re: "how long should I wait, etc?"
That's entirely up to you.
As a client, I have hired freelancers who didn't start work for over a month. That was fine, given the fact that my timeframe for needing the work was not pressing.
I have also hired freelancers and then closed the contract on them because they couldn't start within 5 minutes after I hired them.
What are your options?
You can do anything you want to. You may close the contract at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. There are many freelancers on Upwork. You are under no obligation to wait for this one.
Presumably the deadline is not critical for this project, because you only hired one freelancer.
If the deadline is important, then of course you would only work with freelancers who have worked with many times in the past and you know how dependable they are, or you would hire multiple different freelancers. The more important and pressing a deadline is, the more freelancers you will hire, in order to have enough coverage to compensate for standard failure rate.
Remember that there is an inherent standard failure rate for contracts, a rate which is different depending on the job niche and relative cost factor. You need to factor that rate into your hiring if you are dealing with a deadline.
"how long it will take" and "when it needs to be completed" are two separate things. Did you and the FL communicate specifically about when the work would be completed? If not, then you are probably working on different assumptions. If yes, then you have several options.
Is the contract hourly or fixed-rate? If you want to really screw the FL, regardless of the possibility you both miscommunicated and the possibility she/he might have gotten hit by a bus or something, then you could close the contract with nothing paid. Hopefully, you don't want to do that. Are you up against a deadline, or just aggravated? If you have a deadline, then find someone else to do the work while you pause this contract (if it's hourly). When the FL surfaces again, the two of you can discuss what went wrong. If, by that time, you've had to pay someone else to do the work but you don't want to slam the FL, pay them $3 so the contract won't count against them, close it out and go your separate ways. If they really flaked out on you, then don't feel obligated to help them whitewash it.
If you're not up against a deadline yourself, and there is a possibility of miscommunication, then it would be reasonable to wait until everybody's had time for a cup of coffee Monday morning, before building up more steam. IMO.
I certainly don't want to screw over the freelancer as I've been in that boat myself and suffered greatly from it, but I want my work completed at the end of the day.
We didn't set down an exact deadline to this project but the synopsis was that she could get it presented to me by Friday (day after accepting the contract). She did have a couple of bad reviews (2 star, 1 star) on her profile but they seemed unrealistic and that the client was expecting too much... could be my own ignorance at play here for not looking into things further.
I'll leave it until Monday afternoon and see where we're at. If I don't receive a reply by Monday evening, I'll just send through $5, request a return of the other funds and leave a negative review at the end of it.
Thanks Phyllis and Preston.
Just going a different route here. Before you offered her a contract did you have an interview with her at which time she had the opportunity to view the material and finalize any other terms, questions and/or information? And I have to also ask, was more work involved then was initially told to this freelancer? If so, although unprofessional, when the freelancer say what was involed, saw that it was much more work then could be completed in X amount of hours, or realized that the job was beyond their skillset, instead of letting you know, she could have just figured, I don't want to deal with it so I just won't do it and won't say anything.
Having said that, if you have no pressing deadlines I would, IMO give this freelancer a bit more time just in case something happened unexpectedly. Perhaps by Wed or Thurs at the latest. On Monday you could message this freelancer
Hi XXX I haven't gotten any replys from the messages I've sent to you. I would like an update and the work you've done so far. If I don't hear from you by Thursday (date and time) I will have to close this job and hire another freelancer to complete it for me.
If you do hear back from her, then at that time, you should set a deadline and if it's not met, then close the contract and hire another freelancer. There's no reason for a freelancer to string a client along for weeks or months with promises.
Phyllis G wrote:
If, by that time, you've had to pay someone else to do the work but you don't want to slam the FL, pay them $3 so the contract won't count against them, close it out and go your separate ways. If they really flaked out on you, then don't feel obligated to help them whitewash it.
The feedback still goes into the JSS. I think a feedback everyboday can see reflecting missed deadlines and poor lack of communication might do more damage then a contract closed without payment.