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Why am I being charged for 10 minutes when my freelancer only had one minute of work?

Active Member
Gue Y Member Since: Dec 2, 2019
11 of 22

Hey Sunny,

 

Your reply was eye-opening. So the Upwork tracker captures screenshot in any 5-10 minutes. Hmm, every 5 minutes then. So, a blank Google doc after 5 minutes, and it was captured by the Upwork tracker. That explains a lot of things. Thank you for making my brain bigger!

 

The Activity Level for this 10-minute slot is 1.

28 Keyboard strokes and 4 Mouse.

 

I'm assuming the Upwork tracker keep a list of all key strokes and mouse functions even if said events have nothing to do with the project. I am making an assumption here which may very well be a misunderstanding.

 

Edit: It's not every 5 minutes but every 5-10 minutes.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
BEST ANSWER
12 of 22

Gue Y wrote:

 

 

I'm assuming the Upwork tracker keep a list of all key strokes and mouse functions even if said events have nothing to do with the project. I am making an assumption here which may very well be a misunderstanding.


Yes, so far as we know it captures keyboard and mouse activity as long as it's turned on. In a ten-minute interval, It will take one random screenshot of the monitor that is active at this very moment.

 

Now, when I'm writing, I often stare stupidly at my screen before I know what I'm gonna to write. So you could catch me with a blank document very easy, doing not much with my hands :-)

 

 

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Active Member
Gue Y Member Since: Dec 2, 2019
13 of 22

That is a possibility, and my freelancer is just very unlucky and got caught at a very bad time. It's certainly not a good first impression and would definitely cause a misunderstanding. I will talk with my freelancer with this in mind and try to sort something out. Thank you for your insight!

Community Guru
Kelly B Member Since: Jan 1, 2016
14 of 22

From the freelancer side, I have to say the ten minute minimum seems fair to me.

 

I work very quickly, and often when a client asks for corrections it might only take a few minutes. But it takes me away from what I WAS working on, and breaks that momentum/concentration. I don't charge for chatting or replying to emails though.

 

If I'm working on something more meaty, like a book, I tend to work in 30-60 minute intervals without a break. You can see by our keyboard activity and mouse clicks how actively we're working.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
15 of 22

The thing that throws many new Upwork users is that the Upwork desktop time-tracker tool IS NOT DESIGNED for precise tracking of work that takes only a minute or two.

 

It is really designed for tracking larger blocks of time... ideally at least 30 minutes.

 

This is not the freelancer's fault. And this is not the client's fault.

 

I think the original poster is a fair-minded person and I suspect the freelancer involved is a conscientious freelancer... but there is some lack of experience and lack of familiarity with exactly how the time-tracker works.

Active Member
Gue Y Member Since: Dec 2, 2019
16 of 22

Hi Kelly,


Thank you for giving me another perspective going into this. I agree with you that opportunity costs are not free. Freelancers should be compensated for it.


As for charging for chatting and/or replying to emails, I'd compare it to lawyers whom don't offer free consultation. Many firms do offer free consultation, but the freelancer world is kind of like the wild west. The quality of the work and/or service here can be polarizing.

 

When a freelancer charge for chatting or replying via emails, I go into a mode where I'm inclined to be as concise as possible and limit my interaction with said freelancer unless it's absolutely necessary for the project's success (i.e. no more small talk, business as usual, strictly business, etc). It breeds a different kind of client-freelancer relationship which would not foster repeat customer.

 

Unless I'm loaded and doesn't care where my money go, I would want to be more critical of my spending. If I'm already going to spend a grand, I would like to spend it on someone whom I would like to continue working with in the future. Some people will call me shallow for this, but I think it is a smart move.


And also, thank you for pointing out the keyboard and mouse click activity level. Would you happen to know if the key and mouse activities shown in the diary are the total for that respective time slot, or is it the total leading up to the time the screen was captured?

Community Guru
Miriam H Member Since: May 16, 2017
17 of 22

Gue Y wrote:

Hi Kelly,


Thank you for giving me another perspective going into this. I agree with you that opportunity costs are not free. Freelancers should be compensated for it.


As for charging for chatting and/or replying to emails, I'd compare it to lawyers whom don't offer free consultation. Many firms do offer free consultation, but the freelancer world is kind of like the wild west. The quality of the work and/or service here can be polarizing.

 

When a freelancer charge for chatting or replying via emails, I go into a mode where I'm inclined to be as concise as possible and limit my interaction with said freelancer unless it's absolutely necessary for the project's success (i.e. no more small talk, business as usual, strictly business, etc). It breeds a different kind of client-freelancer relationship which would not foster repeat customer.

 

As a freelancer, who like Kelly works very quickly, I have to find a balancing act between ensuring I'm reasonably compenstated for my time and that the client doesn't feel nickel and dimed.

 

Typically, I don't charge for emails to set up a call or appointment. However if I complete a draft and write an email to send to the client, that time is tracked.

 

In reading this thread the most important thing is to build some trust b/t the freelancer and client, and right now it doesn't sound like you trust the freelancer. For myself, I prefer hourly projects because it's not always clear at the onset how much work the project will entail. Alternatively, I set up fixed price milestones that are small pieces of the project and typically correspond to a few hours of work.

 

The reality is, you aren't just paying for the FL's time, you are paying for their expertise and experience.  It's something to keep in mind as you navigate this process.

 

Finally, as others have noted the time tracker tool isn't perfect. However, as a FL, it's one of things that helps protect me from clients who may try to claim I haven't worked, etc. So I am diligent when working on an hourly project. 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
18 of 22

Upwork does not dictate communication styles. We have discussed different styles in other threads. For examples, some freelancers charge for time spent in "small talk," while others do not. Some freelancers bill for time spent answering messages via email, while others do not. Some freelancers favor the use of fixed-price contracts and do not charge clients for any communication time. Other freelancers will either use hourly contracts in order to bill for all communication time, or not be available for communications while doing fixed-price contracts. Some freelancers are available through phone, chat, texting, Skype, email, Slack, etc. Other freelancers communicate only through the Upwork Messages too.

 

As a client, you have the right to require pretty much any sort of communication you want, especially if you specify what you want in the job description.

 

Also, if you have certain preferences that you don't specify in a job posting... you could potentially hire multiple freelancers and continue working only with the ones you prefer, which preferences can be based on communication styles, or any other factors.

 

If you hired two freelancers and one charges for all email time, while the other never charges for email time... you could close the contract on the one who never charges. On the other hand, if you looked at the work done by both, you might find that you pay the "always charging" less each week than the other one, even though the "always charging" freelancer is more productive.

 

Sometimes a client has to give up on analyzing work diaries because they don't tell the whole story, and just continue working with the freelancers they prefer. 

There are actually many clients who never look at work diaries. But I know some clients look at every memo, every time segment, and every screenshot.

 

I have hired over 100 freelancers on Upwork. Sometimes I end a contract and think: "Wow, he was kind of pricey." And sometimes I close a contract, think about how much the freelancer did for me, and think about what a crazy good deal I ended up with.

 

But I nearly always use hourly contracts, paid at the freelancer's posted hourly rate. So I usually don't feel too guilty after hiring a freelancer who was really awesome but didn't cost very much.

Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
19 of 22

Kelly B wrote:

From the freelancer side, I have to say the ten minute minimum seems fair to me.


The tracker doesn't enforce a 10 minute minimum. (Perhaps you mean that you've adopted a 10 minute minimum policy by always keeping the tracker on until you get a snapshot.) If you switch the tracker on and off again within the same 10-minute clock segment, you may not get a snapshot at all. However, because of the error in the tracker's algorithm, you are disproportionately likely to get a snapshot.

 

If it wasn't for the error, the tracker would charge for the correct amount of time on average. On average the recorded segments with less than 10 minutes worked would be balanced by unrecorded segments with less than 10 minutes worked.

Community Guru
Kelly B Member Since: Jan 1, 2016
20 of 22

Richard W wrote:

Kelly B wrote:

From the freelancer side, I have to say the ten minute minimum seems fair to me.


The tracker doesn't enforce a 10 minute minimum. (Perhaps you mean that you've adopted a 10 minute minimum policy by always keeping the tracker on until you get a snapshot.) If you switch the tracker on and off again within the same 10-minute clock segment, you may not get a snapshot at all. However, because of the error in the tracker's algorithm, you are disproportionately likely to get a snapshot.

 

If it wasn't for the error, the tracker would charge for the correct amount of time on average. On average the recorded segments with less than 10 minutes worked would be balanced by unrecorded segments with less than 10 minutes worked.


I don't consciously keep the tracker on until I get a snapshot, but as a designer I am usually fluctuating between programs which usually seems to trigger a snapshot. I always assumed this was because if a freelancer switches from, say, MS Word to Instagram, UW wants to make sure clients are not getting charged for freelancers to peruse social media etc. The ironic part is that I design social media images for clients but when I want to preview them, I do it on my phone because I *do* think some clients would be put off by a bunch of social media snapshots in my work diary.

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