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Bad Contractor Get Fired and Bullies Mediator, What Can I Do?

I had a new team member hire a freelancer to do a simple video.  The milestone was clear, get paid upon satisfactory delivery of the video.  It was supposed to be a 1 week job but after 2 weeks it appeared this freelancer was bullying my associate.  SO I stepped in, and tried to move it along.  This freelancer was such a bully, she flat out refused to make changes and move forward.  It was a hiring mistake.  SO I gave her an opportunity to move forward or terminate.  She chose terminate with the idea of using Upwork liberal mediation to get her free money that was unearned.


Somehow that worked!  The mediator saw the case and expects me to pay for Half of the contract.  I have nothing.  I had to hire a new contractor to finish the job, which they did in 3 days, and for less than half the cost of this contractor.  But now, thanks to Upwork Mediator being bullied by a freelancer, I am expected to pay for ... lets see... a storyboard that can't be used?  Video production never started, they spent at most 1 hour on design and yet somehow this mediator expects me to pay half ($350) for ....  ???  


Is this how Upwork has changed?  Elance, Guru - those systems put the hiring person first and service was an expectation.  I feel disappointed that this Upwork is now coddling terrible service contractors.  Do I have an escalation path?  Can I sue someone for the balance?  I dont' see how I should have to pay anything since I've already lost significant time on this project in the first place.  Upwork allowed this freelancer to bully her way to getting paid for doing an hour worth of work?  This system seems like it's becoming corrupt.  Please help.

Community Member

The mediator will not make any decision.


If you feel you have a strong case, go for mediation and let a qualified person make a legally binding decision over the $ 700 in Escrow.



Community Member

ftr, Elance had the same mediation and arbitration system that Upwork has, so no they didn't take sides either.


The mediator just tries to get you guys to compromise. The freelancer is telling the mediator she wants half, and that's why the mediator is suggesting it. They do suggest to pay out some but usually they ask the freelancer how much they will take as a settlement.


If you guys can't agree, it's time for arbitration, which answers the questions in your last paragraph.


There's no bullying going on. This is business, not bullying. The freelancer is trying to get money for her time as would most people. Whether or not she deserves it will be up to an arbtrator if you go that far. It'll cost you $291 though and it'll drag out for weeks. Probably better to just pay her half at that point.

Community Member

Others have made the crux of this clear, but just to elaborate a bit on how it works...the mediator's job is to see whether he/she can get the two of you to come to an agreement. Since it's unlikely in most cases that the freelancer will enter into a dispute and then agree to be paid nothing or that the client will enter into a dispute and then agree to pay the full amount (at least, without some leverage), the go-to of the Upwork mediator (much like professional mediators) is to work toward a compromise. 


The mediator did that, as a RECOMMENDATION that in no way leaves you "expected" to do anything, but you're so frustrated by what's happened with this freelancer so far that you've misinterpreted the process. 


No decision has been made. The Upwork moderator has no power to say you don't have to pay. The freelancer will decide now whether to start arbitration or not. If the freelancer initiates arbitration, you will have the choice of paying out the money in escrow or paying $291 for your share of arbitration. The arbitrator, unlike the mediator, will make a ruling.

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