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Possible Non-pay Scams by oDesk employers: What is your experience?

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Randall S Member Since: Oct 10, 2010
1 of 7
I've been an oDesk contractor for nearly 4 years. I've had no problems with fixed contract payment until this year. Granted, oDesk doesn't guarantee fixed contracts, but in the past I've found that if you give someone good service they not only pay, but they also give a bonus. So this is a new problem to me.

Aftering experiencing a couple of non-paying clients, I've reflected on the experience, and I feel that there is enough data to suggest there may be a trend of oDesk scams. They seem to come in 2 forms:

Scam Type #1: I do the work, complete it, and send it to the client. The client responds rudely and never again. After some point, even after contacting oDesk support, I end up closing the contract unpaid because I want the client out of my life.

Scam Type #2: This is a more devious form of non-paying clients. It's a sort of bait and switch. Client posts a job for one type of work, but asks me to do something totally different. Generally, not a big problem as I see it. Then the client asks for my personal email and only corresponds outside of oDEsk. (It's not against odesk rules to do this, but I see the problem with it now: oDesk has no record of our work correspondence. In any event, after I complete the work, the client complains and complains about a problem that does not exist and then says he is going to close the contract. In the end, I end up closing it unpaid because he does not respond and I want him out of my life.

To protect myself, I do the following:

1. ask for a down payment to filter out the true con artists. In the past, I never had to do this. My clients sometimes became friends and they rehired me so it was never a problem.

2. Only accept work by individuals: I won't work with a client who has posted 100 jobs. This is some kind of agency and it's a yellow flag to me.

3. Only accept work by clients in the U.S., Canada.

What has been your experience?

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Isidora U Member Since: Jul 9, 2014
2 of 7
already had a very 'educational' experience with one of the types you described. I was invited for an interview, did a great job, client was very satisfied and offered me a bigger project. I finished the second one, sent it to the client and never heard a single word from him again. Now, I am not an inexperienced freelancer, but I fell for it nevertheless: the client asked for my Skype name, so the entire arrangement took place on Skype. I completely agree with you regarding filtering clients - I only ever choose those who are from the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. This last backfired on me; to be honest I never expected it to come from that corner of the world! I still can't come to terms with being scammed of my well-deserved cash, but it seems I will have to. One thing I just recently experienced that seems to be a good idea - Skype conference call. It gives you an opportunity to see who you are dealing with and to 'assess' better the person in front of you. I liked it and I'll think about implementing this in future as a regular practice. On the flip side, you don't have any records whatsoever of your conversation with the person. (I do however, I recorded the call Smiley Happy) Also, from now on I will definitely insist on upfront payments. On freelancer.com it is a regular practice and you can't even place a proposal (application or bid) if you don't ask for at least 20% of the money in the form of a milestone. I had a similar experience once and I would like to hear your thoughts on this particular one Smiley Happy The client I was working for refused to pay me what he owed me. I was in a position and I blackmailed him. Got my money in a heartbeat! I don't know, maybe I should try this strategy with this guy too Smiley Very Happy Have you ever done that? Oh, and I've read somewhere here that the feedback is basically pointless. I wouldn't agree with that; I always go through client's reviews. Incidentally, this particular guy has one review that states that he disappeared from the face of the Earth at one point. But, he also has some great reviews. I should have listened to the one honest freelancer and trust his experience. Ah...! So, one question to all of us here, do you have any ideas how to get through to our 'employment agencies' - freelancer.com, Elance and oDesk in order to improve our status and devise a strategy that will provide protection to us, as well as to clients? Because, it really seems like clients have all the protection in the world and we are forced to 'come to terms' with working for nothing. (Just notice the tone of apathy of the fellow freelancer Randall that started this post. Why should we be forced to become apathetic about our work and time and effort and cash?!)
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Randall S Member Since: Oct 10, 2010
3 of 7
Isidora, You bring up many good points. But it supports my belief now that the problem of non-paying clients is bigger than I had thought.

The skype interview is good to see who you are working with. I haven't been doing that but I guess I should try it.

I have been starting to ask for 10 percent down to filter out clients who have no intention of paying. It seems to be working. The sincere clients never have a problem with the upfront payment.

As far as getting through to management concerning this problem, I'm not sure how to do it. I've used Customer Support and they have been as good as they can be. But, it's out of their control for fixed pay jobs which are not guaranteed.

Good luck.

Randall

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Alexander N Member Since: Sep 14, 2013
4 of 7
The very first client I worked for ended fixed price contract without paying. Good thing I completed and submitted less than 20% of overall job amount by then. Didn't report him, mostly because I didn't care and I used the material I created for my own ends later. That was an article-writing job. Now, concerning any writing jobs, I stick to simple rule. When I do any creative writing, I upload my works to FictionPress, but not publish them. If client refuses to pay and Customer Support has no success in convincing him/her to do that, I simply click "publish" button. As for countries of origin to work with, I can say that you can encounter scammer from anywhere. It's just that clients from certain areas tend to offer terms/rates I will not even consider to work with.
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Isidora U Member Since: Jul 9, 2014
5 of 7
finally. Kissed my money goodbye. I wasn't offered to give my feedback about my experience with this person; just some private feedback, for the oDesk I guess. Apparently they read all of our comments and take them into account Smiley Happy Anyway, since the guy hasn't fulfilled his part of the deal and there's no way to warn other freelancers about him (since, I can't give my feedback for some reason) - how can I warn others of him? Could I just say his name here for all of you to watch out for him? Smiley Very Happy Or start a separate thread with his name as a title Smiley Very Happy Maybe, it would be a good idea to have some sort of a database of rotten clients, so we could all have access to it, and that way we could watch each other's back when no one else wants to. Or to join our forces and make oDesk, freelancer.com and Elance start respecting our rights, just equally as they respect clients' rights.
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Moderator
Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
6 of 7
Hi Isidora, I am sorry to hear you have had a negative experience with a client on oDesk. Please, do not publish his name on the Forums, it would violate the Forum Guidelines. Report him to Customer Support instead, if no money has been paid and you cannot leave public feedback. Rest assured, proper actions will be taken by our Team.
~ Valeria
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Randall S Member Since: Oct 10, 2010
7 of 7
Valeria, I agree that no client should be named. But I have used Customer Support for the no-pay problem and the advice did not solve the problem. My impression is that it is a he said/she said problem.

So, my suggestion is to pass along to oDesk management that I believe this no-pay client problem is BIG. What management should do is make the client pay upfront and place it into an escrow account and when a milestone is achieved by a contractor that appropriate portion of the escrow is passed to the contractor. This will:

a. eliminate any client who had no intention to pay in the first place

b. eliminate a client's motivation to not pay because they have already paid.

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