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oDesk's Escrow system of milestones

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Community Guru
David G Member Since: Oct 6, 2011
1 of 5
I just applied for a fixed-price job that doesn't allow me to request an upfront payment so I am assuming it is part of this new escrow milestone payment thing oDesk is trying. I decided to investigate it a bit more because the warning message about applying for fixed-price jobs is the same (i.e. no guarantee that you'll get paid) After checking it out, I don't really see any benefit for the freelancer at all. According to oDesk help center, the client can unilaterally change the amount of the agreed-upon milestone and can even refuse to pay you. "The client will have the option to edit the payment amount when they approve your work. oDesk collects this deposit to confirm a client’s ability to pay, but payment is not guaranteed and is dependent on the client’s satisfaction with your work." So basically, your only protection with the new system is that you know the client actually has some money but that doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get it. If the client can still refuse to pay you, then oDesk has basically taken away all protection from the freelancer. At least with the upfront payment, I could ensure I didn't work completely for free and I could leave feedback if the client refused to pay. With the new system, I can't do any of that and am completely at the mercy of the client.
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Community Guru
Katrina B Member Since: Jan 9, 2011
2 of 5
I really like it, yes there is still risk of not getting paid, but at least you know the money is there. I'm not sure if you can file a dispute for release of funds like on the other sites. My project went off without a hitch, so I can't attest to that. I like where they have a button where you submit the work and request payout at the same time and once the client agrees the payment is instant, not pending. You still have to wait the five days to withdraw. I think the best part about it is you know that the client does have the money, but no it still doesn't guarantee you're going to get paid.
"Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn't mean treating everyone alike-Coach John Wooden"
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Community Guru
David G Member Since: Oct 6, 2011
3 of 5
But according to the way oDesk set it up, the money may not be there when it comes time to get paid. The client can change the amount of the milestone at any time. If I get a 50% upfront payment (and I usually do), then I can be pretty sure that the client is committed to the work and that the client will probably pay the rest of the amount. Even if the client bails on me, at least I have that 50% upfront. I don't have that protection with oDesk's new system and as far as I know, I can't leave negative feedback if the client does disappear without paying. I just don't think it's a very well thought out plan on their part and it really does nothing to protect the freelancer. It gives an illusion of protection but once you look a bit more closely at the system, the illusion is revealed.
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Community Guru
Stephen B Member Since: Dec 4, 2012
4 of 5
"I just don't think it's a very well thought out plan on their part and it really does nothing to protect the freelancer. It gives an illusion of protection but once you look a bit more closely at the system, the illusion is revealed." Par for the course really. It's confusing, impenetrable, unintuitive, does nothing to protect your payment, and makes it possible that you have to wait two weeks for a lazy client to pay. A typical oDesk solution to a problem
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Community Guru
Garnor M Member Since: Oct 29, 2014
5 of 5
Thanks for the input. We understand the concerns you've outlined here and we are working on a documented dispute process that you'll soon be able to use in the event there are any issues with your fixed price payments.
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