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This is a scam

I did work for a client I was supposed to receive $81 an hour for some reason you guys refunded all my payments when I did the work and I'm not sure why this happened. I did the work I should get paid for it I want my money back!

Community Member

Might be a problem with the client's credit card, or some fraudulent activity. What kind of job did you do @ four times your hourly rate? Use upwork correctly, and you will always get paid, but only at your usual or market rate. 

Using an inflated rate is never a good idea, even if it's only about the optics of your profile. 

What do you suggest for a profession where it is not uncommon to charge $50 hourly, $150+ hourly, or even more in some instances?  These are real and realistic rates for what I do.

Not to mention that I offer several different services to clients - 
For example (using arbitrary figures):
1. Establish design contract with client to design prototype object/device/product - this contract would be set at $75 hourly.  Contract would be closed or amended if the client decides to add manufacturing services.

2. Client requests the addition of manufacturing services to produce a physical prototype in-house rather than breaking continuity and outsourcing (many different reasons why this is advantageous).  This would be drawn up as a seperate contract to prevent confusion with the design portion of the job.  Material billed at fixed rate with security deposit $100, set-up fee for machine flat rate $50, programming and labor rates $50 hourly. 

On the economy, Upwork could say that programming and labor is $20 hourly, no set up fee, and dispute material cost if it has fluctuated up or down based on market conditions.  For example, a couple years ago, the price of steel was $0.69/lb, now that same steel is about $1.60/lb. because of inflation causing a surge in prices, tariffs, and other volatile market influences such as elections and political pandering.

Jeremiah, I honestly don't think you're in danger of having to deal with this. You set rates that make sense for your industry, your skills and level, and what you have previously charged. This typically has only come up (in my experience watching the forum) when a freelancer who is new charges a rate substantially higher than what they published (like it's their first job, their profile rate says $20, but they are charging $80 and their field doesn't exactly support that as an average rate) or freelancers taking on jobs where they charge $500/hr and their profile rate is $20/hr and, of course, as Radia mentioned, there's obvious fraud involved. Usually there's an additional TOS violation like it's a paid review or buying crypto or something like that. 


If you are so concerned, you could add some rates to your profile text and mention that your hourly rate ranges between $X-$X based on certain factors of the work. I don't know how/if that would sway Upwork if it did come up for you, but at least you'd have a history of establishing that your rate is variable. 

Community Member

Chrystal P wrote:

I did work for a client I was supposed to receive $81 an hour for some reason you guys refunded all my payments when I did the work and I'm not sure why this happened. I did the work I should get paid for it I want my money back!

It wasn't refunded. The client never paid. Upwork uses the word refunded, but what it really means is that they were unable to charge the card and the client hasn't paid. It appears you do not qualify for payment protection because you are working at rate that is 3X your profile rate and that you have not had any previous jobs at that rate. Did you use the time tracker and leave meaningful memos? Or did you input manual time?

Why can't they just change the word "refunded" in these notices to "Client unable to pay" or something like that? It sure would clear up a lot of confusion that we see in these posts about it.

Is that how it should read?

Please enlightmen me on this "usual rate" crap - I understand the superficial meaning of it, but I am still free to change, increase, or descrease my rate as I deem necessary (even on a job to job basis).  

I perform work over several different domains, not just one.  Some projects require more specialized software than others, and of course there are always jobs where I may throw a bone to a client (either as a courtesy, because I want the project in my portfolio, I'm short on hours, etc).  The website also drives prices - job by job basis vs fixed storefront.  This means my rate will increase or decrease.  Inflation can also be a factor.

So if I bid on a specialized job where I need to charge $80 per hour instead of my usual $50/hour, does this mean Upwork can ultimately decide to knock it back down to $50/hour if a client wants to find some reason to whine?

Hi Jeremiah, this "crap" as you put it is not mine. You can read it in the TOS regarding payment protection. Yes, you can raise your rates, but Upwork reserves the right to review the rate and if it's not the same as your profile rate, out of line with the market, or substantially higher (you can read their verbage specifically), they may revert to your standard profile rate. It's not about the client finding some reason to whine. Upwork would review it under the rules of payment protection - so if you were using manual time instead of the time tracker. Payment protection is what covers you when the client's payment method fails, not when they complain or dispute hours. 

When I say "usual rate crap", I am referring to UWs policy (not as if the idea originated with you).


Is there an appeal process for the freelancer?

There was a case a few months back where a project originally ineligible for protection after the client failed to pay. All rules were followed, except for the "usual rate" thing (which I'm not sure if it is stated clearly in the terms).


But Upwork changed their mind, after a few weeks of chats with support (and forum posts), and finally pay the freelancer.


I think this was the thread: https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Does-Upwork-Hourly-Protection-Actually-Work/m-p/1053766 before redirected to /Moderation-Board.


There were also cases where "naive" freelancers scammed while following the rules. They weren't protected because of one of this umbrella terms, "involved in fraudulent activities" (while the first case can actually fall under the category as well).


So, you might need to put more effort if this happens to you. Or you can play safe with the "usual rate" thing.  From what I see, they protect, if they decided it was a legit client who turns bad (dispute payment with their bank). But they don't protect, if the client is an "intentional scammer".

Jeremiah, usual rate does not mean different rates for different skills, which many freelancers use. 

I would still argue to not do that because IMO it looks bad on a profile to work for wildly fluctuating rates, but it might make sense for some people. 

If you read a little bit in the forum, you will find people that have a profile rate of $10, but work for $500/hour. Why? To game the system. To defraud upwork. 

In this case, OP has an hourly rate of $20, but was hired for $80. Why does a real client agree to pay a freelancer four times more than they charge? Is the client stupid? Can't he read? Has the freelancer taken advantage of a client who doesn't know there is more than one freelancer on upwork? Nothing about this is legit or makes sense. 

That is why upwork doesn't support it when the client fails to pay upwork. If it was a serious client who didn't care about paying over market rate for a freelancer that has never won any jobs, has no feedback, is unproven, that's fine. They don't care if the client actually pays. They do care if people try to game payment protection, as we all should, because our fees pay for fraud in some of these cases.  

Community Member

You were scammed and will never get any of your money.

Community Member

Hey Chrystal, 
Check out this on payment protection (section 6) : https://www.upwork.com/legal#escrow-hourly

Among other things, it says;
"The maximum rate per hour protected by Upwork to Freelancer under the Hourly Payment Protection for Freelancers is the lesser of: (i) the rate provided in the Hourly Contract terms; (ii) the usual hourly rate billed by Freelancer on the Site across all Clients; and (iii) the going rate for the same skills on the Site in Freelancer's area (such determination to be made in Upwork's sole discretion). The maximum amount of coverage under the Hourly Payment Protection for Freelancers for the life of a relationship between the same Client and Freelancer is $2,500 or 50 hours logged in Work Diary at Freelancer's average hourly rate billed to Client, based on whichever is less."

It also says that you have 5 days to file a dispute, so do that if you havent while continuing to get input from community members

Payment protection only applies if she used the time tracker appropriately. 

True, Martina pointed it and you had already asked her about that so was just trying to point her and whoever reads this thread to the direction of what correctly is - with the link to the ToS and how much of a window she has to react

Community Member

These software testing jobs that are scams are all over, which is a shame because there are valid testing jobs that get lost. Keep an eye on your Apple account because eventually, you may see that your account is suspended due to this scam job.

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