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Re: Time Tracker 10 minutes interval

Active Member
Marlene B Member Since: Apr 15, 2019
31 of 40

Thank you, to all of you who are experiencing the same thing that UW is blindly ignoring or making excuses for or telling both clients and FLs to work around it.

So let me explain this to Vlad, Petra and all the other wagon circlers that think there isn't a problem.

1. There is a huge difference in how the work diary affects freelancers vs. clients.  And I can actually now prove that the client ALWAYS is overcharged and overpays.

1.  Within the first two weeks of starting a new hourly FL, we noticed many on/off segments in the log.  So we asked her about it.  She indicated she worked from home and had small children so had many interruptions/had to log on/off frequently.  (I'm guessing this is completly normal and why many people are FLs on Upwork.)  It wasn't that many minutes so I blew it off.

3.  After a few weeks went by I saw more and more segments like this.  I looked at the total "time worked" at the top of the client screen on the WDiary, then looked down at the bars and totaled them.  Over the 4 hours "worked" that morning, 39 minutes were "not worked" yet the total at the top of the screen showed all 4 hours being billed to me.

4.  Discussed this with the FL and she was concerned also - I asked her to contact UW and that I would do the same. We discussed this with both our hourly FLs and they agreed to login at the beginning of 10 min increments and to do their best to work the full 10 before logging out.  we are completely understanding of a few minutes here and there - but that is not what the diary was showing.

5. Initially both my office and I had numerous calls (5-6) with UW and none of the answers made sense. 

6. First we were told that the time rolls over - e.g., if a FL only works 3 minutes in a login segment that the system subtracts it when they log out.  This made no sense as on the client side it didn't matter how many green bars were in the block of time, we were billed for all 10 minutes both logging in and out regardless of how many minutes were showing actively worked.  

7. Next we were told the same thing Petra R and several other FL have stated here (but which is irrelevant to the question/concern being raised) - namely, that the FL time (on the FL side) are logged based upon screenshots so if they log in or out and a screenshot doesn't happen in that segment they don't get paid for minutes they actually did work. In the reverse if they log in part way into the segment and a screenshot does occur they are logged as working the entire segment and that this system in general averages for the FL - this is NOT true however for the client.  It does not matter how many bars of activity are showing in a 10-min segment, the client is billed for the whole ten minutes regardless.  Thus my complaint and thus my questions.

8. Next conversation we were told the UW diary is not for timekeeping it is purely for work tracking.  It is the system for accountability to prove that the FL is working the time they are logging.  This is obviously not true because we are BILLED directly off of this same screen.  Whatever 10 minute blocks has ANY activity in them, we are billed the entire 10 minute segment.

9. Next conversation, the cust svc person was actually honest and told us she was both a FL and a client of UW.  That she does NOT use the work diary for time - she uses it for accountability only and uses a program outside UW for timekeeping.  I was shocked by this and asked her why - she didn't want to answer (most likely because all the calls are recorded) - so I asked the question a different way and without saying so she acknowledged the same thing I was recognizing - that clients are billed for ever segment in which there is any activity which ultimately results in excessive overbilling of the client through no fault of the FL - and SHE did not want to be overbilled. Her recommendation was to track time outside of UW.

10.  Next conversation we were told that our FLs should to log in at exact 10 min increments to avoid this problem.  So of course we did.  Our two hourly people were very concerned and courteous and also wanted to do the right thing - we, the client and FL, are doing everything possible to work with this system.  Unfortunately, we are not having the same experience with UW being transparent or honest as a company.  The issue with this method is twofold - first, client is overbilled and second, how it disadvantages the FL - they aren't able to just sit down log on and start working, they actually have to start at a certain time so the 10 minute blocks log full 10 minutes of work.  The bigger issue is logging off.  Not one of us (on a timeclock or otherwise) ever works our day around being finished with something exactly at the end of a 10 minute segment.  This puts the FL in a bad position.  They either have to logoff when not ready to do so (in the middle of something), log off mid-block when they are finished with task and run the risk of no screenshot being taken thus losing pay for the minutes they did work, or pretending to be busy for the full ten minutes to avoid having the log challenged by the client.  This is totally absurd.  BTW, remember UW doesn't train FL, it is up to them to learn about this on their own which neither of our people understood.  We had to educate ourselves without being able to see their side of the UW system and then educate them to try and get to a place that was more fair to us both.  Basically without intending to, the UW log encourages cheating - based on the logout issue I just explained.  If the FL is conscientious and logs in at 10 instead of 10:09 but then needs to log out at 11:03 because they are done with the task or have an appt, it will never average in their favor because the "averaging" requires both the log in and out to be random based on screen shots. 

11.  So back to the "it all averages out in time" theory.  I could see that was nonsense as I was billed for ever 10-minute increment regardless of how many minutes were worked - so I scheduled a call.

12.  In that call, I was told many of the things above again which still does not solve the problem - how do we avoid being overbilled by UW?  this has nothing to do with what the FL is or is not doing - this is about UW overbilling the client. Where the overbilling occurs is in the login/logout blocks of time. So back to the call, same story plus a new one: the green ticks in the 10-min segment do not represent the minutes worked in the login/out blocks of time - that represents where the screenshot was made.  that the freelancer may have loggedin/out at the beginning/end of the time block but the system only shows the minutes accted for by the screenshot, therefore it is legitimate to be charged for the whole block.  so I decided to test if this was true.

13.  my staff took one freelancer, totalled ALL her time to date which was just under 90 hours at the time.  we then went through and totalled all the minutes that were not green bars within the login/out screens and just under 10 hours were not worked.  Yes, out of 90 hours, only 80 hours were logged by the FL yet UW billed me for all 90 hours. We addressed this with the FL and she was even more careful about timing her login/out.

14. I then called UW again.  I selected just one day out of that month and asked to review just that day.  It was a typical example: FL worked approx 4 hrs and 39 mins were not work minutes but I was billed the entire 4 hours.  I got all the excuses/explanations already shared above from cust svc so I said, let's prove it.  I want the actual time log for this day identifying exactly when the FL logged on/off regardless of screenshots.  UW requested the log from the FL and we also asked the FL to share the same info with us.  FYI, the actual log looks like a computer talking to itself with long strings of tech phrasing - but the times and date with "log in" are clearly there.

15.  I took the work diary and the log and compared them.  all the nonsense I was told was just that - nonsense.  the number of minutes showing worked in the work diary exactly matched the computer log of when the freelancer physically logged in/out.  The cust svc then escalated the log to engineering for review and came back with the same info we discovered.  Yes, indeed, for that half day we were overbilled 39 minutes.  This is not "a few minutes here or there."

16.  It is clear that most of the cust svc info we received was not true (yes, Vlad you can listen to all the recordings and will find that everything I have shared here is exactly what happened - and, yes, we were indeed told that if we disputed time or if our FL gave us a credit for the nearly 10 overbilled hours that were not worked that it would affect their UW score/rating.)

17.  So the next step is to request that our FLs provide us with ALL the actual logs for their work, we will compare the login/outs with the work diary from which we are billed and then I will decide how far I want to take the overbilling that has occurred.  It is still under $500 for us to date - but that is still a substantial amount of money (not a minute here or there as Petra R the guru expert claims).

The issue is two-fold:

First, the screenshot system should be more accurately tied to the timestamp - if the FL is ready to start work and logs in, the first SShot should happen in sync with login and then randomly while logged in.  It should again take another Sshot in sync with logout. that is the accountability piece but still has nothing to do with the billing issue. 

Second, clients should only be billed for minutes actually worked as that is how UW's terms and conditions and its various published instructional articles are worded.  "With an hourly project, you’re invoiced for time worked on your project."  this is a totally false statement. clients are not billed for time worked - we are billed in 10 minute increments regardless of time worked. if 1 minute is logged, we pay for 10.  there are no adjustments, averages or any other "balances". this system is flawed and unfair to both the freelancer or client, particularly in long-term work scenarios which we hope for all of our relationships to be. 

I post to warn and help other clients who are paying the bill.  It is obvious the forum contributors have no power to fix the problem and some are too close-minded to even see that the flaws factually exists or perhaps are not able to see it from the clients' screen/pocketbook.  I feel work-arounds (FL logging in/out at exact artificial times, disputes, only working in fixed price contracts, etc.) are short-term band-aids to a very large problem and there is only one solution - for UW to fix the flaws in its system. We are one little startup - imagine over the thousands of clients, some large some small, how many hours are being billed and paid that were never worked!

Moderator
Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
32 of 40

Hi Marlene,

 

I've communicated with our customer support team and we have carefully reviewed all the phone call recordings to make sure no incorrect information was shared. I also believe you've just recently had another conversation with one of our representatives which, hopefully, clarified things further.

 

Additionally, I'd like to address a few points that were brought up on this thread:

 

  • On Upwork, billing for hourly contracts, reporting and Hourly Payment Protection are all based on time being logged in 10-minute increments. There are no plans to change that. We provide information about how it works for both clients and freelancers.
  • Upwork App tracks the time worked in 10-minute intervals based on screen captures it takes. If the freelancer stopped tracking before the screen capture for that interval was taken, that interval won't count. 

 

  • Screen captures taken at random time serve as evidence that the freelancer is working on the project the whole time. They don't know when a screen capture may be taken. Taking a screen capture the moment the freelancer stops the tracker wouldn't be able to serve as such evidence. They could potentially be doing unrelated activities beforehand and only have the project open on their screen before stopping the tracker.

 

  • The row of green blocks you see under each screen capture shows the number of minutes out of a 10-minute billing segment that included activity. 

 

Thank you for your feedback.

 

 

~ Valeria
Untitled
Active Member
Marlene B Member Since: Apr 15, 2019
33 of 40

Actually we determined today that all the calls had not been reviewed.  There were three different people in my office calling from three different phones and these did not all connect to the same ticket.  If we called once, then the system recognized our numbers the next time we called and some of them are still not connected to that ticket.

 

Also today in the call, I again asked the same questions: is the freelancer affected if they refund? is the freelancer affected with disputes?  the answer was YES.  there are many factors that affect the FL score and all are taken into account. if we leave positive feedback/reviews it counts less or doesn't count but it is in the mix and can affect them.  Frankly that is too vague for me to take to the bank - but it explains why I was getting such disparaging information from different people and Petra and Vlad are wrong to blanket say it does not affect the FL.  If I leave so-so feedback it will definitely affect their overall score on the site. That is how it was explained to me by the manager I spoke to today, so please stop telling everyone that credits/disputes don't affect FL - they most certainly can!!

 

Yes, the time is tracked in 10 minute incriments - that is the issue!  Upwork's terms say hourly contracts are billed for "time worked" it does not say billed in time increments of ten minutes.  change the tracker to 1 minute increments and keep taking the random screen shots - problem solved.  we have now calculated that of all the time billings we have paid, 12% was for minutes where no one was logged on the system.  It's under $500 but still significant - too much to take from the freelancers at this point.

 

The manager today has forwarded the issue to engineering to put in the pile of future update considerations. that's the best I could hope for and all I've been asking from day 1.  Instead everyone offers band-aids.  In the meantime we will look into external software to track hourly FL work that offers more accuracy and transparency for everyone on the team.  The only message we can send to UW that might hurt is if we take our business elsewhere.  

 

Thank you.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
34 of 40

Marlene B wrote:

 since you are a manager, perhaps you can do the right thing and push this legitimate dishonest issue up the food chain to management to fix.


I'm not sure who you were responding to here, but Vlad is the only Upwork employee who has responded in this thread, and his response comes later. Neither Petra nor I works for Upwork--as it appears you know, since you've laughably referred to her as "unqualified")

 

It is generally acknowledged that Petra has a more in-depth knowledge of Upwork's workings than many front-line Upwork employees, and she has often helped freelancers resolve problems caused by cut-and-paste responses from customer service. 

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
35 of 40

Sebastian:

 

Someone brought up this subject recently, so I decided to see what constitutes a 10-minute time span for TimeTracker.

 

On a Monday I asked my young nephew to track actual time versus real time on the tracker for a new work week on a real project. He kept track of this for two hours and this is what he recorded for the first 40 minutes of actual time:

 

Actual time       TimeTracker interval

 

4 minutes               10 minutes

14 minutes             20 minutes

26 minutes             30 minutes

31 minutes             40 minutes

 

But I don't know how these numbers are reconciled over the span of multiple hours.

 

For example, if I work for between 4 and 13 minutes TimeTracker will apparently credit me for 10 minutes of work. But if I work for three different 4 minute intervals on this project (12 minutes in total), will TimeTracker credit me for 20 minutes of payable work time or 30 minutes of payable work time?

 

Over many hours of work on the same project, I have assumed this all sort of evens itself out. But if a very dishonest freelancer clocks 20 intervals of 13 minutes each, will their client pay them for 260 minutes of work (20 x 13) or 400 minutes (20 x 20)? 

 

I assume it's the former and not the latter, but I really don't know.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
36 of 40

Will L wrote:

 

For example, if I work for between 4 and 13 minutes TimeTracker will apparently credit me for 10 minutes of work. But if I work for three different 4 minute intervals on this project (12 minutes in total), will TimeTracker credit me for 20 minutes of payable work time or 30 minutes of payable work time?

 

Over many hours of work on the same project, I have assumed this all sort of evens itself out. But if a very dishonest freelancer clocks 20 intervals of 13 minutes each, will their client pay them for 260 minutes of work (20 x 13) or 400 minutes (20 x 20)? 

 

I assume it's the former and not the latter, but I really don't know.


Will, it does not work like that.

 

An hour consists of 6 equal segments. For example the hour between 10am and 11am has the 6 segments:

10.00 to 10.10

10.10 to 10.20

10.20 to 10.30

10.30 to10.40

10.40 to 10.50

10.50 to 11.00

 

Every segment which has both activity and a screenshot "counts" and is charged.

There is never more than one screenshot per segment (but the way the segments work means that there can be a 1 minute gap or a 19 minute gap between screenshots, depending on when the randon screenshots happen in two segments.)

 

You can see when the screenshot per segment was taken in your work diary.

 

The discussion here is about the fact that when a freelancer starts late into a segment (say at 10.07) the tracker will take a screenshot and a 10 minute segment is charged, athough only 3 minutes were worked in the 10.00 to 10.10 segment.

However, it is equally true that if I work until 10.47, and no screenshot has happened (yet) during the 10.40 to 10.50 segment and I log out, that segment will not be charged / billed.

 

My personal solution has always been to "tidy up" my work diary at the end of the day to remove low activity segments (where I may have gone to make a coffee or someone was at the door) and I also got into the habit of always starting at or near the start of a segment (at 10.00 or 10.02 or so) and work to the end of the last segment.

 

Obviously there is room for abuse, but there always is. People could just sit there daydreaming while tapping the keyboard.

 

It has to be said that the tracker is spectacularly unsuitable for working (or rather tracking accurately) short bursts of 4 minutes or 14 minutes. It works out best for working multiple 10 minute segments, such as an hour or two at a time or more.

 

Highlighted
Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
37 of 40

Petra R wrote:

 

It has to be said that the tracker is spectacularly unsuitable for working (or rather tracking accurately) short bursts of 4 minutes or 14 minutes. It works out best for working multiple 10 minute segments, such as an hour or two at a time or more.


Petra, if the fault I'm complaining about was fixed, then clients would be charged correctly on the probabilistic average, even for such short bursts of work. Over short periods a particular client or freelancer might be lucky or unlucky, but in the long run it should roughly even out. And I don't think that the short-run deviations from the average would be big enough to worry much about.

 

The only thing that might (but probably wouldn't) still put me off using the tracker for such short bursts is the second problem I've mentioned. Namely, that using the tracker for such short bursts would leave a lot of low Activity Level segments showing in the Work Diary. So it might look to a client as if I hadn't been working very hard, and I would be likely to lose out if the time was disputed (since I believe such disputes are resolved based on Activity Levels, and not Event counts).

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
38 of 40

Richard W wrote:

Petra R wrote:

 

It has to be said that the tracker is spectacularly unsuitable for working (or rather tracking accurately) short bursts of 4 minutes or 14 minutes. It works out best for working multiple 10 minute segments, such as an hour or two at a time or more.


Petra, if the fault I'm complaining about was fixed, then clients would be charged correctly on the probabilistic average, even for such short bursts of work. Over short periods a particular client or freelancer might be lucky or unlucky, but in the long run it should roughly even out. And I don't think that the short-run deviations from the average would be big enough to worry much about.

 


I am not sure that would work because the tracker can not "guess" if there will be 2 minutes or 8 minutes in a segment while the segment is still going on. Remember the very (!) basis of the hourly model is the screenshot, so the one part that is set in stone is "No Screenshot = No Payment" and "Screenshot = Segment is charged"

 

So for your idea (if I actually understand it) to work there would have to be a proportional "no screenshot" thing going on. But if I log in at 10.12 - the tracker could not guess whether I will be working 2 minutes or 8 minutes during that segment, so there is no way to calculate whether a screenshot should be taken, or when.

 

As an aside - Many professionals, lawyers for example, charge per time-segment of part thereof.

I don't really think many professionals charge by the minute, but by chunks of an hour *or part thereof.*

 

Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
39 of 40

Petra R wrote:

Richard W wrote:

Petra R wrote:

 

It has to be said that the tracker is spectacularly unsuitable for working (or rather tracking accurately) short bursts of 4 minutes or 14 minutes. It works out best for working multiple 10 minute segments, such as an hour or two at a time or more.


Petra, if the fault I'm complaining about was fixed, then clients would be charged correctly on the probabilistic average, even for such short bursts of work. Over short periods a particular client or freelancer might be lucky or unlucky, but in the long run it should roughly even out. And I don't think that the short-run deviations from the average would be big enough to worry much about.

 


I am not sure that would work because the tracker can not "guess" if there will be 2 minutes or 8 minutes in a segment while the segment is still going on. Remember the very (!) basis of the hourly model is the screenshot, so the one part that is set in stone is "No Screenshot = No Payment" and "Screenshot = Segment is charged"

 

So for your idea (if I actually understand it) to work there would have to be a proportional "no screenshot" thing going on. But if I log in at 10.12 - the tracker could not guess whether I will be working 2 minutes or 8 minutes during that segment, so there is no way to calculate whether a screenshot should be taken, or when.


You don't need to know in advance how long the user will be tracking for. Here's one way to do it. (It's not the only way.) When the user starts tracking, the app generates a random time for the snapshot to occur. If it's the 10:10 to 10:20 segment, it generates a random time in the range 10:10 to 10:20 (allow fractions of a minute). The app remembers that snapshot time, and, if the tracker is on when the snapshot time comes round, it takes a snapshot then. If the tracker's off at the snapshot time (or if the snapshot time precedes the time the tracker was started), then the app takes no snapshot in this segment.

 

Example. You track from 10:12 to 10:14, i.e. 2 minutes. The random time is generated uniformly over a 10 minute range (10:10 to 10:20), so there's a 20% chance that the random time will fall in the range 10:12 to 10:14. You only get a snapshot if it does fall in that range, so there's a 20% chance of a snapshot, which is proportional to the time the tracker was on (2 minutes out of 10).

 

If the snapshot time is 10:15, the app doesn't know until 10:15 that there's not going to be a snapshot. It has to wait and see whether the tracker is on at that time.

 

ETA. Oops. I just did some free work for Upwork.

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
40 of 40

Petra R wrote:

 

....My personal solution has always been to "tidy up" my work diary at the end of the day to remove low activity segments (where I may have gone to make a coffee or someone was at the door) and I also got into the habit of always starting at or near the start of a segment (at 10.00 or 10.02 or so) and work to the end of the last segment.


Adapting my work to the way the timer works—as some of us in our work lives may have had to do to a physical time clock—works well to minimize the amount of "tidying up" I have to do: perhaps a segment or two out of a several-hour work session.

As a bonus, I'm much better at working proper ergonomic stretch, walk, and fresh air breaks into my work routine.

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