jsutherland
Member

Unethical Freelancer?

In my category of Resume Writer there is a Freelancer who in my opinion is acting unethically.

 

Nearly all clients in this category are new. 98%? 

 

Being new, they really don't understand how things work.

 

This freelancer applies to jobs with one of the lowest rates of all freelancers. $19.99 an hour.

 

So when he applies to jobs his profile and portfolio look really good and the client feels this is a real bargain.

 

Once the freelancer gets the job, it then takes him 10 hours to complete a (at most) 3 hour assignment.

 

Is this really allowed on Upwork.

 

A lot of clients must be very unhappy, although I doubt they realize what has happened to them and how they were misled, until weeks later.

 

Then the client starts to realize he's been dupped. What should have cost him $100 has now cost him double that.

 

So...ethical or unethical?

 

 

23 REPLIES 23
jbampton
Member

It's a well known fact that you get what you pay for.

 

You pay less you are likely to get scammed and milked for hours.

 

I always hire the best person (or someone that sounds like a guru) for the task irrespective of cost and of course I expect that person to finish the job faster with higher quality, something that I myself would do if I did the job myself.

 

There's resume writers and then there's resume writers that write a top resume that gets someone a top job somewhere.

So, ethical or unethical?

Jean,

You have posted an excellent question.

 

I am not going to attempt to address the ethics of one particular contractor, because I don't know the full situation.

 

But based purely on the numbers you present, I don't know that we can evaluate whether or not a contractor is ethical or unethical.

 

So, speaking generally... If a contractor is hired at $19.99/per hour, and takes 10 hours to complete a job that you would have taken 3 hours to complete, that could mean different things:

 

a) the contractor is intentionally padding hours, dragging out the time, and is (indeed) unethical.

 

b) the contractor is simply slow; the contractor is not as competent as you are, and did his best, worked conscientiously, and it took 10 hours for him to finish the project.

 

c) the contractor is considerably more competent and more thorough than average, and the results of his ten hours of work are something far superior and of an entirely different nature than what you would have created in three hours.

 

I read and re-read your description of the situation. Based only on what you wrote, I don't think there is enough information to determine if the contractor is ethical or unethical.

I will present a hypothetical situation of my own:

 

(Perhaps it is very unrealistic, but it is for illustrative purposes... so just go with me for a minute...)

 

A client hires two graphic artists to create a high-quality vector image interpretation of a somewhat complex hand-drawn instructional diagram.

 

One graphic artist charges $5.00 per hour, works on the project for 20 hours, and is paid $100.

 

The other graphic artist charges $50 per hour, works on the project for 2 hours, and is paid $100.

 

The project manager looks at the resulting work and can not tell the difference in the printed output. Both artists submitted data files which use essentially identical layering, object organization, etc. The work is clearly different when the internal object names are examined closely, but when used in production, there is no difference.

 

The $50.00/hour graphic artist has a busy schedule and works sporadically. She can only promise to turn around a project like this in 3 days.

 

The $5.00/hour graphic artist is willing to work long hours and doesn't have a busy schedule. She promises she can turn around a project like this in 3 days.

 

Was the $5.00/hour graphic artist unethical? Or simply slow?

 

Which of these graphic artists was the better hire?

 

Personally, I would rather hire the $50.00/hour graphic artist. Because, without the benefit of hindsight or experience with either of them, I think that gives me a better chance of getting the project done with the quality and value I am looking for.

 

But if I evaluate only the results of this purely hypothetical situation, it may be difficult to really say which was the better hire.


@Preston H. wrote:

I will present a hypothetical situation of my own:

 

(Perhaps it is very unrealistic, but it is for illustrative purposes... so just go with me for a minute...)

 

A client hires two graphic artists to create a high-quality vector image interpretation of a somewhat complex hand-drawn instructional diagram.

 

One graphic artist charges $5.00 per hour, works on the project for 20 hours, and is paid $100.

 

The other graphic artist charges $50 per hour, works on the project for 2 hours, and is paid $100.

 

The project manager looks at the resulting work and can not tell the difference in the printed output. Both artists submitted data files which use essentially identical layering, object organization, etc. The work is clearly different when the internal object names are examined closely, but when used in production, there is no difference.

 

The $50.00/hour graphic artist has a busy schedule and works sporadically. She can only promise to turn around a project like this in 3 days.

 

The $5.00/hour graphic artist is willing to work long hours and doesn't have a busy schedule. She promises she can turn around a project like this in 3 days.

 

Was the $5.00/hour graphic artist unethical? Or simply slow?

 

Which of these graphic artists was the better hire?

 

Personally, I would rather hire the $50.00/hour graphic artist. Because, without the benefit of hindsight or experience with either of them, I think that gives me a better chance of getting the project done with the quality and value I am looking for.

 

But if I evaluate only the results of this purely hypothetical situation, it may be difficult to really say which was the better hire.


The one I am referring to ends up charging the customer twice as much. Your analogy doesn't compare.

Happens in my area too. $3/hour for terrible and they bill 20 hours. A 500 word article should only take between 1-2 hours tops.

What are the freelancer's feedback and JSS like?

 

Personally I think if he is deliberately milking the system to win contracts on a lower rate and then makes up for it by always taking three times as long then I would call that unethical - but that would be very difficult to prove....

Good quote.  You get what you pay.

prestonhunter
Member

The example I proposed is intentionally NOT the same as Jean's situation.

 

I proposed a situation in which a client obtained the same results for the same amount of money.

 

If Jean's situation is one in which clients end up paying twice as much for the same result, these situations are different.

If Jean proposed a hypothetical situation (such as my own) in which the end results were the same, that would be one thing.


But if she is referring to a real situation, we would need to see the actual results. Are they really the same?

 

In this case, probably the results are comparable and probably the contractor is unethical. I'm just saying we can't say for sure.

 

I will speak from my own experience as a contractor:

 

Clients typically pay me MUCH MORE than they originally planned on paying for a project.

 

Because they hire me to do something, and then they compare the results of what they're getting from me to what they get from other people, including those on their regular team and those they have hired as freelancers... and then they just keep adding and adding to to the project. I can't get rid of them. These are hourly contracts, so that's fine. That's their perogative.

 

But I can tell you that just because a client posts a job to do "Project X," and then ends up paying 4 times what they planned on, and 4 times what somebody else would have charged to do "Project X," it doesn't mean the contractor is unethical.

lysis10
Member

"Personally, I've capitalized on this because clients get burned then they are willing to pay a lot more."

 

Same here. Can't tell you how many times I've heard "I hired someone in India and I thought I was saving money but can you fix this?" lol It's kinda sad because their own countrymen are killing their reputation. 

 

I'm fixing ethical hacking content right now, and the Indian writer claimed to be a CEH. There is no way this guy is certified, but he claimed to be, had the cert on his profile, and the poor client is left with content that says a lot of nothing or is just incorrect because this guy didn't know what he was talking about. But I suppose that's why I'm making money, so maybe I should be thankful for them. lol

Pradip, 

 

Even if you were Indian, I find it insulting to say "most Indians are bad".

 

The problem isn't really with Indians. The major problem lies with clients thinking that only because India has lower wage relative to other countries, they can actually get top notch work for a penny. That's never going to work. 

 

Best regards, 

W

garnorm
Member

Ethical or not, what you've described Jean isn't behavior we want on Upwork. Consistently missing client deadlines and budgets is something that will be reflected in a freelancer's JSS as clients rate these factors at the end of a project. 

suznee
Member

Jean,

 

There is not enough information to decide if it is ethical or unethical. One statement you make it he applies with one of the lowest rates. This is untrue. Searching Resume Writers there is 10+ pages under $10 an hour on Resume writers so $19.99 per hour is not the lowest.

 

You also have not commented on his profile and feedback.  You yourself stated because of his rate it makes his profile look good so to me that tells me he must have decent/good feedback.

 

Secondly, not everyone works at the same pace. I do not write or do resumes but when I have had to write I am very slow and methodical as I don't like mistakes and I am nitpicky about the grammar and spelling. I do on the other hand do proofreading for one of my clients and I am slower then some but I am also very through.

 

It does not mean I am milking the clock. Not everyone works at the same pace. If the client is happy with his work what does it matter to you or anyone else how long it takes him to get it done? 

 

And as Garnor stated it will show in the feedback if clients aren't happy with him. 

creativedigit
Member

Hello Jean, 

 

I think ethical values differ from one country to another, and from one culture to another. So for instance, based on US movies I watch, it seems that a man hugging his girl in the street in USA is OK, but in this part of the world it's unethical. Nothing illegal, and it's normal to see it even here, but still considered unethical. 

 

I personally believe that if the client is happy, and nothing illegal is involved in the action then it should be fine. I know this brings up the subject of work ethics of individuals, but this is also a relative act and each person thinks of ethical values from different perspectives.

 

This subject is very similar in my opinion to some clients when they tell you they are prepared to pay more to hire experienced people. The "more" part is relative, so what sounds like "more" to the client may sound like "less" to you.

 

Best regards, 

Wassim

jsutherland
Member

The freelancer is American and has over 4,000 hours. Nearly 1/2 of his feedback is "no feedback". His JSS is now at 91%, having risen from 83%

 

An experienced person in this area would take 3 hours 4 tops to do a resume. So why is this experienced freelancer taking 10  to 16 hours?

 

He's padding the hours and cheating the client. Many will not realize it and many more will figure it out later. He's even get good feedback from people and then later they may figure out what's happening and can't change it.

 

I think he knows exactly what he is doing and doing it on purpose.

 

I believe he is basically ripping off clients.


@Jean S wrote:

...

 

An experienced person in this area would take 3 hours 4 tops to do a resume. So why is this experienced freelancer taking 10  to 16 hours?

 

He's padding the hours and cheating the client. Many will not realize it and many more will figure it out later. He's even get good feedback from people and then later they may figure out what's happening and can't change it.

 

I think he knows exactly what he is doing and doing it on purpose.

 

I believe he is basically ripping off clients.


 How does this work? You'd think that clients would be protected by time tracker screenshots and authorized hours. Even the least experienced client can do the math when asked to approve 10 hours at $19.99 per.

kochubei_valeria
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi All,

 

Please, note that several comments that were off topic or deleted by authors have been removed from this thread.

 

Thank you.

~ Valeria
Upwork
suznee
Member

Jean,


Could not the same be said for you taking a job that is fixed rate at $200 or more for a resume polish. If it would only take you 3-4 hours to do a resume are you not padding then bidding higher on doing a resume?

 

I am not accusing only pointing out that if takes 10 hours to do a job at $20 an hour and you do a job for $250.00 that takes you 3 hours to do are you not charging what he is?

 

We could go back to Preston's example as it is the same thing. 

 

I believe if the guy has a decent JSS then it is really none of anyone's business how long he takes to do it.

 

I think we should mind our own business and keep our mind on our business and let Upwork take care of issues that have to do with freelancer's padding or not padding.

iaabraham
Member

There's another possibility here:

 

Maybe a client hires him, he spends 3-4 hours on the project and delivers the work.

 

The client is really happy with it and asks him to complete a few more documents/tasks unrelated to the original job post. He logs the hours for this extra work, which reflects on the contract visible on his profile.

 

Then, after completing the original job as well as the extra work that the client gave him, the contract ends and they leave him good feedback.

 

To us, it would look like he spent 10 hours on a 3-hour job, when in reality, the client gave him more work on the same contract.

 

Happens with me often, and sometimes I worry that other clients will think I took hours and hours to complete a small project when in fact my client just asked me to continue working for him/her under the title of the original job post.


@Isabelle Anne A wrote:

There's another possibility here:

 

Maybe a client hires him, he spends 3-4 hours on the project and delivers the work.

 

The client is really happy with it and asks him to complete a few more documents/tasks unrelated to the original job post. He logs the hours for this extra work, which reflects on the contract visible on his profile.

 

Then, after completing the original job as well as the extra work that the client gave him, the contract ends and they leave him good feedback.

 

To us, it would look like he spent 10 hours on a 3-hour job, when in reality, the client gave him more work on the same contract.

 

Happens with me often, and sometimes I worry that other clients will think I took hours and hours to complete a small project when in fact my client just asked me to continue working for him/her under the title of the original job post.


I don't think so. With nearly 500 jobs if that was the case you would not see the majority of them doing this. 

IMO, it's dangerous to assume that, based on one's own experience, Product X should never take longer than Y hours to complete. 

 

For example, one participant in this thread believes a 500-word article should take 1-2 hours "tops."  That's not always true.  While a 500-word article based on nothing but internet research may require just 1-2 hours, an analytical piece requiring interviews with multiple sources can take considerably longer.  Keep in mind that the time needed to physically write an article is only part of the equation.  Just as importannt - if not more important - is the time needed to collect, analyze and organize the information to make it more informative, persuasive and insightful. 

 

It's entirely possible that the freelancer in question is padding his hours.  In another lifetime, I rewrote resumes as part of my job, and I never needed anywhere near 10 hours.  OTOH, if this freelancer is spending loads of time interviewing the clients and then presenting multiple drafts, it's possible that he isn't ripping them off.

 

jolash
Member

Jean , I think you can get a 101 replies to this question  , showing you how  subjective it is ( case in point , Preston and Wassim's analogies).

 

The fact is , we can spend valuable time debating this issue while the freelancer in question digs in and gets more jobs from prospects  while I am here trying to figure out if he is playing fair - or not.

 

Thus I think in the long run , time would tell if the freelancer in question is sincere or not - based on feedback and other factors which shows us time and time again that we all get out what we put in.

 

Strangely , our ability to make an excellent pitch (proposal) and deliver  on promises kept is also termed as unfair by some.

 

You will be suprised but some folks will blame you for being Top Rated  and whine about all the great projects coming your way simply because of this .Smiley Happy

 

So instead of trying to figure out a debate on 'ethical vs unethical' or 'Rising Star Vs Top Rated Vs. Poor Ol' Freelancer ' luking for a jub' , I would say - I dig in , keep on pitching , delivering and giving it my best shot.

 

Time weeds out the outliers.