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Bait and Switch: Hourly to Fixed-Price

Community Leader
Nicole H Member Since: Nov 15, 2007
1 of 8

I was just looking at a job that interested me. It was advertised as an hourly position. I looked at the past positions advertised by this client and noticed that they tended to advertise their positions as hourly positions, but then everyone they hired as fixed-price for a very low price. Judging by the descriptions of the jobs, they aren't one-off kinds of jobs that the fixed-price amounts they paid are appropriate. I'm wondering what is going on here. Is this client just trying to attract people with promises of lots of work and then giving them something else? Or are they hiring people on Upwork for a small amount and then taking them outside? Something seems off here.

Aleksandar D Moderator Member Since: Mar 23, 2019
2 of 8

Hi Nicole,


Could you please send me a PM with more information along with the job posting so that I can check and send a report to our team for investigation?


Thank you.

~ Aleksandar
Community Guru
Viacheslav K Member Since: Sep 9, 2015
3 of 8

I've had those kinds of potential clients as well!

My tip is, if the client negotiates for one thing (hourly contract, your profile rate), and when you agree, they start changing stuff - don't have business with them. That's a big red flag. Some of them might even open the job on one account, but then send the offer from another. Always look for the actions, not their words! You can always decline an offer with zero consequences.

Community Guru
Bettye U Member Since: Mar 6, 2016
4 of 8

I think I read something about jobs posted from cellphones not having the fixed rate option, but I don't remember it clearly. At any rate, if this client has a history of paying poorly, you might want to avoid applying. Ditto with people who post jobs and seem to hire the same two or three people all the time (situations like this are probably best done by invitation).


Community Leader
william b Member Since: Jan 3, 2015
5 of 8



Bait & Switch tactics (post jobs as Hourly but rarely if ever pay anything other than Fixed Rate) are unfortunately an all too common ploy by many predatory clients, undoubtedly because they can draw in a larger volume of both experienced and inexperienced FL bids.


I have, however, personally taken on a number of these clients on a Fixed Rate "trial" basis (always making sure that I get at least a 50% milestone payment upfront to BEGIN work) and have generally been happy to knock off one job, at my price, for the clients who are willing to accept my Terms.

I'd say about half pay up and the deal gets done, and about half are time wasters who quickly (after an exchange of an annoying number of repetitive messages) disappear for easier targets.


Checking their history--as you did--is really the best way to get a sense of whether you want to take the minor risk and possibly waste a few Connects.


Work smart, work safe!


Community Guru
Rafsun S Member Since: Feb 10, 2018
6 of 8

I do not know what is your case exactly? A client can post a job as an hourly rate but in the interview, he might want to know an idea of the price. If a freelancer can give him a proper idea of the price after assuming the time he (the freelancer) needs, or a client can also share the budget in his mind and if both of them are happy with that price...definitely they can go for a fixed price procedure. In my case, most of my jobs are as a "fixed price procedure" and I am comfortable to do as a fixed rate than the hourly procedure. Many of my clients posted the job as an hourly rate and when we discuss the price in the interview, both of us were happy to go as a fixed price. I don't think it breaks any TOS of UW. And if a freelancer quotes a low budget, I do not think we should always blame a client for this. A freelancer should be aware of his/her proper remuneration based on his skills and experiences. If a client can't provide the proper value of a Freelancer, the freelancer shouldn't accept the offer. Nobody is forcing here!

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
7 of 8

I've worked with a lot of great clients who initially posted as hourly because if they posted as fixed price, Upwork would force them to guess at a budget. Since they didn't know what a reasonable price for what they needed might be and didn't want to deter the right freelancer by guessing too high or too low, they used an hourly posting to avoid that unfortunate requirement.

Community Guru
Amanda L Member Since: Jan 23, 2018
8 of 8

I've had this happen both ways: where it was a red flag and where it wasn't. 


The client where it was a red flag posted an hourly job, then when I had a phone interview with them, and afterwards submitted a proposed scope of work with my hourly rate and an estimated number of hours to complete the job. The client, without discussing with me, then proposed a fixed rate contract for far less than my hourly rate and promises of bonuses. I declined. 


Client two and I discussed her needs and the scope of work. She was  aware of my hourly rate, but it was also clear we needed to do some prep work together, and we weren't sure how many tasks would be needed. She actually wanted to put me on retainer, but without really knowing how to make that work, I suggested a fixed-rate for the initial research and planning we needed to do, then we would evaluate the number of tasks once I create the actual project  plan for her. 


It doesn't bother me if a client wants to shift to fixed-price as long as we discuss it and why, and also they aren't clearly trying to stiff me. If they want to do fixed-price because they want to ensure they don't get overcharged for hours, I totally understand that, and we can work that out. I get that they need to build trust as well. 


So my experience is that there are "clients" who are doing both: trying to pull a fast one, or just trying to make sure it's a contract structure they are comfortable with. My advice is if you see yellow flags address them early on - be direct, honest, and polite. If there are red flags, just decline politely and don't even debate it. Every time I've ignored a red flag and thought it would resolve itself, I WAS WRONG. Don't ignore your gut. It's not worth it.