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Freelancer refunding money to escape bad feedback

I had a freelancer working for me on an hourly basis. I disabled logging of manual time so I could see the work they are doing so I could guide them in the right direction if they were making mistakes or if there was a better way to go about things. I also asked him to share the excel sheet with me in Google docs so I could see their entries as they were happening, again so I could guide them if there was anything wrong, or tell them when they are doing good. The freelancer decided to work offline anyway, and then just keep the Team View on and doing 1-2 mouse clicks every 10 minutes to get paid for the time anyway. He shared the Google doc with me with some of the entries on it, but did it all at once instead of letting me see it as the work was being done. When I saw he had not worked for 3 days, I ended the contract because I thought he had stopped working after I questioned him about the time he was logging without any work being done and the explanation above is what I got from him. Then he turned around and said that he had done a lot of work "offline" and it was not fair I ended the contract without letting him log the time he had done. I think this way of logging his time completely defeats the purpose of the Team View, and I tried to explain this to him as well as offering him to give me his side of the story so we could resolve this amicably. The only response I got was "I will give you a refund". No explanation given, no attempt to resolve the matter, just spite and obviously an attempt to avoid bad feedback. How can I make sure that this doesn't happen to any of his future employers? I can't give him feedback now cause he has refunded all the money and removed my access to the work he had done, so basically I have come out of this with no data and he with no money. I obviously don't think this is fair on him either as he did do some work and deserves to get paid for it. Is there a way to get oDesk to contact him to explain the process to him so he doesn't make this kind of mistake again, and so future employers don't have to go through the same dispute with him that I did? Thanks!

If the freelancer doesn't use the tracker, then his pay isn't guaranteed. He should have taken the time to read about the terms and conditions, they are clearly written on the site. I don't see why oDesk support needs to explain anything to him. That's his problem really. It's definitely at your discretion whether to let a freelancer add manual hrs or not. Would a trial arrangement work for you? You hire for 1 or 2 hrs to see if they produce anything. If they don't, then you choose someone else. I understand when you say that you've been left without any results. Sorry to hear that. I mean you could report him to support. I don't know if they'd have any suggestions.

Thanks Gillian. Thankfully it was only a trial for a few hours, but I probably made a mistake in making the trial go for 10 hours as I believed it was a hard project that would be difficult to assess within only 1-2 hours. I also hired 2 others that are producing good results, so it's not a huge loss to be without his results. I just felt really bad after he refunded the money because of this. But then again he was also very rude about it, and tried to charge me even more if I wanted the results delivered, so I'm happy I didn't end up hiring him for longer because it could have been ugly. Thank you for your support. I appreciate it.

Yes, I understand what you mean. Sometimes a couple of hrs isn't enough for certain projects. This is how it goes for both freelancers and clients, sometimes the contract is a success and sometimes not. Indeed it's probably a good thing that the contract didn't go any further, some freelancers can write negative reviews about a client just to be spiteful. OK, well glad that you managed to get some results from other freelancers anyway.

Is the work that he did showed you up to the standard you are expecting, and was the time logged in line with the amount of time it would take to complete said work? The issue you stated is complex, but then again not. Manual time was disabled, so all hours were logged properly correct? Yes. You did mention specifically to the contractor that you wanted him to ONLY work live while you were online and he was working so you can view each and every keystroke when they happened correct? If he was aware that you essentially wanted to stand over his shoulder prior to hire, then he should have made sure that you were both online and that you could view each and every key depression. That is his mistake, and sadly for both of you it did not work out. I am not sure if you sent him a message about the work and then ended the contract, or if you ended it and then sent a message, either way, it is up to you when you decide to end a contract, and if he was billing via the timer, then all work actually was charged, him working off the clock was at his own peril. Contractors have the option of refunding the money to avoid bad feedback from clients are vindictive or petty, I am not saying that you are, that is just the main reason the system is there. However, it is a common practice for some contractors to refund any amounts that have feedback they dont prefer. I work on the clock at times as required(and charge more for it!), but personally, I dont like it since it is the same as some one standing behind me in the office, which is why I left the office enviroment in the first place. Not all contractors feel this way, but some do, however, it is important to be upfront with your client about how you work as well as understand how your client wants their project completed.

It's freelancers like the one wrote about that have ruined oDesk for clients. Many freelancers on oDesk have no intention of doing the work they are contracted for. They take the clients' money and move on to the next "pigeon" (con game). Even when oDesk catches up with these bad freelancers, they just open another oDesk account using different credentials. Take a close look at the hours some freelancers have logged. How can one human being work that many hours over the time frame given. Maybe that's why oDesk is experimenting [aka "mad robots"] with freelancers' profiles; that is, showing only the total money earned and NOT the pay rates and total hours worked. Nonetheless, as a reputable, trustworthy freelancer, I have had to abruptly make refunds and/or end contracts on a few occasions to avoid bad feedback from clients that attempted to manipulate (even threaten) me into doing things beyond what was agreed to during interviews and contract negotiations. Those were clients that I typically would not have even bid on work for but did because of how hard it has been to find good clients and good work here on oDesk these days. The situation I mentioned above is even more prevalent on oDesk since oDesk: 1) Implemented the "Money-back Guarantee" program, and 2) Released their "mad robots," which has made it much harder for freelancers to search for prospective clients or be found by prospective clients. Oops, I think I said that already....
Ron aka LanWanMan