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What's wrong with Upwork in my opinion

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Andreas W Member Since: Aug 16, 2015
1 of 33

I'd like to give my feedback based on a project I posted here two weeks ago. I was looking for a Meteor developer which is still a relative new Javascript framework. So it's understandable that the whole time I've got in total only 4 applicants.

 

One late entry was a Russian development studio which said their experience isn't that much on Meteor, ok, but it's still my requirement so as they were also pricy I had to decline immediately.

 

Very early on I had a developer from the Netherlands who wanted 40 USD per hour. I mean c'mon. I respect that you live in NL (I used to live there as well and paid the 53% income tax myself) but here on Upwork you're competing with the whole world. So no way I'm engaging him for that price.

 

The job in question is a back-end job in Node.js under the Meteor framework. There is no price for anything else than vomitting code out. No developer can outshine the other ones by helping design the front-end or something like that. Just write code, that's it (and I have written Node.js myself).

 

That cuts it down to two developer, both from India. Now I understand that the times when India was cheap are long over. But for 13.33 and 16.66 USD respectively I can get a local programmer here in Singapore (where I live) that I meet face to face whenever I want, I can assess that developer directly and have a good feeling to employ him rather than someone somewhere in the world I cannot meet not do I know where he's from (I only know the big cities in India).

 

Apart from that both guys were very slow in responding. I've send them a lot of detailed descriptions of what the job is all about, from real test data in Javascript to screen shots (it's about screen scraping) and step-by-step instructions (16 in total) of what the program is supposed to do. I also mentioned the Meteor packages that are offering a substantial part of the work (there is a job queueing package and a router package).

 

Still days go by without an answer to email, the most expansive one hasn't answered for 4 days. Yet both of them claimed to be available for 40h per week (that was my requirement in the job posting). So they clearly are currently in another job, yet never said so. I don't have a problem with that but please tell me how much time you can spend now and how long it will take you to finish the job. Is that too much to be asked?

 

Lastly that concept of time & material is opening doors for inflated proposals. Yes, after two weeks I finally got an estimate from one guy (the other never gave me one until now), broken down by the 16 steps. It's my own estimate and that of another local experienced Node.js programmer that the job can be done in 3-5 days, depending how experienced one is.

 

I was quoted for 75h which end up at 1000 USD. Gave him my budget but his answer was that there is no buffer build into his estimate. C'mon, no buffer? Then you're not correct to claim yourself as a Meteor expert (BTW, he asked in between if it's really necessary to do it in Meteor. Would an expert really ask?).

 

So overall my experience with Upwork (or whatever new fancy new name you're giving yourself in the next year) is being a big disappointment. I'm going beyond my country to find a good and experienced developer that is cheaper than the local ones (as Singapore has one of the highest cost of livings, especially for rent). All that I find is that I get more expensive ones or non responding developers that claim to be available 40h per week (maybe in a couple of months when their current project is over or never as they already have a 40h job during the daytime).

 

Not sure how Upwork can prevent such an experience but the feedback a client can give is only limited to feedback to them privately when you decline to hire a developer. So the next person will go through the same experience as me most likely. What is missing is some sort of feedback on developers for the process until they are either hired or not hired at all.

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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 33

@Andreas W wrote:
But for 13.33 and 16.66 USD respectively I can get a local programmer here in Singapore (where I live) that I meet face to face whenever I want, I can assess that developer directly and have a good feeling to employ him rather than someone somewhere in the world I cannot meet not do I know where he's from

 I know this is going to sound snarky, and it is not meant that way.

 

My first response to that statement was an instinctive "Well, why don't you then?"

 

Then I saw this and was thinking that there is an obvious disconnect there somewhere ...

 


@Andreas W wrote:

(as Singapore has one of the highest cost of livings, especially for rent).


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Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
3 of 33

You do seem to want to have your cake and eat it from what I can tell.

 

The thing with the Indian dudes saying they can work 40 hours a week on your project, and not being able to respond for quite some time, are unrelated. Did they say that they'd be available to discuss your project prior to award for 40 hours a week? Probably not. I'm sure they'll commit 40 hours a week to you if you hire them, but you can't expect them to be on-call if there's no guarantee of them making any money.

 

Sure, it would be nice if they were more responsive, and there should be no reason for an extended delay in contact if they're interested in working with you... but the thing with a $13 freelancer is that they have to cram in as many hours as they can and take on as much work as they can to come out with anything approaching what the $40 freelancer would make in a week.

 

Based on the information you've provided, it sounds like using your local freelancers is the way to go. 

 

Also, two freelancers from India taking a long time to respond, isn't really an accurate diagnosis of "what's wrong with Upwork". At best, it's an accurate diagnosing of what's wrong with two freelancers from India.  

 

 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)
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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 33

Andreas,

It sounds to me like you hired two contractors from India who are very much NOT what they claim to be. They don't sound like Meteor experts at all.

 

You probably would have saved money if you hired the developer from the Netherlands.

 

You seem strangely reluctant to stop using the two current developers about whom you have many complaints. They do not represent Upwork as a whole. They are representative of nobody but themselves.

 

If you have a large project, then the smartest thing to do is hire a variety of people to do the same work. After just an hour or two, look at their work, consider how you feel about their communication with you, have a third party expert evaluate their souce code, etc. Stick with the people who you feel provide you with a good value, and close the contracts on the people who don't.

 

Something to think about:

My hourly rate is one of the most expensive in my field.

Many of my jobs come from contractors who seek me out because they want to save money.

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 33

The original poster seems to have an odd penchant for thinking about things that have nothing to do with his project. He talks about the cost of living in Singapore, the tax rate in the Netherlands, and the times "when things were cheap in India."

 

I don't think it makes good business sense to think about these things. You're not responsible for paying taxes in the Netherlands or renting an apartment in Singapore for the people who do work for you.

 

You should not even over-think the hourly rate that contractors charge.

 

What matters is the value that contractors bring to your project.

 

If Contractor X can finish this part of your project for $1000, and Contractor Y can finish it for $2000, with the same quality, then how much does it matter what their respective hourly rates are? How much does it matter what country they live in?

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Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
6 of 33

lol @ specific hard to find skill set and just need someone to "spit out code" and devs blow him off.

 

Rock on my backend developer friends.

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Claudia Z Member Since: Jul 28, 2015
7 of 33

@Andreas W wrote:

There is no price for anything else than vomitting code out. No developer can outshine the other ones by helping design the front-end or something like that. Just write code, that's it (and I have written Node.js myself).

 


If the scope was only to write code, any code, why not post the job in data entry category where the bids are very competitive. With 3$/hour you could have gotten lots of code.


The Netherland's price is within the average, sounds like you could have gotten a good deal with them and most likely their intent was not to just write code but actually write it based on your requirements.

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John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
8 of 33

The OP client wrote, 'I'd like to give my feedback based on a project I posted here two weeks ago. I was looking for a Meteor developer which is still a relative new Javascript framework. So it's understandable that the whole time I've got in total only 4 applicants.'

 

Upwork is subject to the law of Supply & Demand. Because demand for Meteor developers is low, the supply of Meteor developers is also low. And when supply is limited, it's often a sellers market because there are few alternatives for buyers. So in the same position, I would have hesitated to hire the Indian developers because I would have expected to pay more from the outset. (While client didn't clearly state what the Indian developers asked for, 75 hours of work for $1000 is $13.33 per hour.) I recently learned that in the web developer category, Upwork tells clients that anything less than $20/hr is entry level, so unless the project was entry-level work, the client should have expected at minimum to be paying an intermediate level rate. An astute client can also ask a developer for an estimate of the time required to complete the project, and had he done so, he may have discovered that the $40/hr developer from NL would have done it for less than the Indian developers.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
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Krisztina U Member Since: Aug 7, 2009
9 of 33

@Andreas W wrote:

 

Not sure how Upwork can prevent such an experience but the feedback a client can give is only limited to feedback to them privately when you decline to hire a developer. So the next person will go through the same experience as me most likely. What is missing is some sort of feedback on developers for the process until they are either hired or not hired at all.


So in summary, you want very cheap and very responsive developers, and if you can't find them, rate everyone interviewed in the process poorly? It doesn't work that way. It seems that you did find a very qualified and responsive freelancer early on. How would you like it if we rated you for the process and flagged you as unreasonable? 

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Daniel C Member Since: Nov 21, 2010
10 of 33

You have a lot of demands but I can see why you aren't getting prompt responses.  I'm asked to give bids and estimations on things that take a few hours to come up with an accurate estimate.  A freelancer has to bid on multiple projects and doesn't always get the job.

 

Are you offering full-time work?  If not, then being available 40 hours is moot.  Again, from a freelancer perspective, I get clients who offer me full-time work and fail to deliver.  So I end up without work for weeks at a time waiting for them to get organized.  Then when they finally do get things in order, I already have other work and their job is absolutely the lowest possible priority for me.  Even though I have free time to work, they essentially caused me to lose a few weeks of income.  This happens with 80% of clients so I don't change my availability until they start sending me what I need for the job.

 

Also, you are asking for a very specific set of skills.  As a developer, I know that the demand is much greater than my supply.  So when a client is not willing to be patient and wait a couple days for a bid, then they aren't worth working for.  

 

What you want is going to cost more than you're willing to pay.  And because the framework is new, the bid will not be as accurate.  If you are hiring someone talented, then of course they have other work to settle before starting something new.  Having a stable full-time job, vs. having the unstable life of a freelancer.  They have to charge a bit more and deal with a lot of unreasonable clients.  

 

In all honesty, if I was one of these freelancers, I would have reversed my proposal.  You can't blame the freelancer for everything.  It's really unstable and risky working as a freelancer.  You can't just drop everything when a client has a job available.  You can't respond to email after email after email before you even have any money coming in from the client. 

 

I would say that It takes an average of 3-4 hours bidding, emailing, interviewing before getting work.  Then the client adds more details that you never agreed to and slips it into the project.  Then they want everything urgently, they want cheap prices, and they expect perfection in communication and results.  On top of all that, the client has a lot of leverage and can cause you to lose more jobs and money based on a bad experience that the client created.  And if you think about it, if I have to bid on 4 projects per week at 3-4 hours each before getting a job, then that's 12-16 hours of energy that went into getting the project.  A freelancer has to charge their clients more than you might expect just to make ends meet.

 

Sorry for the rant.  This happens a lot and I've become VERY selective in choosing clients.  They sometimes get upset when I turn down their offers.  To me, when they get upset over something like that; it means that I made the right decision.

 

And it's a weekend.  If they haven't responded in 4 days, then that's 2 business days.  You obviously don't have respect for them as a developer so I wouldn't expect them to jump through hoops.

 

I hope that this is helpful.  It isn't meant to be offensive -- just honest.  There's a lot that I have to tolerate from clients because most of them are ridiculous IMO.

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