A Client Told Me They'll Never Use Upwork Again - Here's Why

chrisdeveloper7

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I received a message from Upwork after a trip to Greece in October, stating that my account was on hold because I logged in from someplace I don't normally login from. Having family out of state (mine, as well as my wife's), I travel multiple times per year but don't recall getting this message in the past. This year, however, I'd gone overseas twice in addition to my regular in-country travels. So I replied back to the message, explaining all of this (including that I'd just been in Greece). Someone from Upwork replied to my message, saying the hold had already been lifted and everything was fine.

I responded to that person by asking what measures I could take to ensure this didn't happen again. My wife is a blogger, and she's working on a series set overseas. I accompany her on her travels so that she's not traveling alone, and I work from wherever we go. So far this year, we've traveled to Romania, Greece, and we'll be going to France soon. If there was some sort of travel notice I needed to give Upwork (similar to how I inform my bank when I'll be using my card overseas), I was willing to do that and so made the inquiry. I never received a reply to that inquiry.

Here's where things start to get really questionable. Some of this stuff is so bad, there's an SJW team ready and waiting to start working on this if Upwork refuses to take corrective action and handle this rightly going forward.

Shortly after the trip to Greece, I showed up at a client's site for a major project. My POC at the client site then informed me that I'm no longer on Upwork. Let me repeat that: THE CLIENT (not Upwork) informed me that I was no longer on Upwork. The client received an email explaining this, while I did not receive any such communication or even a warning or inquiry. When I looked further, I learned Upwork had canceled all my contracts, suspended my account, and emailed all my clients stating that I'd violated some term and condition. When I called to ask what I'd done, they refused to tell me.

You may be wondering, as I did, if Upwork did this because I had worked while in Greece (since that's when they initially put a hold on my account). That's a REALLY good question, because they continue to evade my inquiries and refuse to explain the reason for the suspension. Not only that, they libeled me to one of the clients (I have it in writing).

Things couldn't possibly get any worse, right? Well, they did.

Not only did Upwork accuse me of breaking the terms and conditions of my contract without actually telling me what I did or giving me a chance to explain/defend myself (for example, in case that login from Greece is what triggered the system OR even if it was an instance where I may have made some sort of honest mistake)....

Not only did they libel me to the client (possibly to multiple clients, I'm checking into that further)....

Not only did they do all of the above, which is already quite appalling, Upwork then took the money due to me (money clients had paid for work I had already completed) and returned those funds back to the clients instead of rightly forwarding the funds to me..and here's the doozy: it was after Upwork issued these refunds that they then libeled me to the client AND conveniently offered to help the client "find a new developer."

I've heard that some of the people who oversee these suspensions are actually other contractors and/or developers freelancing for Upwork. If that's true, that seems like a pretty big conflict of interest, almost like fishing for contracts through relationships the suspended person worked hard to establish. And if that's what's going on, it might explain why there are so many cases where developers have been permanently suspended on Upwork without explanation and without recourse. Just google: Upwork suspended. Or search on Twitter: upwork suspend. You'll find a plethora of former Upwork contractors/developers, all with similar stories to mine - they had great reviews, great feedback from clients, excellent completion records, steady work, and then their accounts were suddenly and mysteriously suspended, sometimes by bots/an automated system (not fair if there's been a mistake and then there's no recourse for the suspended developer), sometimes by people who don't seem to be native English speakers (I say this because if explanations can get lost in translation, and that's not fair to the person who's been permanently suspended). These suspended developers have taken to the internet through blog posts, complaint boards, tweets, and they all have similar stories from their experiences with Upwork.

After I took to Twitter to talk about this experience, Upwork contacted me to say that they may have made a misstep and that they were reinstating my account AND giving me $250. By that point, because Upwork had gone about the whole ordeal in such an unprofessional, haphazard manner, the client said they didn't want anything to do with that freelancing site again. I can understand that. It was all handled very poorly, but it *looked like* Upwork was at least willing to set things right for me, as the developer, which was all I had wanted.

In order to have my account reinstated, I had to start all over in the process. I sent them a simple email, asking what they needed from me with regard to verifying my identity. Someone named Hallie Morris (who is supposedly "high up" with Upwork but who may actually be a freelancer for them on the West Coast) decided to overturn my reinstatement and not pay me the monies promised. I have emailed her multiple times, trying to figure out if logging in from Greece is what triggered the suspension. She did not seem interested in hearing what I had to say and has not responded in several days after I tried to explain my travels and how my account had been put on hold after my trip to Greece.

NOTE: If there's ever been any doubt about my claims, I've always had a tremendous amount of proof to show I was in these places: my stamped passport where I entered and exited Greece in October (as well as Romania this past summer), I have witnesses (professional tour guides, a tour group, two university professors/published authors in Romania, and lots of other people) who can verify I was in those countries, I have charges on my card, receipts, itineraries from the airlines..and all of this is in addition to the innumerable photos we took during our travels, some of which my wife is using for her blog.

Here's what's also interesting about this case. The correspondence I had with Upwork after Greece (where that person told me the hold had been lifted and that my account was now fine) appears to have been scrubbed from my Upwork account. I do have the communication, though, because the person I spoke with at that time apparently emailed me the conversation. I just think it's ironic that all of this has happened, and all of a sudden that communication seems to have gone "missing" through the Upwork platform I had been logging into. Also, there is yet another client who at some point paid me through Upwork during this mess, and Upwork has left the funds in limbo rather than refunding them to the client so that the client can actually pay me for that completed work.

IF YOU'RE GOINIG THROUGH THIS, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I have spoken to other developers who have gone through the same thing. One blogger's article went #1 on HackerNews, and it was then (and only then) that Upwork took another look at his account and admitted they may have made some missteps in assessing what really happened (just like they did with mine initially). The SJW team I'm working with is prepared to start reaching out to various California-based agencies (since Upwork is a California-based company) and anyone else necessary to blow the whistle on how Upwork treats developers and they way they are negatively affecting people's careers/livelihoods.
 

h3ct0r

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NOTE: If there's ever been any doubt about my claims, I've always had a tremendous amount of proof to show I was in these places: my stamped passport where I entered and exited Greece in October (as well as Romania this past summer), I have witnesses (professional tour guides, a tour group, two university professors/published authors in Romania, and lots of other people) who can verify I was in those countries, I have charges on my card, receipts, itineraries from the airlines..and all of this is in addition to the innumerable photos we took during our travels, some of which my wife is using for her blog.
If you're still not getting a response, you could try inserting an image of your Airline Ticket here, then @ them on Twitter with the link to this thread. Just in case your other items of proof were lost/corrupted during transfer.
 

chrisdeveloper7

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If you're still not getting a response, you could try inserting an image of your Airline Ticket here, then @ them on Twitter with the link to this thread. Just in case your other items of proof were lost/corrupted during transfer.
Thanks. I'll have to try that. I'm still waiting to hear back from the attorney to see what my options are before I take action. Appreciate the suggestion!
 

wzz

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I can't get into upwork because, and I'm paraphrasing "but I have too many skills that are currently used by other members'", and can't say I've had anything this bad happen, but I do work on freelancer and the lack of transparency on these sites it sickening. My biggest beef with them is I had a client who hired me, then just stopped talking for like over a year. I didn't care because I had the deposit, then all of a sudden THEY get there money back, for doing nothing. They actually gave me my commision back, but why would someone who goes AWOL get preferential treatment. I've also got warnings of my bids being to similar and been threatened with action even though they four they identified varied significantly and specifically addressed the project details. So I've actually been using the basic $10 account and buying bids with the credits for about four months because I'm so paranoid they going to cancel my account. Plus their bid refresh rate is all over the map. After four years of 1.5 suddenly it's 1, then 2, then 1.1, them 3.8? Now it's back to 1.7. Why the secrecy, just explain the formula or something. They say it's to improve bid quality for users. Why not let them decide. Highest rated should be first. If there bid sucks then the employer will pass.

And the fact you have to provide an airline ticket? Crazy.
 

norlin

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Oh I was onboard of Upwork since a long time ago, when they was named "oDesk". But never get any job there, just sometimes searching for a relevant jobs and looking for possible rates and so on.

Few days ago I've decided to actually find a contract via Upwork. Things went well, I've found a client for a task.
After some time, I've got a request from Upwork to "make a short video call" with their support agent to "verification", threating to suspend my account if I will not agree. No reason given nor explanation how it should help, nothing!
I've refused, of course, and in advance told my client about the case and asked to contact me via email directly and sending payment via PayPal (after job done).

Shortly after that, I've got a permanent account block on the Upwork because of "rules violation" (asking for a payment outside of Upwork).

Technically, I've violated their rules, but it was a neccesery thing to keep my client happy (apparently, it's not good if a freelancer got blocked in a middle of doing something).
Anyway, I'm sure that the only goal for Upwork is to help people (clients/freelancers) meet each other and nothing more. All these "for your safety" is a complete BS and never leads to a good experience.

I've seen multiple online services who went this path of enforcing some stupid rules and limitations, no one ends well. Unfortunatelly, Upwork is too large, but I still hope for the same for them.
 

idontfreelance

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You must feel devastated, hope you will get back what you deserve!
This is the problem of depending on platforms - it gives you some easier beginning but later on you find out you are building THEIR business, not yours.
I built my own site and had a hard time making cold calls and hard rock marketing, but it pays back in time. I have my own loyal customers and that's what freelancing is all about. Upwork freelance and fiverr freelance is not real freelance - they are your boss.
 

chrisdeveloper7

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You must feel devastated, hope you will get back what you deserve!
This is the problem of depending on platforms - it gives you some easier beginning but later on you find out you are building THEIR business, not yours.
I built my own site and had a hard time making cold calls and hard rock marketing, but it pays back in time. I have my own loyal customers and that's what freelancing is all about. Upwork freelance and fiverr freelance is not real freelance - they are your boss.
Thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate it. I'm sorry for the delayed response. Been traveling (again) with more this month. On a very tight schedule with a project!
 

chrisdeveloper7

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:bullseye: ticket is the answer. You should post it up to support your claim.
Yeah, i sent the lawyer everything. He's been reviewing it all, and he'll send them whatever is necessary - tickets or whatever else. Appreciate the encouragement. Waiting on him to let me know if the SJW team should begin contacting California agencies about failure of Upwork to meet best business practices of that state. Just taking things one step at a time.
 

JohnDz

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That is a real injustice, I hate when big corporation take desicion and never explain. I was banned of Adsense ofr no reason.
I hope Upwork soon fixes those issues, is a source of income of many good workers.
 

fortun8bryan

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It's been a few months, any update to your situation? And if you don't mine me asking: what freelancing platform are you using now if you're no longer on Upwork?
 

Johnny83

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Hello chrisdeveloper7. Sorry to hear about this bad experience you had. It seems you have wasted a lot of time and money thanks to Upwork.

I had also the worst experience with Upwork. I signed up with them in 2015 when Upwork was actually oDesk. 2 weeks ago I decided to send proposals I send arround 5 proposal I got 1 contract also I was talking to 2 project owners. There was another contract on it's way.

On the 7th March 2019 my account has been suspended and I have been asked to verify my identity which I did by video chat on the same day. It has been weeks but my account is still inactive. I have been told that the process would take only 24 to 48 hours.

One of the project owners that I was chatting has tried to award me but he has got an error. He told me that my Upwork profile doesn't exist. So, he couldn't award me.

So, I wanted to follow up my case and sent a reply to the first ticket that has been created by verification team but never got a reply. Next day I sent again, no reply! Tried to click to message "Your account has been suspended" and I have been redirected back to job feed page. So, couldn't create a new ticket either. Naturally I got upset as my first milestone was due and I was about to loose my second contract. Not getting any response from Upwork even upset me more.

I contacted upwork via facebook chat and told them that I finished the first milestone . Asked them what I can do to receive the payment that is in escrow. They told me that no transaction can be made if my account is suspended. Is that even ethical? I spent a great deal of time on upwork just to setup my profile and write cover letters. I spent 9 days on coding since I got the contract. And I have been told that I won't get paid.

I called the Upwork USA support number. I asked for explanation and the guy couldn't tell the reason for suspension. He said that his system doesn't show the reason. This upset me even more. He said that he sent a request to reinstate my account and gave me a ticket number. Two days later, I called them again. It was the same story. Anyone in their right senses won’t be calm after this sort of experince. I am programmer with 10 years experience and never experienced such scam in my life. We are spending time and putting a lot of efford trying to build or reputation but Upwork doesn't care about it. I hope Fair Work or some another organisation would start an action against Upwork. It is simply not fair.

After reading few post like yours, I saw that I am not the only one who had their share of frustration and got their nerves upside down.

I know my account will never be reinstated. I will look for other freelance platforms. There must be some platforms that are way better then Upwork. I would appreciate if anyone can recomend an alternative to Upwork. Which platform should I choose?
 
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chrisdeveloper7

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It's been a few months, any update to your situation? And if you don't mine me asking: what freelancing platform are you using now if you're no longer on Upwork?
I got a lawyer involved. He managed to get a meeting with one of their senior litigators, but they wouldn't actually share any details with him. They just stonewalled him. I would have had to file a lawsuit, and while that was tempting, I just didn't feel that it was worth the potential cost/risk, so I didn't pursue any further action.

I'm currently not on any platform. Thankfully, I had a couple of large projects in the works, and my clients all stayed with me, although I do need to decide on a plan for how to best market my services in the future... whether or not that will include another freelance platform is something I've been debating.
 

Johnny83

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@chrisdeveloper7 It seems that you had a very good case. But of course, it doesn't worth the risk or your time. That's why many times people let things go. But these things doesn't go away just by ignoring them. I was wondering if we can start a petition against Upwork? There is an online petition website and it is very successful. The petitions there are very effective. I am hoping to find someone who can help me to run this petition. I want us to be heard. I am hoping every freelancer who suffered because of Upwork would sign the petition and we will make a change. It is not fair what happened with Chris and it is not fair what happened with me. I do not need Upwork. I have a company and have a decent income but I do not want these things to happen to other freelencers especially to new freelancers. One of the freelancers that I was using, also have an account with upwork. He started a contract and a day after they suspended his account too. He knew about my bad experience with Upwork, luckily he waited them to reinstate his account and didn't work on his project unlike me. But they didn't reinstate his account. They never informed him regarding the suspension nor replied to his tickets. Unlike me, he lives overseas and cannot call Upwork support number (not that it would make a difference). The client had lost a week. Usual things... I think the client complained to Upwork after 3-4 days but Upwork haven't even replied to client. They have just refunded the client. As per my knowledge, the client now works with the same freelancer outside upwork. If Upwork wasn't so famous and was't returning the payments to clients I would say that Upwork is a big scam. Anyway all I want to say is;

I hope @chrisdeveloper7 and other freelencers who had their lifes upside down would join me. This thread may serve a good purpose. I would understand if no one is willing to join me but I just cannot let it go. It is my personality. I get frustrated and angry when people are used and abused by the systems or by the companies like Upwork.

Hoping to hear from you soon guys. If we start a petition I will share the link here as long as our Moderators allows it.

Cheers,
Johnny
 
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chrisdeveloper7

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No response! It is sad. I have to let it go then.
sorry again about that. the email i used for this account gets buried in thousands of spam emails each month. i just happened to think to login here and see if you had ever written back.
 

chrisdeveloper7

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It's been a few months, any update to your situation? And if you don't mine me asking: what freelancing platform are you using now if you're no longer on Upwork?
Not using any platform right now. Update is in this thread, where I'm answering
A ticket is verifiable, I get why you said that now.
In case you're interested in the update...the attorney I retained tried to provide the information to them. Upwork didn't want to see it.
 

chrisdeveloper7

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If you're still not getting a response, you could try inserting an image of your Airline Ticket here, then @ them on Twitter with the link to this thread. Just in case your other items of proof were lost/corrupted during transfer.
I gave a ton of information and proof of travels to my attorney, and Upwork didn't care. Their person said it wasn't geolocating that triggered their system, that it was something else, but that conflicts with something else she told him.
 
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