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e51e80ad
Community Member

Freelancer misrepresenting their skill level

I'm kind of in a pickle right now, and I'm not sure how to move forward.

I'm a client and have been for over five years here on Upwork. I've had lots of successful projects and have always trusted Upwork.

I recently went through a pretty rigorous hiring process for a project (a motion graphics explainer video.) I received nearly a hundred proposals, read through and examined them all, and whittled my way down to the person I decided on. Their portfolio was incredible and I was excited to work with them. We exchanged many messages, storyboards, mood boards, and examples, and the freelancer assured me they understood everything and would be able to deliver the entire video within 5 business days. Weeks went by, and he gave reasons why it wasn't done yet. I'm a freelance animator myself, so I totally get it, and wanted to be flexible, so I was.

Then, today, he sent me a rough draft of the first animation slide (there are ~30 slides total,) and it wasn't even in the same universe, when it comes to quality, as his work that he shared in his "portfolio". Like I said, I'm a freelancer as well myself, and it was obvious this guy didn't create the work in his alleged portfolio. I was confused though, because his ratings were good, and he had an 80% job success rating for his past work โ€“ much of which was animated explainer videos.

I confronted him about it and asked directly, and he said it would be fixed. He also admitted to having an illustrator and animator working under him, so I guess he's a mock agency or something? I totally get sub-contracting, I do it myself sometimes, and am fine with it, but I feel like he just pulled those videos in his portfolio from somewhere else to attract clients like me.

The problem with all of this is the fact that we agreed to a project-rate with three milestones. We've already passed two of those and I've paid him half of the project's budget for just the storyboard he sent to me illustrating that he sort of understood the direction I wanted the video to head.

But now, with the animations, they're wayyyy off, and appear to not be not done by the same animator, and I feel cheated.

Am I just toast at this point? I mean, I feel like it's pretty dishonest to represent yourself as something and then not be able to deliver on what was agreed upon. Have any other clients out there dealt with something like this before? Do you have any advice for me? Should I try to reach out to Upwork? Is there any hope for me to receive a (even a partial) refund?
ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Hi Josh,

 

Thank you for following up. I would like to clarify that If the payment was released from escrow within the last 180 days you can request a refund from the freelancer or agency through Upwork. You can click here to learn more about this process.

 

Let us know if you need further assistance. 

 

~ Nikola
Upwork

View solution in original post

27 REPLIES 27
tinker_bell3
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Josh, 

 

I'm sorry to hear that the freelancer is not submitting the work that you are expecting them to deliver. Please know that you can request changes if you are not satisfied with the work submitted before releasing any payment. You can let the freelancer know that the work provided is not what was agreed upon and that you require that changes be made before you release any payment. If you prefer to cancel the job and request a refund for the funds that are in Escrow, you can let the freelancer know. Here's the help article for more information. 

~ Joanne
Upwork

Thanks, Joanne. I guess I was wondering if there was any recourse for the money that's already been released to the freelancer since they were dishonest with their proposal and misrepresented their abilities.

Hi Josh,

 

Thank you for following up. I would like to clarify that If the payment was released from escrow within the last 180 days you can request a refund from the freelancer or agency through Upwork. You can click here to learn more about this process.

 

Let us know if you need further assistance. 

 

~ Nikola
Upwork


Nikola S wrote:

Hi Josh,

 

Thank you for following up. I would like to clarify that If the payment was released from escrow within the last 180 days you can request a refund from the freelancer or agency through Upwork. You can click here to learn more about this process.

 

Let us know if you need further assistance. 

 


You might want to point out that unless the freelancer agrees to a refund, the money is gone. No arbitration needed because that only is about the money in escrow.

 

It would be great if Upwork would freeze the funds on freelancer accounts that have been reported to ToS violation while investigating. If clients or other professional freelancers report ToS violations like missrepresented skills, stolen portfolio items or subcontracting, it should be enough to investigate.


Jennifer R wrote:

You might want to point out that unless the freelancer agrees to a refund, the money is gone. No arbitration needed because that only is about the money in escrow.

No, it isn't! 

As long as the last milestone was released less than 30 days ago *OR* there is money in Escrow, everything ever paid under the contract can be disputed and taken to arbitration.


Petra R wrote:

Jennifer R wrote:

You might want to point out that unless the freelancer agrees to a refund, the money is gone. No arbitration needed because that only is about the money in escrow.

No, it isn't! 

As long as the last milestone was released less than 30 days ago *OR* there is money in Escrow, everything ever paid under the contract can be disputed and taken to arbitration.


My mistakes, but where do the 180 days come in?


Jennifer R wrote:

 

My mistakes, but where do the 180 days come in?


That's how long the "Request a refund" function (which is not a dispute, it's just function that sends a "please gimme some dosh back" message to the freelancer) is available. It is pretty meaningless and no different than writing "Please refund" in the messages.


Petra R wrote:

Jennifer R wrote:

 

My mistakes, but where do the 180 days come in?


That's how long the "Request a refund" function (which is not a dispute, it's just function that sends a "please gimme some dosh back" message to the freelancer) is available. It is pretty meaningless and no different than writing "Please refund" in the messages.


Just one last follow-up question: Are these 180 days also the limit for freelancers to issue a refund?


Jennifer R wrote:Just one last follow-up question: Are these 180 days also the limit for freelancers to issue a refund?

I just checked and it seems I am able to refund for a contract that ended in 2014 :).

The "Give Refund" button is there, anyway.

petra_r
Community Member


Josh G wrote:

Thanks, Joanne. I guess I was wondering if there was any recourse for the money that's already been released to the freelancer since they were dishonest with their proposal and misrepresented their abilities.


If it's within 30 days of the relase of the funds, you could dispute. You may want to first try to negotiate a partial refund with the freelancer and use the storyboard for whoever you replace them with. You might want to tell future freelancers that you do not allow subcontracting without your permission.

 

By the way: 80% is a poor JSS.

yitwail
Community Member


Josh G wrote:

He also admitted to having an illustrator and animator working under him, so I guess he's a mock agency or something? I totally get sub-contracting, I do it myself sometimes, and am fine with it, but I feel like he just pulled those videos in his portfolio from somewhere else to attract clients like me.


Josh, an ethical freelancer would mention beforehand that he will subcontract some of the work, but much to my surprise, I checked the Upwork user agreement, and it allows fixed price subcontracting at freelancer discretion. Once upon a time, it was a requirement that clients approve subcontracting beforehand. Here's the rule in question:

 

(viii) unless otherwise agreed with their Client, Freelancers may use subcontractors or employees to perform Freelancer Services by delegating work on fixed-price contracts

 

So evidently it's up to clients before offering a fixed price contract to specify that the freelancer may not use subcontractors without their approval.

 

source: https://www.upwork.com/legal#useragreement section 2.1

 

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
157162f0
Community Member

111.pngI'm going through the same things.  Many  graphic artist are misrepresenting thieir skills.  This latest one simply put a ugly head on the body of the referece image I SENT HIM. AND WANTS $40.  I cant us this because its 98% someone else work and it doesnt even match!

re: "I'm going through the same things. Many graphic artist are misrepresenting thieir skills. This latest one simply put a ugly head on the body of the referece image I SENT HIM. AND WANTS $40. I cant us this because its 98% someone else work and it doesnt even match!"

 

I hire a lot of artists on Upwork. Most are fantastic. Some are not.

 

Out of over 130 freelancers I have hired on Upwork, I think the majority have been artists. I have never once hired someone as bad as what Kathy described.

 

I don't like to waste my time with unworthy freelancers.

 

This freelancer was a bad pick.

Tell him you will pay him $20 or nothing. Give him five minutes to decide.

 

Practical tip:

I have hired dozens of Upwork artists. I always allow manual time, but almost never see any of them use manual time. You can hire artists using HOURLY contracts, and block manual time. That way you can observe their work. If you don't like what you see in the work diary... you can pause or end the contract. I am able to watch as artists create original pieces for me, drawing by hand. I can see their layout, their refinement of sketches, their work on details, etc.

 

If I had hired the same artist you hired, I doubt I would be facing a $40 bill. How long did it take the artist to copy a head and put it on a body. If it only took a few minutes, maybe I would be billed for ten minutes of time? If I looked at the work diary as I saw the artist simply using my reference file and doing a copy-and-paste job, I would have simply closed the contract without comment and blocked the freelancer.

this is NOT worth $20. He simply cut and pasted a HEAD on the body of the
clipart I SENT HIM FOR REFERENCE! --- IT IS HORRIBLE!

re: "this is NOT worth $20. He simply cut and pasted a HEAD on the body of the. clipart I SENT HIM FOR REFERENCE! --- IT IS HORRIBLE!"

 

Of course it is not worth $20.

 

But my time is very valuable.

I don't have time to deal with people like that.

 

I don't expect all hires to be successful.

I normally hire multiple freelancers to work on the same task.

That way I always get what I'm looking for when I commission artwork on Upwork.

My payment wasnt for $20, is was for $40  which is pretty standard for what i wanted.

I ended up going to Etsy for a custom design. she charged me $50. 

she used my image as reference and drew the image. Im still fighting the upwork freelancer.  I was using the same lady for over a year (loved her work) but i think shes gone so i had to go looking again.  Wheni find someone great i stick with them but no luck with freelancers lately.

petra_r
Community Member


kathy l wrote:
this is NOT worth $20. He simply cut and pasted a HEAD on the body of the
clipart I SENT HIM FOR REFERENCE! --- IT IS HORRIBLE!

It's not worth $20, but frankly $20 won't buy you something decent unless you are seriously underpaying the freelancer.

 

You get what you pay for.


Petra R wrote:

kathy l wrote:
this is NOT worth $20. He simply cut and pasted a HEAD on the body of the
clipart I SENT HIM FOR REFERENCE! --- IT IS HORRIBLE!

It's not worth $20, but frankly $20 won't buy you something decent unless you are seriously underpaying the freelancer.

 

You get what you pay for.


The freelancer was hired to create a new image based on the referece provided. The freelancer agreed to the rate. High or low does not matter, that freelancer decided the value of his/her time.

 

I would argue that the freelancer did not do the work he was hired for. Because he believes the job was underpaid (he had agreed to the rate) or he is just not able to do the work is irrelevant.
It is the same with people providing machine translation. No need to ask for for another revision. Often the easiest solution is to pay and leave an honest feedback. So far every single scammer I have called out decided to refund me to make the feedback disappear. The real problem is that you can report them as much as you like, they are not removed.


kathy l wrote:
this is NOT worth $20. He simply cut and pasted a HEAD on the body of the
clipart I SENT HIM FOR REFERENCE! --- IT IS HORRIBLE!

Yes, it's horrible, why am I going to say something else.

Not being able to see what you wanted and what you sent, it is difficult to know what you could get.


One question, did the freelancer have a good portfolio? Did you check if the images that appeared were really created by the freelancer?

Yes. He replied to one of the lower valued ones. Because i liked his tshirt bundle porfolio, i pick him for the $40 because i knew it was more.  But I've noticed that some freelancers put the work of others on their porfolio but then cant deliver


kathy l wrote:

Yes. He replied to one of the lower valued ones. Because i liked his tshirt bundle porfolio, i pick him for the $40 because i knew it was more.  But I've noticed that some freelancers put the work of others on their porfolio but then cant deliver


That design can be found in several **Edited for Community Guidelines**  Does that match the information in the profile?


kathy l wrote:

Yes. He replied to one of the lower valued ones. Because i liked his tshirt bundle porfolio, i pick him for the $40 because i knew it was more.  But I've noticed that some freelancers put the work of others on their porfolio but then cant deliver


Well I have found another **Edited for Community Guidelines** with the same design and he is from Libya.

HI Preston,

 

Thanks for the  reply.  Ive alway been afraid of  hourly. I alway thought they would say something like it took 4 hours and charge me for it and i wouldnt know the difference, and it could have taken them  only 20 minutes.  Just fear on my part.


kathy l wrote:

HI Preston,

 

Thanks for the  reply.  Ive alway been afraid of  hourly. I alway thought they would say something like it took 4 hours and charge me for it and i wouldnt know the difference, and it could have taken them  only 20 minutes.  Just fear on my part.


I can put a limit on hourly contracts. You can literally limit it to 1 hour. If they need more, you could look at the work diary to see if it's warranted, then allow more.  Hourly contracts have to use the time tracker for protection, which takes screenshots while they work. 

 

I will only use hourly, but I tell the client to go ahead and put a weekly limit on it (besides the standard default which is 40 hours). I tend to walk them through the system too so they understand all the protections they have and how we can structure so they stay on budget. But then again, unethical freelancers are hoping you don't know how to use the system. For the most part, freelancers here are ethical and don't intend to scam clients, and want to provide good service. Unfortunately, if you've come to the forum, it's likely you've met one of the former versus the latter.

๐Ÿ˜ž 

Wow i just learned something.  I will totally try that.  thanks!!!!!


kathy l wrote:

Wow i just learned something.  I will totally try that.  thanks!!!!!


For your information, we are several people, which I know, who flag the portfolios of freelancers. Not once, but several times. And Upwork does nothing.
And we also flag copied descriptions, fake profiles, skill descriptions that are not real, etc ...
Everything so that something like what has happened to you does not happen.
On the one hand for the clients, on the other for us freelancers since, as you have done, they may think that Upwork is full of scams and go to another site to have the work done.

re: "Thanks for the reply. Ive alway been afraid of hourly. I alway thought they would say something like it took 4 hours and charge me for it and i wouldnt know the difference, and it could have taken them only 20 minutes. Just fear on my part."

 

But you hardly have any control over what happens with a fixed-price contract.

 

If you fund $40 for a task, and the freelancer does the task, then you're supposed to pay $40.

What if you don't like the color? Or if you don't like the style? You still need to pay $40. Because the freelancer completed the task.

 

With an hourly contract, you DON'T FUND any money up front.

You can hire somebody, and if they don't do the task within an hour, you can close the contract without paying any money.

 

You can hire somebody and look at their work after 10 minutes... and if you don't like their work, you can close the contract and there is nothing that they can do about it.

 

I regard the different contract models this way:

- Fixed-Price: Know ahead of time what you are going to pay

- Hourly: Used when project quality is important; and client has more control

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