RJ S wrote:
....Upwork is not a real estate company. It presents itself as the responsible agent for the freelancers and their work and the clients and their payments. As such, Upwork should absolutely not be forcing anyone into arbitration. It is their responsibliity to handle these functions.
Of course Upwork is not a real estate company, and nobody claims it is. Upwork is an escrow agent. As such, it cannot render judgments on the disposition of funds it holds in trust. Real estate is simply the context in which most people encounter escrow.
re: "I just finished (a few weeks ago) a month-long project. I added 20,000 words"
I don't work for a full month without getting paid. You shouldn't either.
If you have a large project, then either:
- use an hourly contract, and get paid each week
- use multiple, smaller milestones or smaller fixed-price contracts
I don't use hourly because I have no interest in having tracking software on my computer. As to more payments, the kind of work I do usually requires a lot of thinking and is more complicated than, say, a blog. As such, it's diffiult for me to "show" the client work-in-process. If you've not written longer works, this may not be a familiar process to you. I've done it for 25 years, no problems until now.
What was the dollar amount that you were supposed to be paid after turning in the final work?
You were paid $3000 up-front. We already know that. The arbitrator allowed you to keep that.
What was the amount of the next payment that you were supposed to receive at the end?
Actually, I rounded off for ease. It was $2,750 for each half. Half on start and half on finish. And by the way, I have been researching a bit and it looks like I'm exactly correct that few people enter dispute/arbitation because of the additional cost to the freelancers.
You asked me about the "award" with the arbitration situation. Here is the clarification.
We went throught the "dispute" process with Upwork. A woman by the name of Kendra was the mediator. She collected information from both of us. I felt she was very nice, seemed to be truly attempting to find a solution. That said, Kendra made no determination except to state that since we couldn't agree (I wanted to be paid; client didn't want to pay me), the only solution was arbitration. This required a $275 payment from me to start the arbitration; client also pays $275; Upwork also pays $275. Some documents were provided to the adr.org site (the arbitration association's site). In her decision, the arbitrator made no reference to any of the points, which I had made Including my point that I do not work on spec and that the agreement was payment within 24 hours of manuscript being submitted to the client. She cited no prevailing law or any criticisms of my process. (I had exchanged more than 90 emails with the client over the course of a month-plus in order to be sure I was on track and to ask for clarification on various points; the client repeatedly asked for additional work, which I did.) In her "ruling," the aribtrator stated ONLY this: she would not make me Refund the original payment of $2,750 (which according to Upwork's rules should not have even been considered by her because we were past the 30-day time limit for refunds. She then made the determination that the client would have the $2,750 due to me, and still in escrow, returned to them. Again, absolutely no prevailing law was cited, nor any rationale or reason for her decision. Zero. Nada. Nothing. She did not, as I have noted in previous postings here, note to the client that Any use of any material I wrote is copyrighted and owned by myself pending full payment by the client. Thus, should the client use any of this material, they would be violating my copyright and it is also quite possible that Upwork would be a party to that copyright violation because Upwork has not (I am presuming here) provided the client the information that all the writing done is owned by myself. I hope this clarifies for you. I think it is very important that Upwork change it's policies on freelancers. I believe that most don't bother to pursue arbitration because of the cost and simply "write it off," as the article link I posted previously, to the Fortune article, notes.
This has been an interesting insight into the arbitration process and I thank you for sharing your experiences. I've never had any disputes (knock wood) but I've often wondered how such cases are settled. In my own category (graphic design) I don't know how an arbitrator would be in a position to make a fair judgment, since there's such a subjective element. If I think that my design is good and the client thinks it's bad, then any dispute would probably end with a 50/50 settlement. I've always felt that the best way to protect myself is to have extensive conversations about expectations with the client before I even accept a job, and walk away if I have any misgivings whatsoever (about the project or about the client's character). I often worry that I'm being overly cautious and about whether I've turned down some perfectly good opportunities along the way, but then I read posts like this in the forum and become even more cautious.
On the other hand, I think that the article you linked to might be somewhat misleading. Again, after reading many of the posts in this very forum, it's painfully obvious that there are huge numbers of freelancers who are simply unskilled and unprepared - if not outright scammers themselves - so I very much doubt that the clients were the culprits in every case cited in the statistics. It works both ways.
I don't know how an arbitrator would be in a position to make a fair judgment, since there's such a subjective element.
Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you about this being a "subjective" situation. That said, I have a very long history of perfect work with my industry. As I noted to the arbitrator, not one time...EVER...has anyone EVER rejected my work. I'm an excellent writer and work hard for my clients. You can see reviews from a cardiologist and a stock broker (recent jobs) by checking my profile.
I have noted in other postings (here) that Upwork has a problem. That problem is that clients are treated as "some people are more equal than others"; i.e., freelancers are just as important and getting paid is not a "spec" situation. The final project I provided the client could have been published; what they gave me to start with could not have been published.
As I understand it, Upwork is taking steps to verify freelancers with video and a govt issued identity. I read that they are verified 44,000 freelancers. That doesn't actually seem like very many for a site this large. To that point, you mentioned that there are lots of scammers. Yes, I am sure there are. But...the client can...as far as I'm concerened...easily tell who is a scammer and who is not. Thanks for your thoughts, you were much nicer than most of them here. For some reason, there seems to be a lot of attacking me and that is baffling. They also seem to think that the job must be badly done. Apparetly none of them have ever seen someone just mistreated because...well, because proper standards aren't being applied. Weird.
RJ S wrote:
In her "ruling," the aribtrator stated ONLY this: she would not make me Refund the original payment of $2,750 (which according to Upwork's rules should not have even been considered by her because we were past the 30-day time limit for refunds.
No matter how many times you repeat this, it won't become true. A client can dispute a fixed price CONTRACT for 30 days after the last milestone.
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