"What can I do if I've been treated unfairly?"
Questions

"What can I do if I've been treated unfairly?"

Georgie Wolf
Georgie Wolf
How should I deal with a sex worker who has taken my money and is now ignoring me?

A sex worker who I have known for 10 years took a deposit from me for a booking but the proposed meeting never happened. They went radio silent on me in the week running up to it and I've had no response to my email to them asking for my money back. They are still active on social media and sites like OnlyFans from what I can see, but for some reason they have decided to ignore me.

If they had changed their mind about wanting to see me that is okay, and I would always respect that choice but I would just like my money back.

First things first: I'm sorry you've had such a disappointing experience. Seeing a sex worker can be a very nerve-wracking endeavour, and it's awful to feel let down.

I have a lot to say about this, but there's one thing you need to know - I'm not going to judge or condemn other providers, because I can't mediate a dispute that I'm not involved in.

Providers may go silent on clients for all kinds of reasons - particularly if they feel unsafe around you or are worried you might be involved with law enforcement. Safety always comes first! Of course, I'm not suggesting you've done anything wrong. There are also many other possible causes for a 'sudden disappearance' - personal troubles, legal issues, illness, miscommunication...although lack of professionalism might seem like the obvious explanation, it's hard to know for sure.

Although I can't pass judgement on this particular situation, I'll try to give you a bit of background on the issue, and make some suggestions for what you can do next.

None of this is legal advice, obviously! So please also seek advice from any other sources that are relevant, such as your local consumer law organisation.

Hands-on sex work operates very much like any other kind of service-based business.

I'm wary when people say, 'most sex workers are scammers', or, 'sex workers just want to take your money'. It's just not true.

Even though a lot of non-industry folks see us as untrustworthy, my experience is that most sex workers just want to make a living. We need to provide a good service and treat you fairly, so you'll become a regular customer.

With one significant exception, escorting and other kinds of hands-on sex work operate like any other kind of small business. Similarly to choosing someone to renovate your house, babysit your kids, or cater your birthday party, you're going to meet people with various levels of professionalism, and it's your job to make sure they're legitimate (or choose to take the risk).

Luckily, it sounds like you have a realistic attitude. You're not blaming sex work in general - you simply feel let down by this specific person. Thanks for not playing into the stereotype! Now, let's talk about what you can do next.

It sucks to be in this situation, and I empathise with your disappointment.

Unfortunately, if you're in a place where sex work is criminalised or heavily stigmatised, resolving disputes can be complicated. What you can do about this is going to depend very much on the legal situation, and how comfortable you are admitting that you're a client of sex workers.

If you're in a place where sex work is allowed and you're okay with talking about the issue, you have the same rights as when paying for any other product or service. Contact your local consumer advocacy organisation to get an idea of your options.

Unfortunately, if you're in a place where sex work is criminalised - or if you feel you can't be honest about seeing sex workers - your options are limited. It's hard to lodge a complaint when you're engaging in behaviour that's prohibited!

In this latter situation, there's no cure - there's only prevention. You'll need to write off your money as a poor investment, and move on.

It might feel tempting to blast that person on social media, or leave a bad review...but, honestly, sex workers get this kind of treatment all the time from clients they've declined to see (for very legitimate reasons), or who have treated us disrespectfully. If you get mad and make a scene, most folks will simply assume you're an 'ugly mug' - and other workers might start avoiding you, too.

So the classy response - and the one that will give you the best chance at future bookings with other providers - is to swallow your pride, try not to take it too personally, and simply avoid that worker in future.

This is why we need decrim.

When sex work is criminalised (and stigmatised) it becomes difficult for anyone to be open about difficult situations like this. Your worker might be afraid for their safety or livelihood, and you might be afraid of losing your hard-earned cash. But fair treatment under the law will be impossible for both of you.

As hands-on sex work becomes more normalised and the law catches up with our rights, both workers and their clients will get have more protection. Consumer law, anti-discrimination law and being able to speak about this stuff without fear will mean we can truly treat sex work the same way as any other kind of service business.

So...let's talk about avoiding this.

As I said earlier, disappointing experiences like this aren't necessarily about sex work. As with any kind of small-owner-operated business, you're going to come across all kinds of people...and disagreements can certainly arise.

The best cure is prevention. Although there's no failsafe way to know if a provider will treat you with the level of professionalism you require, there are plenty of things you can do to minimise your risk.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make sure you're 100% across sex work etiquette before you book - especially the stuff about safety. You don't want to accidentally scare your worker, make them think you're affiliated with law enforcement, or give them a bad vibe...this could potentially cause them to disappear. A sex worker will always put safety first.
  • Do your research to ensure they're professional. How long have they been in the industry? What are they like on social media such as Twitter? Do they have reviews or testimonials? It might feel tempting to take a punt on someone on the spur of the moment, but it's not recommended.
  • Check out their refund and cancellation policies before booking. Many independent sex workers will list these policies on their ads or website. They may say something like, 'I don't refund deposits, only transfer them to another booking' or, 'no refunds if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice'. A worker who has a clear cancellation policy - even if it's strict - might be a safer bet than someone who doesn't specify their policy at all.
  • Be very clear in your communications. When you get in touch, be honest about what you want. You may not be able to talk about sex if you're in a place where our work is criminalised, but be sure to at least give all the specifics of when and where you'd like to meet, as well as some information about yourself. Follow you worker' screening instructions during the booking process, and advise them if you're not sure what you're agreeing to, so they can clarify the nature of the exchange.
  • Invest small to start. It's not always necessary to spend big on sex workers! Planning a smaller encounter such as a chat online or a short social meeting is a great way to gauge someone's professionalism without risking a huge wad of cash. Putting down a fee for a coffee date is going to feel a lot less nerve-wracking than handing over the money for a 3-hour session with a stranger.

When it comes to sex, everything is a learning experience...but prevention is better than cure.

Hard life lessons aren't always fun, or fair. If you feel you've been poorly treated, it's understandable to be disappointed.

But at the end of the day, we don't have control over the behaviour of others. All we have the power to do is say, 'What could I do differently next time?'

Having a process to make sure your chosen worker is professional can help minimise these kinds of issues. This will mean increased confidence, less angst, and a better bang for your buck.