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Re: Closing Fixed Price contracts with no activity

Active Member
Raul D Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
51 of 96

Hi there,

 

I am a regular client here on Upwork (formerly Odesk). 

 

For more than 2 years now.

 

I had hired freelancers for my company within about 200 contracts, on different kind of missions, some short, some long, some cheap, some expensive..  with very different results in the end.

 

Yet I represent a very small company.

 

My experience is that for some clients  76 days is nothing.

 

We have projects that need more than 76 days to be finished properly.

 

Upwork's defintion for inactivity means nothing to me :

 

"An inactive project is one that has had no payments, no bonuses, no time logged, and no milestones due"

 

Especially on a fixed price contracts.

 

I think I could define myself what is in inactive contract for me.

I think I am old enough to know when a contract need to be closed.

I think the least you can do is to warn me before closing a contract for supposed "inactivity"

 

 

I was on holidays this last week. When I went back today, I had the surprise to see that 3 of the 9 contracts I had with freelancers had been closed automatically by Upwork without any warning. I have not received any notification and did not get any delay.

 

I understood that the freelancers on their side were asked to agree refunds or to dispute within 14 days (in July).

 

All 3 freelancers asked me for some reason why I supposedly closed their contracts and asked for refund of my escrow.

 

I spend some time to understand where all this came from and to solve this problem so we can restart the work on a good basis. I had to explain them what was at stake here.

 

This is not building trust.

 

I have read some of the replies of freelancers here (to understand their point of view as freelancers) and I am shocked to discover the consequences that such an unilaterral decision can have on their business and lifes.

 

Why are you trying to kill your assets as a company ?

 

Can't you get back to the "formerly Odesk" stuff - which certainly has it drawbacks but was not upsetting me every 2 "upgrades" ?

 

 

 

 

Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
52 of 96

Raul, there are a couple of parts of your post that I hope I misunderstood:

1. "All 3 freelancers asked me for some reason why I supposedly closed their contracts and asked for refund of my escrow."

- Are you saying that Upwork asked your freelancers for a refund on your behalf, WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION?

2. "I was on holidays this last week. When I went back today, I had the surprise to see that 3 of the 9 contracts I had with freelancers had been closed automatically by Upwork without any warning. I have not received any notification and did not get any delay."

- So you got no warning or email from Upwork asking you to close the contracts? Despite Garnor stating:

"- After 76 days of inactivity, Upwork will notify clients, advising them to re-engage on their project or mark the project as complete. 

- If after one week there has been no activity, we will again notify the clients with the same request."

Active Member
Raul D Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
53 of 96

Isabelle,

 

Sorry English is not my first language so I could easily produce some sentences that are not clear enough.

 

 

- "Are you saying that Upwork asked your freelancers for a refund on your behalf, WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION?"

 

Not exactly. One a the freelancer thought she has to give back money she did not received.

What I understood from them is that they had to give a reponse to Upwork about the fact I asked for refund of escrow.. which I didn't because contracts closed automatically.

 

One of the message they received : Raul DEL MEIDA has requested return of funds from escrow. Please approve or dispute this request within 6 day(s).Raul DEL MEIDA has requested return of funds from escrow. Please approve or dispute this request within voici le texte du message : Raul DEL MEIDA has requested return of funds from escrow. Please approve or dispute this request within 6 day(s).Raul DEL MEIDA has requested return of funds from escrow. Please approve or dispute this request within voici le texte du message : Raul DEL MEIDA has requested return of funds from escrow. Please approve or dispute this request within 6 day(s).

 

I didn't give any permission for closing theses contracts nor asking for refunds of escrow. I had to reopen contracts or manage disputes.

 

Such emails could be very damaging for the client reputation. For some freelancers, it may have looked like I was closing the job and asking for refund without any warning while I was fully satisfied with the work going on. In fact,as if I was trying to scam them.

 

 

- "So you got no warning or email from Upwork asking you to close the contracts? Despite Garnor stating:..;"

 

Exactly. Maybe now they do warn clients and Garnor procedure is now effective. But I did not get any mail or warning. They ended several contracts some with escrow on july the 20th.

 

Anyway, one week is a very short time to react for some businesses. Especially when you are in holidays.

 

 

 

Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
54 of 96

Raul, no problem - your English made sense to me!

 

The fact that they received refund messages without you requesting for a refund is crazy. It reflects badly on you and makes freelancers panic too. And I can't believe that you didn't receive any warning notifications, because then this system is much, much worse than we thought.

 

I hope you and your freelancers manage to sort this out!

Highlighted
Active Member
Marina O Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
55 of 96

I have a number of clients - small companies that consider me their 'writer on demand." They contact me when they need something written, fund the escrow for that job and we keep it open until they need something else. I consider them my long-term clients even if there is no activity (they do not need anything written) for months. Why would that bother anyone? We established a long-term relationship, we suit each other and they know who to contact when needed. Since I came from Elance, that means that I will bring those clients with me. But, would they come if they have to create a new job every time they need a quick update to their website or a few new products descriptions? It is not much money, but it is life for those people and I would like to keep them. And so should Upwork.

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
56 of 96

@Marina O wrote:

I have a number of clients - small companies that consider me their 'writer on demand." They contact me when they need something written, fund the escrow for that job and we keep it open until they need something else. I consider them my long-term clients even if there is no activity (they do not need anything written) for months. Why would that bother anyone? We established a long-term relationship, we suit each other and they know who to contact when needed. Since I came from Elance, that means that I will bring those clients with me. But, would they come if they have to create a new job every time they need a quick update to their website or a few new products descriptions? It is not much money, but it is life for those people and I would like to keep them. And so should Upwork.


Marina,

 

One of the rationales Upwork has offered for wanting "inactive" contracts to close within 90 days—and thanks to them for finally quantifying their expectation—is to help with their escrow management, so they are not left holding cash that is really a liability rather than an asset.

 

With my client who sends me intermittent work, I've alerted him that we should close inactive contracts quarterly, or arrange for some activity on them. Thinking in terms of quarters may help take some of the burden out of the oversight Upwork expects us to exercise on these contracts.

 

Another possibility might be to propose payment of a quarterly retainer. If the work is predictable enough, this could be based on an estimate of work to be done in the quarter; cashout could be adjusted by either addition of milestones, or "credit" issued via price adjustment the following quarter. If the work is not that predictable, perhaps  clients might not mind a token payment quarterly, or simply resign themselves to the labor overhead of setting up on-demand jobs...well, you know, on-demand.

 

I'm largely just thinking out loud here, as I'm still working with my clients on Elance, and intend to do so until they turn out the lights. Others with more Upwork experience and knowledge may come along to comment on the pros and cons of these ideas.

 

Best,

Michael

Active Member
Marissa W Member Since: Jun 24, 2015
57 of 96

Hi Upwork team!

 

I'm not sure where to post this, but I just wanted to say that I'm really happy to see the star rating average back on my profile. It's also really helpful to have the font change color again for job listings that I have clicked on.

 

Thank you!

Ace Contributor
Stephen D Member Since: Aug 25, 2015
58 of 96

Counted negatively towards JSS: Projects that remain on your profile without any activity towards them can be counted negatively towards your JSS. This happens when the project starts but nothing happens (i.e. no payments).

 

 

So, when a client hires me, but never provides missing data to perform the job, ignores my reminders, I am going to get punished. And when the contractor does not pay, I get punished as well. Interesting concept. Well, easy solution. I just cancel the contract. Oh, wait! I am going to be punished for that too. You must be out of your mind!

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
59 of 96

Stephen, there ARE ways around the dilemma you describe.

 

If a client hires you to do a fixed-price job, do not click the accept button until they have provided you the data you need to do the job.

 

If you are hired to do an hourly project, just make sure you bill at least ten minutes of work, no matter what. That way you will never have jobs you are hired for but don't have any earnings for.

 

If a client does not provide you with the data you need, you can bill at least ten minutes asking him for the data, setting up your work environment, setting up a dedicated directory or development server for the project, describing what you will do on the project, documenting your discussions with the client, outlining a plan for what you will do once you get the data.

 

If a client takes up your time with a proposal, interview and the hiring process, it is reasonable that he be billed at least ten minutes, no matter how much data he ends up sending you.

Active Member
Sergei F Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
60 of 96

Hello.

I have 4 ongoing projects with no activity about 6 month.

My clients are doesn't reply.

We finished all successfully, but projects are still in progress.

Now I can't to get my "Top Rated" bage, cause have only 87% of job success.

Can I close that projects without clients?

Thank you.