Part of DepList's appeal for non-member advertisers is being able to post an emergency advertisement at very short notice. Invoicing and payment can be dealt with later. The most important thing is to find a dep quickly with minimum fuss. Until today, advertisers would fill in a form detailing their requirements, I would then forward it to members, and the job vacancy would be filled within minutes. At some point I would send the advertisers an invoice, and when the payments came in I would enter them in my "income ledger". This morning I looked through my database to check for outstanding invoices. I don't do this exercise very often and I got a shock. I expected more honesty from those in our line of business.
Regrettably, the payment part of the deal has, in far too many cases, not been honoured by advertisers. My database is full of unpaid invoices! Perhaps advertisers think that for the sake of two quid, it's not worth all the hassle of payment. But I could easily say the same thing! Let us suppose I charge my time at £15/hour. To check for missing payments, confirm the omission in my bank records, double-check that I haven't made a filing or record-keeping error and then send a payment reminder takes time, and 10 minutes of such admin work soon pass by. Ten minutes of my time works out as £2.50, so there's little incentive to chase up the invoiced amount of £2, which, once PayPal's commission and HMRC's tax have been deducted leave me with about £1.39 to put in my pocket. If fee collection is such a hassle, why not just automate the whole thing and let the adverts go out free? Because then I'd have to raise the subscription fees beyond what most members would be prepared to pay. The whole idea behind external advertising is to generate more work for members and to help pay for the maintenance of this site. There's a huge amount of work involved in running this service, as well as financial outlays for software, domain name and server space, and it's disappointing that some people want to enjoy its benefits without being prepared to pay even a token amount for the privilege. There is only so much that I am willing to subsidise.
So from today I shall be accepting only pre-paid advertisements (with the exception of our free trial ad for first-time users). This will be less convenient for advertisers, and no doubt the number of adverts passing through will go down, but it can't be helped. The solution for advertisers who want convenience is to join as Associate Members.