Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Important Update to SurePay Service

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

September 15, 2009

Comments (11)

money-safe-buoy.jpgWhenever we make changes to Voices.com, we usually let you know on VOX Daily, and today's news is no exception.

I have some news to share with everyone who uses SurePay.

Don't know what SurePay is? Find out by reading this post!

If you already use this Voices.com service, be sure to note a significant change with regard to payment scheduling made for your protection and others using our website.

Protecting Your Money

One of the services that differentiates Voices.com from other service providers is the fact that we have a safe payment service, ensuring that clients are satisfied with their recordings, and also guaranteeing payment for your work.

Whenever a client hires a Voices.com talent by awarding their job and agreeing to terms, a process is launched through our SurePay escrow service. Simply put, the money is being held in trust until the voice talent delivers the finished audio through Voices.com and that audio is approved as complete by their client.

Once we are given permission to release the funds, Voices.com then makes payment to the talent either by PayPal or by check in the mail, depending on your preference as stated in your profile.

Sound Like the Perfect Solution to Getting the Job Done and Getting Paid?

We believe it is, however, in a number of cases, customers using Voices.com have abused SurePay. To get straight to the point, some clients hiring talent are doing so with credit cards that do not belong to them, and are committing credit card fraud.

In a classic scenario, the customer would launch SurePay, the talent would go ahead and record, upload the files, have the files approved, and then we'd release the payment to the talent.

You might be thinking, "So far, so good, right?" The client has the files, the talent has been paid, Voices.com got their escrow fee... it's good until we discovered that some of these payments were made fraudulently and credit card purchases were brought into dispute.

To put it bluntly, we have incurred losses on both ends having already paid out talent and then having the credit card payment reversed by the credit card processor.

What We're Doing About It

In response to this activity we've identified a number of red flags that may suggest credit card fraud and a system to prevent it. This is a process, and once we suspect fraud may be imminent, we start an investigation and inform voice talent to hold off on recording until we know that it is safe to record.

There have been a number of instances where we have had to conduct investigations to prevent fraudulent transactions, and when the need to investigate becomes apparent, this does take some time.

If a payment held in trust for you via SurePay is under investigation we will notify you immediately and advise you of your next step along with ours.

Now, The Important Change:

As an effort to prevent fraud, we've lengthened the time in between SurePay payments to give us more time to investigate potential transactions where we could incur losses, keeping you safe, the person whose name is registered on the credit card safe, and keeping us safe.

SurePay payments used to be sent every Friday, however due to recent events, we are now sending payment on the 1st and 15th of each month.

* Please note that if the 1st or 15th of the month happens to fall on a weekend or holiday, we will send your payment to you the next business day.

I trust you understand why we are changing the payment schedule. If you have any comments or feedback you'd like to share, you are welcome to comment or send us an email.

Thank you for reading this and I trust that what I've shared makes sense!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Talaj

Related Topics: escrow, payment service, SurePay, voice talent, voiceovers, Voices.com


Comments


    Bravo, Voices.com! For any talent who may feel slighted by the change in pay schedule, let me share my story with a different freelance website, so you'll know the true value and protection Voices.com is providing.

    A client, after approving final files for an entire radio ad my studio produced, paid me via this freelance site. The site paid out to me, keeping their fees, and all was fine...for a month. One day I log in, and MY account is charged back the entire invoice amount, leaving me in the red. After frantic calls and limited research (this site didn't provide any direct contact information for the client when I was hired, so all I had to go by was the alias he had given me, which turned up a few clues as to other fraud he'd engaged in), I was still stuck with the whole amount, with no representation or protection from the site. It should be noted that he used a real card to pay other clients, which they refused to try to use for my invoice. No love at all for the freelancers that paid their membership fees and kept the company alive!

    Point being: an extra week for your pay is a TON better than incurring the fallout of fraud on your own, trust me. Thank you all for the work you do on behalf of voice artists to keep our industry honest and fair!!

    Posted by:

      I understand the procedure, but maybe I missed the answer to my question. Since the payment is delayed due to more research being done in every case, does it mean all jobs should be held until talent gets the "all clear" - that it's safe to record and upload files on each and every job? Would this mean that all jobs would fall into, say, a 3 day turnaround or more rather than same day turnaround?

      Posted by:

        Thanks Voices .... for lookin' out for us all. You guys ROCK.


        Ran Alan Ricard
        'don't just get Voice Over .... get Ran Over'

        Posted by:
        • Ran Alan Ricard
        • September 16, 2009 9:46 AM

          Hi Melanie,

          Thank you for commenting and for your question.

          To clarify, this does not affect every job posted that goes through SurePay, only the ones that raise red flags for us on our end when evaluating the authenticity of the client at the job posting / awarding stages. I'm going to address this in more detail in today's VOX Daily, sharing more about how we determine which jobs need to be investigated and also how you can protect yourself using similar criteria.

          Best wishes,

          Stephanie

          Posted by:

            Currently we investigate all product purchases, items purchased through the store. We also immediately flag deposits that are $500 or greater for investigation.

            Posted by:
            • Laurynda
            • September 16, 2009 12:18 PM

              Hi Stephanie & Laurynda,

              I'm absolutely mortified to read this post. I didn't know that there were people around who did that kind of thing on these reputable sites. Wow! One really has to watch out--everybody's not a good guy. Thanks for taking these precautionary steps. After all our diligent work voicing projects, we certainly don't need to be messed about with the finances and payment.

              Cheers all!

              Posted by:

                I agree----Thanks so much for looking out for everyone. It stinks that a few dishonest people can ruin it for everyone else. :(

                You guys are great!
                BRIAN

                Posted by:
                • Brian Whitaker
                • September 18, 2009 11:24 AM

                  Hello and thank you this article! I was shocked when I read about this, but recognized that there are un-scrupulous talent seekers, as well as voice-talents; who will take any short-cut to achieve their end game, no matter who it hurts. I suppose it's
                  all "being productive" , and keeping costs down in their mind! What a shame! Some people are just opportunist's at anyone's
                  expense.

                  This sort of thing goes on all the time, but interesting... the end game never seems to produce the end result that they were hoping for; something just seems to be missing. Hmmmm, interesting.

                  Posted by:
                  • Daniel Martin
                  • September 21, 2009 11:06 AM

                    The whole point to the SurePay escrow service is to help keep everyone honest -- that's why is costs 10%. Unfortunately, dishonest people have found a loophole.
                    Sounds like there is certainly a need for a change, but I'm not sure I understand how changing the payout from weekly to twice a month helps in any way. It seems that a delay in release might make more sense: If payment is released by Monday, you could still send out by Friday, but if it is released on Tuesday, you'd wait until the following Friday (or something to that effect). This way if a payment is released on the 14th, you're not having to pay the talent the next day and possibly run into the same trouble.

                    Posted by:

                      The reality is, banks can claw back fraudulent payments up to 3 months after the event (maybe longer in some countries). A due diligence check on 'new' talent seekers is prudent, however established talent seekers ought not be inconvenienced by the extra week blanket control process. You mention identifying 'red flags': why not apply the extra checks here only?

                      Posted by:
                      • Grenville Mills
                      • October 13, 2009 12:15 PM

                        I'd like to take a few moments to address a few questions that have come up as a result of our post.

                        First and foremost our job is to notify our users of any changes in procedure that will affect them. In this instance we've notified you of the change in payment schedule. What goes on behind the scenes is something that Voices.com must deal with.

                        The biggest reason for the payment schedule change is that we have so many transactions to process now. Weekly we were sending out over 100 payments, as you can understand, this takes time. Our office is very busy and it was in the best interest of our members as well as the Voices.com team to schedule payments in a bi-monthly manner which allows us to devote a day or two to just payments rather than trying to redirect our attention in multiple ways. By issuing payments bi-monthly we can also spend more time investigating the clients using our site to find and hire talent.

                        As mentioned in the Job Posting article - Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Job Posting, the steps were outlined as to how we review and approve jobs and what extra items are provided to talent so that they can use their own discretion. In particular, talent should pay attention to the About Us information. If a client has used SurePay in the past, they are likely a secure client without any bad payment history. If it is the client's first time posting or they have posted before but never used SurePay, then talent should be watching for this and should likely be requesting payment through SurePay rather than any other method.

                        I hope this information provides a bit more insight as to why the changes were made and what Voices.com is trying to do to help our users make better use of some of the additional information we are providing.

                        Laurynda Pasma
                        Product Development Manager
                        Voices.com

                        Posted by:

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