Finally, Freelancer.com have written a blog post (see link above) that addresses the issue of why freelance transactions that use the site should be kept within the confines of the Freelancer.com payment system! It’s something I’ve been banging on about for ages now, and I’m pleased that Matt Barrie (Freelancer CEO) has now addressed the issue.
In his blog post, Barrie highlights an email that he received from one of the many disgruntled Freelancer buyers who had released funds to his provider before receiving the completed work. Unsurprisingly, that was the last he ever saw of his money, and surprise surprise, he never received the articles he had asked for. In his email, the buyer ranted and raved about how he felt cheated by Freelancer.com, upset that they had done nothing to help, and even threatened to help blacklist their name by sending anti-Freelancer propaganda materials to 130,000 contacts!
But Freelancer have this guy by the balls – and I’m pleased that this case has been highlighted. As with 100% of the people who similarly rant and rave about how terrible Freelancer is right here on this blog, the fault lay with the user, not with Freelancer.com at all. For one thing, the buyer was downright stupid to release funds before receiving any work. Though it’s not unusual to pay a deposit upfront for product creation services, freelancers and their clients in the “real world” will never do so without some form of protection, such as a legally binding contract. What’s more, in this case, Freelancer staff uncovered messages between the buyer and his provider in which he gave his Skype ID and email address (Freelancer felony #1) and revealed “I prefer to deal without Freelancer because there is no point paying them money” (Freelancer felony #2).
If you don’t want to pay Freelancer‘s fees, don’t use Freelancer. Simple. Freelancer.com is a business, just like you, as a freelance sole trader or SME, are a business. They want to make money, you want to make money. For providing the infrastructure to allow buyers and freelancers to connect, and to conduct payments, and leave feedback and develop portfolios, I feel that Freelancer.com are entitled to their commission fee. It’s only $5 or 10% of the winning bid (less if you are a Gold member), and if you trust the buyer/freelancer and want to work with them again, there is nothing to stop you then conducting business outside of the system.
Though Freelancer provide the option to send and receive funds externally of Freelancer, I would strongly recommend that you use milestone payments, at least for the first time you work with someone. By placing a milestone payment, the freelancer can see that the buyer has the means to pay them, and the buyer has that assurance that the freelancer has no reason not to complete the work. If a dispute arises, Freelancer.com can only intervene if you have processed the work through their site.
In summary, the two key messages I would want all Freelancer buyers (and freelancers!) to take home from this blog post are:
- READ, UNDERSTAND AND ABIDE BY THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND THE CODE OF CONDUCT! Contravening any of Freelancer‘s terms can result in account suspension – be warned!
- USE MILESTONE PAYMENTS (see Service Buyer – Milestone payments on the Freelancer FAQ page) – at least the first time you work with someone, or until you have developed a trusting working relationship. Remember, there is no protection for you or the freelancer if you choose to conduct business outside of the Freelancer.com system.