Freelancer.com used to be a decent site to find work, but it turned into something beyond belief, and not in a good way. My latest experience can only be seen as a complete scam.
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When I started using freelancer.com, some 3 years ago, it wasn’t that hard to find a good project and get paid for the work completed. Since then, numerous users complained about being scammed, but I couldn’t believe a site was that bad. I haven’t done any work there for a year, and somehow the company upgraded my account without my knowledge. It wasn’t a big issue, £3.5 per month was not much, though I went back there to try and find some work, just to cover the cost of the membership. What happened with my latest employer is seriously beyond any belief.
There I was, bidding for projects again, and finally got one from a client based in Australia. It took some negotiation of course, but I was able to get the project and started working on it. They did not have any reviews, but the account was verified. I asked for the milestone payment just to be safe, and what a joke that was. Although I have asked employer to communicate via Skype as it’s much easier and faster than through emails, they never replied and the work was carried out slowly due to the time difference. Once my work has been completed, employer started throwing insults such as “you made our site look horrible, this is a disaster”, or “I won’t pay for the work I didn’t OK” when they clearly accepted my bid.
I have tried to communicate and calm things down. Employer on the other hand went and opened a dispute with freelancer.com to get their money back. I never had any complaints or disputes in the past, so I thought OK let’s go with a dispute and let freelancer.com decide whether I have done what has been asked for. Things got interesting now. Employer kept with insults and said they’d go for an arbitration. Sure, let’s do that. I have paid $12 in fees for this arbitration, while employer didn’t bother to do the same. Why? Because they knew no matter how it ends they’ll get their money back.
When the time for them to response and pay the fee was up, I won the dispute automatically and milestone payment was released to my account.
I went to withdraw that money straight away, since I earned it and even won a dispute, only to get an email notification that my withdrawal request has been cancelled. Decline reason: Funds came from a previous deposit. They will be refunded to the source. I thought that maybe their systems didn’t catch up, and decided to wait for few hours. Next time I logged into my freelancer.com account I had a nice surprise. Not only that the money has been taken off my account, but I also had a negative balance. Confused, and still believing that freelancer.com systems didn’t catch up, I went to the Live Support Chat. It was almost like a dark comedy scenario and below is the most interesting part from that conversation.
So how does freelancer.com work? They have milestone payment mode, which is there to protect freelancers from scammers. That milestone payment is worthless, as you can see from my experience. Even though I have won a dispute, this scammer got their money back. Freelancer.com first released milestone to my account so they could charge me the fees for the payment received. I went to withdraw the money and got notification about withdrawal being cancelled all within 30 minutes since the money appeared on my account. The only conclusion I can come with up is that the company knew that employer filed a chargeback, but they still went and added it to my account just for the sake of their fees. No one can file a chargeback within 30 minutes after they have been charged. Especially not, if they weren’t even online at the time.
The only thing left for me to do was to open a ticket and ask for my account to be deleted, because I do not want to have anything with freelancer.com ever again. Yes, you cannot even close your account, you have to ask them to do so. There is no guarantee I would get paid for any other project I might do in a future, and to me that is very unprofessional policy. Since then, no one replied to that ticket, but I got two support representatives asking me to try and communicate with employer. One said that money was reversed due to the employer’s account issues. I will attach both responses below, so you can see it yourself.
And the second one.
I wonder how I am supposed to contact my employer since their account is now showing as “temporarily unavailable”. They knew all along that they will be able to dispute the payment and get the money back. Most likely, this was not the first account they had there. The system is open to various exploits and scammers are using it. The worst thing is freelancer.com let them get away with it.
All freelancer.com cares of is their commission, as it clearly shows from my experience. I am not the only one who has been played this way, there are far worse cases if you Google it. My question is, how are they able to get away with that? This site might be the biggest with more than 10 million freelancers and more than 5 million projects posted, but they are far from being the best. I am aware that I am not going to get the payment for the work I've done, but I hope other freelancers will take this case seriously and go to other freelancing sites that do protect their users.
Dolores is SEO and Digital Marketing consultant who has been completely hog-washed into doing this site by KC.