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Utterly disgusted by Upwork's dispute resolution.

r_swystun
Active Member
Rob S Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
1 of 23

After years of working on Upwork, I unfortunately had my first dispute with a client and I am utterly disgusted with the way Upwork handled it in their dispute resolution centre. 

 

The client told me he wanted four or five web pages written and that he had a budget of $350. I said that would be no problem. He hired me on an hourly contract and then as soon as he hired me, he revealed the project was actually more like 30 pages of content. I told him it would take much longer and be more expensive and he said that was ok by him. 

 

After I ended up inevitably logging more hours and charging more than he wanted, he registered a dispute asking for a refund of five hours (which he didn't deserve). In the dispute thread he lied and said I had copy and pasted the website copy I had provided him and he also said he had the entire website planned out and told me the full scope of the project before we began. I spent an hour or more documenting that he was lying, complete with more than a dozen screenshots that proved it. 

 

When the resolution was completed, he ended up getting the full refund he was asking for because I had not inputted any memos while working, which means my hours weren't protected under the Upwork protection guarantee for freelancers. I fully admit that it was my fault for not knowing about the memo thing, but I've been on Upwork for years and have logged thousands of hours and have not had any need for memos in the past (because clients can easily see the screenshots of what you're working on). 

 

My issue is that Upwork didn't even bother to go through the dispute and actually take the provided evidence into account and make a measured decision based on that evidence. I clearly showed my client failed to plan the website he wanted and then lied about me copying and pasting the copy I gave him and yet he got his full refund based on a technicality and I got screwed out of five hours of work. 

 

I used to gladly recommend Upwork to people who were looking to get into freelancing, but now I'm not so ready to do that. Upwork staff appear to be extremely lazy when it comes to dispute resolution. I've learned my lesson now about keeping meticulous memos because Upwork staff approach dispute resolution with the intention of doing it as quickly and easily as possible, which means using whatever technicality they can to avoid actually studying the dispute and seeing who was right and who was wrong. 

garnorm
Community Guru
Garnor M Member Since: Oct 29, 2014
2 of 23

Hi Rob,

I'm sorry to hear about your experience with this client. We do have to set some guidlines for payment protection, and including notes with the time being logged is a critical one. I'll ask the team to take another look at your case, but I can't promise a different result. 

jvansteenwyk
Ace Contributor
Jason V Member Since: May 24, 2016
3 of 23

I just had the same thing happen. After nearly ten years on the UpWork/oDesk platform. I just scrolled through the forum to see if I'm the only contractor who got stung by this garbage. 

 

Ten hours of work done. Screenshots all along, clearly showing the work was done. Solid activity/keystrokes throughout. A 15 page document delivered to the client on time and below budget. The only thing missing from 10 hours of screenshots pointed at the manuscript I was writing was a note in the log stating the obvious: "Working on the manuscript." 

 

It would add no value to the client in any way. 

This is my first and only dispute filed in ten years. 

 

It boggles the mind how any observer can look at the totality of the information and come to the conclusion that the hours worked were zero. 

 

But that's what UpWork did. UpWork completely rolled over like a puppydog and gave the client a full refund. 

 

Not a partial. They refunded every dime. 

 

 

Like this guy, I never heard of the logging requirement until the dispute, despite having worked on the platform for a decade. It's not mentioned here: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062568-Upwork-Payment-Protection 

 

I'm not even asking for a guarantee. It doesn't take any kind of guarantee or formal 'protection' plan to honor payment for provable hours worked. A fair and equitable result would be for payment to be made for all screenshots showing me as obviously on task with solid keystrokes/activity, and refund any time reflected by screenshots showing me to be off task, if the client asserts that I was off task (he doesn't).

 

 It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. 

 

 

 After I've let many profitable clients go when they left UpWork, or kept them on platform after they wanted to submit payments offsite, and after bringing customers and other freelancers to the platform, and after generating thousands of dollars for UpWork, this is how my loyalty is reciprocated? 

 

Garnor, this is garbage. 

 

I've never had a client ask for a note with a screenshot in thousands of hours worked. And they're not mentioned here: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062568-Upwork-Payment-Protection. 

 

Know what IS mentioned? This: "It's pretty straightforward—clients should only pay for hours worked, and freelancers should be paid for their time spent working." 

 

 

Yeah. Seems pretty straightforward. 

 

I guess we'll soon find out if UpWork means it, eh? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

versailles
Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
4 of 23

Jason V wrote:

> The only thing missing from 10 hours of screenshots pointed at the manuscript I was writing was a note in the log stating the obvious: "Working on the manuscript." 

 

Welcome in the world of fine prints :-)

 

 

>  It's not mentioned here: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062568-Upwork-Payment-Protection 

 

 Actually it is, you need to click on the links.

 


 

 

 

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
melaniekhenson
Community Guru
Melanie H Member Since: Nov 2, 2017
5 of 23

Oh, my God.

 

RobS, no matter what you "should" have read, no matter what explanations are given, no matter what...period, I feel very, very bad for you.

 

So very sorry this happened.

 

I don't have anything solid to offer except...call me crazy but I'm pretty sure I'd be at least a tad upset about this myself. I guess this is a lesson learned but I don't blame you one bit for your feelings on this. At least you and all of us have learned something today (though I was already inputting the memo just because that's what it asks for when hours are opened on the contract...it's not like I looked ahead and realized something like this could happen if I didn't, so there but for the grace, etc.).

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
6 of 23

@Rene K wrote:

@jason V wrote:

> The only thing missing from 10 hours of screenshots pointed at the manuscript I was writing was a note in the log stating the obvious: "Working on the manuscript." 

 

Welcome in the world of fine prints :-)

 

Yep, it's very clear that this requirement exists for no reason other than to ensure that most freelancers don't qualify for payment protection. 

jvansteenwyk
Ace Contributor
Jason V Member Since: May 24, 2016
7 of 23

Do you know what "browser wrapping" is in contracts law and why courts frown on it? 

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
8 of 23

@jason V wrote:

Do you know what "browser wrapping" is in contracts law and why courts frown on it? 


 This I don't think is relevant. If I recall correctly, freelancers signing up for Upwork are required to affirmatively accept the terms.

jvansteenwyk
Ace Contributor
Jason V Member Since: May 24, 2016
9 of 23

I'll see your "fine prints" and raise you "plain language." 

 

 

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
10 of 23

@jason V wrote:

I'll see your "fine prints" and raise you "plain language." 

 

 Yep, you're right. Whatever the user agreement says, showing this plain-language guarantee with no reference to there being other criteria required to qualify for the guarantee puts Upwork on very shaky legal ground. 

 

All freelancers have, of course, agreed that they have read and agreed to the full terms set forth in the user agreement, but whether or not that would suffice given that they've affirmatively provided contradictory information in a more prominently-displayed location is at best an open question. 

 

If they're smart, they'll modify that pop-up asap, though of course that wouldn't affect any claims that might already have arisen.


 

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