Upwork – Honor the Contract

Today’s topic is Upwork, and one of the things you should watch out for as a freelancer on that site.

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I’m relatively new to Upwork, so I’m learning as I go. There are contractors and freelancers. I’m acting as a freelancer on Upwork.

Yesterday, I was on Upwork, and I made a counter proposal for a job by an individual we’ll call Stephanie. The offer was seriously low-balled, so I offered to do the job for a bit more, and laid out a lot of specifics in my counter proposal.

The offer was declined, but then I got a note from Stephanie suggesting that I contact her through whatsapp or her facebook page and work on this job outside of Upwork. She apparently needs forty five people for the position.

Basically, she’s attempting to set up a stable of mechanical turks using Upwork to make contact, but going around them so Upwork won’t get a cut. This contravenes Upwork’s ethics policies.

Look, the idea behind Upwork, is that people get their feet wet with small jobs in an environment that protects freelancers and contractors from the pitfalls of freelancing. For that convenience, Upwork expects a cut.

The problem behind what Stephanie has attempted is that it’s unethical on more than one level.

1. She’s using Upwork to gather potential workers who are willing to work for next to nothing, but doesn’t want to pay Upwork for the convenience of the work platform they’ve provided. She’s dishonored her contract with Upwork.

2. She would rather hire a bunch of part-time laborers for next to nothing as “contract” laborers because she wants to avoid hiring several full-time laborers as staff. If she needs 45 people to do small bits of things, she’s basically avoiding the costs of staff pay, staff taxes, and health benefits. She doesn’t care about you. You’re a cog in her machine. She’s misrepresented herself to you, the freelancer.

3. She seriously low-balled her original proposal, and then declined my counter proposal, but contacted me after the decline to ask me to work for her, giving me her whatsapp account and a facebook business page as places to contact her. I don’t know her, and I’m certainly not going to get blackballed by Upwork just for her convenience.

The idea behind being a freelancer is that sooner or later, you acquire a group of clients that trust you, and you trust them. If the first three signs of someone offering work are something like what Stephanie has done, alarm bells should be going off in your head. Your best bet is to report the situation to UpWork. There is no guarantee of honor behind someone like that, and you’re probably never going to get paid for the hours of work you provide.

Incidentally, Stephanie has since lost access to her Upwork account, probably for this sort of shenanigans minutes before I reported the incident, so it’s likely others were also concerned about her antics.

I’m curious what your experience has been on Upwork. Let me know in the comments below about things people should watch out for.

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The is Chris, the Amateur Ethicist. Thanks for crossing the road with me, and I’ll see you in the next video.

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