Since when is it a scam to ask for money up front when you are in the service industry? Service related businesses have to protect there information, skill, and time with retainer fee's before a service is going to be preformed. When you are a manufacturer and a new client is asking for an order that is going to take 2 months to produce do you work for two whole months for free? No, any manufacture would ask for the material cost's up front and a retainer for the labor and time spent. So if your business offers a service and you are not asking your clients for a monetary commitment then you are exposing yourself to potential losses. In any transaction between two reputable companies you have a contractual agreement when money changes hands whether it is for product or service and it is this agreement that keeps everyone honest.
Now am I claiming that there are no scams out there? Of course not, especially in this day and age when service companies can do work for clients that they do not even see face to face. Do you need to make sure you have done your homework before putting down a retainer on a service? Absolutely and any reputable service provider would welcome you to make sure their expertise and service is one that will match your needs beyond what you expect. Listen; if you are looking for a certain service and you are not doing your research you are first and for most opening yourself up to paying for something you don't really need and second you are setting yourself up for someone who is not honest to take advantage of you.
The point of this blog is to make business owners and consumers think before they cry fraud, or scam because these are serious accusation that can damage the reputation of someone who may be able to ask clients for a high retainer fee because their reputation allows it. It is the same concept when you are shopping for a car, some people don't mind paying for a BMW and some people no matter how much money they have will only by a Honda and these people are not accusing BMW of a scam because they charge so much for a car. When you are in the market for a service and you have chosen to pay someone and the end result is not what you were looking for because you did not ask enough questions, do research, or explain your need clearly this dose not give you the right to feel scammed. You were just unprepared and rushed into a decision. Does buyer's remorse ring a bell?
I want to leave everyone with some suggestions on how go about handling a business transaction that you feel might not be honest. First I would check with BBB, D&B, Rippoff Report, or any of the hundreds of resources out there that have this type of information for free. If you have paid a retainer or deposit and are not getting the agreed upon service I would involve the authorities or a lawyer right away and make sure that your exposure to this potential scam is cut off. After proper due diligence and after evidence has shown that you have truly been scammed or you just missed being scammed help out others and post comment to the forums that I mentioned or one that you personally use this is to make sure that you keep it professional.