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Furious with oDesk about "Free work"

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Community Guru
Bojana D Member Since: May 2, 2011
11 of 19
+, I remember some time ago someone flagged a job post hat was basically a design contest here, marking it as 'free work' (because that's what it basically is). Support replied that apparently contests were also OK. I still get regular invites from people stating clearly in the job description that they want samples from all the applicants and they'll pay only the one they like most. How is that OK?
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Ace Contributor
Ray C Member Since: Apr 10, 2009
12 of 19
Ayesha, And as you know, if you have spoken to your fellow associates, the job I am speaking of DID REQUIRE a FREE SAMPLE illustration and the practice WAS recommended by an oDesk employee who was assigned to a specific client. I have spoken directly with two oDesk employees about this and spoken by email with the oDesk employee who made the recommendation. I am well aware oDesk has a policy against it which makes this such an egregious and flagrant violation by oDesk itself. I do have the emails and chat support transcripts to back this up, but you know that. Best Regards, Ray Craighead
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Ace Contributor
German G Member Since: Jun 16, 2013
13 of 19
My guess is that someone at oDesk suggested him to post a test job asuming it would be a paid test and the client understood what he wanted to understand. Anyway, I'm hardly surprised about anything because oDesk is lately full of crap offers everywhere. I wonder what has happened around here since the website doesn't seem to have changed that much, but prices (at least in my field) are going nuts.
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Community Guru
Marcia M Member Since: Apr 3, 2013
14 of 19
Are these fixed price jobs? I wonder if, since oDesk has instituted the minimum hourly bid test, clients who previously hired very low-rate hourly workers are now switching to fixed price.
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Ace Contributor
Ray C Member Since: Apr 10, 2009
15 of 19
German G. Actually, no, this was a very specific recommendation by the oDesk employee who was "assigned" to the client to help them through the process (as explained to my by an oDesk associate who called me about the issue). I feel it is either an example of VERY poor communication within oDesk or a flagrant disregard for their own policies. I would like to give oDesk the benefit of the doubt on this, but my experience is they seem to lean toward what makes the client happy on these issues. The sad fact is, those clients will get inferior contractors who are desperate for work and drive away quality applicants.
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Active Member
Robin C Member Since: Jan 10, 2012
16 of 19
[quote=Ray Craighead]The sad fact is, those clients will get inferior contractors who are desperate for work and drive away quality applicants.[/quote] This is a very real possibility, and the clients may not even realize they are shooting themselves in the foot by requesting this. Just last week I had a discussion with a client whose job I applied for. They had clearly been through a couple tries at hiring for the position. The first phase of the interview involved editing 4 pages of a book without pay, which I am clearly not about to do. I said that was far more than I was willing to do without pay and with only the potential of moving to the next phase (of course, I was respectful and even explained that a freelancer can be scammed in that type of situation). He replied that none of his other applicants had complained. I basically told him that I wouldn't either if I didn't value my time or work very highly and if I didn't have plenty of other opportunities. I then suggested that the right person for the job might not be among those who are desperate enough to accept this offer. He agreed and said that they may have to rethink their hiring strategy. Most legitimate clients who are using this are not getting this advice. Discussing it with this client took far more of my time and expertise than I am willing to freely hand out on a regular basis. oDesk has policies for a reason. They should stick to them, for the benefit of both clients and freelancers.
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Ace Contributor
Ray C Member Since: Apr 10, 2009
17 of 19
Good for you, for taking the time to try to educate a client. I agree, many are simply uninformed. I too, have tried to respectfully inform clients when their approach does not serve them well. I feel it is worth some time educating a sincere client from time-to-time. Scammers, on the other hand, are not worth the effort. I feel it is unfortunate oDesk does not take a more leading role in educating clients and contractors alike, on the pitfalls of free work and other non-professional practices.
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Active Member
Nathan S Member Since: Jun 26, 2012
18 of 19
First off, I agree with your principle, spot-on. But I am a realistic. I am not cynical, but I am not an optimist, neither. Simply a realist. The reality of the situation is that it is simply bad business for oDesk to do what you have suggested. They have already written and re-written policies, they clearly aid new clients to help them through the process and they post (however subtly) changes in policy. All of these efforts take manpower, time and money. Manpower and time are paid for in money. ODesk is a business. They are in this to make a profit and to stay in business. From a business standpoint, it simply isn't feasible. The reason is simple mathematics. Just run the numbers. How many decent clients are there on oDesk right now that are hiring, rehiring and rehiring year after year? How many scammers are posting, reposting, hiring and rehiring? And how many frauds are coming and going, ne'er to be seen again? I'm not just talking clients, it is contractors, as well. The idea is that oDesk takes their cut from both sides, for running the business and filling their coffers. No problem with that. The problem lies within the fixed-rate contract. It simply takes more manpower and money to curtail and regulate this contract type. It simply isn't financially feasible for oDesk. Since there is no guarantee on payment, there is no guarantee on profit. I understand that. That's why I'm not upset. I would have the same mindset if I was the company. Their main focus is the hourly payed jobs because these clients have already agreed to be billed prior to even beginning their interview process. As soon as they begin a contract, they will be billed and oDesk will be paid. This is where oDesk should have their focus. As far as your suggestions, I think oDesk should put more energy into the hourly contract and building that up more: I believe that will be the future of the site. If they lose that, the site will fail because all that will be left is the fixed-rate joke contracts. I've been digging through these for the last few months: either folks are paying with a bag of potato chips or they are scamming folks for free samples half the time. The other half, they are negotiating people down by at least 15%: if anyone else has experienced this in 2013, please respond. This will drive away the decent contractors. More bottom feeders will move in and the bottom feeder clients will move in too. I like the thought of the minimum wage but like someone posted, seems like those folks just moved to the fixed-rate jobs. Even if clients pay $1 per hour, it's still money in oDesk's pocket. And really, all of our main goal's here should be getting money into oDesk's pocket because that will ensure a future on this site for all of us. Let's face it, the only 2 big players in this game are them and eLance. ELance seems to be doing a bit better, though the market there is flooded and it's nearly impossible to land a new gig. And I hate that I am going to post this but perhaps the community of contractors should come together and start having a discussion amongst themselves about possibly beginning a membership fee to be here on oDesk. I know everyone will go crazy initially when reading what I just wrote but hear me out: if we all, contractor and client alike, agree to a monthly membership charge, we can eliminate a lot of the fakers on both sides of the coin. And oDesk can gain because they are the last free site doing this. All they need to do is set their membership to something like $2 USD a month per member. Do you know how much they would make a month? And it could be easy, where ppl could still join for free: clients could choose a specific date out of the month to have their account billed the $2 and contractors could have it taken out of their account at the same time, once a month. I would like to see, for the contractors, that their account goes into the negative instead of a card or bank account getting charged. This way they don't have any risk going into it. Let's say I join and don't get my first job for six months. After I get paid, oDesk automatically deducts the $12 from my available funds. Easy peasy, lemon squeazy. Let's say in those first six months I gave up before I got a job. Then, perhaps I have to buy out to deactive my account: let's say for half the amount. It is somewhat oDesk's responsibility for attracting clientele: I mean, that's why we're here, right? And then, let's say, in another 3 months, I want to reactivate my account, like on Facebook. Let's say my account wasn't cancelled but simply deactivated. I could join again AFTER I had paid the other $6 I owed. And then the process could begin anew. This could really cut down on the bullshit here[oDesk]. On the flipside, it could also really cut down on the business opportunities as well but, again, in reality, if a bunch of these opportunities are already bullshit ones, then there wouldn't be much of a difference, would there? See, everyone of these contractors not getting hired (me) and clients not hiring are taking up space. Server space. That's money. Folks would become a lot more serious if they had to make a commitment. They would either have to get in or get out. But it would eliminate the sitting on the fence thing and jerking ppl around to get cheap, fast work. I know folks may not agree with me but that is a very rough model for something greater that could possibly change the game here[oDesk]. Perhaps paying a percentage of some sort, relative to one's dealings, would be more appropriate. Keep it extremely low and it still would fill oDesk's coffers. These are simply ideas but that is what we are here to do: to create solutions to problems. And while this idea of remote freelancing is a beautiful dream, bringing that dream to reality in this corrupt global society in which we live is gonna take a lot of commitment and hard thinking. And everyone involved is going to have to be willing to give a little. Not a lot. Just a little would do. If that were to happen here, the bottom feeders would move on to a different site that caters more to their needs with less financial risk on their end, be they client or contractor. I now understand why other site's charge and will not be afraid to test the waters after writing this. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please do not respond with: "You're a flipping moron, what idiotic ideas" because, if you can understand English and read my post, you will know I am not an idiot. I do not have all the answers nor am I interested in having them all. I am interested in opening discussion to bring about real solutions that can be implemented to make life a little easier for everyone. Cheers
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Active Member
Michele B Member Since: May 19, 2013
19 of 19
I have come to understand that rules are selectively and sometimes capriciously enforced on this platform. Specifically, clients who have a long history of spending a good bit of money on Odesk (or are likely to do so) are free to do what they please. Sad, but true.
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