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Freelancer cheating with hourly contract

Active Member
Alessandro L Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
1 of 19

That's not my first time in upwork.

A good reputation (>4.8 stars rating) and >10K spent on the platform are good enough to prove that I'm a good client and upwork user.

 

Nevertheless I've been cheated. 

Well it happens. No matter how hard you try to avoid scammers and cheaters.

They always come.

 

Nevertheless I'm really surprised of the basically no-action taken from upwork to protect the client.

 

To make it short:

 

I had an agreement with a freelancer for 1.000$.

Deliverables where:

 

1) A full completed business plan

2) An executive summary

3) A pitch deck

 

for those who don't know what these things are: basically when you're presenting your company or your product to an investor, you want to show them financial projection and market analysis (business plan), a super sammary of the project (executive summary), and a verbose/graphical presentation of 10 slides (pitch deck).

 

Well, this freelancer insisted a lot to have an hourly rate contract rather than a fixed price to 'increase his worked hours' in the counter. Of course for the same amount.

I wasn't super-happy. 

I hate not being able to verify and check what am about to buy before giving my money out.

By the way this guy sold himself really well, looked professional, he has a decent reputation (87% success).

I trusted him.

 

Now, just to make a comparison, it's like if you're asking someone to you build a car.

He needs to create the project first, work with some numbers, buy all the needed accessories and then, at the end, you'll have your deliverables: the car.

 

What he did was tracking hours showing that he was doint market research here and there for the Business Plan.

 

HOW IN THE WORK COULD I DISPUTE THESE HOURS ? Please UpWork, tell me HOW! :-)

 

Well, when he reached 950$ charged in 2 and half weeks, he started to deliver one and half badly drafted page of the executive summary.

Ok, I don't mind.

I made a review, and sent back for amendments.

The day after the freelancer closed the job for "Other reasons" and just vanished.

 

I immediatly contacted upwork support telling the story.

 

Out of the 3 pieces which are the deliverables (whose weights are something like: 70% Business Plan, 20% Executive Summary, 10% Pitch Deck) I had a draft-not reviewed and amended version of the Executive Summary. All the rest was entirely missing.

 

I mean, it seems to me that it's my clear right to have ALL my money back, isn't it?

Nevertheless I proposed upwork to leave him 100$ or so for the bad draft.

He had to spend some time writing it so it seemed fair as a compromise.

 

Guess what?

I've been able to dispute just the last week hours (167$) but for all the rest UpWork said that I had to dispute that timesheets before it was too late... 

 

Really?

Are you kidding me?

 

I paid for something that I don't have and the cheater is safe?

 

On top of this I made a deep check on this freelancer feedbacks.

Strangely, all the hourly contract ones have "no feedback given"...

 

I'm seriously tempted to escalate this issue to the upWork management team.

 

Freelancers like this one and this kind of support is seriously compromising the entire platform.

 

Best,

Alex

Moderator
Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
2 of 19

Sorry to hear you weren't satisfied with the work the freelancer delivered, Alessandro. It looks like you were able to dispute last weeks payment and it was refunded to you since the hours the freelancer logged didn't meet the requirements of Upwork Hourly Protection.

 

Clients are able to review the delivered work and dispute payments on hourly contracts during the review period. Once the review period is over the payment is sent to the freelancer. Please, see this help article for more information about the process. The support agent you are communicating with has also contacted the freelancer to inform him about a refund you'd like to receive.

 

~ Valeria
Untitled
Active Member
Ahmed G Member Since: Apr 6, 2015
3 of 19

This kind of incident totally saddens me as a contractor. Sorry to hear about that. I always prioritize clients satisfaction than what payment he gives. I consider these type of cheaters as a fool. He is not fooling out the clints but i think he is is fooling himself to great extent. Hope this person isnt someone from my country(Bangladesh).

Community Guru
John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
BEST ANSWER
4 of 19

Alessandro, sorry to hear what happened. Looks like you got taken to the cleaners by a repeat offender (since he has a number of hourly contracts with no feedback).  As you noted, 87% success is just 'decent', not great, and that's probably because of all the hourly contracts -- too many no feedback contracts lower Job Success. I hope Upwork can pressure the freelancer into refunding more than just last week's payment.

 

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Active Member
Alessandro L Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
5 of 19
Valeria,
One thing is being unsatisfied with the quality of work delivered.

A complete different issue is complaining for a work NOT DELIVERED.
Is that clear enough?
I paid for something which wasn't done.
Looking into the hourly log screenshots I paid for him surfing the web actually.

That's it :-)
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
6 of 19

@Alessandro L wrote:
Valeria,
One thing is being unsatisfied with the quality of work delivered.

A complete different issue is complaining for a work NOT DELIVERED.
Is that clear enough?
I paid for something which wasn't done.
Looking into the hourly log screenshots I paid for him surfing the web actually.

That's it :-)

 The problem is that when you hire someone on an hourly basis, you are not paying for a deliverable--you are paying for their time. You DID receive what you paid for, if you believe the freelancer was actually working on your project during the hours billed--all you paid for was time.

 

If you didn't believe the freelancer was actually working on your project during those hours, the time to challenge them was during the review period. The screenshots that you are now looking at are provided specifically so that you can use the several-day review period to determine whether or not the freelancer actually spent that time doing what you were paying him for. 

Active Member
Alessandro L Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
7 of 19
On top of the not delivered work: can you please explain how in the world one can dispute something which is ongoing?

The hours that he logged were part of the initial researches needed to complete the job.
How could Inever know that he wanted to cheat?

You are implicitly telling me that the hourly system is full of flaws for scammers and cheaters.
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
8 of 19

@Alessandro L wrote:
On top of the not delivered work: can you please explain how in the world one can dispute something which is ongoing?

Just as one example, you could have looked at the screenshots and discovered that he was surfing the web on the clock in a timely manner. 

The hours that he logged were part of the initial researches needed to complete the job.
How could Inever know that he wanted to cheat?

Are you saying that it seemed reasonable to you that he burned through $950 of the $1,000 cap you set without having produced anything? Most clients would have seen red flags if the freelancer was running out of allocated hours with no apparent progress.
In addition, your initial description of the situation suggested that you were unimpressed with his research efforts from the beginning, which could have triggered a discussion, some benchmarks, or even termination of the contract.

You are implicitly telling me that the hourly system is full of flaws for scammers and cheaters.

 

No. They're telling you that the system has safeguards that you opted not to use, and you can't have a do over.


 

Active Member
Alessandro L Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
9 of 19
Dear Tiffany,
I'm sorry to say that you have absolutely no clue of how the hourly contracts works in real world.
And that's a shame since you are supposed to be a "Community Guru".

Let me try to explain with simple words so that it's easier to understand.

Fixed Price:
You pay for a deliverable which is provided to the customer in the agreed time and with the agreed specs.
No matter how long the freelancer will have to work on the deliverable, no matter how many reviews the customer asks for. That's the price. Pay/not pay and that's it.

Hourly based:
The complete shape and effort of the project is hard to evaluate and/or the freelancer is not keen to have infinite (unpaid) reviews to have the milestones released.
You both agree on a price range, a price x hour and you start working.
Either way the final outcome of what you are paying for is A DELIVERABLE not the time.
What changes is how you obtain it but not the final goal.

I did checked ALL the time tracking during the hiring period and seemed in line to what the freelancer was supposed to be doing in order to produce my deliverable (market researches).

Very close to the end of the formally agreed price (950$ out of 1k), he closed the contract for "Other reasons".

I don't have my deliverables but the time tracking looked in line, therefore it wasn't disputed.

Are you really telling me that this is what UpWork is offering?
It's a clear and easy way to cheat.

No one will ever pay for "The time" :-)
This is really funny ;-)

I hope you misunderstood some of my posts!
No hard feelings, I'm trying to clarify an evident problem that could help other users preventing cheaters like the one I'm talking about.

Best,
Alex
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 19

Alex: I am very sorry that you had a negative experience while using Upwork as a client.

 

I don't think anybody here will argue with you about your assessment of the work done by the freelancer. I don't believe this was a quality freelancer who had your best interests at heart.

 

I personally work primarily as a freelancer, but I have also hired over 70 freelancers as a client.

 

The Upwork tools are geared primarily for clients, not freelancers. Upwork does NOT consider freelancers to be its customers. As a result, the power in the contracts is fairly one-sided, being principally on the client's side.

 

These are some important things for everyone - freelancers and clients alike - to keep in mind.

 

None of that negates the fact that you had a negative experience.

 

I wonder if you simply weren't aware of how much power and control you have as a client. You can pause or cancel a contract at any time, for any reason. One of the wonderful things about Upwork when you are a client is that you have this power, and you don't need to justify your reasons for anybody. You don't need to have a reason at all. You don't need to explain yourself to Upwork or to the freelancer.

 

Unfortunally it appears there was some confusion about the difference between fixed-price and hourly contracts. You said that you had an agreed upon "price" of $1000. This conflation of fixed-price and hourly contract concepts can often lead to problems.

 

Ideally you should have been receiving usable work far earlier in the process, rather than waiting until $1000 had been billed. When hourly contracts are used as intended, with weekly evaluation of the work freelancers deliver, clients should not lose money even if they hire freelancers who are completely wrong for the project.

 

It also appears that you hired only one freelancer for this project. I wish you had hired 3 or 4 for an hour or two to start, and then chosen the one among them who were clearly delivering work to you that you can use and who demonstrated that they were the best value. If you only hire one person, you have no way to evaluate their work in comparison to other freelancers.

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