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We're a cleaning services marketplace, right now we're charging the customer before their first service to ensure that they do have the money available, and after that, all the upcoming services are charged after.

This works and most of them receive the services without any issue. The problem comes whenever a cleaner doesn't show up, this very few cases have a lot of impact in social media since they use words as "fraud" or "scam".

So the question is if it's worth to charge before the work is done or if there is any documented work on this.

  • How often is it that your customers don't have money after the cleaning service has finished their work? In my experience, this seems fairly rare, and if it does happen, you can hold them to it by telling them "our terms of services explicitly says that you have to pay within X days or else we can take you to court" or which ever method you guys have to have someone pay on time after the work is done. – Majo0od Apr 14 '17 at 17:06
  • I believe it's ok to charge before the work is done. For example, if you book an Airbnb, you pay the room/house before arriving. Now, what you can do to prevent this is to have a cancelation policy (like mentioned by Airbnb here: airbnb.com/help/article/309/…) – Joao Carvalho May 15 '17 at 6:36
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    Nope, always charge after, pre-payment may indicate quality issues in that the contractor has issues collecting pay after they've done their shoddy work. Speaking purely from experience, it's a matter of preference for the vendor, but I'll say this:: Charge me after and I'll consider hiring the cleaning service, charge before and I move on to one that'll charge me after to provide myself quality assurance as I'm the one paying. – RandomUs1r Sep 11 '17 at 22:32
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Perhaps you could work with your merchant services to place a "hold" amount on the account to verify authorization. You'll need to be very clear with the user that the charge happens after the service is completed. Otherwise, the charge falls off. This is a fairly common method for US-based companies, but you'll need to consult your local legalities for more information.

More info at Authorization holds (Wikipedia).

  • hold or charge, customers don't know/care about the difference. for them it's money they don't have anymore to spend. – Bobby Tables Mar 16 '17 at 7:46
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You could have a wallet within your site, that users pay into, and then services are taken out of. That way the user can see that the money is still 'in' their account, and you can hold the amount so that you are guaranteed payment.

This does rely on the users seeing the scam as being scammed on your site, rather than by your site, and in some countries you may have to be careful to not be defined as a bank or have to comply with money laundering regulations.

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You could look it at a different angle: what can you do to assure that the client won't be "scammed"? What assurances you give him?

Maybe if you deal with this possibility before it happens (FAQs, warning or even something you could call "ensurance") could minimize the impact to the client and your bad image in social media.

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