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Suspensions and keeping oDesk a safe and professional workplace for everyone

Active Member
Monica C Member Since: Jul 7, 2011
1 of 47

Hi oDeskers,


After reading through your posts on suspensions, we’d like to share the background on some recent suspension activity—the actions taken, why, and how we are improving the whole process.

Of the three million registered contractors and more than 500,000 clients on oDesk, the vast majority are hard-working, dedicated professionals. It’s our responsibility to maintain a safe and prosperous workplace for all the honest people who depend on oDesk for their livelihood. When a minority of users perform poorly, the entire community suffers. Good clients who had a bad experience leave, taking their jobs with them. And those clients tell others about their bad experience, and so on, and so on. So suspending poor performers is something we must do to maintain a high standard of workplace quality.


First, here is a quick explanation of the types of behaviors that result in suspensions and restrictions.


  • Violations of policies. Common policy violations include spamming applications, using a false identity on a profile, and claiming another person’s work as your own. Depending on the violation, we will either issue a warning or restrict a user’s activity. In most cases, restricted accounts will be reactivated when the user fixes the violation and assures us it won’t happen again. For serious cases such as fraud, the account may not be reinstated. For more details, take a look our policies pages.


  • Poor performance. Poor performance is defined as a consistent history of non-delivery of work, poor communication, or delivering work clients find unacceptable. We restrict or suspend these accounts only after determining that their poor performance is negatively impacting the overall workplace. Account reactivation is on a case-by-case basis following a full review of the user’s performance. In some cases, funds are put on hold while the account is being investigated and are released once any active contracts are successfully completed.


  • Fraudulent activity. Fraud—illegal activities like account takeovers, collusion, and coercion—is rare, but when it happens we take it very seriously. When fraud is suspected, we act quickly to protect users by halting all work and financial transactions while we investigate. Fraud is the one case in which funds may be reversed and returned to a client.

Now, onto how we’re working to improve how we handle these cases. We know that suspension mistakes have been made in the past and we haven’t always responded quickly enough or with the appropriate information. Which is why we’re committed to doing better by addressing these three areas:


  1. Faster response time
  2. Better information from our customer support team
  3. Improved education

Faster response times:

Researching suspension cases can entail a complex investigation and we have not always been able to respond in a timely manner. We apologize and are hiring and training customer support staff as quickly as possible in order to speed up our response times.


Better information:

We are also working to improve the information we provide to make it more clear about what triggered the suspension, the specific policy that was violated, and what needs to be done to address the suspension. We now have a specialized team responding to suspension tickets. This team is specifically trained for support and will ensure the communication on ticket status is clear and helpful. (Please note that when fraud is involved we may not be able to share all details, as these details could be part of an ongoing investigation.)


Improved education:

Our policies and guidelines are being revised to be more visible, clear and understandable, so that well-meaning contractors don’t get suspended for honest mistakes. This improved educational material will be updated on the site by early April. Your feedback has played a vital role in helping us understand what we need to do better. As we continue to make improvements, thanks for your time, understanding, and continued feedback.


All the best,

The oDesk Crew

Active Member
Exp U Member Since: Oct 29, 2014
2 of 47
Thanks for listening. Might I also suggest that -instead of having to go in through the 'front door' of support- suspended account-holders get an address to drill straight through to the team/people responsible...this will save everybody a lot of time.
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
3 of 47
Thank you oDesk! It's fantastic to see that "you" are listening to your contractors and are putting in place measures to improve matters for those unfortunate few who do find themselves in trouble. I think we all understand that such cases are rare, and the exception. It's just that for those who ARE affected, it must be such a terrifying experience, which is what led us to ask for a response in the first place! I also like the open and direct tone of the response. Those of us who may have expected some wishy-washy non-response have been well and truly proved wrong on this occasion. Well done! Furthermore I second Darren's suggestion. If suspended account holders could go straight through to their "own" fully trained "case manager" that would cut down on wasted support time (and therefor money) and improve the process further. I am impressed with this response!
Ace Contributor
Waqas T Member Since: Feb 7, 2011
4 of 47
I think that has been covered, "We now have a specialized team responding to suspension tickets." Thank you oDesk for listening!
Active Member
Exp U Member Since: Oct 29, 2014
5 of 47
"Specialised team" doesn't necessarily mean that you can get straight through to them. If you have to go through support and then get escalated to the right person, then that adds an extra step and is wasteful. If you include -for example- an email address of the "case manager" with the suspension notice, the suspended person can go straight through to the right person...meanwhile that leaves the frontline support free to get on with supporty things.
Community Guru
Junelle A Member Since: May 31, 2009
6 of 47
i agree with Darren, there should be a separate "process" for suspensions - they are, after all, "special cases". with regards oDesk's latest response to the current issue, i find this better than the "feel good" reply that i was expecting - looks like oDesk took the time to elaborate. good job!
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
Try harder, or care less.
Active Member
Robin C Member Since: Jan 10, 2012
7 of 47

Petra R.:


"I also like the open and direct tone of the response. Those of us who may have expected some wishy-washy non-response have been well and truly proved wrong on this occasion. Well done!"


Yes, the tone and content of the response is spot on!! Excellent move oDesk!

Community Guru
Md Rahatur R Member Since: Apr 17, 2013
8 of 47
When we say "rare and the exception" we still talk about people, real people. They are human too. What can be more pathetic and sad than getting a successful profile suspended in the name of Improvement. We are talking about career/lives of real people here.
Community Guru
Bojana D Member Since: May 2, 2011
9 of 47
Great to see that you guys are paying attention to our concerns. I agree with Darren, perhaps forwarding suspended accounts and all communication about them straight to the people who are dealing with the suspension will save a lot of time and nerves - no point in going through support if they don't have the answers.
Active Member
Robin C Member Since: Jan 10, 2012
10 of 47
the contractor should be notified as the action is being taken on the account, instead of leaving it for the contractor to haphazardly discover the suspension. For many of the common reasons (not concerning fraud) it would be optimal if that initial email included as much information as possible, especially the proper contacts and steps to take (it seems that much of this could be automated, after all. For some common situations, that is. Obviously, not all). Communication on something like this should not start via the contractor contacting support upon discovering the issue. Communication should start at the time of suspension and come from the proper (apparently new) oDesk team. Overall, though, this response from oDesk is worthy of applause. Smiley Happy