This is an update on my initial post about being scammed on Freelancer.com. It’s only fair that I do a follow up about my bad experience with Freelancer.com to further clarify the situation and detail what has happened since.
After publishing my last post I submitted it to various social networks, mainly Facebook, Twitter and G+. A friend of mine also posted a link to my blog on Webmaster-talk.com which is actually a part of Freelancer.com (they acquired it back in 2010).
Within a day of this post going live I was contacted by Freelancer’s customer service, not once but twice! One contacted me directly via my blog and the other via Twitter (the freelancer.com staff seems to monitor mentions over there). The customer service rep that found my blog was alerted by the post on their forum.
From my blog post:
— fanfreluche (@fanfreluche) November 19, 2013
@fanfreluche Can you send us the Project ID along with your username through DM so we can look into this?
— Freelancer.com (@freelancer) November 19, 2013
Now they wanted to make it right and asked for copies of my conversation with the real, legit writer. I emailed them all the information I gathered from my own detective work as well as the complete email conversation I had with the original and legit writer. Most of the story was told to them when I first sent a support ticket, but never mind! I sent them the original email that started it all, as well as copies from the email exchange that writer had with the “ring leader”, proving she wrote the article.
Here’s the original writer first email to me (the one that started it all):
“I apologise for contacting you this way, but I am currently experiencing a difficult situation with my employer and believe it is my duty to bring this to your knowledge. I am the ghostwriter who was in charge of creating content for the xxxxxx article. Although I’m sure I was awarded less than half of the amount you were initially willing to offer (projects get outsourced too many times these days), I trust you were satisfied with the quality of my work, as no complaints were brought to my attention. I was also willing to invest in a potentially successful working relationship with my employer, and therefore agreed to work for a lower rate for the first batch of articles. However, the employer turned out to be very unprofessional and decided not to pay for my work when I wanted to let him go – moreover, he offered to pay everything he owed me ONLY if I continued to work for him, which is pure blackmail in my opinion. Communication is poor, he has no consideration for my work and pressures me with tight deadlines (although I’m sure you appreciated the fast turnaround). Moreover, he failed to honour his promise to increase payment after the first batch, and although I delivered the quality and professionalism that were expected from me, I was constantly being paid $0.4 per 100 words. I failed to settle this misunderstanding with him – he can’t even speak or understand proper English, which may explain the poor communication. I know this is not your fault, but I make a living out of freelancing and (prompt) payment is very important to me. While I appreciate working with you (even from behind the scenes), I am not willing to transfer copyright until payment for my work is made in full. I am not requesting any payment from you, but am very sorry to tell you I have already published the articles on a personal blog that I have created solely for this type of situation. (removed website address) I trust you’ll understand that I’ve officially been burned too many times to quickly get over these situations and let the time and writing capabilities invested in my work go to waste. I apologise for the inconvenience and hope this will make you think twice about working with this person in the future. You seem very nice and honest. Thank you for your time. Employer nickname: John Anderson http://www.freelancer.co.uk/u/PayedforContent.html (“name removed” probably flipped the project)” –signed by the legit author (name and email removed)”
In our conversation Freelancer.com said that it took them so long to reply due to a bug with the ticket system and that I should have got a response from their customer service in a timely manner.
“Hi there Nathalie,
I hope this email finds you well.
Our initial assessment indicates that a glitch in the ticket routing has caused the delay in answering your original email.
We are currently looking into this and a workaround is currently being looked at in order to prevent things like this from happening again.
In reference with your prior freelancer, appropriate actions have been initially warranted, and additional investigation is in place.
This scenario has given us the opportunity to revisit our existing process, and we thank you for letting us know about this.
I’d be in touch, and provide updates as soon as they become handy.
Don’t hesitate to let me know if I may be of assistance in any way.
Have a great weekend and thank you for being part of Freelancer.com.
I am skeptical. Although it took a long time, they did actually answer my ticket but offered no help and didn’t give me a refund. I had to blog and expose Freelancer.com publicly to get a refund for my troubles.
This is the only answer I got to my original ticket, 9 days after sending it and it arrives after threatening a credit card charge back. As you can see it’s one of those common “can” response:
“Hello there Nathalie,
Thank you for contacting Freelancer.com Support.
We appreciate your initiative and effort for notifying our department regarding a violation on a site. Violations and abuses of our services are taken very seriously. With the enormous number of freelancers using our site, we are unable to catch violations before they happen, and at times, even after they have taken place. We also do not freeze or delete accounts without investigating the complaint or notification since we do receive a large volume of false or incorrect accusations of such abuses.
We have an obligation to conduct our business in accordance with all applicable rules, regulations and laws as we are committed to helping all users act in a way that preserves trust and respect within the site. All complaints are investigated properly and the action that may be needed should they be in violation of our Code of Conduct and Terms and Conditions. Violations of our Code of Conduct or any policies or procedures on the site will result in disciplinary action, up to and including account termination. The corresponding penalty will be based on the violation made on our website depending on its gravity. With this being said, we’ve already applied appropriate action to the reported user/project.
Furthermore, we recommend that you still communicate with your freelancer regarding the sent payments.
Should you have any other issues or concerns, contact us again.
Freelancer refunded my money, so I had some money pending on the site that needed to be spent. I decided to browse their database and managed to find a couple of writers that had good feedback, a real picture, a decent bio and solid experience. I hired one lady directly and got a quality article.
Now my Freelancer.com balance is at zero and I doubt I’ll be back.
Although Freelancer took care of my problem and refunded my money, I have lost faith in them as a company. As of today, both account suspended are back on Freelancer.com. This mean it can happen all over again, not because of another shady ring of writers, but because of the same ones Freelancer seems to protect.
I had to go on social media and create a fuss for them to do anything about my problem. It is bad indictment of their customer service I had to go public with my experience before they did anything to rectify it.
The scam ring going on at Freelancer is well known on other sites. I had a similar problem on iWriter over a year ago and it was taken care of within a few hours and their support confirmed to me that from time to time they catch these scammers. So a site as large as Freelancer.com should know about this kind of behaviour from some of their members.
In the end I’ll stick with my usual writers, working directly with them or through iWriter because, after this episode, I have lost all faith in using Freelancer.com to conduct business.