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809b1664
Community Member

I requested a dispute from a freelancer as I was completely mislead.

Hey everyone, 

 

As per the subject line, I've officially experienced my first awful encounter with a freelancer. 


My job description was clearly trying to vet a designer to fulfill my click funnels landing page and essentially revamp what I currently had. The job posting was clear as day.

 

The freelancer's profile intrigued me, so I got on a call with him. Now, no harm to anyone but this gentleman was from Moldova and had very broken English and he APPARENTLY pitched me a consulting for a whopping $1000 USD whereas I thought it would be the actual work.

 

I got on the second call with him and asked him when the design process would actually begin and he said he would create the design, and only assist with how the design should be.

 

The call consisted of him sharing his screen showing us different options on how to execute our landing page design, customer persona, etc. [Everything in the call was stuff I already knew, I needed execution].

 

Wholeheartedly, I really feel like I got scammed. I can't believe this is actually happening.

 

This payment is as follows:

 

April 6: Escrow of $10000

April 12: First call (1 hr) - My team confused as the "consulting" was out of expectation and even then, he did a horrible job.

 

April 16: Second call (20 min because we realized we were being scammed)

 

April 16: Dispute

 

It's a fixed job, not hourly.

 

Note: The freelancer will only give me back $400 USD and I of course am requesting the full amount. Can Upwork enforce the full amount back to me without going to arbitration?

12 REPLIES 12
NikolaS
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Peter,

 

I am sorry to hear about your bad experience with a freelancer. Please know that your freelancer can either approve or dispute your refund request.

If the freelancer or agency approves the refund or does not respond within seven days, the money in escrow will be refunded. Refund credits can take up to five business days to appear.


Your freelancer or agency can dispute the refund request if they feel a refund is not warranted. If this happens, we will notify you by email and you can either accept or reject the dispute:

 

  • If you accept the dispute, the funds will be released to the freelancer or agency
  • If you reject the dispute, an Upwork dispute specialist will provide mediation assistance to both parties to try and resolve the matter


Once a dispute is submitted you may review or update the request by logging into your Upwork account and going to the Dispute Center. The mediation period will not exceed 30 days, and if you and your freelancer or agency are unable to reach an agreement, the dispute specialist will make a non-binding recommendation. If that recommendation is rejected, the final option is to proceed to arbitration, where a decision will be made by the American Arbitration Association, a neutral third-party organization. 

 

You can find more information in this help article.

 

~ Nikola
Upwork
prestonhunter
Community Member

Peter:
I am sorry if you had a disappointing experience while using Upwork.

I want you to have the best possible outcome. I am on your side.

I hope you will not hesitate to ask additional questions if there is anything that you don't understand.

You made many mistakes, and you need to understand that these were your mistakes, and nobody else's.

 

For future reference:

Keep in mind that Upwork's business model is that it allows clients to find, hire and pay freelancers, and then Upwork retains (as a fee paid by the freelancer) a portion of the money paid to the freelancer. If money is refunded to the client, then Upwork doesn't keep that fee. Whenever you use Upwork, keep in mind that it is NOT Upwork's intention that clients get money back from freelancers. It is not like going to Walmart and buying a toaster, and then returning the unopened toaster to the store for a full refund. When you hire a freelancer, you can not get a refund and magically return the time back to the freelancer.

 

Instead of ever thinking that you might get money back from a freelancer (because you might NOT get money back!), you should thoughtfully and proatively hire freelancers. For example, you said that you made a fixed-price contract for $1000 or $10000 to a pay a freelancer for consultation. This was a mistake on your part. You should have hired the freelancer using an hourly contract. After ten minutes, if you didn't like the consultation you were receiving, you could have simply ended the contract. No money would have been tied up in escrow.

 

I would like to see you feel that you have been made whole. But Upwork may not have your money at all at this point. The freelancer may have your money, and may not be willing to give it back.

 

You will have more success as a client - and you will save money - if you plan to NEVER get money back from any freelancer, not through a refund, dispute, arbitration or any other method. If you hire a freelancer and you don't love their work, then just end the contract and stop paying them. It is much easier to NOT pay a freelancer more money in the first place, than to pay the freelancer and then TRY to get money back from him. If you want to use fixed-price contracts, that is fine. But you should never fund an escrow payment with the idea that you might get the money back. So you should fund a SMALL test payment for a small portion of the task, rather than making large escrow payments with the thought that you will get the money back.

 

Here is an example:
Fred wanted to hire a freelancer to create 100 modules. He found a freelancer named Bernice. He thought about funding a $1000 escrow payment to pay Bernice to create all 100 modules. But he had never worked with Bernice. He realized it would be foolish to fund a $1000 payment for her. Instead, Fred funded a $10 payment to pay her to do one module. It turns out Bernice's work was terrible! Fred had to laugh. He certainly didn't want all 100 modules to be created by Bernice. Fred relased the $10 payment to Bernice and ended the contract. Fred later found other freelancers (through similar testing) who could do GREAT work. After a few successively larger milestone payments to freelancers who demonstrated excellent quality in their work, Fred had all of the work done.

Preston,

 

I appreciate your reply, but you are wrong.

 

Let's do another so-called "scenario".

 

Fred wants a design. Jack comes in, sells you on some complex structure, and this structure doesn't result in a design, but only lessons. I was completely misled and I will take this to arbitration if needed.

My job posting was requesting a DESIGN and I did NOT receive it.


Did you think my intention was wasting somebody's time?


I've had MANY jobs done by fantastic freelancers on this platform and they've all received 5-star reviews from me. In this case, this is a 100% scam.

Also, one of your statements was that it was a mistake of mine to do a contract instead of hourly. Preston, why would Upwork offer such a payment structure, who in the wrong?

I am glad you have have had many positive experiences when hiring on Upwork.

 

I hope you can get money back from this situation, but I can't guarantee there you will. If you end up going to arbitration, even if you win and get all money back, you will still be out the $291 non-refundable arbitration fee.

 

This could end up being a situation in which you are 100% correct morally, but you still end up losing $1000.

 

None of my advice to you - which is really general advice and not meant for you only - was purely about morality or ethics. My advice was highly practical and tactical. It is highly likely that the freelancers I hire on Upwork will be talented, professional and ethical. But there is a chance that they won't be. My cautious hiring strategy works for both situations.

Why would they not refund the full amount? If Upwork thinks 1 1/2 calls are worth $1000 USD they'd be bankrupt. I have the money to facilitate the arbitration fee if needed, better than being scammed out of $1000.

 

 

If anything, do you think the mediator can fulfill the full or even 90% refund?

re: "If anything, do you think the mediator can fulfill the full or even 90% refund?"

 

Upwork mediators are not supposed to make decisions about who gets the escrow money. They are supposed to facilitate discussion between the freelancer and client. I have read about disputes and mediation at Upwork for seven years. It is highly unlikely that the mediator will directly make a decision. If you can't come to an agreement with the freelancer, then you will need to go to arbitration. And you should be aware that arbitration rarely decides in favor of the client.

 

re: "Why would they not refund the full amount? If Upwork thinks 1 1/2 calls are worth $1000 USD they'd be bankrupt"

 

Upwork does not make decisions about how much an individual freelancer's work is worth. This includes consultation phone calls. Upwork may look at this as a situation in which a client hired a freelancer to do a couple of consultation calls for $1000, and then the client ended the contract and tried to renege on the deal.


re: "Also, one of your statements was that it was a mistake of mine to do a fixed-price contract instead of hourly... why would Upwork offer such a payment structure, who in the wrong?"

 

An hourly contract allows you unlimited flexibility regarding when you can close a contract. A fixed-price contract - by definition - ties up money in an escrow payment, and you have no way of getting that money back without asking the freelancer for a refund.

 

Upwork offers more than one contract type. That's fine. But as a client, not every option makes sense all the time. If you hire using a fixed-price contract, you must accept the fact that you may never get escrowed money back, regardless of what a freelancer does.

"An hourly contract allows you unlimited flexibility regarding when you can close a contract. A fixed-price contract - by definition - ties up money in an escrow payment, and you have no way of getting that money back without asking the freelancer for a refund."

 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

 

In-depth, look at what escrow does- and why an immense company like Upwork will always side the client.

 

On another note, the first milestone was "1ST PHASE TO GRAPHIC FUNNEL DESIGN'.

 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

I also feel like you've had disputes in the past that lead to the client's side.  

petra_r
Community Member

Peter T wrote:

Can Upwork enforce the full amount back to me without going to arbitration?


No, they can't.

So it's either arbitration or agreeing to what's on offer. With $1000 on the line, I'd opt for arbitration and aim to pay the freelancer for an hour and a half of their time at their profile rate (if the profile rate is reasonable).


7Petra R wrote:
Peter T wrote:

Can Upwork enforce the full amount back to me without going to arbitration?


No, they can't.

So it's either arbitration or agreeing to what's on offer. With $1000 on the line, I'd opt for arbitration and aim to pay the freelancer for an hour and a half of their time at their profile rate (if the profile rate is reasonable).


If I understood correctly,  Peter has not released any money from escrow, so he is only asking for a refund of escrow,  not of money released  My understanding is that, if neither party pays for arbitration, the money in escrow will eventually be fully refunded to the client. The onus is on the freelancer to pay for arbitration first, and given the circumstances it seems unlikely that he will do so. If I felt I'd been scammed by the freelancer I would not agree to a partial payment.

 

P.S. Peter, although the onus is on the freelancer to go to arbitration if you don't reach a voluntary agreement, you might want to initiate arbitration yourself anyway. If you pay for arbitration and then the freelancer declines to pay for it, you will win by default and get your arbitration fee back as well as the escrow funds.

Very insightful, thanks Richard!

Does arbitration refund the full amount, or can they decide to do a split of 90/10 for example? $900 to me $100 for the freelancer.

re: "Does arbitration refund the full amount, or can they decide to do a split of 90/10 for example? $900 to me $100 for the freelancer."

 

The independent arbitrator may make ANY decision: Could decide that 100% of the money goes to the freelancer. Or to the client. Or could decide on a split, of any amount to any party.

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