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Odesk Contractor Scam - Bill for Many Hours and Not Deliver any Work

Active Member
James V Member Since: Feb 20, 2012
1 of 37
I hired an hourly rate contractor who simply ran the clock to rack up hours, never delivering any work. This contractor tricks the screen capture system by opening windows related to my project to make it look like they are working, and then arbitrarily clicking/making keystrokes so that they have some activity showing. They could easily be using a bot/app to do the keystrokes and clicks. The applications and windows in the screenshots appear to be related to my project, but there is no screenshot of any work actually begin performed. This contractor simply clocked as many hours as possible until they hit the initial weekly limit I set, in this case 12 hours. The contractor then asks me to enable additional hours, and starts making all manner of excuses when I ask to see the work first. I tell the contractor I will not enable more hours until I can see some work they have done during this 12 hour period that I am being billed for. The contractor refuses to provide anything where I can see work they have done, so I decide to end the contract. At this point the contractor knows I am not happy. When I end the contract and give a 1-star rating they also give me a 1-star rating. Apparently asking to see some work done after 12 hours billed makes me a terrible client. Now I have a bill for 12 hours, but nothing to show for it. I received absolutely nothing for the hours I am being billed. I also got a 1-star review with no comment from the provider on my profile. The screenshots in the work diary and most of the activity levels make it look like the contractor was working, because they have apps and widows open with my project related stuff, and mouse/keystroke activity. This means I'll likely lose any dispute over the hours "worked". Do I have any recourse? What are my options at this point, do I just lose the money?
Community Guru
Bojana D Member Since: May 2, 2011
2 of 37
If the logged hours were from the last week, I think you're still in the review period and you can file a dispute (although with the recent changes I'm not sure about the start/end days). Check these for more details: https://kb.odesk.com/questions/911/What+is+the+client+review+period%3F https://kb.odesk.com/questions/679/What+is+a+dispute+ticket%2C+and+when+is+the+best+time+to+file+one... And of course - report the guy to Support with proof for the communication and his behavior - Skype logs, email copies, whatever you have to back up the claim.
Active Member
James V Member Since: Feb 20, 2012
3 of 37
Yes, I was able to dispute the hours first thing Monday. So far I haven't heard anything and it's close to the hours being frozen. Hopefully I'll get a response before this contractor is paid. It's not a huge amount of money to me, but it bothers me to know that dishonest contractors can get away with this so easily.
Active Member
Ayesha S Member Since: Nov 22, 2009
4 of 37
Hello James, I'm sorry you had a bad experience with the contractor. You can dispute the hours in case the screenshots aren't relevant to your work. Please contact Customer Support to report the contractor for non-delivery.
oDesk Forum Moderator Always reach for the skies, for even if you fall, you'll still be on the top of the world...
Active Member
James V Member Since: Feb 20, 2012
5 of 37
Yes, I know I can dispute the hours, but Odesk says they will guarantee payment to the contractor if they log time and show activity working. If the only requirement is to log time in the work diary and show activity, but there's no requirement to deliver any work, how can buyers be protected in a situation like this where the work diary is full but no work is actually being done, and in the end nothing is delivered? Similarly, as an example - what happens if I hire an hourly contractor to write a book, they take the job and spend many hours writing the book which I am billed for. Then the contractor decides to keep the book for themselves and never delivers it. They still meet the requirements for guaranteed pay, because they were doing the job they were hired for and they are properly logging time. Do I have to pay the bill and the contractor gets to keep my book without any recourse other than a negative review? Does Odesk have any policy about a contractor who refuses to deliver work they claim to have done and are billing hours for?
Active Member
Doreen M Member Since: Mar 17, 2008
6 of 37
Is a violation of the TOS. I'm a writer and I seldom take on hourly assignments for my own reason but this would certainly be a violation and oDesk would no doubt freeze a financial account until such time as the work was delivered.
Active Member
James V Member Since: Feb 20, 2012
7 of 37
Right, but if the contractor refuses to deliver the work and I file a dispute for the hours, Odesk will rule in the contractors favor because they have properly logged hours while doing the work they were hired to do. I end up paying them for the work even though I never get anything.
Community Guru
Marissa S Member Since: Feb 6, 2008
8 of 37
Too bad hourly jobs don't come with a money-back guarantee... maybe, you can opt for an alternative dispute resolution process - something outside the system if ever there's no other way to resolve your issue. Litigation is a costly option.
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
9 of 37
[quote=James V.]Right, but if the contractor refuses to deliver the work and I file a dispute for the hours, Odesk will rule in the contractors favor because they have properly logged hours while doing the work they were hired to do. I end up paying them for the work even though I never get anything.[/quote] In cases of fraud and similar cases (and this may well fall under that heading)they will override the hourly payment guarantee as per the Terms of Service. You just need to keep **AT** Support and if need be ask to speak to a manager of supervisor. Do not open new tickets, keep at your existing one.
Active Member
James V Member Since: Feb 20, 2012
10 of 37
I hope so! Thanks for the tips.
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