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Possible client asking for free "trial" work

Active Member
Neil A Member Since: Feb 2, 2018
1 of 15

Hello all you good people.

See if this is familiar to you:

 

A client invites you to interview for a job, so you respond with interest. 

Then they tell you that your portfolio doesn't contain exactly what they're looking for (which is true) and ask for some trial work to show you can do what they need. You point out that Upwork will kick the job positing off if they see you've done this and are not offering any payment at all but they insist they need to do it to make sure you can do the work (the job is for a fairly decent amount of money).

So you spend two afternoons putting the trial piece of writing together, wedging it between other jobs. 

Then you notice they're interviewing another 14 people. You start wondering if they're asking for free trial work off every other interviewee, perhpas getting all of you to do all the work for free, but you hold back bdecause you'd like to get the job and you're a trusting sort of person (or a damned needy freelance writer who needs whatever work they can get...)

You submit your work, they tell you they will get back to you the next day, but they dont, so you chase them up and they say they have concerns about it and ask for some revisions. You say okay but you're tied up today and won't be able to get them to them till Monday. They say they want them for Sunday. 

Now. I want the job, looks good, good pay for it. But I am now seriously irritiated that I've spent four or five hours working for free and they expect me to now work over the weekend on revisions on the off chance they're going to hire me.

14 people interviewed. You'd think they would be able to make a decision based on my initial submissions. I pointed out it was a draft (didn't point out that I wasn't going to jump through hoops for no money and that when you ask for free, you get drafts not finished copy particularly when the project, if it were to be done right, would require a lot of tooing and froing between myself and the client), that if they hired me, we would work togheter on a finished version, and that the project would require a lot of team work and revisions for a final version (it's an educational game - if you've ever worked in games, you'll know that there are multiple revisions on dialogue and storyline, as is right).

I am seriously beginning to think this is a scam from the client. has anyone else experienced anything like this?

I am tempted to report the whole thing to Upwork, but for fear of losing a possible gig that will pay all my bills this month and look good on my portfolio (too many projects in the games market end up never seeing the llight of day...). 

So if I did report it, would that mean the hirer would be shut out of upwork and all links to me and other interviewees? Or that it would be clear that I had reported it? 


Community Guru
Irene B Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
2 of 15

I would not communicate with them but report them as asking for free work...You could use the piece you wrote for your portfolio

Active Member
Neil A Member Since: Feb 2, 2018
3 of 15

I wouldn't use draft material as part of my portfolio - I only use finished work, usually when it's visible inside a game.

But I have a plan now...

Community Guru
Hasmik V Member Since: Aug 12, 2017
4 of 15

Neil,

Do you still have doubts that it's a scam? Believe me, no scammers make their job look bad, they do everything to make you want that particular job, else they won't be able to scam anyone. 

Active Member
Neil A Member Since: Feb 2, 2018
5 of 15

I'm not sure it's a scam in terms of them trying to get money or bank details out of me, they have a verified payment. Maybe I'm just venting. So many previous clients and possibles have asked for free work and , when I've explained that they will ge their job post removed if Upwork see their request for free tril work, they understand and post a minimal fee of a few dollars. This one didn't seem inclined to do so.

Moderator
Bojan S Moderator Member Since: Mar 9, 2018
6 of 15

Hi Neil,

 

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Please know that requesting for the unpaid sample or test work is not allowed on Upwork. In the future, it would be best to report these clients to our Customer Support Team, or you can flag the job for us to review it by clicking on the "Flag as inappropriate" link located at the upper right of the job posting and our team will review it and take action on any violations of the ToS. 

~ Bojan
Untitled
Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
7 of 15

Even when a project looks perfect--great match with your skills, ample compensation for the work to be performed, schedule that meshes smoothly with your calendar--if the client presses for free work up front, then odds are against an ultimately successful outcome. That client is either a cheapskate or doesn't understand the value of the work he/she is contracting. If the latter, you may be able to educate them and collaborate successfully but in my experience, it's doubtful. 

 

For me, it took numerous episodes of banging my head gently against the wall to finally internalize the lesson: no free work. Even when I have idle time on my hands and had just as soon do the sample in hopes of landing the gig, I insist on a small test contract. It's more about making sure the client takes me and the work seriously and is prepared to engage as professionals, than it is about scoring the pay for a few hours of work. And, of course, making sure I don't get taken advantage of by a client who farms out the whole project in pieces as "free samples" and winds up getting it done without paying anybody.

Community Guru
Janean L Member Since: Apr 6, 2016
8 of 15

@ Neil A. --

 

Look at it this way (discouraging though this reality is): the client essentially paid you with the promise of future work. The POSSIBILITY of the "gig" (as you put it) was so good that you put in tremendous time working towards it. 

 

You must generally be used to a world in which people behave honorably and responsibly, and do not take undue advantage of others. You are also used to a world in which it makes great sense to EXCEL AT A TEST in order to ACHIEVE A DESIRED GOAL. Unfortunately, that is not the world of Upwork and certainly not the world of scammers.

 

All that the scammer had to do was, in essence, promise to give you a perfect-fit, well-paid job later on, in order to extract from you a great deal of valuable unpaid work right now. He dangled a carrot in front of you, but as you moved toward the impossibly tempting carrot ("a possible gig that will pay all my bills this month and look good on my portfolio"), he kept the bait several paces ahead of your hungry account.  ("[T]hey have concerns about it and ask for some revisions."... need to decide from among others...  need time...) You continued to provide valuable work, but the PAID job was a fake. You were "paid" in promises.

 

In the immortal words of Popeye's buddy Wimpie: "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." I think that in the world of the Popeye comic strips, it was never Tuesday. Unfortunately, likewise in the world of your scammer, Tuesday is never coming.

Community Guru
Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
9 of 15

@Neil A wrote:

You start wondering if they're asking for free trial work off every other interviewee, perhpas getting all of you to do all the work for free, but you hold back bdecause you'd like to get the job and you're a trusting sort of person (or a damned needy freelance writer who needs whatever work they can get...)

Now. I want the job, looks good, good pay for it. But I am now seriously irritiated that I've spent four or five hours working for free and they expect me to now work over the weekend on revisions on the off chance they're going to hire me.

 

I am tempted to report the whole thing to Upwork, but for fear of losing a possible gig that will pay all my bills this month and look good on my portfolio (too many projects in the games market end up never seeing the llight of day...). 

 

So if I did report it, would that mean the hirer would be shut out of upwork and all links to me and other interviewees? Or that it would be clear that I had reported it? 



 All of the above statements signify utter desperation for a job, and that you will do anything to get it. And that is EXACTLY what scammers look for.  They use promises and trust, (telling freelancers they are from a large company.) and nieve (freelancers who don't know the procedures and what to look out for on this site.)

 

On this site, you don't pay your bills with promises and free work. This site is FULL of scammers looking for desperate freelancers such as yourself.  Freelancing is a business and that is not the way to run your business.

 

Your portfolio or any links to samples you may have on your computer, are more then enough to show the STYLE of your work. If a client wants more, then they need to create a small contract for a quick

piece and from there they can determine if that work will fit what they are looking for. If they don't want to do that, then they are certainly NOT a good fit for you.

 

Instead you wasted your time, 2 days of your time, and gave them exactly what they were looking for. They also probably got the same most likely all from new freelancers. Even now, when you kind of know this was a scam you are very reluctant to report this person ...... just in case you might get the job.  And by having that attitude. you've allowed this client to obtain free work from other freelancers. You've actually rewarded them and demonstrated to them that their scam worked wonderfully.

 

Not everyone, clients and freelancers are trustworthy, honest, have morals and ethics.  If you want to be hired here, you need:

1. to be offered on contract ON this site, whether for small sample tests or jobs, for regular jobs, and for long consulations.

2. Clients need to have their accounts verified

3 payment must be made on this site for fixed rate jobs by having the client FULLY fund escrow either for the entire job or for each milestone as them come up BEFORE starting work

 

If you go by the above, you'll be successful. If you go by the attitude you have now, you will not.

Community Guru
John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
10 of 15

Neil, you're Top Rated with 100% JSS, a nice portfolio and you're a published author on Amazon to boot. That should suffice to establish your credentials for the vast majority of Upwork clients, so don't spend more than 30 minutes on a potential client unless they're willing to pay you for a test job.

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