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As a relative newcomer to the world of freelancing, bidding sites such as People Per Hour and Freelancer.com are often very useful for me to find and bid on writing and editing projects. So far, I’ve actually found most of my freelance work through these sites. However, I have a major bugbear with Freelancer.com, in particular.
Unlike People Per Hour (PPH), which charges both freelancer and buyer a fee to post and bid on projects, it is free for the buyer to post a project on Freelancer.com [edit: I've since found out this isn't true; buyers pay a refundable $5 deposit - see the comments below!]. The successful freelance bidder is charged a minimum of $5 USD for being accepted for a project, and a further $1 for withdrawing funds to PayPal. Of course, because it is so cheap to post a project, there are a great deal more projects listed on Freelancer than on PPH. The quality of projects posted is also considerably lower.
Although PPH is more expensive, I much prefer it because the buyers tend to be genuine individuals and companies who wish to outsource their work. At Freelancer.com, there are various problems. Firstly, many buyers openly exploit cheap labour from the developing world. Many will only recruit freelancers from India or the Philippines and as such, it is difficult for experienced, native English-speaking writers to be accepted for projects where the rate of pay is much more than $2 USD per 500 words.
Secondly, there is a growing trend for “buyers” on Freelancer.com to ask for free samples of work from bidders. While I do understand that genuine buyers will want to assess the quality of the work that they will ultimately be paying for, a link to previously published work should be enough. What I suspect tends to happen is that the “buyer” will collect these free samples, cancel the project posting and disappear off into the sunset with a few tens or even hundreds of unique articles that he will then try to sell on or pass off as his own work when bidding on another project.
Finally, although there are many other examples I could give, Freelancer.com seems to increasingly be a place where scammers can post their ads, with little risk. These often tend to be the type where someone says “I have money in my Freelancer.com account but cannot transfer it to Paypal because I’ve been blocked/I live in a country where there is no Paypal. I will pay you X amount into your Freelancer.com account if you transfer X amount into my Western Union/Moneybookers/indian bank account” etc. The freelancer is promised a vast profit with “no risk” because the buyer will pay a deposit up front. ha! Please go right ahead and pull the other one! Worryingly though, people actually bid on these “projects”!
There is a “Report violation” button that users can click to report project postings or other freelancers for breaching Freelancer‘s terms and conditions, but I don’t think it should really be up to the users of the site. Freelancer.com need to be taking their own responsibility for the image and reputation of their business.
I have written to Freelancer.com about this before and all I got in reply was a simple and very unsatisfactory, “Thank you for your suggestion, we are looking into it”. So today, after reporting yet another scam posting, I decided to try again. Here’s my email and I’ll let you know of any reply!
I have written to you about this before and received a very unsatisfactory “we’re looking into this” email. I have since seen no progress on this matter. The matter I am talking about is the problem of people posting scams on Freelancer.com. There have been many ads in recent months such as this one posted by user “getqualityconten”:
I need an online sbi or icici account holder person who can earn regular cash for small help.
My paypal is locked for some checking reason. I have money in gaf* account. I will send $50 in your gaf account and you need to send 1000 inr in my account. The process is very easy.
I will send you first $25 and you have to send 1000/- instantly in my account then I will send remaining $25 in your account. So there is no risks for both of us…..and if this process goes fine then from the next transaction i will give you more than 1000/- profit. You can earn regular cash by this way. Thanks”
My first point is that these postings are not genuine requests for freelancers. Freelancer.com is supposed to be a place where buyers can outsource their work to freelancers – this type of advert is not “work”. This also applies to the increasing number of people who try to sell articles that they have written (or more likely stolen from freelancers who have written free samples). This is not the place for sales.
Secondly, this type of money exchange ad is often posted by “buyers” with no feedback. In the case of “getqualityconten”, he claims to have money in his Freelancer account – but how can this be unless he has transferred it there himself? According to his profile, he has not completed or even bid on any projects so logically, he cannot have received money. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a scam and I wonder why Freelancer.com do not do anything about it?
In my mind, the answer is simple: each project posting must be checked and edited before it “goes live” to weed out the scammers. Not only the scammers, but people who post inadequately described projects – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to ask what the proposed word count is for a writing project (which, if I am to bid on a project is really quite a crucial piece of information!), so if there was some kind of editing before the advert was placed online, these kinds of careless errors would become extinct.
Please could you do me a big favour and reply with a detailed account of how aware Freelancer.com is of the problems I have described above, and your proposals for what you plan to do about them. As a regular user of your site, I feel entitled to know how scrupulous a company you are and whether I should even bother with you in the future. I don’t want to help line the pockets of a company that is itself a big scam.
* Freelancer.com used to be known as GetAFreelancer.com, so many users still refer to it as GAF.