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Can I collect a deposit for requirements gathering?

By jsresume ·
I'm an independent database consultant, and sometimes get requests from potential clients to build a new database from the ground up. Many times the client has not created a requirements document of their needs and I must spend several days gathering his requirements thru phone conversations and email before I can come up with a cost estimate. Often times I never hear from the client again after the cost estimate is presented. Is it reasonable to ask for a deposit up front for my time spent obtaining his requirements? I will, of course, apply the deposit to the total cost of the project or keep the deposit if I don't get the project.

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