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:
- Faster response time
- Better information from our customer support team
- 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.
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.)
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
Try harder, or care less.
"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!