Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Spring '07 Release - SurePay

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

April 27, 2007

Comments (29)

SurePay at Voices.comNever get stiffed or hear "The check's in the mail" again!

When you work with clients using our new SurePay system at Voices.com to get the job done right, good things will happen.

Want to learn more?

This is by most accounts the crown jewel in our newest generation :)

I'd like to introduce SurePay to you, something that will make your life a lot easier and payments steadfast.

SurePay is an online payment system developed by Voices.com for the voice over marketplace. It allows clients to quickly and easily hire you for voice-over work.

Let's break it down, step by step:

The Job Offer

The process starts with a “Job Offer”. Job offers originate from one of three places. You can receive a job offer:

1. After responding to a “Public Lead” that many people have received being selected as the voice talent the client desires to work with.

2. After responding to a “Private Lead” that a few people were invited to being selected as the voice talent the client desires to work with.

3. Directly from your personal website at Voices.com. Clients often listen to several voice talents when they first visit Voices.com then contact the person they’d like to work with. In this situation, there is no need for an audition (they already love your voice), so the client can simply send you a “Job Offer”.

Viewing the Job Offer

You can view all “Job Offers” under the new “Jobs” tab within your account at Voices.com.

The Job Offer consists of four unique sections:

Contact Information

Complete contact information is displayed from both parties (you and the client), so you’ll know who is offering you the contract and which company they work for. If you need to clarify some details you can pick a phone and call them or send them an email.

Job Details

Each job has a unique ID as well as the job title and final script as a file attachment. It’s recommended that you download the script and read it in its entirety before accepting any job offers.

Payment Details

In this section, you’ll see the deadline for completing the work, terms of payment and your professional fee (ex. $1000.00). You’ll also see the SurePay Escrow fee, which is 10% added on top of your professional fee (ex $100.00) and the total to be deposited by the client ($1100.00).

Agreement Details

If the client has any special instructions regarding technical requirements or artistic direction, you’ll see those comments here.

Take a look!

view_offer_450.gif

Take Action

At the bottom of the “Job Offer” are three buttons; “Yes, I Accept”, “Make Counter Offer”, and “Sorry, I Decline”.

By clicking “Yes, I Accept”, you now have a legally binding agreement between you and the client. This will keep everyone accountable, and will avoid misunderstandings about the original project requirements. Congratulations, you’ve landed a job!

By clicking “Make Counter Offer”, you have the opportunity to reply to the client and may suggest changes to any of the Job Offer details, such as terms of payment, number of included revisions if applicable, deadline or even price. When you make a counter offer, you can also leave comments below the clients comments, similar to a thread. This thread is your communication history and is always attached to the job details.

By clicking “ Sorry, I Decline”, it’s recommended you let the client know why you declined their job offer. Perhaps you weren’t comfortable recording their material, or maybe you are simply too busy or better yet, on vacation. Whatever the reason, have the courtesy to leave a one or two sentence reason as to why you had to decline the project. By doing so, you’ll show them that the professionals at Voices.com know how to communicate, and you’ll keep the door open for future opportunities should they be given.


The Counter Offer

If you’ve sent a “Counter Offer” back to the client, they now have the option to click “Yes, I Accept”, “Make Counter Offer” or “Sorry, I Decline”.

- When the client clicks “Yes, I Accept”, you’ve got a deal!

- When the client clicks “Make Counter Offer”, the counter offer is sent back to you and the cycle continues, until you reach a deal by someone clicking “Yes, I Accept”. If you’ve ever purchased a home, this is often how the transaction occurs. This is negotiation in its
simplest form.

- If no deal can be reached, either party can click “Sorry, I Decline” at anytime, and the negotiation is terminated.

Most jobs will result in a fair agreement (you did negotiate after all) and so the next step is for the client to make a deposit.


The Deposit

The deposit is for the full amount as displayed in the “Payment Details” of the agreement. In our example, this amount would be USD $1100.00.

Your client is prompted to send a deposit of $1100.00 to Voices.com’s secure escrow account. This is a neutral bank account that will hold the money in trust until the job is completed.

As soon as we’ve received the deposit, you’ll receive an email notification informing you that “You Have New Funds” being held in trust. With the deposit managed by Voices.com, you can record the work with the confidence that you'll get paid.


The Recording & File Delivery

Same as you do currently, you’ll record the script in your recording studio (or at a local recording studio). If the job requires music and sound effects, you’re responsible for adding those too.

Once the recording is complete, you simply login to Voices.com, click on “Jobs” and you’ll see that your next step is to “Upload Files”. You can upload a single file, or continue to upload multiple files if need be. When you’re done uploading the entire project, just click “I’m Done Uploading”.


Downloading the Files & Accepting The Work

You’ve fulfilled your end of the agreement, and now the client just needs to download the material and accept your work as complete.

An email notification is sent to the client letting them know that their files are ready for download.

They login to their account at Voices.com, and proceed to download all the files. After they’ve listened to your work and have confirmed that you’ve done an excellent job, the client completes the process by clicking “I Accept”.

If they are not completely satisfied and require a revision (or need changes made), the client will click "Request an Edit".

Your Payment

When the client clicks “I Accept” this action also notifies Voices.com to release your payment, which is sent to you by PayPal.

PayPal is fast, easy and secure. It’s free to set-up a PayPal account if you don’t already have one. Payments sent to your PayPal account through Voices.com are then withdrawn into your personal or business bank account.

Giving & Receiving Feedback

The final step is for you to leave feedback on the financial transaction.

Giving and receiving feedback is an important part of any business transaction. As either a buyer or a seller within an online marketplace, feedback is often used to see if the other person is trustworthy and operates their business with integrity.

Your Feedback consists of a “Rating”, a 5-star rating with 1 being a poor experience, and a 5 being an excellent experience, as well as a “Review”. “Reviews” are written comments offering an explanation and reasoning for the above “Rating”.

Congratulations!

You made it! You’ve reached the end of the SurePay process and the end of this post.

If you like the idea, let us know by leaving a comment below.

Have a great day,

Stephanie

Related Topics: how to


Comments


    Fantastic!

    This is a wonderful addition to your service. I'm also glad the escrow fee is passed to the client and not the VO.

    Way to go!

    Posted by:

      Sounds like a great idea, but will the added escrow fee scare off some clients?

      Posted by:
      • David Trawick
      • April 27, 2007 4:23 PM

        Delighted to hear this! It addresses a number of issues/problems/risks!

        My one question is: what happens to the process if the files are not uploaded from your site? If they're overnighted on CD, or loaded to an ftp?

        Will there be a way for the talent to let you know the files have been delivered by alternate method, so that the "I accept" and "we're paid" parts of the procedure continue as described?

        Posted by:
        • Terry White
        • April 27, 2007 4:24 PM

          This looks like a pretty well-thought out process, and takes a lot of the administrative hassles out of the equation for both the talent and client.

          I am looking forward to actually working with the new Sure Pay system.

          Thanks for all your boundless dedication to us!

          Best,
          Bobbin Beam

          Posted by:

            Looks like some nice new improvements. I'm eager to see how "Sure Pay" works in practice.

            I know a lot of people have been complaining about "no-pays" but I do quite a large volume of business (several Voice123 jobs a month) and I've never had a real problem with payments. Sure some clients pay slower than others, or may need a couple of invoices, but that's just business.

            I've found that being flexible is important. Some clients refuse to use PayPal. Some MUST be invoiced and pay by check. Others, especially overseas clients, I insist payment through PayPal.

            My question is: Will SurePay be the "default" method of payment most clients will be expected to pay with? I'm not sure how major ad agencies will like this idea and I'm not sure if I'm keen on having all my payments through Voices.com. (Don't get me wrong, I love the service and I am a HUGE fan). I'm open minded though, and look forward to checking it out.

            Again, thanks your continuing efforts to improve the service. It's appreciated.

            Posted by:

              Correction: Previous post I wrote "Voice123" when I meant to write "Voices.com"....MY Bad!

              Voices.com has delivered many more jobs than "the other service" lately!!!

              Posted by:

                Thanks for all the positive comments and your willingness to see how it works.

                While client can always bypass using SurePay by calling you on the telephone, or by sending you an email, it's really not in your best interest.

                First, SurePay costs you ( the voice talent ) nothing. It's a free service for you to know that the funds are being held in trust, in your name.

                Second, many clients, such as Fortune 500's and Government agencies have already told us they prefer to pay Voices.com, and distribute the funds for the project, once the work is complete. This eliminates sending multiple checks and credit card payments to several "vendors".

                True some clients may not want to use SurePay, however it's an add-on service for them.

                All clients are welcome to search for the professionals at Voices.com or post jobs for you to audition for. The initial connection between "buyer and seller" will remain the same.

                I trust this brief post has helped clarify how and why the clients will benefit from SurePay.

                Comments?

                David

                Posted by:

                  This addition seems wonderful, and is (unfortunately) much needed. I hope it works well.

                  Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to a real problem!

                  Posted by:

                    David,

                    Wow, that wasn't something I was expecting! A very unique idea and an interesting evolution with the online payment process.

                    Having not been stiffed in a long time, I might feel that this is a bit of overkill, but in reality I can see the utility of such a process for those who's book keeping may be a bit primitive.

                    This does take the guess work out of trusting a client. I'd like to think that most clients using Voices.com are trustworthy. It's easy to tell just by how they write their ads. However, with a safeguard like this, I think everyone is protected. I hope you've upgraded your FTP server!

                    Nice work! I can't wait to see what else this upgrade will bring us!

                    Posted by:

                      Brilliant. This should help make the system work better for everyone!

                      Posted by:

                        Really appreciate the Sure Pay tool. It adds value and more professionalism to the financial process--plus, more of peace of mind.

                        Looking forward to giving it a test drive!

                        Posted by:

                          This sounds like a great system and I'm pleased to see this being implemented.

                          Naturally, as some people have pointed out already, it does raise a few issues as well. I upload almost all of my work directly via FTP. How will that work?

                          A fair amount of my clients are from overseas and don't like to use PayPal. Many will either send me a check or wire the funds - which of course involves additional fees. Who's going to cover this?

                          I personally prefer to get a check in the mail because of the PayPal fees involved - after several gigs (esp. if there are currency conversions involved which incurs extra fees) this adds up to a few hundred dollars in no time. I'm not interested in losing a portion of my paycheck in fees. Is there a provision that you can build into the system that PayPal fees would be covered by the client? After all, we shouldn't have to pay a fee in order to get our paycheck.

                          Just thoughts that immediately come to mind...

                          Thanks for being so proactive about this issue!

                          Maggie

                          Posted by:
                          • Maggie
                          • April 27, 2007 5:51 PM

                            Ouch 10% sounds like a bit too much, that's what my agent charges and he a least mans a phone, co-ordinates etc. PayPal rates are lower too. I like the idea however, lets hope it doesn't scare anyone off.

                            Posted by:

                              Maggie,

                              I appreciate your insight. Initial reactions are usually the most telling, and in this case, you raise challenges we know we will need to overcome for SurePay to become an industry standard.

                              The scenario explained in the post above is the most basic, involving PayPal transactions.

                              We WILL be enabling clients to submit Purchase Orders (from larger, established clients) and final payment by check.

                              The P.O. / Invoice / Check combo is an entrenched business practice, and has worked well for decades. It's only wise that we accommodate how other businesses operate and build our payment systems around them.

                              We did explore sending checks in the mail to voice talents who are hired via SurePay. We will put further thought into how best to send out checks en mass, then likely provide you with the option of how you want to receive payment; Check or PayPal. For the short-term, PayPal payments are quick and easy.

                              Hope this helps.

                              David
                              CEO
                              Voices.com

                              Posted by:

                                Alex,

                                Sounds like you are a little concerned with the 10% transaction fee. Let me break it down.

                                3.5% is immediately gone to the credit card issuer, be it VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discovery or whomever.

                                1.0% is paid to a credit card processor, the company that actually routes the funds through the world-wide financial system.

                                A sum of each transaction is allocated for insurance and to maintain the trust fund account.

                                We also have the privilege of another full-time team member dedicated to managing this specific part of our business.

                                You mentioned your agent mans the phone. We also man the phones. In fact, we receive dozens of calls each day and we walk clients through how to use Voices.com and help them post jobs. We reply to an average ** 500-1000 ** email per day as well as maintain all the technology necessary for the marketplace to operate 24/7/365.

                                My hope is that you'll see there is a team of people working around the clock, behind the scenes that ensures Voices.com is up-and-running, and most importantly, directing clients to your website to listen to your voice-over demos.

                                We're here FOR you, and we're here FOR the clients. It's only reasonable for the clients to pay for a service they have asked for, particularly since there are built-in costs for providing a payment system. 10% is a nominal fee, considering all the added value they receive.

                                Posted by:

                                  Sounds like a great system, but I'm wondering--what happens if the client downloads the files from Voices.com, but then refuses to click the "I Accept" button, and promptly disappears? This has happened at least once (thankfully, only for a demo)--I got a "Great work, can't wait to produce!" and then radio silence. Unfortunate aspect of working online, I suppose. Great work though, can't wait to see the new Voices.com!

                                  Posted by:

                                    Andrew,

                                    Yes, the scenario you describe was one we had anticipated.

                                    When you upload the files, and click "I'm Done Uploading", a clock will start.

                                    The clock counts down the clients "Inspection Period", which is simply a period of time (72 hours) for the client to inspect your work, by listening to the audio. We chose 72 hours, as they may need to have a someone else approve the work as complete. During the "Inspection Period", the client either clicks "Yes, I Accept" or "Request an Edit".

                                    If the client does nothing, and the "Inspection Period" expires, the funds are paid out to you.

                                    Most contracts come with a "no action clause", which actually triggers an event, such as automatic billing or renewal of service.

                                    In this case, if the client doesn't login, likely because they are airing your commercials for example, you still get paid.

                                    Is 72 hours for the client to review your work too much time or too little? Or, is it spot on?

                                    David
                                    CEO
                                    Voices.com

                                    Posted by:

                                      Great idea! It's about time!

                                      I am wondering, however, how many "re-edits" will be allowed before additional charges are billed? This should be defined to eliminate confusion and set reasonable client expectations.

                                      Will SurePay guarantee payment to talent for work completed, even if, after the maximum number of re-edits/retakes, the client is not satisfied with the work? Does the 72 hour rule apply in these cases?

                                      Cheers and keep up the good work!

                                      Posted by:

                                        David,

                                        Great question.

                                        The number of "re-edits" is determined in the initial "Job Offer".

                                        The client can pull down a menu and select from 0-10 edits, with the default being 0.

                                        Naturally, this field is negotiable, so when you receive a "Job Offer", be sure to double-check how many allowable edits the client is building in to the agreement.

                                        An edit will be defined as a revision to the recording, NOT the script.

                                        If you choose to accommodate a change to the script after an agreement has been reached, that's your call.

                                        I believe we've thought through many scenarios, however there are sure to be a few we didn't consider. And, that is the purpose of presenting you with an service that is 95% complete.

                                        Keep the questions coming as it's a good processes to think ahead of all "what if..." situations.

                                        David
                                        CEO
                                        Voices.com

                                        Posted by:

                                          Hi David,

                                          This sounds like a really innovative and needed service option! It will be interesting to see the client's response to it. Those who tend to shop for the lowest talent rates may balk at the additional fees, but it may not be an issue to those used to paying agent fees on top of talent fees. Thanks for all the work that went into this!

                                          As far as 72 hours for review, I suppose it could be necessary for a producer with a large corporate client who decides everything by committee. Although, I'd prefer 24 hours, it's really a moot point as long as the funds are safely in escrow and there is no way for the client to take them back, they will ultimately be released to the talent. Getting paid is the bottom line whether it takes 3 days instead of 1 shouldn't be much of an issue.

                                          The option of receiving a check instead of a PayPal payment would be an added bonus, although I am used to using PayPal most often these days anyway in requesting credit card payment up front as any other online business does.

                                          Thanks for all your creativity and effort!

                                          Posted by:

                                            Stephanie and David,

                                            I think this is a brilliant idea. I'm looking forward to continuing my association with you folks for a long time, based on bright ideas like this. Also the excellent work opportunities that come my way through Voices.com, of course!

                                            Be well,
                                            Bob

                                            Posted by:

                                              Another good idea! This could streamline the process for talent and clients. Can't wait to see the new changes in effect.

                                              Tom

                                              Posted by:

                                                Congrats!
                                                This is a fantastic idea!
                                                Thank you very much!!!
                                                dc

                                                Posted by:

                                                  I like the idea! Small bugs can be worked out as the system is used but the concept is great and I expect it will benefit the talent a great deal! I certainly look forward to utilizing it!

                                                  Winfred

                                                  Posted by:

                                                    Boy, I love the idea, but I still think 10% is pretty steep. My fear is that this will drive low rates even lower.

                                                    That being said, I'm new to the online voice marketplace and have been shocked to find that, so far, I've been getting paid quicker through this system than through the traditional audition system.

                                                    Posted by:
                                                    • Darbi
                                                    • May 8, 2007 3:42 PM

                                                      Hi Darbi,

                                                      Thank you for commenting.

                                                      The 10% transaction fee is a number most businesses are used to and from what we gathered in our research from talking to people who actively hire voice talent at Voices.com, that percentage is fair and something they are prepared to budget for.

                                                      That fee is essentially what they'd be paying for to have anyone process the payment on their behalf through an escrow service or otherwise.

                                                      Does that help?

                                                      Best,

                                                      Stephanie

                                                      Posted by:

                                                        I think this is a really good idea. However, I too am not crazy about PayPal getting a cut of all my work. The larger jobs I never run through them - anything over $500 I wait for the check. They just take too much. I'm also concerned that clients will simply book me from the "other" site to avoid the extra fee. But I'm sure you've done your homework (as always) and believe that this will be a service that the large corporations will like. If that's true - then most of the clients will be of that caliber and the jobs will be larger - all good until we get to the PayPal part. Having the option to receive our payment in check form instead of through PayPal would make it perfect for me. Worse for you, I know. Just my thoughts - thank you for this forum.

                                                        Posted by:
                                                        • Vanessa Hart
                                                        • May 10, 2007 3:17 PM

                                                          Hi Vanessa,

                                                          Thank you for commenting and raising that particular point - bless you!

                                                          There will be an option to be paid by check (cheque). You'll be able to request that we either pay you via PayPal (which is an option that may be faster but isn't very attractive to you, however, it is available) or that Voices.com cuts you a check for the agreed upon amount that you quoted the client without further fees through PayPal once the initial transaction has taken place. Of course, that transaction does not in any way affect the amount you will be paid.

                                                          Regarding your concern about clients going to the other website (we know who that is, right?!), it is unlikely that they would do so.

                                                          First of all, there are PayPal buttons on each voice talent website at Voices.com should a client prefer that method, and secondly, that same client can pay you directly and communicate via email just as they do now. There are many ways for them to hire you and SurePay is just one option available to them at Voices.com.

                                                          Has this answer helped?

                                                          Looking forward to your reply,

                                                          Stephanie

                                                          Posted by:

                                                            Thank you Stephanie. That's perfect! I understand it now and I think it's going to be a huge positive addition. You are the best. - Vanessa

                                                            Posted by:
                                                            • Vanessa Hart
                                                            • May 10, 2007 4:57 PM

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