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How does Upwork reviews a dispute? Looks like there is no review of Quality of works or deliveries?

I read on terms that during a time of dispute, someone from the mediation team will look over the work and decide whose favor it's in. But doesn't it apply for Disputes over 2 weeks?

We have a current ticket about a freelancer who didn't do the job we needed, so how come it didn't qualify for a review from upwork?

The Mediation team member says this: " I would like to take this opportunity to leave a reminder that mediation involves a discussion between both parties to reach a mutual resolution.
As escrow agents, Upwork is legally required to remain neutral. We have certain release conditions we must follow, none of which allow for us to make a judgment call based on the quality or completeness of work. We may offer a non-binding recommendation however the final outcome would still depend on both parties' decision.
A non-binding recommendation was provided and at this time, what we would encourage both parties is if Courtney is not agreeing to the recommendation, that an alternative resolution is provided so the client can respond."



If thats the thing then how does this make sense on Upwork terms:


  • The dispute specialist will review and evaluate the contract’s Work Diary, using the criteria stated in Upwork Hourly Protection. Note: Although your account has technically been charged for the hours billed, a dispute puts the payment on hold while we review. Please allow up to one business day for Upwork to review and provide a dispute decision.
  • If the specialist decides in your favor, the amount that was billed to you for the hours in question (including any Upwork payment processing fees) will be credited to your Upwork account. If the specialist decides in favor of the freelancer, the payment you made will be released to them."

Now how are they saying the specialist will decide ? If the moderation member can't review how are they deciding it?


I know what Arbitration is and how they charge all those things. But i dont under this part only.

Does anyone have any idea?


Community Member

Fixed price projects require the use of escrow; hourly projects do not.


Upwork is saying that, as a state-regulated escrow agent, it must follow the rules established by the state of California. Apparently, those rules do not allow Upwork to make decisions about releasing escrow to a freelancer "based on the quality or completeness of work."


The full range of rules and definitions related to escrow for fixed price contracts, including disputes, can be found here:


Upwork Legal Center


It appears there is only one set of circumstances under which Upwork reserves the right to make a binding decision about funds under escrow:


Section 4.5 "Freelancer and Client acknowledge and agree that if, in Upwork Escrow’s sole discretion, Upwork Escrow believes that fraud, illegal activity, or a violation of the Terms of Service has been committed or is being committed or attempted, then Client and Freelancer irrevocably authorize and instruct Upwork Escrow to take such actions as deemed appropriate, in Upwork Escrow’s sole discretion and in accordance with applicable law, in order to prevent or remedy such acts, including without limitation, to return the funds associated with such acts to their source of payment..."


It isn't clear why this exception provides only for return of funds "to their source of payment" (i.e. a client). I guess Upwork thinks clients can't commit "fraud, illegal activity, or a violation of the Terms of Service...", so there is no situation in which Upwork would make an exception for paying out contested escrow to a freelancer.




Thank you Will for your reply
but this statement is very wrong "Fixed price projects require the use of escrow; hourly projects do not."

Hourly one does have escrow protection out of the box however fixed doesn't. It's nothing about Escrow use it's about Escrow protection, I think you might need to understand the difference between escrow protection and escrow reserved. here is the link: https://www.upwork.com/legal#escrow-hourly

But again Hourly contracts do indeed have a form of escrow protection, known as Upwork Hourly Protection, which safeguards the payments for hours worked.


Our case here is Hourly pricing thats where they are doing mediation right now.
I appreciate your engagement and look forward to further discussion on this matter.

Dee S.,


It appears you don't even know what "escrow" is.


So, here's a definition for you:


Escrow: What Is It And How Does It Work? | Rocket Mortgage


"Escrow is a legal arrangement in which a third party temporarily holds money or property until a particular condition has been met – such as the fulfillment of a purchase agreement."


Under a fixed price contract, Upwork charges a client's payment method for one or more agreed milestones and places those funds in an escrow account for safekeeping before the freelancer even starts work on a milestone. Upwork then releases out of escrow those escrowed funds out of escrow to the freelancer when the freelancer says (s)he's completed the work required under the escrow agreement (subject to certain considerations unique to Upwork's payment processing procedures).


By contrast, under an hourly contract Upwork doesn't even charge the clients' payment method until after a freelancer's weekly hours are submitted at the end of each Upwork work week. In fact, Upwork sometimes has to pay freelancers itself before it even receives from clients money they owe freelancers. (Read Upwork's most recent 10-K if you feel the need to confirm this.)


Inline XBRL Viewer (sec.gov)


Upwork's payment protection is a third-party guaranty of sorts. It has absolutely nothing to do with an escrow arrangement.


Hmm. Dee S. has only been a member of this message board since yesterday and already his profile is no longer available.


That was quick.

Will, clients don't have a profile unless they create one. 


But you're right about the date which is the date they joined this forum (not Upwork).


As for the original question, I wanted to respond yesterday but I wasn't too confident about it. Here it is:



Dispute specialist can review and make decisions on hourly contract, because they just have to review the work diary to determine how much of the hours can be refunded, based on a set of rules, such as how many 10-minutes segment, how much notes, etc.


But they cannot decide based on quality of the work.


If the freelancers did everything correctly with their diary, I believe Upwork will not allow the refund easily. If you insists hardly, or do something that could get you banned, Upwork will need to pay the freelancer from their own pocket because of the payment protection (if they're out of excuses with the freelancer).



about a freelancer who didn't do the job we needed

If the freelancer didn't do any work at all, based on a few posts I read, the dispute might still be decided in your favor.


But if they've done some work, I mentioned a few times that freelancers can just do some useless work and clients can never get their entire money back (unless they do something that could get them banned).

Community Member

Thanks Radia, Yes I joined 2 days ago just to ask someone that knows these dispute system, as this dispute wasnt qualified for escrow since it was 2 weeks late for hourly.


But yeah thank you for giving me what i was looking for and i think it was kind of out of their wheelhouse due to the late decision.




Community Member

Your question wasn't quite clear, it's actually understandable if Will misunderstands it.


Anyways, you might still be able to get your money back if you ask another institution that usually helps their customers when they get scammed. But you'll be banned from Upwork. This might be an option if you don't want to just 'let go' of this.


Many people would disagree with me for writing the above paragraph. But from what I see, you can't just blame scam victims for "not knowing how to use this site". It's like blaming your mother when she got conned by some delinquents, or blaming the kids when they got hit by drag-racing teens in the neighborhood (the extreme example was actually made by someone else with an opposite POV).


This place in unsafe. Someone on the freelancer forum just asked if he can just leave his computer on for 40 hours to get 40 hours of payment. The guy is just being too honest, while in fact, I have a strong feeling (by looking at some people's profiles) that doing it is not uncommon here.

Community Member

This last para of your reply is the reason why many clients in the writing niche prefer fixed price jobs. It gives them time to check work for quality and accuracy before releasing money.


I prefer fixed as hourly doesn't work for certain types of activity. 


True! It wasn't writing but close(mockups). but yeah I just learned my lesson after this and fixed rate going forward.

It's shocking for me Will that you have been here a lot longer than me but still dont know how this date works. That shows your knowledge followed by Escrow doesn't apply for Hourly.

I have been using Upwork for over a year now and joined Forum due to a dispute. But I appreciate throwing words without a deep idea.


Dee S.,


I'd respond to your latest rant, but I don't speak gibberish.





Well Will, your reply checks out with your profile and depth of knowledge as well as the bluff.


Keep it up,


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