I'm only asking for feedback from others to understand whether it's time to just move on, or if this is worth fighting for... AND even going the route of disputing the charges with PayPal (which will get my odesk account shut down).
The problem: I hired this guy to build a software for me, and I said my budget was $1k. He broke it into 80 hours at $11.25/hr (yeah, should've been my first HUGE red flag right there), in addition to a smaller $100 job he had completed for me.
At the end of the first 40 hours we had barely made a dent, and I expressed my concern to the contractor. He assured me not to worry and that he'd work off the clock if needed. I thought that's very fair, so I agreed to continue. At the end of the full 80 hours, still practically nothing was completed. I mean, I'd estimate we were around 10% of the way done. But again he insisted he'll work off the clock if needed. Mind you, this was my first experience with an hourly contract, so I wasn't savvy yet to the "games" played with the hourly contracts.
3 *MONTHS* later, he finally finishes. During this time he has repeatedly insisted I allow him to track more time, and 99% of the time I have denied him. I've opened a few small (like $25 jobs that literally took 15 minutes to complete), but that's it.
As of today, the software is in place, but it shows a lot of 500 internal server errors, and it's due to how poorly written the PHP queries are. It is NOT a server resource problem. I haven't EVER even come close to maxing out my server resources. And nobody else wants to even touch the code because of how much of a mess it is.
And I've already talked to Odesk about this, and the only thing they're willing to do is bug the agency/contractor to fix it. I said okay fine. But the agency is lying and running around in circles. They're claiming they've tested the code on their servers and that it SUPPOSEDLY works just fine. However, at one point (while I was sleeping) he had sent a message saying he wasn't able to run the test because the account had been suspended. This is a FB software, and you have to be logged into FB at the same time in order to test it. But when I woke up he's claiming it works just fine. Which is a flat out lie.
So getting them to fix their code is going to be an uphill battle. And Odesk of course offers no other solutions. They claim they can't refund me because the contractor was already paid. But that shouldn't matter because this agency has well over 200k+ hours logged on their account, and they've got MANY open contracts.... so they *could* just as easily take the money from one of their other contracts. Sure that wouldn't be a pleasant experience (if you're on the receiving end of that happening to you).... but it sure as hell is not fun being on my side being out of more than $1k, and not only having a software that doesn't work, but that NOBODY else even wants to touch. I can't even hire someone else to fix/finish the job.
Does anybody else have any other solutions that have worked for them, that I might not have thought about already? I'm trying to figure something out before I go the route of disputing the charges with paypal and saying screw my odesk account and just going to one of the competing odesk platforms.
I'm not sure I get why dividing a $1000 contract into 80 hours is considered a red flag?
I hope you get this fixed. We really can't do anything about it as it looks like there is already an on-going dispute in process and support may be doing some kind of digging before refunding you.
You see, there are plenty of clients who claim all sorts of things just to get out of paying. I'm not glad that you are having a problem with your project but I am glad that oDesk seems to be taking steps to be more thorough.
Please don't be disheartened. There are plenty of great freelancers out there. I wrote this thing to help out another client, I'll just copy paste it for you as well:
Personally I would do the following to get my project done:
STEP 1: Find a great freelancer.
- avoid agencies, make sure to get someone with extensive experience, great reviews and established history. I like hiring individual freelancers because I like communicating with the person doing the job for me, not some middleman.
STEP 2: Make sure to discuss what needs to be done with the freelancer, including budget, deliverables, and timetable including what the milestones of the project will be.
STEP 3: Choose a Fixed Rate Contract and hire the freelancer with milestones (hourly tends to get dragged around by bad freelancers). A fixed rate contract protects you because if things do not work out or if the deliverables do not turn up by the agreed upon time, you can choose not to release payment. Take note that unpaid work means you don't own the work and if you choose not to pay, the freelancer retains the rights to any updates he/she made.
STEP 4: Work with your freelancer and communicate lots. Good feedback and communication from both sides is key.
STEP 5: Test things for each milestone before releasing payment
STEP 6: Test final product.
STEP 7: Pay whatever else needs to be paid and end the contract once things are all tested and are A-okay. Don't forget to share your thoughts with the freelancer, especially if they did a great job.
STEP 8: Don't forget to leave an honest feedback and perhaps a bonus if the freelancer went above and beyond the scope of the project.
STEP 9: Spread the word that some good freelancers exists on oDesk
If you do the steps above, the chances of you being ripped off by a bad freelancer is next to none. Why? Because if things don't work at whatever step, you simply do not release payment for the milestone in question and don't set up the next milestones. More so, leaving the feedback and the ending of the contract as the last steps means if the freelancer tries to pull some trick and a vanishing act, he/she will get a reputation killer feedback which will be seen by everyone on his/her profile, thus killing his/her oDesk career. Of course all of this will not be a problem if you do step 1 right since a professional freelancer would follow the same steps (I also freelance sometimes).
All the best!
Okay, this is me officially NOT LOOKING FOR WORK. (Very busy, NOT taking on new clients.) But trying to be helpful to Stephanie's plight.
The server errors you're seeing can definitely be caused by poorly written SQL queries.
From your account, it sounds like you hired somebody who know SOME things about building the front end of an application for FB, but they were NOT a database specialist, or even very proficient with SQL.
A single misplaced word, even a single misplaced punctuation mark, can mean the difference between an application which is FAST and LIGHT, and an application which eats up so much server time, that it drags the whole server to a halt.
You may very well have a bad/incomplete left join or inner join.
A query can WORK when it is tested, but still be COMPLETELY WRONG. It may even get the right results, but still be a horribly written query once its in a production setting.
Most generalist programmers can do OKAY in building basic SQL queries and BASIC database design, but it takes a specialist to get a system as fast and as efficient as it can be.
You may have front end code, design and images which can be retained and made into a fully functional program, but you probably should scrap the entire back-end database schema and have the SQL queries re-written by a specialist (who has some time, which isn't me).