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IMPORTANT! - Time tracker calculation costing clients extra $$$ ?

computerhxr
Community Guru
Daniel C Member Since: Nov 21, 2010
31 of 47

Just throwing this out there...  But maybe the descrepency has to do with the UTC clock.  You are tracking in local computer time, then the screenshots are uploaded.  Screen shots can be tracked during internet outtages, so who's to say the screen shots were taken in ~10 minute intervals?  The UTC clock should correct any issues with the time, but I'm thinking it's possible that something is out of sync. 

 

In my experience, I usually lose time to the tracker.  I work for 19 minutes and get paid for 10.  Or when I stop for 10 minutes to take notes or sketch something out.  Smiley Frustrated

setumonroe
Community Guru
Setu M Member Since: Jan 26, 2014
32 of 47
@Petra,

Lets call it a day, since you are deliberate about missing the entire point.
---- easy like Sunday morning ----
anik2645
Active Member
Anik S Member Since: Aug 7, 2017
33 of 47

This issue still persists in 2019. Most of the cases I need to delete the first screenshot, so that I do not have to overcahrge the client. 

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
34 of 47


Anik S wrote:

This issue still persists in 2019. Most of the cases I need to delete the first screenshot, so that I do not have to overcahrge the client. 


Start working at the beginning of a segment (for example at 10.00 or 3.20) not the end (for example at 10.08 or 3.29)

 

richard_wein
Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
35 of 47

I strongly suspect that there is a bug here.

 

I could accept that it was "working as designed" if the probability of a segment being charged was proportional to the time worked, e.g. when you worked the last 2 minutes of a segment you had a 20% chance of being paid for the whole segment (and 80% chance of earning nothing for those 2 minutes of work). That would mean the correct amount was being paid on the probabilistic average.

 

However, this appears not to be the case. It seems that, when I start work late in a segment, I have a very high probability of being paid for the segment. As I have a degree in statistics, I'm well aware of the danger of confirmation bias and of the difficulty of making such judgements based on informal observation. So I didn't come to this conclusion quickly. But after months of paying attention to whether I get paid for such segments, I'm pretty confident that there's a problem.

richard_wein
Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
36 of 47

There's also another problem with tracking of partial segments. The activity level shown for partially-tracked segments is averaged over the whole segment, and not just over the time that you've tracked, e.g. if you started tracking 8 minutes into the segment then the recorded activity level will be at most 2/10. This is unfair to the freelancer. If your activity level was very high throughout the time you were tracking, it should be recorded as 10/10.

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
37 of 47

Richard wrote:

I strongly suspect that there is a bug here.

 

I could accept that it was "working as designed" if the probability of a segment being charged was proportional to the time worked, e.g. when you worked the last 2 minutes of a segment you had a 20% chance of being paid for the whole segment (and 80% chance of earning nothing for those 2 minutes of work). That would mean the correct amount was being paid on the probabilistic average.


No.

If there is activity (keyboard / mouse) in a segment a screenshot is taken and if a screenshot is taken the segment counts, is billed and charged. That's always been the case.

 

That is why it makes sense to start working at the beginning of a segment and work through to the end of one, or tidy up afterwards. (Because you lose the last segment if you stop tracking before a screenshot was taken.)

 


Richard wrote:
There's also another problem with tracking of partial segments. The activity level shown for partially-tracked segments is averaged over the whole segment, and not just over the time that you've tracked, e.g. if you started tracking 8 minutes into the segment then the recorded activity level will be at most 2/10.


Of course... The activity over the whole segments was whatever it actually was. The client is charged a 6th of your hourly rate per segment. The segments are clearly defined. If there is one minute frantic activity for 10 minutes pay, why should that count as "10 out of 10 activity?"

 

 

richard_wein
Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
38 of 47

Petra R wrote:


No.

If there is activity (keyboard / mouse) in a segment a screenshot is taken and if a screenshot is taken the segment counts, is billed and charged. That's always been the case.

 

That is why it makes sense to start working at the beginning of a segment and work through to the end of one, or tidy up afterwards. (Because you lose the last segment if you stop tracking before a screenshot was taken.)


Petra, these two paragraphs contradict each other. The first paragraph says that the client is charged for a segment if there is any activity during that segment. The second paragraph describes circumstances in which there can be activity in a segment without the client being charged for that segment.

 

I suspect that you mis-spoke in the first paragraph. But in that case I can't work out what you meant. Perhaps you meant this: if there is activity during a segement and a screenshot is taken during that segement, then the segment is charged. That's certainly true, and nothing that I said is inconsistent with that.

 

The point I'm raising is about the probability of a screenshot being taken. To illustrate, what I mean, suppose I work and track time for only 1 minute of a segment, and suppose (for the sake of example) that there's a 99% chance of a screenshot occurring during that 1 minute. Surely you would agree that this would be overcharging the client. She should not have a 99% chance of being charged for 10 minutes work if I only work for 1 minute.

 

Now, I'm not saying that the actual figure is 99%. But I'm saying that it's disproportionately high. You could disagree with me on the grounds that, no, the probability of a screenshot being taken actually is in proportion to the amount of time the tracker is on. Or you could disagree that the scenario I've described amounts to overcharging. But you haven't disagreed on either of those grounds. I think that's because you didn't understand the point I was making.

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
39 of 47

Richard W wrote:

Petra R wrote:


No.

If there is activity (keyboard / mouse) in a segment a screenshot is taken and if a screenshot is taken the segment counts, is billed and charged. That's always been the case.

 


Petra, these two paragraphs contradict each other. The first paragraph says that the client is charged for a segment if there is any activity during that segment. The second paragraph describes circumstances in which there can be activity in a segment without the client being charged for that segment.

 


No. They do not contradict itself in the slightest. The client is charged for a segment if there is activity *AND* a screenshot is taken. If you start the tracker before the end of a segment and there is activity, there WILL be a screenshot and the segment WILL be charged.

 

The second paragraph describes a situation where a freelancer turns the tracker off before there is a screenshot hence the two criteria (activity AND a screenshot) are not met. Ergo there is no screenshot and the client is not charged.

 


Richard W wrote:

The point I'm raising is about the probability of a screenshot being taken. To illustrate, what I mean, suppose I work and track time for only 1 minute of a segment, and suppose (for the sake of example) that there's a 99% chance of a screenshot occurring during that 1 minute. Surely you would agree that this would be overcharging the client. She should not have a 99% chance of being charged for 10 minutes work if I only work for 1 minute.


If there is activity in the first segment, and the tracker has time to take a screenshot, there will be a screenshot and yes, that segment will be charged. It is not a bug - it has always been this way. My main point was in response to your statement that you strongly suspect that it is a bug. It is not a bug, it is designrd that way (rightly or wrongly, but designed that way nevertheless.)

 

If you turn on the tracker at XX.X8 or XX.X9 - the system will, if it has time, take a screenshot during XX.X8 or XX.X9. On subsequent segments the screenshot can happen at any time (XX.X0 to XX.X9), but if you start tracking late, obviously the screenshot can not happen before you started tracking, so it will always happen late in the segment as it wasn't onearlier in the segment.

 

I have (deliberately) made no judgment call as to if that is "fair" one way or the other. I merely pointed out that this is the way the tracker works and always has worked. Hence not a bug or the system malfunctioning. Clients also have the option to dispute segments with low activity.

 

In my opinion / experience (14k+ hours) it generally evens out when people work naturally and for longer stretches (an hour + at a time) because there will be some segments at the beginning of a work session where there are less minutes than worked, and some at the end that are more minutes worked than charged (because the freelancer logged off before the screenshot happened.) Hence my suggestion that it works best to work beginning of first segment to end of last segment - wheich means everyone gets what they paid for and go paid for everything they worked. That is the way that comes closest to "far."

 

I don't think anyone ever suggested that it was perfect (only a "by the minute" system with more "control" would be) - but this is what we have and have had for years.

 

 

richard_wein
Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
40 of 47

Petra R wrote:

Richard W wrote:

Petra R wrote:


No.

If there is activity (keyboard / mouse) in a segment a screenshot is taken and if a screenshot is taken the segment counts, is billed and charged. That's always been the case.

 


Petra, these two paragraphs contradict each other. The first paragraph says that the client is charged for a segment if there is any activity during that segment. The second paragraph describes circumstances in which there can be activity in a segment without the client being charged for that segment.

 


No. They do not contradict itself in the slightest. The client is charged for a segment if there is activity *AND* a screenshot is taken. If you start the tracker before the end of a segment and there is activity, there WILL be a screenshot and the segment WILL be charged.

 

The second paragraph describes a situation where a freelancer turns the tracker off before there is a screenshot hence the two criteria (activity AND a screenshot) are not met. Ergo there is no screenshot and the client is not charged.

Understood. Your previous post didn't include the proviso "If you start the tracker before the end of a segment...". The first paragraph of that post appeared to be making a claim about ALL segments with activity. Hence the contradiction.



If you turn on the tracker at XX.X8 or XX.X9 - the system will, if it has time, take a screenshot during XX.X8 or XX.X9. On subsequent segments the screenshot can happen at any time (XX.X0 to XX.X9), but if you start tracking late, obviously the screenshot can not happen before you started tracking, so it will always happen late in the segment as it wasn't onearlier in the segment.

OK. That's what I suspected, but I was charitably suggesting an explanation that was not quite as bad as this. This is flagrant overcharging. I'm inclined to put it down to incompetence rather than dishonesty, but either way Upwork could well be in for a class action suit if it becomes known to clients (and their lawyers).

 

It would have been easy to avoid this overcharging. All they had to do was generate a random number between 0.00 and 10.00, and then only take a snapshot if the tracker was on at this pre-calculated time through the segment. That would have made the probability of charging for the segment proportional to the time the tracker is on.

 

In my opinion / experience (14k+ hours) it generally evens out when people work naturally and for longer stretches (an hour + at a time) because there will be some segments at the beginning of a work session where there are less minutes than worked, and some at the end that are more minutes worked than charged (because the freelancer logged off before the screenshot happened.)


No, it doesn't even out. The partial segment at the end of a working session appears to be just "fair" to the client, i.e. the probability of charging is proportional to the time the tracker is on (as long as the freelancer doesn't go out of his way to bias it against the client). So it doesn't compensate for the unfair (to the client) segment at the start of the work session. To compensate, it would have to be better than fair, to the same degree that the initial segment is worse than fair.

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