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Re: Outrageous requirement for submitting feedback for releasing funds held in escrow back to client

Ace Contributor
Steve B Member Since: Dec 4, 2015
1 of 26

I had a project recently end in which there were funds in escrow that were originally part of a milestone, but since I issued a partial milestone payment, the remaining client's funds were held in escrow. The remaining funds were not put in to a new milestone, and the project was ended with those funds still held in escrow.

 

When the client requested the release of the loose funds still in escrow, I immediately upon seeing the request issued an approval for release of the funds back to the client, effectively an hour after the request.

 

Today, I received an email stating that I still had to approve or dispute the release of funds. I was baffled, as I thought I had done so already. In closer examination, I saw that the seconardy page of the funds release of an ended project REQUIRES feedback to be given.

 

When I initially saw the feedback, I wasn't ready to respond, so I figured I could do it later. What I didn't realize is that even though I agreed to release the funds back to the client, Upwork demanded that I provide feedback immediately before allowing the funds to be released.

This is truly an outrage. My client suffered not having an immediate release of their funds and I am made to look bad in that I appeared to have waited 6 days before releasing the funds. Why? Because I acted in haste and didn't read clearly enough that you can not submit the refund without also issuing feedback.

 

This is flawed in my view. The release of funds should be separate from feedback and making it contingent upon leaving feedback serves only to delay the process, especially if the state of the project is undecided at the time of request for releasedue to other factors (Ex: pending legal action, deliverables still being processed, etc.).

 

In my case, fortunately, the client made the request to end the project and we mutually agreed to end the project, so there wasn't any reason for waiting. Unfortunately, my wrongful assumption that stating on the first page of the process that I agreed to release of the funds was enough to issue that request.

Ultimately, the client suffers here unnecessarily, whether by accident (my case), or if a provider is not ready to issue feedback. This system pressures for immediate feedback, regardless of whether it is able to be prepared fully or properly, in order to release funds from escrow.

And the whole reason why this even was a problem was that the client was not knowledgeable enough to use the Upwork system and rather than funding the 3 separate milestones I submitted in a repeat project, they created 1 milestone on another active project the full amount for all 3 milestones. As I completed 2, I issued a partial release request for the same amount that the 2 milestones were set to be, which then left the remaining funds untethered and held in escrow.

 

This goes back to what I've raised my voice about both on here and in detail in a phone conversation with an Upwork employee that the onus is wrongfully on the clients to know and understand the system better than the service providers. It's backwards, Elance had it right, and I was easily able to manage everything from creating new milestones which clients could decide upon. This Upwork system leaves it in the hands of those that may not even be tech or web savvy to magically understand and properly use the Upwork system which invariably then creates problems which require the providers to have to try and guide their clients in what they should have done.

In short simple terms, the release of funds from escrow does not always require any time for approval, but the timeline for providing feedback may require additional time beyond the escrow release window of 7 days.

Hypothetically, if there is pending legal action, surely one wouldn't want to issue feedback until that matter is resolved. This then would force the provider to unnecessarily delay the release of escrow funds which they may agree to release.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 26

Ultimately, you simply did not actually complete the approval of the "return of Escrow funds" process.

Storm in teacup.

 


Steve B wrote:

Because I acted in haste and didn't read clearly enough that you can not submit the refund without also issuing feedback.


When it comes to money it makes sense not to act in haste and be inattentive.

 

Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
3 of 26

Yes, that is quite a lot of words to note a minor UX concern. And no reason to treat the CS representative rudely. I don't like dealing with CS, but taking out your frustrations on employees who have no choice but to listen to you is really inappropriate. 

 

 

Edited for clarity:

"This goes back to what I've raised my voice about both on here and in detail in a phone conversation with an Upwork employee"

 

IMO, this type of behavior is rude. 

Ace Contributor
Steve B Member Since: Dec 4, 2015
4 of 26

Tonya P. wrote:

Yes, that is quite a lot of words to note a minor UX concern. And no reason to treat the CS representative rudely. I don't like dealing with CS, but taking out your frustrations on employees who have no choice but to listen to you is really inappropriate. 


I don't believe this is a minor UX concern, this directly impacts client's access to funds which is serious business.

 

As for being rude, I don't see it as rude. In fact, just reread what I posted and do not see anything that is rude. I'm outraged at the system and how limiting it can be, and I've not made any personal attacks.

 

From my perspective this a major flaw in the process of handling release of funds and what I stated is simply the reality of the situation - that you can not release funds without giving feedback, and that is wrong.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
5 of 26

Steve B wrote:


I don't believe this is a minor UX concern, this directly impacts client's access to funds which is serious business.

 

Whether the system should be structured the way it is may be a valid concern. It doesn't seem to me that it should cause a problem very often (indeed, with all of the complaints I"ve seen lodged in these forums over the years, I've never seen a freelancer say they couldn't approve a release of escrow because they "weren't ready" to provide feedback). 

 

Still, you've confused the issue by blending the potentially valid UX issue with your own mistake, which is the sole reason for the delay here.

 

It's tough to get people to take your suggestions seriously when they're couched in outrage about your own mistake.

Ace Contributor
Steve B Member Since: Dec 4, 2015
6 of 26

Tiffany S wrote:

Whether the system should be structured the way it is may be a valid concern. It doesn't seem to me that it should cause a problem very often (indeed, with all of the complaints I"ve seen lodged in these forums over the years, I've never seen a freelancer say they couldn't approve a release of escrow because they "weren't ready" to provide feedback). 

 

Still, you've confused the issue by blending the potentially valid UX issue with your own mistake, which is the sole reason for the delay here.

 

It's tough to get people to take your suggestions seriously when they're couched in outrage about your own mistake.


Less words: Discovery of the issue came through my mistake. The issue is not concerning my mistake. The issue and outrage is that feedback is required to approve funds to be released.

Regardless of your "helpful tip", others have already agreed and shared scenarios in which they had similar situations, demonstrating that my suggestions can be taken seriously.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
7 of 26

Steve B wrote:

Tiffany S wrote:

Whether the system should be structured the way it is may be a valid concern. It doesn't seem to me that it should cause a problem very often (indeed, with all of the complaints I"ve seen lodged in these forums over the years, I've never seen a freelancer say they couldn't approve a release of escrow because they "weren't ready" to provide feedback). 

 

Still, you've confused the issue by blending the potentially valid UX issue with your own mistake, which is the sole reason for the delay here.

 

It's tough to get people to take your suggestions seriously when they're couched in outrage about your own mistake.


Less words: Discovery of the issue came through my mistake. The issue is not concerning my mistake. The issue and outrage is that feedback is required to approve funds to be released.

Regardless of your "helpful tip", others have already agreed and shared scenarios in which they had similar situations, demonstrating that my suggestions can be taken seriously.


____________________________

"Outrage" is rather a strong word for this sort of peeve. It is annoying; it is not very logical; but it really is not "outrageous". 

Highlighted
Ace Contributor
Steve B Member Since: Dec 4, 2015
8 of 26

Petra R wrote:

Ultimately, you simply did not actually complete the approval of the "return of Escrow funds" process.

Storm in teacup.

 


Steve B wrote:

Because I acted in haste and didn't read clearly enough that you can not submit the refund without also issuing feedback.


When it comes to money it makes sense not to act in haste and be inattentive.

 


Yes, I made that more than obvious that I did not complete the process. I then went on to explain why it's outrageous to force feedback to release funds in escrow and gave examples of situations in which this may cause unnecessary delays for the client, besides the potential for others to make the same mistake I initially made.

 

Apparently, you feel it is fine to withhold the ability to release funds from escrow dependent on giving feedback, based on your quip.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
9 of 26

Steve B wrote:

Yes, I made that more than obvious that I did not complete the process.


So you screwed up and it's Upwork's fault?

 


Steve B wrote:

 

Apparently, you feel it is fine to withhold the ability to release funds from escrow dependent on giving feedback, based on your quip.


Yes. It is fine, because it allows Upwork to see what caused the "refund from Escrow" request in the first place. This is important information for a business that relies on money going to the freelancer, not back to the client. Funds that go back to the client are not particularly profitable.

 

As for your "Elance got it right" remark: Please, not that old chestnut again. If Elance had "got it right" it would not have gone down the drain in a spectacular manner.

 

 

Ace Contributor
Steve B Member Since: Dec 4, 2015
10 of 26

Petra R wrote:

Steve B wrote:

Yes, I made that more than obvious that I did not complete the process.


So you screwed up and it's Upwork's fault?

 


Steve B wrote:

 

Apparently, you feel it is fine to withhold the ability to release funds from escrow dependent on giving feedback, based on your quip.


Yes. It is fine, because it allows Upwork to see what caused the "refund from Escrow" request in the first place. This is important information for a business that relies on money going to the freelancer, not back to the client. Funds that go back to the client are not particularly profitable.

 

As for your "Elance got it right" remark: Please, not that old chestnut again. If Elance had "got it right" it would not have gone down the drain in a spectacular manner.

 

 



**Edited for Community Guidelines**

 

In at least two points of the original post I took responsibility for my mistake. The explanation of my mistake serves to walk through the steps of how I came to find the real issue which is highlighted in the title of this post, "Outrageous requirement for submitting feedback for releasing funds held in escrow back to client".

You do raise a good point, that they may be more interested in getting feedback of why funds were refunded rather than allowing funds to be released from escrow. As for profits, last I knew, there is a 2.5% (or so) processing fee on all funds, I'm not aware if this is still the case, though, or if those fees are refunded on refunded escrow funds. If they are charged those fees, they still are covering their merchant charges in some portion.

 

Elance didn't go down the drain, it was acquired and merged. It's actually Upwork that is "going down the drain" according to the financial disclosures:

"We have a history of net losses, anticipate increasing our operating expenses in the future, and may not achieve or sustain profitability.

We have incurred net losses in each fiscal year since the combination of Elance and oDesk, including net losses of $16.2 million and $4.1 million in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and a net loss of $7.2 million for the six months ended June 30, 2018, and we expect to incur net losses for the foreseeable future. As of June 30, 2018, we had an accumulated deficit of $130.8 million. We expect to make significant future expenditures related to the development and expansion of our business, including enhancing our Upwork Enterprise offering and our U.S.-to-U.S. domestic offering, expanding domestic-to-domestic offerings into new geographies, and broadening and deepening the categories on our platform, and in connection with legal, accounting, and other administrative expenses related to operating as a public company. These efforts may prove more expensive than we currently anticipate, and we may not succeed in increasing our revenue sufficiently, or at all, to offset these higher expenses. While our revenue has grown in recent years, if our revenue declines or fails to grow at a rate faster than increases in our operating expenses, we will not be able to achieve and maintain profitability in future periods. As a result, we may continue to generate losses. We cannot ensure that we will achieve profitability in the future or that, if we do become profitable, we will be able to sustain profitability."
Ref: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1627475/000119312518267594/d575528ds1.htm#toc575528_2

Upwork is currently the leader in the freelance community, but it is not perfect. Everything that is a potential issue should rightfully be discussed and considered in the interests of a better future.

All of these things are important to the survival of Upwork, so feel free to spend your time arguing and insulting those that make a point to get vocal about issues.

What do you think my end goal is here? I want Upwork to improve where possible and succeed.

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