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f0ec0ca0
Community Member

Freelancers not sticking with their bid

I'm starting to see more and more where freelancers and especially 'agencies' will bid our budget for a project and then in the comment, after you've wasted a lot of time talking to them, double triple or quadruple the price once they see we are a real company.  As an experienced client from elance and now upwork, we document our projects heavily and nothing 'changes' for their bid to all of a sudden jump.  Can upwork start policing this a bit?  its starting to become a real problem.

27 REPLIES 27
tlsanders
Community Member

I think it would be impossible for Upwork to police this because, while I believe you provide adequate documentation to create a realistic bid in your postings, the vast majority of clients don't. In a significant percentage of fixed price situations, it is impossible for a freelancer to provide an accurate bid based on information in the posting.

 

Sorting out those where it was reasonable for the freelancer not to have adequate information( or information was added during discussion that required a change in bid price) from situations in which the freelancer simply made a change because he or she thought they could get away with it would be impossible unless Upwork made a huge investment in highly-qualified human screeners to review postings and bids--something that would both slow down the process considerably and require a significant increase in fees.

 

Side note: many clients simply don't accept bids from agencies. If the problem you're experiencing is heavily weighted toward agencies, you may want to consider that approach.

gilbert-phyllis
Community Member

I don't know about the agency side of things, but I can tell you what this looks like from the individual freelancer's side of the table: Client posts job with a very skimpy description and a budget that could possibly be adequate if the project turns out to be dead simple. I can't ask questions without submitting a proposal so I send one, hoping for a conversation in which we determine, as efficiently as possible for both our sakes, what they really need, how much I would need to charge, and whether or not that works for them. 

 

The ensuing conversation reveals the actual scope of the project. Client is appalled by the cost and disappears. It's not my fault they advertised needing a stripped-down sub-compact and what they are really looking for is a mid-sized SUV with tow package.

 

Also, freelancers have to be wary of clients who use the above process to get free consulting and project design. 

between upwork and elance i've spent probably $200k on freelancers for various things since around 2004 with the vast majority being successful engagements.  My requests are deeply documented in both the posting as well as deliverable expectations.  Despite this, I'm seeing agencies constantly try to 'up' the price once they google my company and realize we aren't just some dude in his basement.  Its just unethical.

 

Having said that, I think an earlier suggestion to just start avoiding agencies is probably going to be my short term solution.  That or move to another platform.

Allen, "deeply documented requirements" and expectations as laid out from your perspective.  That only work if you have expertise level domain knowledge in the domain you are hiring for,  and even then there can still be a lot of missing context, nuances, and information that you might not have thought about.  If you do not have mastery domain knowledge,  then documentation and most expectations are not really valid, especially if you go into a domain requiring deep knowledge like engineering, art, law, etc...  

I don't have context what kind of information you are posting, but if you are willing to share a sample description, I am sure some of us will have domain expertise in that specific field and can provide a better response.    

In addressing the fixed price statement.  Most clients (at least in my field of software engineering) has no idea what the cost or scope are to do something.  Added to that is that this platform is global in nature and it is difficult to have a going rate.  If a job is interesting and a client is new to Upwork, I and many other will submit proposals at higher quoted than the stated budget.  Only on established accounts where I can tell we are not going to cross path between what the client is willing to pay, and my lower working rate will I pass over the job and move on.  A statement of whether the budget is firm or flexible help me greatly in that determination.

______________
Is it time for lunch yet?
jmeyn
Community Member


@Allen A wrote:

between upwork and elance i've spent probably $200k on freelancers for various things since around 2004 with the vast majority being successful engagements.  My requests are deeply documented in both the posting as well as deliverable expectations.  Despite this, I'm seeing agencies constantly try to 'up' the price once they google my company and realize we aren't just some dude in his basement.  Its just unethical.

 

Having said that, I think an earlier suggestion to just start avoiding agencies is probably going to be my short term solution.  That or move to another platform.


 Block these freelancers from sending you proposals in the future. This kind of business behaviour should not be tolerated.


undefined:

@Allen A wrote:

between upwork and elance i've spent probably $200k on freelancers for various things since around 2004 with the vast majority being successful engagements.  My requests are deeply documented in both the posting as well as deliverable expectations.  Despite this, I'm seeing agencies constantly try to 'up' the price once they google my company and realize we aren't just some dude in his basement.  Its just unethical.

 

Having said that, I think an earlier suggestion to just start avoiding agencies is probably going to be my short term solution.  That or move to another platform.


 Block these freelancers from sending you proposals in the future. This kind of business behaviour should not be tolerated.


 Why?  Buyer has a right to post a job at whatever price, seller also has right to ask for whatever.  If you like it enterain, if you don't move on.  Solutions are simple. 


undefined:

undefined:

@Allen A wrote:

between upwork and elance i've spent probably $200k on freelancers for various things since around 2004 with the vast majority being successful engagements.  My requests are deeply documented in both the posting as well as deliverable expectations.  Despite this, I'm seeing agencies constantly try to 'up' the price once they google my company and realize we aren't just some dude in his basement.  Its just unethical.

 

Having said that, I think an earlier suggestion to just start avoiding agencies is probably going to be my short term solution.  That or move to another platform.


 Block these freelancers from sending you proposals in the future. This kind of business behaviour should not be tolerated.


 Why?  Buyer has a right to post a job at whatever price, seller also has right to ask for whatever.  If you like it enterain, if you don't move on.  Solutions are simple. 


 Prashant,

If, emphasize if, the OP really provided all details necessary to make a complete and accurate bid, it simply is bad business practice to up the price, once the job is about to start. Sure, he has every right to try it, I'd immediately kick him out. BTW, same for the numerous clients attempting scope creep.


If you like it enterain, if you don't move on.  Solutions are simple. 

 Prashant,

If, emphasize if, the OP really provided all details necessary to make a complete and accurate bid, it simply is bad business practice to up the price, once the job is about to start. Sure, he has every right to try it, I'd immediately kick him out. BTW, same for the numerous clients attempting scope creep.


 Where did you read that?  The way I read it is that during negoitiation phase they are upping the price. 

 

Here the buyer wasted some local's time to give him a detailed quote.  He turns around and posts the job on the net expecting to pay 1/3.

 

He is free to do so. 

 

So is a freelancer or an agency to quote him whatever they feel like. 

 

If you award the contract and a freelancer accepts it and then if they up the price it would be a bad practice.

 

Again the solution is simple.  Just specify the price is firm, no agencies and only freelancers from third world countries, entry level freelancers + whatever spocific things you desire.

 

On Upwork most freelancers know that on a fixed price contract there is a very high likely hood of project creep, and if they don't entertain the request they are risking bad feedback.

 

In real world a freelancer can refuse scope creep.  And there is nothing a buyer can do.  If he refuses payment the local freelancer has other avenues (like BBB complaint, small claims court+....).  Here is how I had dealt with one of them.  It was a non upwork buyer and in the end they just kept increasing demands.  Finally, I sent the invoice with a copy to some of their employees.  The check came by return mail.  If that had not worked, I was planning to CC the governing board of that Non-profit. 

bobafett999
Community Member


@Allen A wrote:

I'm starting to see more and more where freelancers and especially 'agencies' will bid our budget for a project and then in the comment, after you've wasted a lot of time talking to them, double triple or quadruple the price once they see we are a real company.  As an experienced client from elance and now upwork, we document our projects heavily and nothing 'changes' for their bid to all of a sudden jump.  Can upwork start policing this a bit?  its starting to become a real problem.


 Well in your case if you know exactly what you want and how much you want to pay, just add a sentence in your description that the budget price is a 'FIRM' price and non-negotiable.

thats not a bad idea.  I might start doing that, although it feels like I shouldn't have to.


@Allen A wrote:

thats not a bad idea.  I might start doing that, although it feels like I shouldn't have to.


 Not really. 

 

Upwork attracts all sorts of buyers and sellers.  Often the buyers put in a price and want to start 'race to the bottom' bidding.  Often sellers want to push the price as high as they can or believe the amount of effort needed is more.

 

I can come up with dozen more reasons.  Just remember that Upwork is a market place-the final outcome on price and deliverable is what you negotiate with your seller.

if I were new to upwork/elance and to the type of work I have done on freelance sites (mostly coding but some artwork as well), then this would be more likely.  But I post well documented and not low budget or super high budget (if I did this then I would just hire someone local from a consulting agency) projects.  The project in question was $2k for about 10 pages of web that already had the artwork, css, html, data model, etc.etc.etc. finished (only needed the c#/aspnet code).  This would cost me about $6k in the US from a local programmer so $2k for a freelancer on the net is reasonable for the amount of work.

 

my point is that based on considerable past experience it appears that recently agencies are seeing we are a real company and instantly trying to up their price.  One agency said in their comments that they could do this project for $20k instead of the $2k they bid.  I reported the bid.


@Allen A wrote:

if I were new to upwork/elance and to the type of work I have done on freelance sites (mostly coding but some artwork as well), then this would be more likely.  But I post well documented and not low budget or super high budget (if I did this then I would just hire someone local from a consulting agency) projects.  The project in question was $2k for about 10 pages of web that already had the artwork, css, html, data model, etc.etc.etc. finished (only needed the c#/aspnet code).  This would cost me about $6k in the US from a local programmer so $2k for a freelancer on the net is reasonable for the amount of work.

 

my point is that based on considerable past experience it appears that recently agencies are seeing we are a real company and instantly trying to up their price.  One agency said in their comments that they could do this project for $20k instead of the $2k they bid.  I reported the bid.


Yes, some freelancers may raise their bids, or bid ridiculously if they're trying to appear high-end when they really don't know what they're doing. Don't hire those people. They should be pretty easy to weed out!

 

However. Assuming you can get the same quality of work for a third of the price hiring online vs locally is part of the problem. You get what you pay for. What you may consider reasonable may be a complete joke when the scope of the work is actually mapped out, and not everyone who works "online" is willing to take peanuts for quality.


@Allen A wrote:

if I were new to upwork/elance and to the type of work I have done on freelance sites (mostly coding but some artwork as well), then this would be more likely.  But I post well documented and not low budget or super high budget (if I did this then I would just hire someone local from a consulting agency) projects.  The project in question was $2k for about 10 pages of web that already had the artwork, css, html, data model, etc.etc.etc. finished (only needed the c#/aspnet code).  This would cost me about $6k in the US from a local programmer so $2k for a freelancer on the net is reasonable for the amount of work.

 


 Allen:  It seems that you may be comparing apples to oragnes.  Have you received bid from 'Local Agencies' rather than a freelance 'moonlighter'?  Your solution is simple.  In addition to saying that your price is firm, also add a sentence that says 'No Agencies' please.

 

A real agency also has other expenses in addition to what they pay their people.  Ten years ago my charge out billable rate was about $400.  I was getting only fraction of that in my paycheck.

 

If you are a real company, you must have lots of time on hand to haggle the differential of $4k (6k of your local quote - 2k you have arbitrarily decided how much it would cost in India)


@Allen A wrote:

This would cost me about $6k in the US from a local programmer so $2k for a freelancer on the net is reasonable for the amount of work.

 

Why would a freelancer "on the net" be 1/3 the price of a local programmer? I'm not a programmer, but I charge my online clients exactly the same rate I do my local clients, and I pay my freelancers what the job is worth, regardless of where they're located.


@Tiffany S wrote:

@Allen A wrote:

This would cost me about $6k in the US from a local programmer so $2k for a freelancer on the net is reasonable for the amount of work.

 

Why would a freelancer "on the net" be 1/3 the price of a local programmer?


 Tiffany my dear,'freelancer on the net" is a code word for programmers from the third world countries.


undefined:

@Tiffany S wrote:

@Allen A wrote:

This would cost me about $6k in the US from a local programmer so $2k for a freelancer on the net is reasonable for the amount of work.

 

Why would a freelancer "on the net" be 1/3 the price of a local programmer?


 Tiffany my dear,'freelancer on the net" is a code word for programmers from the third world countries.


 Thank you, Prashant. Sometimes I have too much faith in humanity.

 

This makes it clearer why the OP would have expected to get the work done cheap. I still can't quite get to the point of calling it "reasonable," but at least I understand the situation better.

Tiffany wrote

 

Why would a freelancer "on the net" be 1/3 the price of a local programmer? 

 

Simple: supply and demand, aka the free market.

Did you ask the freelancer why the increase or are you assuming it's because they found out you were a real company? They should be able to give you a cogent explanation whether you agree or not. Even if your spec didn't change, you should understand that the freelancer is not coming into this with the same background as you are. It may take some conversations and questions before the freelancer comes to a point of sufficient understanding. Sometimes I think clients forget that while they have been living the need and requirement, that they are talking to someone who has zero background on the topic and will certainly be seeing it from a different perspective initially. Larger projects can take a bit of back and forth before things sink in enough to provide a proper estimate. While I am not suggesting you aren't coming across unprofessional freelancers, I am suggesting that there is more to consider when a quote is hiked. In the end, it would help to ask them why and interpret their response.

 

As an aside, in the "real business world" there are plenty of well known companies who base their pricing and negotiation on the size of the customer. You better believe the sales staff looks at revenues, employee count, investments, etc., to determine their approach to the customer. While this usually wouldn't happen after a quote has been given, the practice of sizing up the customer occurs all of the time. I say this as someone on the customer side of these transactions.

 

In my space I don't deal in fixed bids outside of very specific and small services (exceedingly rare). The variables are far too great and pains far too many. However, that's my space and those in other spaces find them a great fit.

kat303
Community Member


@Allen A wrote:

I'm starting to see more and more where freelancers and especially 'agencies' will bid our budget for a project and then in the comment, after you've wasted a lot of time talking to them, double triple or quadruple the price once they see we are a real company.  As an experienced client from elance and now upwork, we document our projects heavily and nothing 'changes' for their bid to all of a sudden jump.  Can upwork start policing this a bit?  its starting to become a real problem.


 

First of all, having Upwork "police" this a bit is unrealistic. they would have to have expert knowledge of what the job involves and knowledge of realistic prices vs. budgets. And that would take a vast amount of expertly qualified workers here in every category for every type of job. That's just not doable.

 

As to freelancer upping their budgets. I can see that happening from a freelancers perspective. In fact, that just happened to me. This may or may not be your case.

I lost a job here, because the client, wouldn't supply the document I would be working with. - At least that is what he told me.

He said basically the same as you posted. - he was tired of being highjacked by freelancers who up their budget and it was a waste of their time. It scared him that I wanted to dee the document after he clearly described the job to me. He said  I have seen and heard of horror stories where people show the freelancer the work then all of a sudden the price skyrockets.  The client wasted their fime and the freelancer holds the client hostaget.

 

 

Also, it could be, that more things were discussed in addition to what you originally stated in the job description. When work goes beyond what the requirements were for the original job, prices will go higher. And another thing to take into consideration, Maybe, you really didn't describe the job as detailed as you thought it would be

 

ALL, things concerning the job, the materials, the requirements, the materials, the questions/answers, terms, pice, etc should be discussed Before a contract is offererd by a client and accepted by a freelancer. Whether that takes place in the message sections, through email or a phone/Skype call (and be documented in the message section. And that part is the interview stage. IMO I don't consider doing ll the above in the interview stage as time wasted. I consider it valuable knowledge that I need in order to work on the job and complete it perfectly.

claudiacezy
Community Member


@Allen A wrote:

 after you've wasted a lot of time talking to them, double triple or quadruple the price once they see we are a real company.


 Why does it take a lot of time talking to them if the project is well documented?


If it's taking several hours of consulting prior hiring that is an indication the project will require same level of communication and consulting. So, it may have nothing to do with them discovering you are a real company but discovering it's not "just get it done".


I refrain from upping the bid price but withdraw if I get a sense there will be lots of consulting and documentation not covered by the budget. It can take 5 hours to complete a project but consulting and documentation could take another 5 hours if not more.


The agencies might have someone whose job is to submit bids without having knowledge to appreciate the actual cost for the project but bid within client's budget. In such case probably someone else is responsible to review the job posting, continue the communication with the client and give the real cost. Even so, I don't understand why you would waste time talking to them if they fail to submit a proposal addressing your requirements.

All I can add to the comments from my peers - "Exactly!"

 

Allen, what seems fully cohesive from your perspective is not necessarily so from the freelance professional's.  

"Professional" being the operative word.

melaniekhenson
Community Member

If I up a bid it's because the client obviously placed a marker. Sometimes the client will say this in the body of the job listing, but not always.

 

Other times, I'd like the job but I have a regular hourly rate, so I submit that.

 

Every once in a blue moon, it's just pretty obvious that the client has no idea what to put down for the job...but to be honest, I pretty much avoid those unless there's some super-compelling reason. Nearly all the time if the rate seems outrageously low, I will pass it by. I won't go bidding my own rate or some reasonable rate, I just pass.

gerrys
Community Member

You are seeing "wishy-washy" behaviour, and instead of giving these people the boot and thanking your astute observations, you are going to let someone else make these decisions for you?

tlsanders
Community Member


undefined:

You are seeing "wishy-washy" behaviour, and instead of giving these people the boot and thanking your astute observations, you are going to let someone else make these decisions for you?


 Gerry, you say the oddest things sometimes. How on earth could significantly raising your price be termed "wishy-washy"?

On fixed-price proposals I nearly always say that my bid is provisional (or just a placeholder) and that I won't be able to set a fixed price until I know more about the work. Even so, I usually end up setting a price too soon, and underpricing!

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