Freelancer.com: Why employers should always stay on-site

23 01 2011

Digger

Why employers should always stay on-site.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
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10 responses

27 01 2011
Aceboy

Ignorance is bliss, but there’s no excuse for stupidity

28 01 2011
lisaamartin

My sentiments exactly!

24 02 2011
MrGam

Look at this job posting: http://www.freelancer.com/projects/Legal-Data-Processing/CITIZENS-ONLY-EARN-HOURS.html – and all it says is “please contact me via skype: marguritjohn ” which I believe is a blatant violation of the cardinal Freelancer rule about contact details.

The buyer joined only last February 16 and has had more than ten jobs posted. The fact that all his postings are still up means no one has ratted on this buyer and definitely Freelancer does not care whether or not there are violations. Why do they expect providers to tell them about these violations when they apparently are not taking any effort to prevent these scammers.

Is Freelancer perhaps encouraging such behavior which can put money in their pockets? Or is there someone posting such preposterous jobs to test the Freelancer system?

24 02 2011
lisaamartin

You’re quite right, every single one of this user’s projects breaks Freelancer’s rules. I have reported every single one, and the user’s profile page for good measure, so hopefully this person will be kicked out of Freelancer pretty darn quick!
Don’t forget that Freelancer has more than 2 million users to monitor (and many of them are also breaking rules!) – it’s a huge job to police Freelancer.com and they are getting better at scouting out the bad apples. Users of the site can help enormously by a) not breaking the rules themselves and b) reporting other users who break the rules. I, for one, don’t mind doing this if it keeps the numbers of Freelancer abusers down.

15 09 2011
Robert

I’m a provider and sometimes it is us who are the victims of the client scamming us. Vague details and misuse of the system.

Freelancer.com doesn’t do much to protect the providers at all. But I agree that both sides need to address this issue and it does need to be stopped. Many times I’ve been approached and expected to even submit work, completed before even being paid.

I agree with this article 100%

15 09 2011
Robert

I’m sorry I meant to comment on the misuse of the TOS as well. The consistent posting of contact details in projects and even in PM. I don’t like seeing the providers jump to post these details as well. It’s not a good approach at all.

4 04 2012
Anonymous

Sorry… you still miss the point. People who are openly angry with Freelancer.com and accuse them of scamming provide more reasons. Will give you some: suspending accounts as soon as you load money there, NOT suspending accounts even when there are compelling evidence of breaking terms of service, spamming your mailbox anytime you have negative balance, lousy customer service (this live support or tickets are a joke… most of them are incompetent or tell you to wait… sometimes no responses whatsoever). With suspensions you get a load of “gifts”: you are guilty until proven innocent, they get into privacy of your very projects, your money is frozen… Shall I go on? I assume you get paid for all this sugar. I do not, so I say: STAY AWAY OF FREELANCER.COM… you can say many things about them but not that they are honest.

31 07 2012
Sanea

WORSE customer support + they are VERY well known for blocking/suspending peoples accounts and steal their money, and MOST of the people they are blocking have a pretty good amount of money in that moment in their account! Don’t use freelancer.com! The customer support, if it can be called like this is very unprofessional, I was normally asking them to help me and all I was receiving is a stupid copy-paste answer, I was replying again, and I received again the same copy-paste answer! The support said they can’t help me with my problem, but about 4-5 months ago I opened a ticked with EXACTLY the same issue and the guy helped me without any problems. Very rude and unprofessional staff!! I will not recommend freelancer.com to anybody, I will write in all the possible forums, twitter, facebook, youtube etc… I HATE freelancer.com!!!

5 06 2013
Crystal Yorker

I used to struggle on sites like elance or freelancer. I love to write, but I could never get enough work on those sites to really make it worth my while. On http://www.workersoncall.com, I’ve been able to get more work than I can even handle! I am able to be choosier able which jobs I take, typically only picking the ones that seem the most interesting. I definitely cannot say that about my experience at elance!

5 06 2013
lisaamartin

Thanks for the link – the site doesn’t seem to be working at the moment though!

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