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Refund statistics on freelancers' profiles

I am a new client, and have only used oDesk once. I have had a bad first experience with a freelancer, and while it has not cost me any money, it has wasted my & the freelancer's time. There were a number of issues with the work, but my first sign of trouble was when I saw the work diary. [1] I am indeed thankful that oDesk allows me to force freelancers to use the work diary when hiring them and allows me to set a time limit. However, I believe that by introducing the work diary, oDesk has made dispute resolution quicker, but has not decreased the quantity of disputes. My suggestion is to add refund statistics to freelancers' profiles. I understand that there are many reasons for a refund, but I would hope that this will drive clients and freelancers both to prevent the need for a refund by clarifying jobs and managing expectations before any work is done. Please consider my request. Thanks, Chan Ny [1] For oDesk staff, support request #3160306 has the details.

I'm sorry to hear about the poor experience Chan. Thanks for the suggestion and we do want to continue offering you ways to make the most informed/best hiring decision possible with a freelancer here. I don't expect we'll make the change of adding these statistics to a freelancer's public profile but we will continue to work on making a freelancer's oDesk work history representative of their overall experience and track record.

It could both be helpful and work against honest people who find themselves in bad situation and just want out as well. The client would really need to look at the reasons for it (most probably wouldn't look past a statistic though, which would hurt us) Going further, if such a thing would ever be considered, it would also be nice to see any negative stats from the client side as well. Refunds from my experience are usually due to clients changing their minds, running out of money and forcing refunds, or simply flat out scams. I refunded before because my client wanted me to perform illegal activities. How would a potential new client know that without looking further for explanation? They probably wouldn't. I have a local client right now who I have found to not be holding up to charity laws or fiduciary responsibilities that are expected from charities. I need to drop them. In the case of oDesk, that is another situation where the contract could end with a bad rep or request for refund. It would hurt me, even though I am the one who's legally in the right. I could even have them investigated and members thrown off the board. Those on the receiving end of that would likely become bitter and screw me over. How do you protect yourself from such abuse on oDesk? The only way is to refund to wipe the slate clean. I refunded once here for that reason a couple years ago, and outright cancelled another job too, but did not refund and is still on my record here... but at least there was no vindictive comments from them. All for transparency, but it needs to be applied to both sides.

I don't really know what appears when freelancers look at prospective projects, but yes, making a client's oDesk history representative of their overall experience and track record is important, too!

Agreed! I'm all for transparency on both sides. If refund statistics were to be made for freelancers I'd like them to be visible for clients as well. However, I do think that an alternative to this issue is to strongly recommend clients to leave appropriate feedback after cancelling a gig with a freelancer. If clients are vocal about a bad job then it will be reflected in the users' profile under feedback. Admittedly, I am currently unsure if a cancelled job can be given feedback or not. Perhaps the answer would be to allow refunded jobs to be displayed in the feedback section. This could be done by marking said jobs as "job cancelled" in the same way jobs in progress receive their own label. Perhaps with a "Reason for refund/job cancellation" label (followed by the written reason) being displayed, the client has an honest opportunity to leave feedback regarding the job that was never completed. Leaving out the ability to rate the job and only allowing commentary may be a useful middle ground for both contractors and clients.

Pretty sure I read somewhere (in the help center) that giving a refund clears the feedback. I think it'd be great if each refund had details, just like the feedback!

[quote]I am indeed thankful that oDesk allows me to force freelancers to use the work diary[/quote] oDesk does not allow you to force freelancers to use the work diary. oDesk offers two types of contracts: hourly and fixed-price contracts. They are both used based a mutual agreement between the client and the freelancer, not by forcing anyone to use either one of them. I am sorry to hear about your bad experience by the way. We don't know the whole story as you mentioned there were a number of issues with the job, but this might be a good time for you to look over your hiring techniques in order to avoid similar mishaps in the future. You are new here so learn from this and make some changes now that could help you in your future hiring process. Maybe include several steps during the interview, use Skype to interview the freelancer, or maybe a paid test period, etc. Just giving you some ideas to help you along the way. As for the refund statistics, it sounds like a good idea but like Tony already mentioned, it could also misrepresent the actual facts, like in his case with the illegal activity. Should this be implemented, then oDesk needs to allow full disclosure on both parties. But even so, it would still not help you much from scams/bad experiences. You still need to do your part of the work before hiring anyone and not rely too much on what is shown on a freelancer's profile. (Or vice versa as this goes both ways.)

I guess "force" was a strong word. I mean that clients can choose hourly with no manual logging, so freelancers cannot bill for time outside the work diary. There were several steps during the interview and there was supposed to be a paid test period. One issue was that the freelancer ignored the test-period part and went ahead and filled up the whole week's hours in one sitting. I did watch all the oDesk videos in the client resource centre before starting, but it did not help me avoid the bad experience. There's only so much oDesk can do. Any and every statistic or tool they add can be thwarted. If there was some magic screening process, every employer would be using it. I'm all for more statistics for both clients and freelancers if it helps make better matches.