re: "Small jobs are essentially without the protections sought by using Upwork!"
Yes, that is correct.
I do not expect any protection from Upwork. So I create my own protection.
Mainly by starting only with small projects, until the other party demonstrations they can be trusted.
I'm curious, did you agree initially on 2 hours but then asked her to do more work?
If not, and she entered the 20 hours manually then that payment is not protected for the freelancer so I don't know why Upwork can't refund you. Also, you have a few days to review the hours before they charge you, I guess you did not notice and did not speak up then? Does Upwork notify clients when they have hours that need to be reviewed?
The only way the payment is protected for a freelancer on an hourly contract is if they use the Time Tracker which takes screenshots and records activity, the freelancer would have had to demonstrate they were working on your project all of that time!
Could you elaborate on exactly what happened?
Nunaisi, I am not familiar with the field but I think from the way you described the work this could have been a fixed contract. If you are going to agree on a number of hours it may be best to add up the hourly rate and create a fixed contract for that price, I believe hourly contracts are best fitted for ongoing work.
You can see for yourself if the hours were included manually or not in the Work Diary, the screenshots are not something that is sent to you, they are registered in the Work Diary by an application from Upwork we install in our desktops, I would think it is very unlikely for them to be fabricated. For Upwork not to return your money the freelancer must have proven they were working on your project, is that what they told you?
From the amount of fees you mentioned I can tell this was not a very high paying job, again I am not familiar with the field, but when a project's budget is too low, the most professional and qualified freelancers tend to avoid sending proposals. It makes me sad that you bring up Fiverr, I used to do some work there and as an Architect with years of experience and pursuing a Masters Degree, they just undervalue work too much, it may take me one click to fix a problem in your model but guess what it took me years to be proficient enough in the program to know which button to click.
I think clients and freelancers both need to be protected and Upwork is great at that if you use the tools they give you correctly, I just remembered, there is a feature where you can limit the amount of time the freelancer can work on the contract and any time over that is not protected for their payment, so I guess my advice would be to familiarize yourself with all of the tools Upwork gives you to be safe and you shouldn't have any more problems.
If I want a freelancer to work for only two hours, then I set the maximum allowable time per week to two hours.
If I only want the freelancer to work for two hours total, and not work for two more hours the next week, then after the freelancer works for two hours, I close the contract.