Agreed. Most freelancers don't learn of the memo requirement until they are refused payment protection. I learned about it here on the forums after reading of some other freelancer's misfortunes.
I hear you Rob. I've had thankfully just a couple of disputes, not just here on UW but other sites. It seems they always take the client's side and ignore what you say and show that proves your point.
But something that Tiffany said made things suddenly clear for me. They are there to mediate, not make a ruling on who's right or wrong. Unfortunately, I've been on a mediation session in the off-line world and the only thing they can do (a government agency mind you) is listen with no power to make the guilty party change in any way. This means they can continue doing so with you or with the next person.
In UW's case, same thing. Both parties can stubbornly dig in. The problem is that the client already has the work done while the worker has nothing to show for it. What happens is that the worker eventually reluctantly agrees to only a portion of what they are owed just to get it over with while the client is laughing having had work done at a fraction of the cost.
There are bad clients out there who will do anything to get work done for nothing or next to nothing. It's part of doing business and you just hope you don't get many of them.
Let me share some of my experiences, if I may. Generally I have been very happy for UW resolution process. Luckily, though, I have not had to use it many times (knock-knock). This is what happened during my very first projects some years ago.
Customer ordered something, and I worked like 5-6 days to do it and then submitted as a milestone. They got furious, however, for some reason. I kindly told them that yes, that is what I did and i think that it is completely to the description of the work, and on top of that at least decent one. However, that ended up into dispute.
I know disputes do hurt and I dont want them, and I never did start one either. In my case, I think UW dispute was very fair. They resolved the issue in a way that made both parties happy. Ultimately, that is what the Court tries to do also. Court, or Dispute, can not be a mechanism for anyone to earn anything. It needs to be a mechanism to make sure everyone suffers equally and in a balanced fashion. In that case, they did it, and I think everyone was happy, including UW themselves. I hope so.
However, I have met a few customers recently who try to do their best in not to incur any costs that could be disputed. One of them asked that they could pay only via bonus payments. Yeah, that is nice, but that invalidates the right for dispute completely. Some others try to not to give enough information in the job offer. Then the freelancer, if they want to be covered by the scheme can not do anything, because if they do, they would not defend against "extra hours logged". On the other hand, if they close the contract, that will hurt also, perhaps more. That feels, in a way, like blackmailing – but that is a common scheme in employment in real life too. I think UW has been and should be very good in protecting against that, though.
Have a good day!
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