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9d6dfbcc
Community Member

Feedback requested on using 1 milestone due upon job completion, plus an escrow firm question

Since one of my jobs will be large (15-20k area) and technical (with some unique knowledge needed by coder) I strongly prefer not paying more than 1 milestone and only due upon job completion. That job originally was 15k and some freelancers wanted several large milestones which I do not agree to.

 

To make just 1 large milestome more appealing I am also proposing increasing job to 20k as additional compensation involving 1 milestone and due upon completion. I can pay entire 20k into escrow in advance to again make job more attractive. Does that sound reasonable?

 

Also, I have a very well established acconut at EscrowDotCom for many years and know how they operate. Is there a way we can use them instead of Upwork escrow?  P.S. I think I have read about Payoneer escrow being used somehere on Upwork but not sure about that. Is it correct? 

65 REPLIES 65
bobafett999
Community Member

Well David I hear you.

 

You can certainly try.  Nothing wrong with that and it seems that you also have added a sweetner.  However, from where I sit it would be a hard find.  On such a large job you are basically asking freelancer to invest his own time.  Yes the escrow tells the freelancer that the funds are 'there', but you still have to 'approve'.  If you don't approve for whatever reason he does not get paid.

 

Now ask yourself a question, if the roles were reversed would you go for it?

 

Rather than a 'shared risk' deal you want 'zero risk' deal.

Thanks for your feedback. I have been told no refunds if he got paid first few milestones but later never delivers final code which is not to my satisfaction or exact specifications (or goes bankrupt, or even gets hit by a truck) or for whatever other reason? It's an impasse. Can anyone suggest a workable solution?

 

P.S. I don't mind using milestones for small jobs with low risk and far less knowledge needed.

Yup.  That is the elephant in the room.  And you are correct-no refund once milestones have been paid.  But it is also a fact that after the work has been delivered some clients have refused to pay.  As a matter of fact there is an active thread by Ali A on the freelancer side.  Most likely he is out of about $2,100.

 

In general let me share my feelings.  Upwork is like a wild west forntier.  Strange things have happened on both side - but if this forum is any indicator freelancer in general is at a disadvantge.  The system and all the rules are designed to favor clients (well they are the ones who pay the bills).   Most of the time things go as planned, but the lightening could strike your own home.

 

If i were you I would look the large outfits with B&M (preferablly local) rather than individuals far far away.

 

Disadvantage: cost. 

 

Advantages: - a B&M presence lends some stability and second if more people work for them then if your worker gets stuck he can find some one who has the knowledge and skill set.

Thanks again but sorry I don't see how the main risk is on the freelancer. The opposite seems to be the case. I say that because let's assume the coder wants 3 milestone payouts of about 1/3 each. But the last milestone is not completed, possibly because the freelancer simply could not do some complex aspects, etc. However, he still gets 2/3 of the job in cash whereas the client gets basically nothing except some non-fully functioning or screwed-up mostly worthless code. How is freelancer at a disadvantage?

David, let me draw an analogy.  You go to your dentist and get the dismal news you need some rather extensive work done.  Your dentist explains what every step involves and lays out a billing schedule  to which you agree. (I am not addressing your insurance in my example.) You agree to have your dentist repair your teeth and mouth as per the schedule and procedures agreed to.  After each appointment you pay the proper portion of the full amount agreed to initially.

 

Freelancer billing works the same way. If you were not using Upwork but dealing directly with the freelancer, you would be paying anywhere from 30-50% of the total money CASH IN FRONT as this ensures you fully intend to pay and will remain involved and committed to the job you hired the person to perform.

"CASH IN FRONT as this ensures you fully intend to pay and will remain involved and committed to the job you hired the person to perform."

 

Thanks, but what assures client the freelancer will finish project and client won't lose 2/3 of his cash? 


@David G wrote:

 

 Thanks, but what assures client the freelancer will finish project and client won't lose 2/3 of his cash? 


 Nothing.

 

On the same token what assures a freelancer that you will not run after he hs invested so much time and given you a final product.  (Don't bring in escrow crap.  It has no teeth).

 

Well you are looking for bragain prices (compared to a well established B&M IT house.  I know few people who run those shops in US and their rate is north of $200/hr).  However, you seem to be risk averse.  You want to stack deck in your favor all the way!

 

Create small test project(s) to see if there is chemistry, trust and competence.

"However, you seem to be risk averse.  You want to stack deck in your favor all the way!"

 

That's not correct, far from it, Upwork does not seem to be a level playing field and deck is really stacked strongly against employer since freelancer (using my 3 milestone example) will get as much as 2/3 of the funds but employer gets NOTHING if job not completed to his satisfaction, except a bunch of worthless code which does not function as it needs to or worse. The freelnacer is not taking risk since he gets 2/3 of the cash but client gets absoluetly nothing of any real value with coder happily walking away with as much as 12k in my 2 of 3 milestone example. How is that fair? How can you say I am risk averse when in fact the coder is really the one who has little if any risk. It makes no sense.

 


@David G wrote:

"However, you seem to be risk averse.  You want to stack deck in your favor all the way!"

 

That's not correct, far from it, Upwork does not seem to be a level playing field and deck is really stacked strongly against employer since freelancer (using my 3 milestone example) will get as much as 2/3 of the funds but employer gets NOTHING if job not completed to his satisfaction, except a bunch of worthless code which does not function as it needs to or worse. The freelnacer is not taking risk since he gets 2/3 of the cash but client gets absoluetly nothing of any real value with coder happily walking away with as much as 12k in my 2 of 3 milestone example. How is that fair? How can you say I am risk averse when in fact the coder is really the one who has little if any risk.

 


 Yes that is possile, but the freelancer is taking the risk of being kicked out from the platform.  And it is not easy (almost impossible) for a freelancer to open another account.

 

Now let me tell the ways freelancers are being cheated.

 

1, You refuse to pay.  Then the circus begins.  You keep on saying the work is not what you asked, keep on increasing project scope or you changed your mind or you had some ideas that are impossible to incorporate.  So either the freelancer drops his price to get something out of it in mediation or goes to arbitration at $300 price tag. If the freelancer does not win in arbitration you keep the money and the work product.

 

2. You initiate a charge back.  Freelancer loses his money and you get to keep the work.

 

Your penalty.  Basically, nothing.  You will get banned from the platform, but you can always come back with another e-mail ID and credit card.  Upwork will gladly take you and your business.

 

Tell me why would a freelancer risk hundreds of hours of their work when then know that they will get zilch?

 

Another option is to be more pro-active in your management of the project. Don't wait for the final delivery before satisfying yourself that the developer is doing a good job. Ask for a working partial system at each milestone, and check it. And perhaps hire a project manager with expertise in that field to check the work, if you don't feel qualified to check it yourself.

datasciencewonk
Community Member

Also, I have a very well established acconut at EscrowDotCom for many years and know how they operate. Is there a way we can use them instead of Upwork escrow? 

 

If you're asking what I think you're asking, the answer is no according to Upwork's User Agreement.

 

7. Non-Circumvention:

 

You acknowledge and agree that a substantial portion of the compensation Upwork receives for making the Site available to you is collected through the Service Fee described in Section 6.1 (โ€œService Feeโ€).  Upwork only receives this Service Fee when a Client and a Freelancer pay and receive payment through the Site.  Therefore, for 24 months from the time you identify or are identified by any party through the Site (the โ€œNon-Circumvention Periodโ€), you must use the Site as your exclusive method to request, make, and receive all payments for work directly or indirectly with that party or arising out of your relationship with that party (the โ€œUpwork Relationshipโ€). 

gilbert-phyllis
Community Member

If you can find a freelancer willing to take on that size project with no payment until it is complete and approved--think long and hard before hiring them. That is not a reasonable arrangement and I doubt that a professional with the expertise and experience you are seeking would accept it.

 

 

There is risk on both sides. You can't be 100% sure the FL has the expertise to do the job completely and correctly, and the professionalism to follow through and get it done on time. The FL can't be 100% sure you know what you want, that what you want is feasible, that the specs won't change mid-stream, that scope creep won't set in, that you will be available to answer questions and provide actionable feedback in a timely manner...The ways in which either party can sabotage a large project are nearly endless. Personally, I won't work with a client who is not approaching their project in a collaborative way; or with a client who is starting from a place of fundamental distrust. If, after interacting with me enough to hire me for a project, a client still doesn't seem to trust me, that tells me I can't trust them and we're better off parting ways.

 

A series of milestones is the best approach for a large project. You can both limit your exposure initially, with regard to time and effort as well as money. 

I can only speak for myself as a freelancer. I wouldnโ€™t consider taking on a fixed price job for thousands, let alone 10โ€™s of thousands, with just one milestone for the entire project. That doesnโ€™t mean there arenโ€™t a few freelancers who are either desperate or confident enough to accept those terms. The way for clients to reduce the risk of a large project with multiple milestones is to scrutinize the freelancerโ€™s reviews and work history. It may also be worthwhile to bring in a consultant, such as a project manager, to evaluate the applicantsโ€™ credentials.
__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce

@ Phyllis, Well Said!

...

Not sure why everyone says there is risk on both sides. That's not valid as the real risk imo is heavily on employers side. Where is the risk to coder when basically guaranteed getting at least 2 of 3 milestones with no chance of refunds after cash paid-out regardless of not finishing job to full satisfaction.

 

I have read many horror stories on how employers lose money at Upwork, including Martha and others because once milestones are paid out there's no hope of a refund regardless of final satisfaction or lack of completion. That sucks! I may have to leave Upwork over this issue and ask for refunds of the $60 I pre-paid for 2 talent specialists to find good coders, which has given me zero value thus far.


@David G wrote:

I have read many horror stories on how employers lose money at Upwork, including Martha and others.....


 May ve you also need to frequent freekancer section.  For every Martha there are ten freelancers who have been scammed by buyers after delivering the work. 

 

Let us get real.  No freelancer in his/her right mind will accept your terms.  You seem to want to conduct your project on your terms - rather than a collaborative effort.

 

You desiring Upwork refunding $60 speaks volume.  You think that Upwork is a vending machine.  You plot some coins and here comes the sugar water drink you wanted.  I would guess that you will be unhappy no matter what the freelancer delivers.

 

"$60 I pre-paid for 2 talent specialists to find good coders, which has given me zero value thus far...."  have you considered the fact that no one was interested in your offer?

If there's milestones involved I fail to see how FL can be scammed because he has substantial funds from milestones which are non-refundable and possibly more than 50% of total job in cash but client may have nothing of value in the end.

 

P.S. No reason for pesonal attacks on me Prashant. A reason I am not happy with talent specialists is on one of them they never made much effort, and on the imprtant one I have tried many times to reach Cherryl Roa but there is a system bug where when I go to that link I am told 'roon not found" and chat was unable to figure it out after spending lots of time in chat to no avail.

why the need to stoop so low and level all the personal attacks Prashant? After what you said I am sure no one will work for me and it's mostly thanks to you and your attack..

 

And BTW, contrary to what you said I do want a "collaborative effort" but one with equal risk on both sides and level playing field, not heavily in favor of the coder as it is setup in effect.

David,  Prashant is not attacking you - neither directly nor indirectly.   A quick synopsis of what, why, and how highly professional freelancers across all genres decide to work with clients - both on Upwork and any other platform and on a direct basis.

 

1. Your project interests them; it is in an area in which they excel. Therefore they submit a bid.

2. Not a professional freelancer alive will even consider accepting a job without talking to a client first.  This allows both parties to have a solid understanding of the job; a client's goals, and PERSONALITY COMPATIBILITY.

3. Freelancers do not work for a client (that is called an employer-employee relationship with all the benefits that go along with it).

4. Freelancers elect to partner with a client in order for him him/her achieve the project goals.

 

Wendy, how can you say that. It was a serious personal attack done without merit. He said this and other stuff: "you seem to want to conduct your project on your terms - rather than a collaborative effort."WAS EXPLAINED IN DETAIL and A BLATANT FALSIFICATION. You desiring Upwork refunding $60. speaks volume. NOT TRUE and NOT CORRECT I HAVE NOT ASKED FOR a REFUND. that Upwork is a vending machine. NOT TRUE. some coins and here comes the sugar water drink you wanted. UNTRUE. I would guess that you will be unhappy no matter what the freelancer delivers.  ANOTHER FALSE STATEMENT by Prashant

 

**edited for Community Guidelines**

@David G -- Wow, I'm pretty confident stating that is the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen in this forum. I expect a moderator will come along soon. Meanwhile...

 

We've read the same "horror stories" you have, in which clients claim to have been scammed by FLs. With one or two exceptions, I am always left shaking my head, wondering how anybody could be so careless or lazy or both, as to not review submitted work until weeks or months after the fact? For every one of those, there are probably ten or 20 accounts by freelancers of clients who ghosted them  partway through the project. In cases where the FL has made the mistake of working ahead of funded milestones, they're out of luck. In cases where the client doesn't "ghost" but, contrary to the positive feedback given earlier, suddenly decides that nothing the FL has delivered is up to par, the FL often winds up settling for partial payment or even agreeing to refund what they were already paid, in an attempt to be rid of the client. In both situations, the client absconds with whatever work was completed, free of charge. So, your claim that the whole system is rigged in the FL's favor is hogwash. To be sure, there are shady characters on both sides of the table, and that's no more or less true on Upwork than it is on other freelance sites and in the brick-and-mortar world.

 

The milestone structure tries to ensure that both the client and the freelancer have skin in the game, and each has the best chance of a good outcome if they are engaged throughout the project, interacting at key checkpoints to be sure things are proceeding according to spec and that expectations are being met. Should something go sideways at any point, it will likely get uncomfortable if not downright messy, but there are best practices as well as UW protocols to follow, to increase the likelihood of a fair outcome. If the FL completed some portion of the work per your original specifications, and that product is usable, then it's only fair to pay them for what they did.

 

For the benefit of any less experienced FLs who may be lurking: A client whose default position is one of distrust, is a client you will never be able to satisfy.

 

Hi everyone, 

 

This is only a gentle reminder to please be mindful of the Community Guidelines when posting in the Community. The Community has guidelines in place and we would appreciate it if members of the Community adhere to these guidelines. 


~ Avery
Upwork
9d6dfbcc
Community Member

Avery, I'm not sure why part of my post was deleted for a comminity guideline reason since I never said it but reposted what was already published on this site by a client of Prashant, after he attacked me.

 

 

 @David G -- Wow, I'm pretty confident stating that is the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen in this forum. I expect a moderator will come along soon. Meanwhile...

 

Saying what? The above which is not deleted by a mod or are you referring to the community guideline deletion? If you are, I never said that.it was said by a client about Prashant, not by me, so are you wrongly thinking I said it? If so, why?

 

If you are talking about the area which was not deleted by a mod why is that so unprofessional to say when I am stating what Plashant said about me during his personal attack is not correct and falsifications. Why would that be unrpofessional to say? Please clarify Phyllis. . 

What's unprofessional about your comments? If you really have to ask, then I don't know where to begin.

 

I agree with others that Prashant was not attacking you personally. You came here "requesting feedback", did not hear what you wanted to hear, and responded by arguing and becoming somewhat adversarial in your comments. As Petra noted below, it's hard to understand what you're trying to accomplish here.

petra_r
Community Member


David G wrote: I may have to leave Upwork over this issue and ask for refunds of the $60 I pre-paid for 2 talent specialists to find good coders, which has given me zero value thus far.

 The "talent specialists" actually cost money now?

 

claudiacezy
Community Member


@David G wrote:

To make just 1 large milestome more appealing I am also proposing increasing job to 20k as additional compensation involving 1 milestone and due upon completion. I can pay entire 20k into escrow in advance to again make job more attractive. Does that sound reasonable?


 It doesn't sound reasonable if the job can't be completed within 90 days. The funds can stay in the Upwork Escrow for a limited period. If the funds are not released to the freelancer within 90 days, then the escrow funds are returned to the client.

I fail to see the OP's problem...

 

Why not simply set up an hourly contract, and limit the number of hours the coder can work in say, a week? This way, both the coder and the client are protected, provided the coder follows the prescripts of the payment protection plan, and the OP gets to test/approve parts of the project without having to lay out a huge sum of money upfront. 

 

Simple, really...

If I'm not mistaken, most IT developers, coders, etc. work hourly as Reinier mentioned. IT work is far and away the genre most suitable for hourly work.

 

David, have you used hourly contracts? 

No I have not considered hourly contracts because how in the world could I know if the FL is actually working on my job during the stated hours. Am I missing something?

 

P.S. Wendy, I am still waiting for an explanation why you said in another post Prashant was not attacking me in view of the fact he clearly was attacking, making your defense of him confusing..

 

 


@David G wrote:

No I have not considered hourly contracts because how in the world could I know if the FL is actually working on my job during the stated hours. Am I missing something?

 

The time tracking software does two things- 

1) It takes screenshots of the coder's screen so you can see what is being worked on

2) It records stuff like key strokes, scroll actions, and mouse clicks. These  have to be above a specified level to fall under the payment protection plan

 

So, if you limit the hours the coder can work in any given week, you have a review period to test/review the work done in those hours. Based on screenshots and activity levels (that you can see), you can dispute any hours you deem not to have been spent on your project.   

 

I am sure other contractors who regularly do hourly jobs could give you more detailed information, but as others have stated in this thread, you will never find an experienced coder that will accept your fixed-price terms. 

 


 

Was not aware of that. How and when are payments made to the FL?

 

It sounds like an excellent way to do it hourly and I will investigate using it for low priced jobs in the future. However, I don't think it would work well on a 20k job especially since I would not know until near end or at job end time if FL has the needed high skills to complete job to my satisfaction. What happens If it turns-out he did not finish hourly project for whatever reason?

 

 

 

 

petra_r
Community Member

David, with all due respect, I am not sure what you are trying to achieve with this thread.

You appear to be innately distrustful and suspicious and convinced that freelancers are on platforms with the main purpose of ripping off defenseless clients.

 

That is not an attitude on which you will be able to build a successful, productive, trusting relationship with a partner (The best clients and the best freelancers tend to think of their relationship as a partnership that has a common goal: To get the job done!)

 

Under the circumstances I would say hiring online is not for you. It would likely result in a frustrating experience for both sides, you and the freelancer.

 

reinierb
Community Member

Yep, sometimes you just gotta trust people. 

9d6dfbcc
Community Member

Thanks for your opinion. It's not a matter of trust as I am sure most here are very trustworthy. The entire issue is if for some odd reason FL does not finish job (i.e. turns out near end of project some important aspects were beyond FL skill level, or the FL goes out of business, or even gets hit by a truck) but I already paid 2 of 3 milestones (more than 10k) how do I get a refund because all i will have is non-functioning worthless code not working to my specificaions? THAT IS THE ISSUE.

 

 

9d6dfbcc
Community Member

"You appear to be innately distrustful and suspicious and convinced that freelancers are on platforms with the main purpose of ripping off defenseless clients."

 

That is NOT CORRECT. The issue has absolutely nothing to do with trust or suspicion. I really do not understand why Petra and others are saying that.


@Reinier B wrote:

I fail to see the OP's problem...

 

Why not simply set up an hourly contract, and limit the number of hours the coder can work in say, a week? This way, both the coder and the client are protected, provided the coder follows the prescripts of the payment protection plan, and the OP gets to test/approve parts of the project without having to lay out a huge sum of money upfront. 

 

Simple, really...


 Because he wants to make sure that he pays absolutely nothing if the project isn't completed 100%. He's saying--I have no idea whether this is accurate, since I'm not a technical person--that a freelancer completing 2/3 of the project provides zero value to him.

That is not relevant as I would not anticpate the job lasting 90 days. Maybe 30-60.

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