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40e74086
Community Member

DISPUTE and Supporting a Scammer!

I require contact information for the corporate office to file a complaint. I am currently in a dispute with a freelancer who was hired to complete a project that they lacked the necessary skills for, and who fraudulently coerced me into an hourly work arrangement. Despite having paid the freelancer, I did not receive the required work. Upwork refunded me $11 out of a total of $500. Had I not stopped the contract prior to discovering the fraud, this individual could have taken $2500 from me for no reason. This experience leads me to question the safety of hourly contracts and the legitimacy of this platform. Furthermore, this particular freelancer has been reported by other clients as a scammer. I find it unacceptable that Upwork's dispute team supported this individual. As a paying customer, I have certain rights, and I demand full satisfaction, including a complete refund from the freelancer, and their suspension from the platform. I will give Upwork two days to respond before engaging legal counsel to escalate the matter further. Please help me that i dont have to make this step. 

 

Thanks for your answer and help. 

 

Informations: 
hourly contract total 2500$ - Paid out 500$ 

Not recieving the work and got nothing

He wasted time just to put as much money as he could out from the contract

 

28 REPLIES 28
prestonhunter
Community Member

(I do not work for Upwork. These are my opinions:)


Mijo, it sounds to me like the freelancer you hired desired money.

And he achieved his goal, didn't he?

 

And it sounds like you wanted a project created, but you have NOT achieved your goal. Correct?

So, by definition, you have been unsuccessful in how you have used Upwork.

 

I know that you must be feeling very disappointed right now.

But the key to success in using this platform is to learn how to use it effectively.

 

I have hired over 180 freelancers on Upwork. I can assure you that it is possible for a client to use the platform to achieve his goals.

 

You need to decide if you want to pursue your goals, which IS POSSIBLE, or if you want to spend your time making threats and "demanding" things. It is unlikely that coming here and making demands, without trying to understand what your actual options are, will yield results.

 

If I'm reading your post correctly, it sounds like you are concerned about $500 that you paid to a freelancer, through an hourly contract. A key thing to understand is that hourly contracts pay based on time logged, not based on any particular deliverable. As I client, I use hourly contracts almost exclusively, as they are the best way for me to achieve my goals. But they need to be used effectively, which you can learn to do.

 

You can read more about where you can turn for help here:

https://community.upwork.com/t5/Clients/problem-solve-here-no-FTC-BBC-FBI-PD-etc/m-p/678783

Thank you for your reply and opinion on this,

 

I guess I was a little too hasty in posting this, as I didn't realize the complaint wasn't quite over. I am in contact with support and still have a chance or hope to get the money back. Update to follow....

 

I too am not a newbie to Upwork, however I worked exclusively on a Fixed Price basis. Since this freelancer literally begged me to do an hourly contract with him, I thought "ok what will go wrong??" Not knowing that this was a big mistake.

In my opinion, you have to be EXTREM careful to sign hourly contracts with freelancers because it doesn't seem to matter if the project is completed successfully or not, it doesn't even seem to matter if the freelancer has the promised skills or not. In the end you can be left without money and without a project. (but as I said, maybe there is still a chance for me to get my hard earned money back and not to pay this scammer, I am curious what will happen).

 

I agree, there is work that can be tracked and reviewed well with the help of hourly contracts. It should also be noted that there are a lot of scammers on Upwork.

Not all of us have your experience and knowledge, so I think it's important to give everyone who gets caught in a scammer's trap some information here about what options and possibilities are left if you get into such a situation.

I have certainly learned from this mistake, but it does not help me, because my money is still not refunded, no matter how much it is, whether $500 or $50, this is active fraud with the help of hourly contracts that these scammers use to steal money.

Not everyone is familiar with the work they are asking a freelancer to do, and this is exploited even with "tracking" it doesn't matter, because as a customer you hope to complete the agreed project with the assurance that the freelancer can do it and has the skills to do it. If it turns out after 40 hours that the freelancer could not complete anything or only a part and not the entire project, and even the one part was not good or complete but the entire money was "used up" and you are now without a project and without money, I think the support must intervene and block the freelancer's payment and give a refund.

 

But its my opinion, and i hope this case will get solved in a good way....

 

Best wishes with your refund.
Hourly contracts are not that bad - perhaps next time set a limit on the hours for a certain task just as you do with milestone contracts. 

Mijo, I am replying to you as a freelancer.

 

Fixed contracts provide no protection for the freelancer. So, freelancers are just as exposed to scams through fixed contracts. There is a sad amount of examples for this. Recently, there was an example where a client paid a 4-figure amount to a freelancer with a credit card. Then there was a chargeback filled and the freelancer was required to reimburse that amount. No further information was given, but we assume that the credit card was stolen and the rightful owner of the card filled the chargeback. So you see, fixed contracts are extremely risky for freelancers. I personally only work on fixed contracts only for clients with many of them completed and good feedback or past customers.

 

Furthermore, in an hourly contract, you can see actual screenshots of the freelancer working. I understand that to get a project, document, or design done you are hiring a freelancer because you lack the skills to do it yourself. But you should know what you expect to receive. If you do not even know what you expect to receive, you should not start a contract, hourly or otherwise. Instead, you should research the project a bit more.

 

And if you are reviewing the screenshots at the end of the day or every two days and you do not see the expected progress towards the goal you had in mind, reach out to the freelancer and ask. That is how the professional world works. A manager cannot do every job of all of the employees under him. But he does practice oversight based on what he expects of them.

 

Now, if you did not know what to expect from the completion of the project, and did not practice oversight of the freelancer you hired... What can I tell you... Hiring a freelancer does not mean that you walk out and go for a coffee.

Fixed contracts provide no protection for the freelancer. So, freelancers are just as exposed to scams

 

 

I use only fixed price contracts and have never had an issue. I do this throughout platforms and privately. An hourly tracker is not conducive to my line of work. There is some "protection" with fixed price jobs. I get paid whether my client takes off never to be seen or forgets about the job once they have the material in their hands. I understand how the platform works, and how to go about vetting jobs and clients. For anyone who isn't comfortable making those decisions, hourly may be a better option.

 

Neither way is a guaranteed of payment in some situations. If a chargeback is filed, the only hope is evidence from the tracker that work was done. Unfortunately, as more than a few scammed freelancers can attest, Upwork has a way of eliminating hours because of too few mouse movements or keyboard strokes, and not having enough memos.

 

The truth is that freelancers have to assume every client is a scammer until proven otherwise. It only takes a few steps to help ensure legitimate jobs. Ask for a meeting, and that alone usually gets them running away. The few times I have encountered a potential scammer, I ask for a Zoom meeting, and they disappear, never to be heard from again. Check the time stamp - does it match their stated location?

 

When using the hourly tracker, learn everything before you start work. It isn't just a matter of turning it on. If not used absolutely correctly and documented, it offers no protection at all. It's the freelancers' responsibility to follow the Terms of Service and learn the platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeanne, if you aren't comfortable vetting jobs and clients, Upwork is not for you. It's not about fixed or hourly. And how exactly do you get your money from a job with milestones if the customer takes off after the first one and doesn't fund the rest? I am genuinely interested because I just lost a milestone's worth of money from a fixed contract not 2 weeks ago.

re: "And how exactly do you get your money from a job with milestones if the customer takes off after the first one and doesn't fund the rest?"

 

If a client does not fund a milestone, the freelancer doesn't do the work.

 

If a client says that there will be 10 milestones, but only funds 1 milestone, the client has done nothing wrong. And the freelancer hasn't been harmed in any way.

 

There is no point in giving details about specific jobs and clients. I don't think it's nice to do so in the forums.

 

But the point is, the variety of ways you can lose money on fixed contracts is higher than in hourly contracts when all you need to do to be protected is:

  • turn off logging when not working
  • and write a memo every now and then.

If you post in the forum, people are going to look at the issue to try and figure out what's happening. It is hardly "not nice." How can anyone understand if they don't see the job? If you don't want anyone seeing your profile, set it to private.

 

Your points are not accurate, and that's why people end up in trouble. There is much more to using the tracker than you mention. Anyone using the tracker needs to be aware that there are strict rules that must be followed exactly. Look through the threads at all the people with chargebacks, that aren't protected because of too few keyboard strokes or mouse movements. The tracker must be used perfectly, with memos and documentation. Plenty of freelancers use it, but if not used correctly, it is of no value and Upwork won't protect anyone.

 

There is nothing wrong with fixed price jobs, nor does it have anything to do with vetting the client. If used correctly, the freelancer always gets paid.

 

Jeanne, how I lost money is not the point of this thread. Nor is it the discussion of hourly v. fixed. You have a good experience with fixed contracts. I take it that you have had a bad experience with hourly ones. For me, I've never had a problem with hourly contracts but I have had issues with fixed contracts. Our personal experiences are not undisputable evidence of the absolute truth. They are just that, our experiences. And we state them here for the benefit of others.

 

Finally, I get the feeling that you took my comments as a personal attack and because of that, you are attacking back. I simply meant that vetting clients is a prerequisite for working on Upwork, not working with fixed contracts. It should be done in hourly contracts too. For clarity's sake, here is the article concerning payment protection on hourly contracts. In this article, it mentions that idle or empty segments are removed. Not with too few keystrokes or mouse movements. Empty; with no keyboard strokes or mouse movements.

 

I have had a client contact me because of empty segments when I was running an FEA simulation and my system was completely bricked until that was finished. Although I had the task manager on screen while it was running it. They understood that and we continued working. And that is where vetting clients helps.

 

Finally, we can discuss this over PM if you want because we have hijacked Mijo's thread with an unrelated Freelancer issue and we are in the Client forums.

Konstantinos, I don't take anyone's comments personally. Nor should you take my comments in that way. No offense, but a random person on the Internet making comments doesn't affect me. I was not attacking you, I am attempting to educate new and inexperienced freelancers. There are two ways to get paid, and each have their limits.

 

If you had read as many posts as I have, and listened as freelancers talk about losing money, you would know that tracking issues are real for some. My point was that the specific rules must be followed.

 

I have never had a bad experience with hourly contracts; I have never used hourly contracts. I do not work that way on any platform or in my private endeavors. If I had to be tied to an hourly tracked, I would leave the platform. However, I know how to handle vetting clients. As I said, hourly may be better for the inexperienced.

 

You have your ideas and I have mine. I do not see any reason to continue this discussion, privately or otherwise.


Konstantinos F wrote:

Jeanne, how I lost money is not the point of this thread. Nor is it the discussion of hourly v. fixed. You have a good experience with fixed contracts. I take it that you have had a bad experience with hourly ones. For me, I've never had a problem with hourly contracts but I have had issues with fixed contracts. Our personal experiences are not undisputable evidence of the absolute truth. They are just that, our experiences. And we state them here for the benefit of others.

 

Finally, I get the feeling that you took my comments as a personal attack and because of that, you are attacking back. I simply meant that vetting clients is a prerequisite for working on Upwork, not working with fixed contracts. It should be done in hourly contracts too. For clarity's sake, here is the article concerning payment protection on hourly contracts. In this article, it mentions that idle or empty segments are removed. Not with too few keystrokes or mouse movements. Empty; with no keyboard strokes or mouse movements.

 

I have had a client contact me because of empty segments when I was running an FEA simulation and my system was completely bricked until that was finished. Although I had the task manager on screen while it was running it. They understood that and we continued working. And that is where vetting clients helps.

 

Finally, we can discuss this over PM if you want because we have hijacked Mijo's thread with an unrelated Freelancer issue and we are in the Client forums.


Just so it's clear to any newbie reading your post.
- Must "Maintain adequate and fair activity levels". I don't know exactly what the "proper" amount is, but I'd guess more than half of the stripes under the screenshot.
- "Idle or empty" is just one of the five examples they give for not paying protection.

 

m_terrazas_0-1684053160824.png

 

It used to say anything under 7 minutes will be reviewed and more than two screenshots in a row with low activity or not on the client's project would be reviewed. Not sure why they removed it. Them removing it makes me nervous that they changed the terms and didn't tell anyone or they kept the same terms and don't want people to know. The latter seems strange, but Upwork has a way of keeping terms vague so they can do whatever they feel like doing.


Jennifer M wrote:

It used to say anything under 7 minutes will be reviewed and more than two screenshots in a row with low activity or not on the client's project would be reviewed. Not sure why they removed it. Them removing it makes me nervous that they changed the terms and didn't tell anyone or they kept the same terms and don't want people to know. The latter seems strange, but Upwork has a way of keeping terms vague so they can do whatever they feel like doing.


Thanks Jennifer, well we'll ask and see if someone gives us an answer.
Can a moderator tell us what the required "minimum" of activity is for an hourly contract segment to be protected?
It seems that there is no standard measurement on which to base ourselves.

I have found a couple of old threads that mention the % that is considered low activity, in addition to other data.


But... no matter how much I've searched, these data don't appear anywhere now. Well, to be exact, it seems that they had already disappeared in May of 2018.
- https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Hourly-protection-to-freelancer-doesn-t-work-in-real/m-p...
- https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Upwork-took-all-my-money-due-to-quot-Low-Activity-quot-d...

 

I ask Upwork again, mods, where are you?, where we can find the exact measurements to define high/low activity in hourly contracts.
Also if a statement made in one of the posts is true. That if half of the segments of an hour have low activity, the entire hour will be invalid for protection.

Hi Maria,

 

Thank you for your message. Apologies for the delay in responding to your questions. To be eligible for Hourly Payment Protection, you need to demonstrate reasonable and honest activity levels in your Work Diary entries. We cannot disclose the exact minimum activity level required for protection, as this would compromise our review process and allow users to abuse the Hourly Protection system.

 

Thank you,

Pradeep

Upwork


Pradeep H wrote:

Hi Maria,

 

Thank you for your message. Apologies for the delay in responding to your questions. To be eligible for Hourly Payment Protection, you need to demonstrate reasonable and honest activity levels in your Work Diary entries. We cannot disclose the exact minimum activity level required for protection, as this would compromise our review process and allow users to abuse the Hourly Protection system.

 

Thank you,

Pradeep


As I would tell you without being unpleasant that your answer is of no use to us at all, but thanks for answering.

Can you explain to me what you mean by "you need to demonstrate reasonable and honest activity levels in your Work Diary entries"?
This is not any kind of measurement and leaves it to your free will to decide what is reasonable and honest.
The reason given for not disclosing the exact minimum level of activity required for protection is utter nonsense.
Those who want to deceive with the manipulation of "activity" have been doing it for a long time, and not saying what is the minimum required to be protected will not make them disappear.
I am reasonable and honest with my hourly work. But if a customer stops paying, because of your obscurantism I can't be sure to what extent I'm protected.
Upwork decides what's right or wrong, and we've seen it screw up many times.

And another question I asked, if a statement made in one of the posts is true. That if half of the segments of an hour have little activity, the entire hour will not be valid for protection.
Is this also secret?


Maria T wrote:

And another question I asked, if a statement made in one of the posts is true. That if half of the segments of an hour have little activity, the entire hour will not be valid for protection.
Is this also secret?


Correct, all time blocks within the hour need to be valid time blocks, otherwise the hour is considered invalid.  So it is a system that measures in roughly 10 minute intervals, but then magically becomes hourly protection rather than timeblock protection.

 

Even if you demonstrate honest activities, you will still not be protected, the system is set up for repetitive tasks, not for consulting for example.  Today I have spend 4 hours total on the phone (google meets) with clients, none of those hours are considered valid under UpWorks hourly protection because I didn't move my mouse or hit my keyboard often enough; even though the recordings will clearly show me and the clients on calls.

 

So I can either be spastic during a call and make a bunch of unnecessary movements to appease the UpWork time tracking system (you need to be actively hammering your mouse and / or keyboard for 7 minutes out of 10), or I can pay attention to my clients and discuss their needs, wants and strategic goals.  If I fail to do both, I lose the projection.  So I stopped caring about the protection, it doesn't exist.

Thank you, I am comfortable vetting clients, and spend a lot of "free" time helping freelancers know how to keep from being scammed. I don't know how you came up with your comments, as I thoroughly check out any potential client.

 

It's quite simple how I get paid, and every other freelancer who uses fixed price correctly. I make sure the client funds the milestones. If it's a client I know, we begin. If it's a new client, we begin with tiny milestones. The client funds the milestone, I submit the work, and if the client leaves, I get paid. Every time, no issues at all, ever. If your client leaves, you have the money for your job and you move on. Simple, ethical, legitimate, and part of working through Upwork.

My new clients have interviews with me, whether they request it or not; my rules.

 

If you don't get paid in fixed price jobs, you don't know how to use Upwork.

Fixed-price contracts are a more advanced technique.

 

I have no problem at all with freelancers promoting the use of fixed-price contracts.

 

But new Upwork freelancers should know that they are NOT READY to use fixed-price contracts successfully until they have studied the topic and planned strategies to avoid scope creep.

If the freelancers followed the Terms, fixed price would not be much of an issue. I'm not recommending it, but I do know others who have always used fixed price and were never scammed. Fixed price jobs are not inherently bad. There are many freelancers who use it without an issue, but we only hear from those who are scammed.

 

Scope creep is an issue I have rarely encountered. I make sure contracts are specific, and clients understand the parameters. The one client on Upwork that tried to bully me into doing more work was turned in to Upwork, didn't leave any review, and I was paid as usual.

 

No one should apply for any job until they understand precisely how the platform functions and how to protect themselves. I can't say never to people who want to work fixed price. If they are following the rules, aware of the problems, vetting the clients, and want to work fixed price, I'm not going to tell them it is horribly unsafe, because it is not.

 

Preventing scope creep is something every freelancer needs to understand and prevent. If the contract is set up correctly, there is no problem, unless the client wants to be outrageous, and then you show them the contract, and you still get paid.

 

One thing the clients love is getting a finished product. Clients often think hourly means they will have a finished product, which it certainly does not. Hourly means the freelancer is working on the project. It doesn't mean they will ever finish it. I talk to clients every day who have used hourly, only to have the freelancer do nothing useful but burn time.

 

It's the freelancer's choice how to conduct business. I prefer to have the freelancer follow the rules; then 98% of all issues disappear.

Thank you for stating in black and white that this platform is not safe to use as a client, and based on my recent experience, the truth. 

"One thing the client love is getting a finished product. Clients often think hourly means they will have a finished product, which it certainly does not. Hourly means the freelancer is working on the project. It doesn't mean they will ever finish it. I talk to clients every day who have used hourly, only to have the freelancer do nothing useful but burn time."

That is exactly my experience. I was billed for 34 hours of nothing and had to take the project back on my plate and complete it myself as I fight for my refund. This alone makes this platform useless and fraudulent and utterly unprofessional. 

We don't hire to donate money to freelancers and Upwork. We hire to get a project completed. To not do that is misrepresentation and fraud. 




re: "Thank you for stating in black and white that this platform is not safe to use as a client, and based on my recent experience, the truth."

 

I have personally hired over 180 freelancers on Upwork.

 

I think that there are lots of ways that things can go wrong for a client who is inexperienced with the platform. But if you know how to use it, Upwork can be extremely beneficial.

 

I agree with you that using Upwork can be unsafe.

 

Similarly, using a stove can be unsafe. And driving a car can be VERY unsafe.

 

Despite all that, many of us use stoves and drive cars.

 

If one learns the rules and learns best practices, it's not a big deal.

 

re: "That is exactly my experience. I was billed for 34 hours of nothing and had to take the project back on my plate and complete it myself as I fight for my refund."

 

Refund thinking hurts clients.

 

The best advice I can give to any fellow client is to proactively plan to never ask for a refund, no matter what. Proactively plan to never dispute, and never ask freelancers for money. This is is how effective clients save time and save money.

 

Most client problems go away when clients purge their minds of refund thinking.

 

Instead of hiring a freelancer and letting them work for 34 hours, and then trying to avoid paying for that time, the more effective and far less risky strategy is to monitor a freelancer's work, especially early on.

 

After a freelancer has logged an hour of time, if the client doesn't love the freelancer's work, the client can simply end the contract and assign the work to other members of the team.


re: "We don't hire to donate money to freelancers and Upwork. We hire to get a project completed."

 

You are 100% correct!

 

And I am truly sorry that you had a disappointing experience while hiring through Upwork.

 

I wish Upwork had better messaging for new clients, to help them understand how to use the platform effectively.

I didn't say Upwork was not safe as a client. I was pointing out the differences and the reality of the types of contracts.

 

Clients, like freelancers, have to learn how to use the platform. You should never let a freelancer just work without overseeing the project. It should never reach the point you have 34 hours for nothing. I'm not trying to anger you, but that is your fault for not using Upwork correctly. You should never have a contract and then not check in.

 

Just because you did not correctly use the platform does not make it "useless and fraudulent and utterly unprofessional."

 

Clients need to realize it's unwise to hire someone and wait until getting billed before taking an interest. Preston has many excellent posts on how to manage freelancers. If you don't have the time or knowledge, then hire someone to oversee the project.

 

There is no fraud or misrepresentation, if you understood the platform you wouldn't think so. Clients are responsible for the way the job is conducted. Why didn't you look at the work before 34 hours were billed?

 

Fixed price and tracked hours can result in unhappy freelancers and clients who don't understand the system and platform. The key is communication and oversight with freelancers

egaruth
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Mijo,

 

Thank you for reaching out to us. I checked and it looks like you are already communicating with our team on your support ticket. If you need any further assistance feel free to follow up with our team directly on your support ticket and they will be happy to assist you. 

 

~ Nikola
Upwork
2a05aa63
Community Member

When you let a system charge a huge amount of money from your credit card, be sure to learn how it works.
In hourly contracts you are paying for the hours the freelancer tracks not he quality or quantity of work they did. If they have a fair activity and proper screenshots, you will have to pay them. You can restrict how many hours per week they can work. If you don't like their work, you close the contract and leave a feedback. 

Don't bother with the "engaging legal counsel". Upwork provided the tools and you used them the way you did. You can sue the freelancer, but I'm pretty certain upwork has itself protected. They have proof that the freelancer worked. If there are screenshots in the work diary with low activity and random screenshot - you can challenge those.

I'm very sorry you have been taken advantage of. It's an expensive lesson to be learned but those are the most important ones.

8130e8cc
Community Member

That's sad, I hope you will find the best freelancer for you.

859ae1d4
Community Member

Have you thought that maybe having paid just 20% of the contract is maybe a bit early to be able to have deliverables? I can understand being new in this platform the anxiety on getting results however if the sizing of the contract was correct 500$ over 2500$ is just too soon.

I would say that most of UpWork is based on trust between parts. If you are new profile, the freelancer as well has his doubts. And in your case, check for a good reliable profile and get even an agency first where there is always someone monitoring. Once you are really used to how the schema of upwork works try these cheap new profiles that just want low money and a good 5 star recomendation. It will cost a bit more but you will sleep better.

 

my 5 cents ...

 

 

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