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A real life story of why mad robots are killing my opportunities

Community Guru
Tony H Member Since: Nov 10, 2011
1 of 14

Today I received a very polite and well written invitation for a quick phone consult that would have earned me $100. Perfect. That's the kind of work I'm here for. 1) It pays well. 2) I learn more and more from each new client.


This is my reply to him. I have no coice.


Hi (edited name out),

The industry sounds exciting actually but unfortunately due to the risk of working with new clients, I must decline this invitation. I thank you for your time. It's a hard gig to get started here as a client or a freelancer. The platform just has too many issues right now to take a risk working with anyone who isn't already very established.

Best of luck,



Why you ask?

New client.



Not only does that carry the same risks as always through  the 3 or4 years I've been here... BUT NOW(!).. it also carries the risk of JS abuse, money back gaurantee abuse, and outright fraud by people who never actually had a job for you and just want free time to freelancers spying on the competition.


A seemingly perfect client. Nothing I could do, because one small mad robot slip and everythign I have built here is gone in an instant. If this new client took advantage of this broken system, it could take me out of the searches and any benefits that come with ranking.


Probably a very kind and genuine client too with great intentions.


See how oDesk/Upwork rules and algo failures have affected the system?


Not only do both clients and freelancers not trust eachother anymore, but even if we did the way the system (doesn't) work now the drastic affect of anythign less than a perfect record here will seriously affwect your income opportunities.


Getting hired by quantity is only 1/2 the battle. Good clients trust freelancers with a long-term and solid history. One slip through client fraud or an over compensating algo / lack of support and the wrong people get severely punished.


It just isn"t worth it.


Sorry kind fellow who invited me to chat for an hour. That's our new reality Smiley Sad

Ace Contributor
Jaime L Member Since: May 11, 2015
2 of 14

I somewhat agree...clients have way too much power now with job success.


I'm curious as to what he replied with?

Active Member
Nicole D Member Since: May 6, 2015
3 of 14

Hi Tony,


This is my first post and I just wanted to say you described exactly the way I feel.


Just when I thought I was getting some kind of career started on Upwork, the robot started breathing down my neck and now I am scared to take on new clients, even though I have more free time to work.


The only "sins" I've commited on Upwork were to close 2 contracts by myself, which happened before the JS score was implemented, so I wasn't aware it was going to impact me negatively (the pay was very little for both, so supposedly these contracts shouldn't affect my score much!) and I had 3 paused contracts (one of them is re-activated now), because the clients promised more work, but haven't delivered yet.  I am at a loss as to how that's the freelancer's fault, if you are waiting for the client to give you more work.


Other than that, I have a 5-star rating, no bad private feedback as the "clients who would recommend" me is 100%, no disputes, refunds or whatever.  And yet my JS score is 83%.


I was top-rated for the last 2 weeks with 93%, and I received a whopping 1 job invite during this time!  And since one of my contracts got paused during these 2 weeks, my score just dropped 10% to 83% (I assume it's because of that, because there were no other changes).  How can 1 out of 18 jobs I've worked on have a 10% impact on my JS is beyond me.  So I'm scared that one more 'blip' with an unresponsive client or something, will send me below 70%.  


So I'm just working on the contracts I have; I'm not applying for any jobs anymore.

Community Guru
Ronald T Member Since: Sep 14, 2009
4 of 14

Hi Tony! I totally agree with your observations. Most of the jobs in "My Jobs" are from clients new to Upwork, and the same is true with invitations. Thus, I rarely even bother to bid on jobs here on Upwork.


There are too many games here on Upwork, and I am not referring to game playing clients and freelancers. I am referring to the silly games that Upwork forces upon freelancers; the entire JS practice, hidden folders, questionable account management practices, the lack of transparency...a very long list....

Community Guru
Jean S Member Since: Oct 22, 2007
5 of 14

Count me in. I do everything I can to find a job away from Upwork first. This is my last resort and like the others, terrified how one bad job can destroy your whole career here.


Very very sad.

Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
6 of 14

Hi Tony,


I am sorry you feel this way. We do urge freelancers to be more careful with jobs they take on to make sure they are able to complete them, but in no way we want you to decline a job that you are interested in and you know you can do well. Especially since everything points out that the client is good and you can build good business relationship with him. Just make sure to discuss all the terms and ask the client to verify his payment method and fund a milestone (if it is a Fixed-Price job) before you start working. Additionally, if the client turns out to be fraud, please report it to the team and provide screenshots or parts of conversation that can serve as evidence and actions will be taken.


And a couple of things:


- The Money-Back Guarantee program has been discontinued.


- The fact that a contract is paused does not affect Job Success score.

~ Valeria
Community Guru
Ronald T Member Since: Sep 14, 2009
7 of 14

Valeria, thanks for mentioning that the "Money-Back Guarantee program has been discontinued." I was not aware of that before your post. That was a big problem with clients attempting to abuse the program.

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
8 of 14

@Valeria K wrote:


- The Money-Back Guarantee program has been discontinued.


- The fact that a contract is paused does not affect Job Success score.



Was there any announcement prior to this about the Money-Back Guarantee program being discontinued? I don't see one. [Answered by Natasa M in another thread. Thanks, Natasa!]


Nothing I've read to date on the Job Success score is that explicit about pausing a job. Is that tidbit published anywhere?


Thanks and best,


Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
9 of 14

Hi Michael,


Garnor posted an update on the announcement thread when the program was discontinued.


We have had a confimation from the team before that a job being paused does not specifically affect the Job Success score. While very long periods of inactivity on jobs are not good, there is nothing wrong with pausing a contract and resuming it later once more work is available.

~ Valeria
Community Guru
Suzanne N Member Since: Aug 15, 2012
10 of 14

What is very long periods? Could you be more specific? What if someone has long term work and does not take on more work for a period of a year or two? six months even?