It was a helluva question. It arrived in my inbox, looking perfectly innocent. But this was a situation I’d never been asked about before – and solving this guy’s problem was going to take some serious thinking.
“Help me out,” he wrote. “What do I do if I turn up to a booking and the lady doesn’t look like her photos? Am I allowed to walk away?”
It’s a common fear in this industry, especially among guys who see our work as less reputable than your average white-collar office job. They fear the old ‘bait and switch’ routine, where they book someone only to discover that the person who turns up isn’t the person they saw in the advertisement. When this happens with online dating, it’s called ‘catfishing.’ when it happens during escort bookings … well, I’d call it improbable. Think about it: if I don’t describe myself accurately in my ads, I’m going to lose business as soon as clients see me in person. Sex work is the type of job that relies on repeat business, so it’s simply not good business practice to misrepresent myself. I reckon that the number of people who are worried about being catfished is much, much higher than the number of people engaging in shady business practices.
It’s true, though, that there are several reasons a client might turn up and not want to proceed with the booking. If you arrive and find that you don’t click with your escort, it might be tempting to call the whole thing off. They might not be exactly what you imagined. Similarly, an attack of nerves is responsible for many a last-minute cancellation.
I’m an enthusiastic champion of consent. I believe that anyone should have the right to walk away from a situation in which they feel uncomfortable. This applies to clients as well as workers. So if you feel anxious or uncomfortable, you have the right to end the booking, regardless of whether you’ve just arrived or whether you’re halfway through. But no matter when or why you walk away, you are always obligated to pay your escort.
Independent escorts are small businesspeople. It can be a tough way to make a living – I never know when my next job is coming along, and if I don’t budget carefully then there’s very possibility that I might have trouble paying my bills every month. When I set time aside to see a client, I may have to turn down other bookings for the same day or time. So a walk-out (when a client arrives for the booking but leaves before paying) can be devastating. It’s never okay to arrange a booking and stand an escort up, or to arrive and then leave without paying. Once the session is booked, many escorts will hold you liable for a cancellation fee. And once you turn up, you need to pay, regardless of what ends up happening.
It’s like any other service business. If you turn up for an appointment with your physiotherapist but then decide you’ve changed your mind and don’t want the session, you’ll still be asked to pay. This is because your service provider has set aside time for you and turned down other clients. Escorting is no different.
So how do we avoid awkward situations and expensive mistakes? My recommendation: do your due diligence.
When it comes to seeing sex workers, independent escorts are a great option simply because there’s generally so much information available. Once you find someone you’d like to see, it’s possible to do a lot of background research. Checking out an escort’s website can give you information on services, a wealth of images, and a lot of useful clues as to their personality and professionalism. Following someone hot on Twitter is a great way to evaluate their character – do they seem positive and professional? Twitter is also useful for selfies and day-to-day updates that allow you to see the person behind the advertising; you can feel more confident that they present themselves honestly.
I know what it’s like to see someone hot online; it can be tempting to want to rush in and hope for the best. But I’d always encourage you to do your research first, because although you don’t have to stay with an escort you don’t like, you do have to pay our fee. Doing your due diligence will give you confidence and improve your chances of a good match.