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Escrow process

I can't seem to find an oDesk link to understand how to technically set up the new escrow. Does anyone know of a link that I can foward to clients so they know how to set it up? I also dont want to accept a fixed price job unless it is escrow. Will I know? 


Hello Jeri,


Details on Fixed-Price with Escrow Protection for Freelancers could be found here.


Details on Fixed-Price with Escrow Protection for Clients could be found here.


Hope it helps.




This was SO helpful! So, on the client side, is escrow an option to fixed price or are they one and the same? Do you think I, as the freelancer, will 'know' escrow is being used? 


Also, I had a very bad experience with escrow on Elance where everything seemed in order (escrow funded) but then when payment time came, there was something all the sudden wrong with the client's payment account and I didnt get paid for many weeks. Elance described it as 'we couldnt withdraw funds from client account' which was a head scratcher since it was a funded escrow. Perhaps things are better with oDesk since they have a money back guarantee for clients, maybe there is a reverse for freelancers!?

Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Jeri,


Escrow protection is now offered for all fixed-price contracts on oDesk. So basically, when a client makes a fixed-price offer to a freelancer, they are required to fund either full budget or the first milestone to Escrow.


I hope this helps and if you have any further questions, please, do not hesitate to ask.

~ Valeria

This is a followup from a prior discussion in this post regarding escrow payments. When I applying for fixed price jobs I am getting a screen that states the following (screenshot not allowed):

1. payment is not guaranteed on fixed price jobs;

2. the client decides whether to pay and how much to pay; and

3. oDesk does not offer mediation or arbitration services.


I thought the purpose of escrow was to guarantee fixed price payments ... well ... at least the first milestone.


Because I am having trouble with this, I asked chat and they stated: "Thank you. I will have our Product Development team check the this but just to remind you that we still cannot guarantee payment on a fixed price contract since it is still the client discretion on when and how much they will pay however, you can file a dispute when a client request for a refund for the escrowed deposit and our Dispute team will mediate the issue."


This is concerning--that a funded milestone is not guaranteed; when I asked the same, chat stated: "Yes, client are required to make a deposit for a milestone or full amount of the contract and you will see the deposit on the contract and you can start working however it would still be the decision of the client on when to release the payment. If he is not satisfied with the work submitted, he may request to make changes before he release the payment or he can request for a refund."


This (bold) totally conflicts with this statement: "The client has 14 days from the most recent submission on a milestone to review and approve or request changes. Please note, if your clients does not respond to any milestone submission within 14 days, the deposit is automatically released to you." (Source: https://support.odesk.com/entries/23153768-Fixed-Price-with-Escrow-Protection-for-Freelancers)


Further, the same document has this warning:

"Warning: The amount on the milestone form is the amount the client deposited into escrow. The client will have the option to edit the payment amount when they approve your work. oDesk collects this deposit to confirm a client’s ability to pay, but payment is not guaranteed and is dependent on the client’s satisfaction with your work. However, escrowed funds will not be released back to the client until you approve their return or undergo dispute mediation."


This makes me very hesitant to bid on fixed price jobs. I am not concerned with the qualify of my work but I am very concerned with this subjective decision making on a client's part, that I have to wait for the client to release the payment even though the work was done on time and satisfactorily. I ran into this problem on another platform, and it took almost 6 weeks to get paid, even though the client was satisfied.


So are escrow jobs guaranteed but only at the client's discretion? I know a lot of freelancers use fixed price/escrow, and I am just new to accepting it (based on my bad experience on another platform). I also tried to research what the escrow dispute process "looks like"--is there guidance on this?


I guess I should accept this risk as so many freelancers do .. and it seems to go well (?)

Don't do Fixed Rate. Work at the Hourly only. That solves that issue 😛

So some people are concerned about fixed rate contracts. But I'm glad they are an option. I do a lot of fixed rate contracts and in many cases I prefer them over hourly contracts.


Any time I start a fixed rate contract I tell the client straight up that oDesk fixed rate contracts allow them to pay any amount they like once the project is submitted.


My clients sometimes pay the agreed upon amount, and they sometimes spontaneously pay more. But nobody has ever paid less. I'm not worried about that at all.


But... I can not necessarily say whether or not that will be the case universally. I do not know if data entry workers or translators or others will have the same experience. I do very specialized work. My clients probably believe that nobody else will be able to provide them with the type of service I provide at the level I provide. So they probably don't want to do anything that would diminish my interest in working with them again in the future. Or maybe I've just been lucky and have had really nice clients. Maybe the scammer clients avoid contractors whose rates are on the high end of the spectrum.

Thanks Preston and Suzanne, I sure appreciate your feedback. I just received the large offer and this helped.


I hope that Valeria or Garnor will respond to "what the dispute process looks like" -- I guess at this time, the best to do is use the tracker.


I'm not super confident but I know a lot of people use this. Not sure what the difference between fixed price v. escrow actually is ... 


I LIKE doing fixed rate contracts.


But I DO NOT accept large offers for a fixed rate project with a client I have not worked with before.


A client must first prove to me his ability to use fixed rate projects properly.


So I do not accept a fixed rate for more than about $150 or more than 2 or 3 hours of work for a first fixed rate project with a client.


If a client has a large project, then I will propose a first chunk of the project as a fixed rate contract. I'll do the work, and the client pays me what was agreed and does not ask for work outside  of the agreed-upon scope of the project, then I will trust the client to do further fixed rate projects, quite possibly larger ones.


But if the client doesn't know how to pay what was agreed upon, or if the client asks for more than about 10 minutes of "changes" or "fixes" (when I know that what I submitted was finishd and correct), then than means the client is going to have to use an hourly contract in order to obtain my services in the future.


Please do not do a "large" fixed rate contract with anybody until they have demonstrated that you can trust them with a fixed rate contract model.

I tried to click on Manish's second link on escrow, but I'm being told I don't have the right to access this page. Is this because I am not a client?

Hi Nichola,


You can find related information in this Thread.





Manish, thank you.


I can't make a comment. Words fail me.

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