  #18
Gear Maniac
Found a thread here on PayPal also; it's a few years old but hope still relevant:
Anybody with a small/home studio using Paypal for clients?
Old 4th August 2019
  #19
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
I didn't realize there's a credit card limit like that on PayPal. Do you mean using a PayPal credit card? Or using another third-party credit linked to PayPal?

I'll research those PayPal policies more.

Then there's Venmo; not sure about the pros and cons. So far that's only been used to pay me for smaller gigs and such, but I've also had contractors (electrician, for example) want to be paid by Venmo.

It’s not a limit in the strict sense. It’s just that you have to wait sometimes up to a week for the payment to clear i.e. be available for use if the amount is over xyz amount.
Old 5th August 2019
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I was in the middle of responding to a post directed at me when it got deleted. Which was fine, but I had a thing or two to say that may be worthwhile anyway. To wit:

When I was just an idiot bass player, this gig fell in my lap where all of a sudden I had to know about firm bids vs cost-plus bids and buyouts and kill fees and purchase orders and invoices and a lot more. I was maybe 22 and knew bupkis about any of that. So I don't think there's any harm in exposing audio and music beginners to a bit of how businesses operate. I would've been grateful for it, and would have made far less of a fool of myself.
Old 5th August 2019
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
I mostly cash, but I'll take checks, especially if I know the client well. What's really great is depositing with my phone app. I guess I'm lucky. When I've been screwed, its by people who just don't pay, not bounced checks.
Old 5th August 2019
  #22
Gear Maniac
I guess the point with checks is to determine (whether by gut feeling, research, recommendations, or whatever) that the business is reputable and well-established, which means it's less likely to do something like bounce a check...
Maybe I need to develop a better "instinct" for that!
Old 5th August 2019
  #23
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I mostly cash, but I'll take checks, especially if I know the client well. What's really great is depositing with my phone app. I guess I'm lucky. When I've been screwed, its by people who just don't pay, not bounced checks.
Yes, that's a whole other story!
That's the question of protecting yourself against not getting paid.

I guess the usual means include:

deposit upfront
full payment before files are delivered
pay-as-you-go (for longer projects)
Old 5th August 2019
  #24
I can’t remember the last time anyone paid anything by cheque (as we say in the developed western world ).

I think it’s at least 10 years since I wrote one; I think my Nannie sometimes sends one as a birthday gift, but even she’s taken to getting my parents to sort it electronically!

Businesses tend to eft transfer now. Any sole trader with a mobile can take a credit card payment now, either in person or via PayPal (if you make direct payments with PayPal instead of invoicing through them, there’s no fees. Maybe not the best way of doing business but it works).

I’m not in the US so maybe you’re a bit different over there, but I personally wouldn’t want to be bothered with cheques now.
Old 5th August 2019
  #25
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
(if you make direct payments with PayPal instead of invoicing through them, there’s no fees. Maybe not the best way of doing business but it works)..
Thank you for the comment; would you mind clarifying this?
Invoicing adds an additional fee?
So one could invoice "outside" of PayPal and avoid said fee?
Old 5th August 2019
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
Thank you for the comment; would you mind clarifying this?
Invoicing adds an additional fee?
So one could invoice "outside" of PayPal and avoid said fee?
If you send a paypal invoice, and the person follows the link and pays it, you are charged a fee.

If someone just makes a payment to your email, you're not.

Now - obviously for the buyer, it makes no difference financially and the protection is better with the invoice.

For the seller, you can either swallow the processing fee, ask for payment direct and issue a separate invoice (which is what I do if asked - I basically don't offer PP unless asked) or raise the price to incorporate the fee.
Old 5th August 2019
  #27
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
If you send a paypal invoice, and the person follows the link and pays it, you are charged a fee...
Now - obviously for the buyer, it makes no difference financially and the protection is better with the invoice.
Thank you again...

Is there any salient difference to the seller (we proprietors of musical services), other than the fee?
(I ask as you said that protection is better for the buyer, with a PP invoice; so I wondered whether this implies that risks or liabilities are worse for the seller in that case).

Sorry for the naive questions; I couldn't find this info clearly on PayPal site.
Old 5th August 2019
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
Thank you again...

Is there any salient difference to the seller (we proprietors of musical services), other than the fee?
(I ask as you said that protection is better for the buyer, with a PP invoice; so I wondered whether this implies that risks or liabilities are worse for the seller in that case).

Sorry for the naive questions; I couldn't find this info clearly on PayPal site.
well - I guess having everything above board and business-like is better for everyone if things go wrong.

How much better for you? I really can't answer that.

A simple google might help:

https://www.google.com/search?q=payp...hrome&ie=UTF-8
Old 5th August 2019
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic View Post
Yes, that's a whole other story!
That's the question of protecting yourself against not getting paid.

I guess the usual means include:

deposit upfront
full payment before files are delivered
pay-as-you-go (for longer projects)
Sadly, the only time I've been stiffed recently is someone I've known for years. The 2-3 other times it happened the amounts weren't huge.

Once or twice I've had no shows, which had deposits.
Old 5th August 2019
  #30
Gear Maniac
Thank you to everyone for the input and ideas so far. I hope this conversation will be helpful to other people too.
It seems to be a topic that needs periodic revisiting, since the industry keeps changing, and technology/means of payment keeps changing also.

I'm still kicking around best balance and ways to handle this...
From the conversation so far, it sounds like taking business checks (at least from what seem like reputable established businesses) is generally a fairly safe bet.
(I've never been stiffed by "name" clients, although I've heard horror stories; I've had problems with a couple small companies as mentioned, including in non-music related work. On live and DJ side I've had trouble with a few club promoters over the years, who would be late on payment, or bounce checks, or (worst case) disappear completely (left town? the country? and canceled cell phone! probably owed a lot of people money ! ) without paying. A couple times trouble with venue owners as well who didn't want to pay. I've heard a lot of such stories from others over the years also. Then there are other people who seem to have very smooth sailing! Maybe they are very lucky, or very sharp in being able to choose their clients and gigs, or have very well-written agreements and policies. I can't do much about luck, but I'll do what I can to improve those other factors.

So then it's about when and how to take personal checks.
Some ideas:
- if the amounts are small, not too much to worry about
- if the amounts get bigger, then what? partial payment upfront, maybe with insistence on it being far enough in advance of work (or work delivery) to reasonably know it cleared (2 days? 1 week? 2 weeks?)....?
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