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Why would Upwork encourage arbitration (!) on a closed contract with $ 0 in Escrow??

Community Guru
Reinier B Member Since: Nov 3, 2015
31 of 79

@Nichola L wrote:

It's a no-win for either side - but it is particularly unfair for a freelancer to have his or her account unfairly suspended for lack of cash, particularly as Upwork has no in-house process to determine fair or unfair before a contract is taken to arbitration.

 

I suppose the answer is to set aside the arbitration fee from the start, in case it is ever needed.


 While the money aspect is important to many freelancers, I think the merits (or lack of merits) of the dispute should be the deciding factor on whether or not to suspend accounts when it comes to these sorts of cases. I can undertand a client intiating a dispute when a website crashes three weeks after a job is closed and paid for, but I have great difficulty understanding how a client can initiate a dispute three weeks after publishing a piece of writing that was approved and paid for. 

 

There are many other examples, but to force someone into arbitration when there may not be grounds for a dispute, or no attempt has been made to establish/discover reasonable grounds, is simply distasteful, disgraceful, and wrong on so many levels.   

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
32 of 79

@ Reinier

 

I agree wholeheartedly, but the present setup is unlikely  to change, so it is probably better to be prepared.

Community Guru
Reinier B Member Since: Nov 3, 2015
33 of 79

@Nichola,

 

You are right about being prepared should the worst happen. To be honest though, I did not know about the 30-day rule until Petra mentioned it, so now I will just be really, really, careful about picking clients.

Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
34 of 79
Hi all,
 
Thank you for participating in this discussion. I've contacted our team in order to provide more specific information and here's an update that hopefully would help clarify our ToS and address concerns raised on this thread.

When a client and freelancer decide to work together, they are entering into a contract.  Because of this, they each have the right to legally enforce the contract if something goes wrong.  In order to hopefully help users avoid more burdensome forms of litigation, one of the services Upwork offers is dispute assistance, including arbitration on fixed-price contracts in the unusual event that something goes wrong. This option would be a meaningless if the other user could simply ignore the arbitration by not participating.  For this reason, the Fixed Price Escrow Instructions state:  "If either Client or Freelancer demands Arbitration in accordance with these Escrow Instructions and you are not the party that requested Arbitration, you agree to submit to the Arbitration and pay your share of the Arbitration fees detailed below." 

So the action taken to suspend an account is based on a violation of the Terms of Service (Escrow Instructions) when a user refuses to participate. This is not a case of Upwork taking action on an account before the user violated the Terms of Service.  The suspension would be lifted if the user participated in the arbitration or otherwise resolved the dispute (making the point about arbitration irrelevant).  Of course, at the arbitration, the freelancer will have the opportunity to explain why he or she should not issue a refund or should be entitled to the release of funds held in escrow, as the case may be.
 
To clarify another point that was raised about whether a client can file for arbitration at any point in time: the deadline to file an arbitration is 30 days after the dispute is first filed. The dispute can be filed up to 30 days after the client was billed for the last milestone. So the maximum amount of time to file an arbitration is 60 days after the client was billed for the last milestone.
Community Leader
Jerry J Member Since: Jul 25, 2016
35 of 79

Well, thanks for the reply Vladimir. Could you clarify a couple of things?

 

1) You mention "Fixed Price Escrow Instructions." Does this mean that the rule/instruction you quoted doesn't apply to Hourly jobs? As some have pointed out, the ToS seem to indicate otherwise.

 

2) If the rules for Hourly Jobs ARE indeed different, could you detail exactly how that is? For example, what is the timeline for filing a dispute and/or requesting arbitration?

 

Just echoing what Petra said. It's disconcerting to know that you could get hit with an arbitration fee even a month after you have completed the job, waited for the client to release funds from escrow, waited out the 5-day holding period, and withdrawn your money.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
36 of 79

@Jerry J wrote:

2) If the rules for Hourly Jobs ARE indeed different, could you detail exactly how that is? For example, what is the timeline for filing a dispute and/or requesting arbitration?


 The answer seems to be here

 

I missed the deadline to file a dispute. What do I do?

Disputes must be filed by the Friday after the freelancer bills the hours. If you miss this window, you and your freelancer should work together to resolve any issues and discuss your freelancer submitting a refund. Still can’t resolve the issue and within 30 days of payment? Please contact customer support to learn about our mediation assistance.

 

My problem is with the quality of work, not the hours billed. What do I do?

Filing a dispute through Upwork’s process must be based on the hours a freelancer has billed you for. That means cannot file a dispute with us because you are not satisfied with the quality of the freelancer’s work. In those cases, you and your freelancer should discuss the matter and work together to resolve any issues. You can also request a refund from your freelancer. Still can’t resolve the issue and within 30 days of payment? Please contact customer support to learn about our mediation assistance.

 

Ultimately this means you can now even win a dispute and STILL get forced into mediation and arbitration, potentially

 

Community Guru
Reinier B Member Since: Nov 3, 2015
37 of 79

@Petra R wrote: 

My problem is with the quality of work, not the hours billed. What do I do?

Filing a dispute through Upwork’s process must be based on the hours a freelancer has billed you for. That means cannot file a dispute with us because you are not satisfied with the quality of the freelancer’s work. In those cases, you and your freelancer should discuss the matter and work together to resolve any issues. You can also request a refund from your freelancer. Still can’t resolve the issue and within 30 days of payment? Please contact customer support to learn about our mediation assistance.

 

I am still confused by this part, and I'm hoping that a moderator can provide a clear, and unambigious answer to this question- 

 

If a client cannot initiate a dispute about the objective quality of a deliverable, what possible mediation assistance can Upwork offer that client if the freelancer refuses to refund the client?

 

To my mind, it follows that if the client cannot file a dispute, there can never be arbitration on the matter, the ToS notwithstanding. Have I got that right?    

 

 


 

Community Guru
Maria T Member Since: Nov 12, 2015
38 of 79

This is crazy!!
I'm reading all this thread and I'm getting scared ...
I had read something about this, but I didn't know that it reach to this point.

I have not met any of this yet (I cross my fingers), but if something like that happened to me, I think I would end up without my Upwork account.

It takes so long to get paid, so then, after almost two months, this can happen.
All this creates a great feeling of helplessness and insecurity...

I thought I did not understand TOS very well, since they are in English (by the way, for when in other languages?) But I see that, there are some who understand English well and, even so, they do not have it very clear.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
39 of 79

@Vladimir G wrote:

To clarify another point that was raised about whether a client can file for arbitration at any point in time: the deadline to file an arbitration is 30 days after the dispute is first filed. The dispute can be filed up to 30 days after the client was billed for the last milestone. So the maximum amount of time to file an arbitration is 60 days after the client was billed for the last milestone.

 So how was the client in THIS THREAD able to file a dispute in March for a contract that ended in January? Here the client is disputing milestones from a contract that ended in January and for milestones that were approved last flipping YEAR!

 

 

Moderator
Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
40 of 79

Petra,

 

The client will be able to file for arbitration only on the contract that's inside of the arbitration window as outlined in Upwork ToS. Upwork dispute team will be assisting both the client and the freelancer with the process directly.

~ Valeria
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