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Time Tracker 10 minutes interval

Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
21 of 40

Hi Marlene,

 

I'm sorry to hear about the issue you're having on your Hourly contract and your disagreement with how the Upwork Desktop app is tracking time. I see our teams communicated with you and provided the information you requested as well as the information about how Hourly contracts work, how time is logged via the Desktop app and about the Hourly dispute procedure. If you'd like to continue the conversation please follow up on the most recent response our team posted on your support ticket on Saturday and our agent will follow up to assist you further.

 

I'd like to ask you if you could send me more information about the responses you mentioned receiving from our Support team, about how disputing segments in the Work Diary affects freelancer's reputation? I've reviewed all of the conversations you've had with our team, across all recent support requests, and a few phone conversations, and wasn't able to identify where the information you referenced was shared. I'd also like to add to Tiffany's and Petra's confirmation that this is not correct and I do see our team has shared the information about how you can proceed with initiating a dispute on this Hourly contract.

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

I would be happy to discuss further where when and by whom the information was provided. Would you like to set up a phone call?

Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
23 of 40

Hi Marlene,

 

We can indeed set up a call but I was wondering if you could click on my photo > Message button > and send me screenshot/screenshots of the agents' responses in which the mentioned information was shared or any other identifiable information? 

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

so let me get this straight.  my reason for wanting communication is to resolve the issue with upwork straight billing 10 minute increments when the freelancer isn't even logged onto the system.  can you help with that? it appears your only reason for wanting to communicate is to report upwork employees for giving out bad information?  why is it that no one can stick to the forum topic which is "issues with billing in 10 minute increments" in case you all forgot.  if you want information on what was said just listen to the first phone call we scheduled and the superviser we were transferred to after talking with her. since you have recordings and access to all the email communications, you know who I am talking about.  if you actually want to help with my problem (not solicit my help with your problem), you have my contact information.

 

 

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

Marlene B wrote:

it appears your only reason for wanting to communicate is to report upwork employees for giving out bad information? 

 


Well, if Upwork "managers" indeed, as you claim, tell clients completely wrong information and also inform clients that they themselves won't use Upwork procedures, then obviously it is in Upwork's interest to deal with "managers" who seriously mislead clients and who make such statements about their own hiring practises, wouldn't you say?

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

Marlene,

 

The wagons have been circled, so don't waste time arguing with other freelancers. They can't help you solve this problem, and some take the approach that if something isn't a problem for them or Upwork has shown no interest in making certain improvements to its systems then other freelancers shouldn't complain.

 

But that doesn't mean Upwork shouldn't accurately track freelancers' time actually spent using TimeTracker. A dishonest freelancer could game the system to enhance their hourly pay unjustifiably. I don't expect there are many freelancers who would do this, but who knows?

 

Vladimir has been around since the Elance days and I think he's always done his best to be helpful. But if senior management at Upwork, which has so many major issues to work on, isn't interested in fixing this, it ain't going to get fixed no matter who else you talk to.

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

Hi Vladimir,

 

Would you please communicate to Upwork management the fact that there is a flaw in the tracker's algorithm which results in it consistently overcharging clients. I assume that Upwork management is not aware of this flaw, because I cannot imagine that they want to overcharge clients, and the flaw could easily be fixed.

 

Freelancers can avoid overcharging by making sure they only start the tracker on a 10-minute boundary, but I think we can agree that this is not an acceptable solution. Not only is it inconvenient (and a waste of their time) for freelancers to have to wait before starting work, but it it means that freelancers who are unaware of this flaw will continue to innocently overcharge their clients.

 

I will carefully explain the flaw, and I hope you will pass my explanation on to management.

 

Becauses the tracker charges for whole 10-minute clock segments, there are some segments where the client is overcharged, because the client pays for a whole segment when less than 10 minutes were worked, and other segments where the client is undercharged, because the client pays nothing for a segment when some minutes were worked. I assume the thinking is that this is acceptable, as long as the overcharging and undercharging balance out on average. Fair enough. The problem is that they do not balance out. The system is biased in favour of overcharging the client.

 

For the system to work correctly, the probability of a snapshot being taken during a segment should be proportional to the number of minutes worked. So, if the freelancer uses the tracker for 2 minutes of a segment, there should be a 20% probability of a snapshot occurring. Then, on 20% of such segments the client would pay for 10 minutes of work despite getting only 2 minutes of work. But, on the other hand, on 80% of such segments the client would get 2 minutes of work for nothing. This would balance out on the (probabilistic) average.

 

When the freelancer tracks from the beginning of a segment and then stops tracking during that segement, the algorithm seems to be correct, as far as I can tell. For such a segment, the probability of a snapshot occurring does appear to be proportional to the number of minutes tracked.

 

The problem lies in segments where the freelancer starts tracking during the segment. For the sake of simplicity, I'll consider only the case where the freelancer starts tracking during a segment and continues tracking throughout the remainder of the segment. In these cases, a snapshot occurs EVERY TIME. In other words, the probability of a screenshot in such cases is 100%, and is NOT proportional to the number of minutes tracked.

 

Upwork should fix this serious flaw as a matter of urgency, and stop overcharging clients.

 

ETA. If Upwork would like some help fixing their snapshot timing algorithm, I'm available for hire.

Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
28 of 40

Hi Richard,

 

Thank you for sharing your feedback. I'd like to confirm our dedicated team explored different alternatives but have found that the Desktop App accurately measures activity and time spent working. I'll share the suggestion you proposed with our team and we’ll continue to evaluate this and other suggestions we receive.

 

From personal experience, both as a community moderator and a freelancer using the Desktop app on a daily bases for years, I have to say that the majority of reports we receive come from freelancers and clients who aren't familiar with how time is logged through the app and billed on Hourly contracts. Also, if you browse through the Community you'll find experienced freelancers who are regularly working on Hourly contract aren't running into issues with over or under billing their clients. You can check previous conversations we had on the topic, like the one here.

 

I read the rationale I shared but would like to invite you to expand on it, since in my personal opinion after reading your suggestion, I still don't see evidence that would support your conclusion that "the system is biased in favour of overcharging the client."

 


Richard W. wrote:

The problem lies in segments where the freelancer starts tracking during the segment. For the sake of simplicity, I'll consider only the case where the freelancer starts tracking during a segment and continues tracking throughout the remainder of the segment. In these cases, a snapshot occurs EVERY TIME. In other words, the probability of a screenshot in such cases is 100%, and is NOT proportional to the number of minutes tracked.


For the scenario you mentioned above, note that freelancer's activity is being tracked in addition to taking random screenshots, and segments with low activity do not qualify for Payment Protection. So in this case, you as a client could communicate with a freelancer and discuss segments with low activity, which if the app is used correctly would be few and far between. Also, in the long run, these segments are canceled out by segments in which the app was turned off before the screenshot was taken. 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Vladimir G wrote:

. Also, in the long run, these segments are cancelled out by segments in which the app was turned off before the screenshot was taken. 


To be honest, I can see where Richard is coming from.

The first segment is charged 100% of the time,regardless of when the freelancer started.

The last segment would on average be charged 50% of the time, if the freelancer finished work at a completely random time every time.

 

Personally, having logged just shy of 14 000 hours, I never had a client even mention a screenshot or question a segment.

As a manager, having looked at thousands of tracked hours, I have never had a situation which could not be resolved by open communication.

I've never, either as a freelancer or a manager or a client, had to resort to dispute.

 

It is all about communication.

 

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

Hi Vladimir.

 

Thanks for reading my comment.

 

I read the rationale I shared but would like to invite you to expand on it, since in my personal opinion after reading your suggestion, I still don't see evidence that would support your conclusion that "the system is biased in favour of overcharging the client."

OK, I'll expand on it. Let me draw your attention particularly to this paragraph of my comment:

 


@richard_wein wrote:

The problem lies in segments where the freelancer starts tracking during the segment. For the sake of simplicity, I'll consider only the case where the freelancer starts tracking during a segment and continues tracking throughout the remainder of the segment. In these cases, a snapshot occurs EVERY TIME. In other words, the probability of a screenshot in such cases is 100%, and is NOT proportional to the number of minutes tracked.


Let's say that a typical work session consists of the freelancer starting to track part way through one clock segment (call this the "start segment"), tracking throught a number of complete segments ("middle segments"), and stopping the tracker part way through the next segment (the "final segment"). Then the quoted paragraph refers to a "start segment".

 

The client is ordinarily charged for a clock segment if and only if the tracker takes a snapshot during that segment. (I'm omitting the special cases where (a) there is no mouse/keyboard activity during a tracked segment or (b) the client disputes tracked time.)

 

So it follows from the quoted paragraph that the client is charged for the whole 10 minutes of each "start segment" regardless of the number of minutes tracked during that segment. If a client is charged for 10 minutes work when only 1-9 minutes have been worked, surely that is overcharging, unless there is some counter-balancing undercharging somewhere else. But the middle and final segements (as I'm calling them) are charged for correctly on average [ETA], so there is no counter-balancing undercharging. There is only a combination of correct charging and overcharging, which means that  in total clients are being overcharged.

 

In response to my quoted paragraph, you wrote:



For the scenario you mentioned above, note that freelancer's activity is being tracked in addition to taking random screenshots, and segments with low activity do not qualify for Payment Protection. So in this case, you as a client could communicate with a freelancer and discuss segments with low activity...


If the tracker is not working correctly (as I say), then it should be fixed. It should not be left up to clients and freelancers to manually compensate for the errors of the tracker. (By the way, I'm a freelancer, not a client.)



So in this case, you as a client could communicate with a freelancer and discuss segments with low activity, which if the app is used correctly would be few and far between.


Start segments and final segments frequently show low activity, even if the freelancer is using the app correctly and working flat out. But that's a second flaw, which I won't address here.

 

ETA. Clarification. I was referring here only to the 0-10 Activity Level, not the Events count.



Also, in the long run, these segments are cancelled out by segments in which the app was turned off before the screenshot was taken. 


Not so. The tracker seems to charge correctly for "final segments". So this does not compensate for overcharging on "start segments". To fully compensate for overcharging on start segments, the tracker would have to not charge for final segments at all. But it does charge for some of them.

 

If Upwork fixed the overcharging on start segments (which wouldn't be difficult), then it wouldn't need to compensate by undercharging elsewhere.

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