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Re: Complaint: Upwork blocks communication beween clients and potential freelancers

Active Member
Ashley N Member Since: Jan 7, 2016
1 of 16

I used Elance in the past and never had any problems. With Upwork, not only is it not user friendly or intuitive, I have read nothing but negative reviews from other users on the net. So, with that in mind, I write this post to help Upwork improve. 


On Elance, before choosing a freelancer, the client had the opportunity to communicate with freelancers who made proposals. This was key to the hiring process as it allowed the client to ask freelancers to clarify any proposals, provide more specific information, request more samples of work, etc. It also gave the freelancer the freedom to ask the client for any necessary clarifications, talk deadline flexibility, etc. 


Unfortunately, Upwork has implemented a communication black-out and does not allow for this kind of communciation at all. Thus, Upwork has completely thwarted the hiring process. With Upwork, you cannot communicate with a freelancer until after you have proposed to hire that person AND he/she has accepted. But how do you know if you want to hire someone if you cannot communciate about the important details mentioned in the last paragraph above? 


I thought Upwork's communication black out couldn't be true, so I contacted Upwork's help line yesterday and Mark Anthony confirmed that this is indeed the way the system is set up. He writes, "'(05:07:08 PM) Mark Anthony:' It is by designed of our system that you will be able to get a chance to communicate to a freelancer who has a pending offer when he accepts the job offer you sent. I am sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you."



This also causes another real problem and hits home to me right now. I offered to hire a freelancer 6 days ago, and he still has not responded. Tomorrow was the original deadline date I provided. I have worked with him before and so would have liked to have contacted him to see if something came up or what is going on. But I cannot. Upwork has blocked any client/freelancer communication. 


Mark Anthony said that I should lodge my complaint on this forum.


Upwork, please allow the client to conduct well-informed and educated hiring. Otherwise, there really is no point to using your system. I look forward to your response.  

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
2 of 16

I don't understand. What is keeping you from talking with a freelancer before you hire? I do it all the time with clients.

Community Guru
Chris M Member Since: May 6, 2015
3 of 16

@Ashley N wrote:

... ...With Upwork, you cannot communicate with a freelancer until after you have proposed to hire that person AND he/she has accepted.



Hi Ashley,

I'm a freelancer,  after sending a proposal I often get messages from the client before any offer is made or any proposal has been accepted by the Client.


So clients CAN contact the applicant. I don't understand why your communication is blocked.


The thing I would like changing is for the applicant to be able to amend their proposal after sending - as is the case on Elance.



Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 16

Ashley, that is a misunderstanding.


you can discuss things with the freelancers to your heart's content before you send an offer to hire, it is the interview process.


do you mean people you invite, or people who apply for one of your jobs?

Active Member
David F Member Since: Jul 8, 2019
5 of 16

NO you can't! I just saw the same thing. ALL COMMUNICATION channels to ask anything is gone! I will NOT be using upwork

Community Manager
Valeria K Community Manager Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
6 of 16

Sorry about the confusion, Ashley.


You certainly can communicate with the freelancer before he accepts the offer and even before the offer is sent. The simplest way would be to go to your Messages tab, click on the name of the freelancer and send a message.


I'll follow up with our Customer Support team leads about the response that was given to you via the ticket.


Thank you.

~ Valeria
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
7 of 16

The original poster's comments may indicate unfamiliarity with the Upwork interface, but the comments touch upon one of the biggest problems on Upwork:


There is far, far too much communication between contractors and prospective clients.


Too often clients start talking to a contractor about a job and they just keep going back and forth with emails and messages and Skype or phone discussions, discussing the project, how to best do things, asking for concrete implementation ideas or even sample work.


It happens far too often and it is entirely inappropriate and unprofessional.


On another thread, a newbie contractor described spending about 8 hours in interview processes, and then she didn't even get hired.


Contractors need to understand that their time is valuable and their expertise has value, and clients should be paying for time.


It is fine for a client to interview me to verify that I am who I say I am, and that I know what I'm talking about.


But then when we start talking about your project, you're getting me to work on your behalf. Contractors need to learn to politely explain we're getting into actual discussion of the project now, and it is time to start a contract or choose a different contractor.


Clients need to be responsible and stop these excessive "interviews," which aren't really interviews, and simply tell contractors: "I can tell you have the expertise I'm looking for. I'm sending you a contract offer now. After you have accepted that, we'll get down to details of how we'll work on this project."

Active Member
James M Member Since: Jun 15, 2015
8 of 16



 You've given us a couple of hundred words and your solution -- one that could actually be implemented -- is what?


 Why should clients stop the endless interviews and trolling for free advice or suggestions if they can get away with it?


 It's up to freelancers to say to prospetive clients: you have enough information to evaluate my abilities, now fund escrow, and hire me or move on.


Maybe you could start an Upwork University tutoring clients and freelancers on how to be professional.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 16

James, you're 100% correct.


Despite my call for clients to act professionally in this matter, it ultimately is up to the contractors to do so.


And yeah, I've been clamoring for better training for contractors for over a year now, in many threads, including the one titled "Introducing: oDesk Quality Training."

Community Leader
Ivan S Member Since: Oct 24, 2015
10 of 16

Preston, I would generally agree with you if we are talking about smaller jobs (like those typically done by newbies) or highly-specialized jobs (like those that you do).

In my field, financial analysis and modelling, when price of choosing wrong contractor is very high (ultimately inability to raise financing to move your company forward or wrong investment) particularly compared to the price paid to contractors, it is quite understandable that clients spend a lot of time interviewing potential contractors. The same happens in real life - the crazy 80-100 hours a week pulled by IB analysts and associates are mostly spent on pitch decks that go straight to bins. Broadly similar thing is happening in management consulting (though there there is a lot more waste happening once the project gets started). Now, because I have a lot of experience and most of my clients are not overburdened with bureaucracy, I can cut pitching time by a factor of 10, but still there is a lot dancing arround clients.