Half Now, Half On Delivery – a Paypal Solution

image courtesy of getty images

This is just a thought here… but since I’ve been elbow deep in server muck looking for a way to deliver the files to my client in a professional way I got a little epiphany.

Since some of us find it somewhat cumbersome figuring out if a first time client will pay or not we end up with moments of panic and possible seconds long hysteria.

Here is the scenario: You are doing a job for a client… this is the first time you do any work for them and you don’t know if they are trustworthy or not. You’ve heard horror stories of people getting contracted to do work … they deliver the work (quite naively) without watermarks to ensure client payment of the job.

The client downloads the file… and that’s the last they ever hear of them. This can drive a person nuts… the idea of getting swindled or digitally mugged is enraging just to think about let alone to experience.

So what do you do?

Some of us watermark… others request half now … half after delivery… but again … how do you guarentee that you will get paid the second half after delivery?


The truth is … you can’t be sure that they will pay you. Unless they are a repeat customer who you’ve dealth with before… or come recommended by someone else… you will end up with a situation where you could lose money.

My epiphany is quite simple… there are cgi, perl and php scripts out there that you can install on your server (but I highly suggest that you get someone professional to do it for you) that will prompt the client to pay for the item before they can download it.

Its that simple!

Its pretty much like setting up a mini e-commerce site… except the audio file you provide is the item they will add to their shopping cart and the paypal prompt is what stops them from being able to download the item without paying for it.

No Longer Uncomfortable

This way I no longer have to send that awkward email requesting the client pay before I can send them the final audio file… its an automated system that is both impersonal and due to that.. inoffensive.

Problem solved. money received.

And if they refuse to go through this process… then at least you know there is something dodgy about them!

I hope this helps ….

This Epiphany was brought to you by… Taji’s Voice Emporium




  1. Wow! That’s the way to do business.
    A client could appear to be the nicest human being on Earth, but looks can be deceiving, and once in awhile you run across someone who will try to slide by without payment.
    Your method virtually guarantees they do not get their product until payment is received. Easy, straightforward, and no hassles. It also means that we respect ourselves enough as professionals to know what we are worth.

  2. Cancellation policies same thing. Clients book one or two days in my recording studio to do a project with me, but then send email saying, “must cancel. Need to reschedule.” So what am I supposed to do with those two days? Knit sweaters in my studio? So they gave me two days notice…so what? I still have a free day or two and it’s too late to put other clients there unless, by some miracle, a client wants that spot. So you ask for a deposit on the studio day (or more than one day). What price deposit? That’s a difficult question. And they lose the deposit if cancel? But what about illness or a child is ill or wife is having surgery or bad weather or dog sick or….Ideas everybody? Chime in here.

  3. As a working Certified Personal Trainer, I am very grateful for our “24 Hour Cancellation Rule.” We schedule our clients in specific time slots, and if they cancel within 24 hours of that appointment, for any reason, they will be charged for that session. If they leave us a voicemail message, the time they called is stamped on our phone.
    Of course there are times when there is a family emergency, and if this is a good client who has been consistent, we will let the client slide once or twice ON AN EMERGENCY. However, when you have a client who calls you 10 minutes before the session because “my son came over and wants to take me to lunch,” then she pays for that session!
    This happened to me several months ago when I was taking care of my dad, who broke his ankle. I rushed to get everything done, rushed to get to work, and 5 minutes from work my phone rings. I already knew who it was. She was canceling a 12:30 appointment at 12:20. That’s just vicious.
    If my next appointment isn’t for hours, exactly what should I do with all of that dead time? I live too far to go all the way home and drive all the way back. And no one is paying me for that empty time.
    Ironically enough, this woman was angry that she had to pay for the session, and when I reminded her of all the times I let her slide (at least 4 times, for various ridiculous excuses), she contracted “selective amnesia.” All of a sudden, she couldn’t remember all of those times I was nice, accommodating and never made her pay! Now she had the audacity to slap me in the face with it!
    I learned a valuable lesson. With each new client, I explain the 24 Hour Rule, and follow that rule to the letter. It’s the only way. Otherwise, people will take advantage of you, and you end up losing valuable time, money, and patience. First and foremost, demonstrate self-respect.
    Here’s how it works: When a client purchases personal training services, she signs a contract stating that she understands and will abide by the 24 Hour Cancellation Rule. And when she buys her sessions, she pays the entire price up front. If she purchases 20 sessions, then she must pay for all of them before the training happens.
    Each time she comes in the gym to train, the staff prints a ticket, (#8 of 10, for example), indicating which session is occurring out of how many purchased. One ticket goes to the client and the other goes to the trainer, so each has a copy as proof that the session occurred. It is also the trainer’s proof in case there is an issue later with payroll. At the end of the pay period, the tickets are tabulated and that is how we are paid.
    If a client cancels within the 24 hour period, the trainer tells the staff, who prints both tickets and/or informs the client by phone that their session ticket was printed.
    Since the client paid for all of her sessions up front at the beginning, the gym is holding all of the money for the sessions, so the employer controls how many tickets are printed, and we as trainers have discretion in deciding under which circumstances tickets should be pulled.
    When I first started training, I didn’t understand why this rule existed. Now I do, and I am forever grateful for it. If not for this rule, I would have lost hundreds of dollars in revenue due to flakes who sign up for training and don’t respect me enough to show up.
    It’s the greatest lesson of all: Respect me as a professional, respect my time, and respect me as a human being.

  4. I’ve been thinking about how to accomplish this myself. Your method is a good place to start. However, I understand there are some gotchas in the Paypal fine print having to do charge backs; something about not providing the customer a physical product. I read about it in another V/O forum and will have to look it up to relay better details.

  5. Hello Steve,

    I’m guessing you are talking about this article The $1250 PayPal Lesson SELLER BEWARE this aspect of the paypal checkout has nothing to do with the ability to sell digital content online… or else you wouldnt be able to purchase ebooks or software online through paypal. The clause you speak of talks about buyer protection in case of a dispute.


  6. That’s the one!

    Trying to find that information today I called Paypal. The merchant representative told me that electronic delivery of merchandise cannot irrefutably be verified. As a result, he suggested providing a physical copy of the product sent with delivery confirmation to close off the “product not received” avenue to a chargeback.

    The Paypal agent also suggested the Paypal Security Center page and the eBay seller discussion forums for tricks of the trade on doing Internet business. Finally, he suggested that people involved in the online gaming industry have considerable experience with these issues too.

    One thing to remember is that we must present our terms and conditions to a prospective buyer BEFORE they buy the product to legally bind the T&Cs to the deal. So before they get to the shopping cart they need to electronically sign the T&Cs. One company I worked for accomplished this for their Non-disclosure agreement by presenting the NDA within an SSL connection that required the user to agree to the NDA before being transferred to the actual site. There was no path to the site without passing through that agreement page. Of course, all of this was entered into a secure database intended for legal evidence if someone violated the NDA.

    I hope this adds a useful layer to your good idea.

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