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antorix
Member

Tracker counts time incorrectly

The Upwork tracker evidently overtracks the time worked. I've had this suspicion for a long time, and today I did a very clear test with a brand new customer I've never worked before with. I started working for him for the very first time, so no previous calculations or reserves could affect the counter. I didn't do any pauses or stops in the process. I worked for 39 minutes continuously without any interruptions. And look at what the tracker shows (on my screenshot): 39 minutes of actual time (which seems to be correct), but 50 (!) minutes to charge the client. I can get paid for 50 minutes after working only 39. Of course, I'm always happy when my clients pay me more, but I'm not as happy when I know how it is achieved - by methods bordering with clear fraud.

 

I wonder why it is so difficult for the tracker to track the time correctly. Note that it doesn't round up to the nearest 10-minute interval which in this case would be 40 min (and which would be at least understandable), but it totally skips one interval and jumps from 39 straight at 50. Why does it do this skip? What kind of technical requirement makes it do so? And this happens again and again in the tracker. It's very difficult to understand and explain to clients. I wrote on this to the support, but also post here since I think this problem is too important and should be at least well-known.

 

P.S. After writing this post, I switched the tracker on again, worked for about 1-2 min. (totally 40 min. now), and the tracker instantly showed 1 hour. So now the error is 20 min. adding to actual 40 min., or 50%. The 50% inaccuracy is just too big. 

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Anton,

 

To confirm, the Team App is working as expected, because it's designed to track billable time in 10-minute segments. This is the fairest way possible for both clients and freelancers to account for the time spent each hour.

 

Please check this video and two Community discussions (here and here) to learn how Upwork Team App measures activity and tracks time.

~ Vladimir
Upwork

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70 REPLIES 70
vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Anton,

 

To confirm, the Team App is working as expected, because it's designed to track billable time in 10-minute segments. This is the fairest way possible for both clients and freelancers to account for the time spent each hour.

 

Please check this video and two Community discussions (here and here) to learn how Upwork Team App measures activity and tracks time.

~ Vladimir
Upwork

Vladimir, you seem not to have read my post. It would be understandable if the tracker just rounded to the nearest interval, but is SKIPS intervals. In my case, I worked 40 minutes, but the tracker skipped 20 minutes and showed 1 hour. So no, this problem is far from being "solved."

vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Anton,

 

Just to clarify, you must have marked my post as an accepted solution by pressing the Accept button. I read your comment in full and understand your concern. If you read the discussion threads I linked in my post and watch the video, you'll see that the Team App doesn't "round up" time.

~ Vladimir
Upwork

It may not round the time, it just counts incorrectly. For example, now I have worked for that client for about an hour, but the tracker shows 1h 30m. The same 50% inaccuracy still going on. The problem is too clear to be ignored. There may be some explanations, and this is great, but the problem is still unsolved. 

I read your 2 posts and saw the video, but they are not about the problem I'm talking here about. They are about recording 10-minute intervals, which I long know (since 2013 at least). Tt's not the problem. The problem is the following: why does the tracker record, for example, 6 intervals when I have worked just 40 minutes according to the same tracker and to my own watch? 


@Anton C wrote:

I read your 2 posts and saw the video, but they are not about the problem I'm talking here about. They are about recording 10-minute intervals, which I long know (since 2013 at least). Tt's not the problem. The problem is the following: why does the tracker record, for example, 6 intervals when I have worked just 40 minutes according to the same tracker and to my own watch? 


 Actually, those posts quite clearly state how the time tracker works and it addresses the exact thing you are concerned about. Read the posts by Petra where she clearly explains it.

I read what Petra says. Petra can't change the fact that I received one 10-minute interval for free. And how nice is that. The tracker rewards me with 50 minutes (5 intervals) for 39 minutes of work, and when I say it is wrong, Upworks says: it is right, because some Petra says so. Wow, guys. 


@Anton C wrote:

I read what Petra says. Petra can't change the fact that I received one 10-minute interval for free. And how nice is that. The tracker rewards me with 50 minutes (5 intervals) for 39 minutes of work, and when I say it is wrong, Upworks says: it is right, because some Petra says so. Wow, guys. 


There is no point in being rude.

 

You stated that the posts did not discuss what you were talking about. I simply stated that you were wrong and those posts did discuss what you were concerned about. Also Upwork did not say it 's right because Petra said so. I (not Upwork) told you where to find the information.

 

Read the posts and you will see how the time-tracker works. If you are concerned about charging your clients extra money, follow Petra's suggestions and the problem is solved--or don't and keep posting about it. It's up to you.

 

 

I'm not rude but humorous. Maybe I should have put an emoticon. There is a hard fact: I got 50 minutes for working 39 minutes. This fact is evident, testified by a screenshot, and it is a clear mathematical error. And I'm very surprised how and why someone would defend it. 

I usually go back over the work diary and delete the segments that are just 1 to 4 or 5 minutes of activity. Then you are not catching segments where you really only worked a few seconds before the time tracker takes a screenshot and thus you are not overbilling your client.  It's a bit of a pain, I agree, but it tailors the work diary pretty well and you can also just delete segments when you were called away suddenly or had to reply to an urgent email that is not related to the contract you are logging time for.    

Start working at the start of a 10 minute segment, and finish working at the end of one.

 

the intervals run from XX:X0 - XX:X0 10 minutes later, and so on. Work in full 10 minute increments. The tracker is neither suitable, nor meant for working a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there, as any 10 minute segment that had a screenshot gets billed, even if you only worked 2 minutes.

 

That way you get paid for exactly the number of 10 minute intervals you worked, and your client gets charged for exactly the time you worked.

 

 

vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Anton,

 

I've checked your Work Diary for this job and see you started and stopped the Team App a few times, resulting with a few segments with very low activity levels, which can be disputed by the client and wouldn't qualify for Upwork Hourly Protection.

~ Vladimir
Upwork

Surely, I stopped it later, as I myself said in the original post (in the P.S. section). But I deliberately didn't stop it in the very first 39 minutes. These 39 minutes before the screenshot was taken were completely continuous. As for the low activity, you know, translation work is not only about hitting buttons, and my client knows that.

So many topics about this. How many know there is a workaround?

 

I have been informed that the project manager of time tracking will look into this.

Why can we not just set the actual time worked?  At least in manual mode.

For example, I did a job that took 45 minutes, but I currently seem to have no choice but charge the client for 50m, or, short change myself for 40m.  If I was just doing contract work on my own, this would not be an issue.  So why is this a problem with UpWork?


@Dan M wrote:

Why can we not just set the actual time worked?  At least in manual mode.

For example, I did a job that took 45 minutes, but I currently seem to have no choice but charge the client for 50m, or, short change myself for 40m.  If I was just doing contract work on my own, this would not be an issue.  So why is this a problem with UpWork?


Because this is the way the software works. Upwork has expressed zero interest in changing it. So, it's your choice if you're willing to work within the system as it exists now, or go out on your own.

But WHY are we forced to use 10m billing increments?

If it's 1hr 45m, then that's what should be logged and charged for.

Hi Dan,

 

Upwork's hourly payment, reporting and Protection are all based on time being logged in 10-minute increments. There are no plans to change that.

~ Valeria
Upwork

But WHY?

It's such an easy fix, and, let's workers be honest and accurate.

Dan,

 

Upwork App takes random snapshots per each 10-minute interval. This allows clients to check whether the freelancer spends their time working on the assignment or not. Upwork Payment Protection and dispute process are based on that along with recording sufficient memos and activity levels. 

If you have any suggestions for how Upwork could provide same Protection on hourly contracts while recording time exactly to a minute, please let us know. 

~ Valeria
Upwork

Yes. 

 

You can simply take a snap shot as part of ending the timer.

I know in my case, that would show the end timer AND what I just finished working on, so, win win. 

 

As is, the "protection" is constantly gamed anyway, and more so, the current system has FORCED freelancers to game the system... a quick read of this forum discloses all related tacticts and work arounds.  Worse, the clients and freelancers end up discussing this, which ultimately just makes UpWork look like a mess. 

Thank you, Dan. On hourly contracts the client pays the freelancer for the time they spend working on the project. Unfortunately, taking one snapshot when the freelancer stops the tracker wouldn't be able to serve as an evidence of the freelancer working on the project during the whole time they were tracking. They could potentially be doing unrelated activities and only have the project open on their screen before stopping the tracker.

~ Valeria
Upwork

You are saying that it wouldn't afford any more perceived security than already exists so no need to itterate.

 

However, it WOULD be an improvement and nullify the vast majority of these related complaints and issues.  As it stands, this issue will continue to fester exponentially, generating and sustaining unwanted disdain for UW from both hiring parites and freelancers.

 


@Dan M wrote:

Why can we not just set the actual time worked?  At least in manual mode.

For example, I did a job that took 45 minutes, but I currently seem to have no choice but charge the client for 50m, or, short change myself for 40m.  If I was just doing contract work on my own, this would not be an issue.  So why is this a problem with UpWork?


 Oh dear... $ 2.50 here or there really is such a massive issue in a world where real professionals charge by the hour or half hour......

The "$2.50" or (x) value is not the point. 

It's about being accurate and honest. 

At least for me. 

I operate morally and ethically. 

It's an extremely easy fix, so why not just do it on UpWork end?

Hi Anton,

 

Did you check your work diary, when the tracker said "50 min" but you worked only 39 min? Perhaps there is a problem with the counters in the time tracker, but the time is added correctly to work diary? 

 

Regards,

Dmitry.

Dmitry: I checked my diary, yes, there are 5 segments.

 

Petra: note that you say: "Start working at the start of a 10 minute segment, and finish working at the end of one." It means that even you recognize that in order to be tracked properly, I have to do so and so. But if I don't do so and so, I will be overtimed and overpaid. Isn't it a clear loophole to cheat on clients, and why doesn't Upwork have any safeguards against this type of abuse? 

And, Petra, I didn't work "a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there." I worked 39 minutes straight and uninterrupted. And got billed with 5 intervals. This is why I said that your explanations are not about my case.

Anton,

 

This happens to me regularly as well. I will start the time tracker and work 2 minutes and if a phone call comes in from another client I stop the tracker and it shows 10 minutes of work. I've seen it show 20 minutes of work after 8 minutes. However, I've also seen it seriously undercharge me - for example, I've worked for 22 minutes and for some reason it only shows 10. I started keeping a running total of every minute and at the end of the week, the overcharges and undercharges seem to balance out within a minute or two of my actual time. I know that's not ideal, and it may not be the case for you.

 

Just wanted to say I understand your frustration. I'm trying to be an honest contractor and that means stopping and starting the time tracker as often as necessary when something else pops up that takes me away from the client's work. It would be easier (and probably result in higher accuracy) if I was able to simply work for several hours straight without any interruptions, but to keep the tracker running and do some random screen clicks while I'm on the phone with someone else doesn't seem right.

 

So, I sympathize, and I agree that it would be better for the tracker to just accurately track our time, no matter how long or short we have it running. I know it's inconvenient, but I would keep a written diary of how many minutes you worked from the very beginning of one week to the end. Then see how it measures out on Sunday night. You may find it's only a few minutes off at most - FYI, I've also seen my time tracker say one time (that's incorrect) and a day or two later my work diary shows it correctly. Good luck!

Thanks for your feedback, Lisa. You know, the irony of the situation is that one of my clients develops an alternative time-tracking solution that features the highest accuracy of tracking possible. It counts the exact number of minutes without any intervals ideology that is so easy to abuse. And I can clearly understand why it's better. I already wrote marketing articles that compared that program to Upwork very negatively to the latter. And it troubles me a bit, since I like Upwork and have most of my income here. 

My client and I are not at all happy with the patently dishonest way you add 10 EXTRA minutes to every one-hour worked. As a teacher, I offer sessions of 60 minutes and it makes me look dishonest when clients receive an invoice for a contract of 2 hours per week, which includes an extra charge for 20 minutes time not worked by me! How can I obtain an accurate note of my hours worked? This consistent overcharging, by automatically slipping in extra time, exposes Upwork management to accusations of fraud. I have had to tell my client to only pay for 2 hours each week, no matter what the Time Tracker says.

It's bad, I was credited with 1.5 hours for 1 hour work. I like to get paid but this isn't fair to the client. If I don't take breaks or pause the app then maybe it will be different but a 50% increase in billable time makes me fill uneasy as I prefer to earn every cent.

antorix
Member

I think I now understand the mechanism behind getting 5 10-minute intervals for 39 minutes. To do this, I need to work, say, 4 minutes in the 1st interval, then 3 full intervals, and then, say, 5 minutes in the last interval. So I get 3 full intervals plus 2 incomplete intervals on both ends, but totally they are 5. Am I correct? If so, this is very fertile soil for abusing and cheating on clients, as far as I understand. A freelancer may always work this way, adding 1-2 zero intervals with each work session and actually getting hugely overpaid. He/she may work about 15 minutes each time and record 3 intervals, which allows to be overpaid twice.

 

And I think the most staggering fact is that Upwork thinks it's absolutely okay and normal. I wonder what clients think about all this? I now remember one of my clients complaining that I spent 50 minutes on translating a file though she expected not more than 30, though I indeed worked about 30 min. It was very awkward. I looked like a cheater. I think I will have to delete my own time more often and just work without the tracker running. This is all I can do in a situation when Upwork doesn't want to change anything.

Anton, I hear what you're saying, and agree that the way the tracker works requires a bit of professionalism from the freelancer and the client alike.

 

Clients can and are encouraged to check work diaries and point out constant "short" segments and dispute them.

 

Personally I make sure there aren't any in my work diaries, so this situation would not arise.

 

Also, don't forget that segments during which no screenshot was taken do not get billed, so if you log out at, say, 10.37 and no screenshot was taken in the 10.30 to 10.40 time segment yet, then that segment is not being billed.

 

So even if freelancers don't do the professional thing and work from the start of the first time segment to the end of the last segment it still evens out.

 

Personally I do make sure I start at the start of the first segment and work right to the end of the last.

 

That way I get paid for all the time I worked, no more, no less.

 

If my clients look at my work diaries they see they get what time they pay for, and I get paid for the time I work. No more, no less.

 

work diary.jpg

I worked from 6.00 to 8.10pm

Client was charged for 2 hours 10 minutes

I was paid for 2 hours 10 minutes.

No need to delete anything, no need to work without the tracker.

Just start at the beginning of the first segment, and finish at the end of the last one.

I started my first contract nearly two weeks ago. However, I'm noticing incorrectly tracked time as well and it's April, 2016. Might I ask why it would not be 'more professional' for the tracker to track time honestly when I have enabled tracking? You do realize that there are tasks related to working on a project that don't require clicking/typing? If I wrap my head around a tough piece of code for 10 minutes before I start editing it, or spend time reading documentation for the project on another screen, it is ALL part of getting the job done, but I don't get paid for it? If I work on multiple machines at once and I switch to one that isn't running the tracker to do some work I don't get paid for any of it? I tried running the tracker on 2 machines at once but it only takes the screenshot with the highest activity score, the other time on the other machine is not calculated even if I worked straight through (4 minutes on one machine, 6 minutes on the other - the tracker only takes one screenshot from one machine showing an abnormally low activity score???) The 10 minute interval screenshots should NOT determine if I get paid for the time I was tracking... I think it would be more appropriate if the tracker simply tracked all time honestly (literally to the minute) and allow us to justify inactivity in the notes? Maybe it won't be eligible for protection, but it should still be tracked! Also it is unrealistic to expect freelancers to begin and end their tracking on 10 minute intervals - seriously that is not fair for the client or the freelancer. If I start the tracker, work for 5 minutes and get interrupted - I should not be penalized for being an honest freelancer and stopping the tracker (aka if the screenshot isn't taken) and conversely, if a screenshot was taken my client should not be charged for 10 minutes when I only worked 5. I'm excited to work on Upwork, but I am not liking these observations about the tracker - it seems like a very flawed system and since it's been doing things like this since the days of oDesk I think it's seriously time to fix the tracker, to make it fair for both clients and freelancers - instead of telling us that it's working as intended. It's time for a code change and if necessary a policy change!

I totally agree with your post.  They are posting a lot of 'flim-flam' trying to justify their method, but to any auditor (or any normal person) their fraudulent practice is obvious!

 

The whole point of using the Upwork Timer is to ensure fair practice and fair payment, and I am disgusted with the casual way they told me, 'Oh - it doesn't matter - it all evens out in the end!'

 

Tell that to my client, please, who keeps getting regular invoices for 2 hours 20 minutes of English lessons for his two children, when we have a contract for 2 x 60 minute sessions per week.  He will tell you that he hasn't yet received any invoices for LESS than 2 hours work, so it does not 'even out in the end'!

Lindy, you can select one of the screenshots and have it deleted. This is something I always do in order not to over-charge the client.

 

 

 

Image 2016-03-21 at 7.33.43 PM.png

Thank you for taking the time to help me, Olga.  I just feel that I have more important work to do than fiddle about rectifying unnecessary overcharging every week.  Time is money, especially for freelancers.

You're welcome, Lindy. I agree that time is money, but, for me, the most important thing is to make sure my clients are not overcharged, so I really do not mind spending 1 minute to delete 1 or 2 screenshots.

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