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Client using Upwork for free user testing?

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Active Member
Mette H Member Since: Sep 17, 2015
1 of 9

Hello freelancers and Upwork staff,

 

I'd like to vet a situation with you. 

 

About a month ago I received an invitation to submit a proposal for a job which fit my skills very well, so I did. The client wrote back with a link to their site, and asked what I would do to improve it. It was a relevant enough question for the job, so I spent some time on the site and submitted a set of suggestions.

 

I never heard back from the client, but I later discovered that they sent 413 (!) invitations for this job and are "interviewing“ 102 (!) candidates. The job is still open, however.

 

It looks a lot like they're using Upwork freelancers to get free user testing/feedback on their site, and if that's the case I don't like it one bit. 

 

Am I overreacting to a legit procedure or is this a scam? (The client does have a bit of Upwork history and good freelancer feedback, otherwise I would probably have reported it.)

 

I'm assuming there are no rules against inviting and interviewing hundreds of freelancers for a single job, so maybe nothing can be done. But in the future I will definitely look at the number of invitations and interviews going on before I bother to work for free.

 

Mette

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Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
2 of 9

@Mette H wrote:

 

(...) so I spent some time on the site and submitted a set of suggestions.

 

I never heard back from the client,

 

(...)

 

I'm assuming there are no rules against


There is one rule: never do what you wrote in the first sentence quoted above without being hired for doing it. If you do, then what you wrote in the second sentence will happen.

 

You are not here to provide free advice to clients. You are here to provide them professional advice. Which is something that they pay you for.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
3 of 9

@Rene K wrote:

@Mette H wrote:

 

(...) so I spent some time on the site and submitted a set of suggestions.

 

I never heard back from the client,

 

(...)

 

I'm assuming there are no rules against


There is one rule: never do what you wrote in the first sentence quoted above without being hired for doing it. If you do, then what you wrote in the second sentence will happen.

 

You are not here to provide free advice to clients. You are here to provide them professional advice. Which is something that they pay you for.



@Rene K wrote:

@Mette H wrote:

 

(...) so I spent some time on the site and submitted a set of suggestions.

 

I never heard back from the client,

 

(...)

 

I'm assuming there are no rules against


There is one rule: never do what you wrote in the first sentence quoted above without being hired for doing it. If you do, then what you wrote in the second sentence will happen.

 

You are not here to provide free advice to clients. You are here to provide them professional advice. Which is something that they pay you for.


The norms and effectiveness with regard to this may vary by industry. I routinely provide prospective law firm clients with a detailed plan for improving their websites. The vast majority of those I make this investment with hire me. Since their ability to implement without my help (or the help of someone like me) is limited to non-existent, the information doesn't obviate the need to hire. And, it is generally necessary to support the fixed price bid and/or estimate of hours.

 

In the marketing industry generally, it is quite common for an agency to submit a plan to a potential client before hiring--it's one of the ways the company decides which agency to hire. In that case, there is some risk that the client will choose another agency and take some of your ideas with them, but that's how the pitch is made.
 

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Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
4 of 9

Unless the job is a big contract (for me that's $1k+), I won't spend much time on suggestions like that. I've had people do the same with me, and I spend like 5 minutes on it. I'll look at the website and give some vague answers but won't get detailed until they hire me. 

 

 

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 9

Mette: you worked for free. Please don't do that. You don't make any money that way.

 

And it drags the whole platform down when clients think that they can come here to get free work, rather than coming here to hire and pay freelancers.

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Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
6 of 9

Hi Mette,

 

It's a violation of Upwork ToS to request free work, please pm me the job post link so I can ask our team to investigate and take proper action. Feel free to flag any suspicious job or one that is violating our ToS, regardless of their track record on Upwork.

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Active Member
Mette H Member Since: Sep 17, 2015
7 of 9

Thanks for the quick feedback everyone.

 

Yes, I am definitely wiser now and this will not happen to me again, but others might not be so lucky.

 

I'd just like to add that I'm certainly not in the habit of working for free, but as Tiffany said, it is fairly standard in the marketing industry to pitch your work with specific suggestions for the client. I have submitted similar suggestions before (and been hired on that basis), and will do it again. I'll just be more careful not to put in too much effort.

 

This looked like a potential long term contract, so in theory it could indeed have been worth spending some time crafting a good pitch.

 

Vladimir: They weren't exactly requesting free work, the question could be considered a legitimate interview question intended to vet my skills. It was the number of invitations and interviews that raised a red flag. But I'll PM you the job post link so you can take a look.

 

Thanks again!

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Active Member
Maryann B Member Since: Aug 13, 2015
8 of 9
OP, many have fallen for this trick from scammers, thanks for posting this
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Community Guru
Maria Marilyn M Member Since: Oct 27, 2010
9 of 9

It looks shady indeed. It's also quite a common technique used by some in order to get free work done. You should report the job post to Upwork. 

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