Sunday, March 13, 2011

oDesk Warning For Employers

Our blog for collectors rarely deals with issues that are not related to collecting and collections, but this is a special case. My apologies to collectors who may find it not interesting.

Big Warning To Employers on oDesk

The short version: after working with oDesk for 6 months and hiring dozens of contractors and getting perfect feedback from them, oDesk suddenly suspended Colnect's account which had 26 active contracts WITHOUT even providing a reason. It took 5 days and many requests to realize that oDesk did it since bonus payment to one of the contractors was passed using PayPal and not oDesk. As I was unaware of this being a "serious violation" of oDesk's rules, I offered that contractor to get her bonus via oDesk or PayPal and she chose PayPal. About 2 months later, when we ended our contract, she decided to complain on oDesk since she didn't like the feedback she got. So basically, they lost less than $5 commission from that bonus not passing through their system and decided to suspend Colnect's account although thousands of $USD were passed on oDesk and got we got only excellent feedback from contractors.

After their support failed to answer my issues properly, I contacted oDesk's CEO Gary Swart with the story. Finally, after 2.5 weeks, oDesk resumed Colnect's account. They never apologized for the damage they've done to Colnect and 26 active contractors without a good reason and they refused to change their policies or consider any compensation to the contractors they hurt or Colnect.

This is the reason this post has been made - to warn employers relying on oDesk.

Why Should You Be VERY Careful Hiring on oDesk?

  • SUSPENSION - oDesk may quickly suspend your account for any violation without consulting you thus rendering ALL your contracts inactive.

  • PRIVACY - Much hiring information is publicly available and CANNOT be hidden. For example: every contractor can see how much you paid other contractors at all times and what their job description is. So if you want to raise the hourly salary of a good contractor, you risk losing all others who do similar jobs.

  • PAY FOR NOTHING - When hiring people by the hour, it's a big problem if they report work time and have actually done nothing. The screen shots indicate they've done nothing but you're still supposed to spend much time trying to contact them and open a dispute if that fails. Many times, it's not worth your time and people get away with not doing the work they were assigned to do. Contractors may also add "offline time" without your pre-approval which means they can bill you as they like and you have to stay alert to prevent such billing from occurring.

  • SPAM APPLICATIONS - Many applications are pure spam applications from people who have never read your posted job description. Many employers thus ask for some feedback in the actual application to know they're dealing with someone who has actually read the description. oDesk doesn't seem to handle these spam reports as I've seen the same contractors applying again and again.

  • HIRED BUT NOT WORKING - Too often we've hired contractors for an hourly job and they worked just a bit and then stopped. There's no option to set minimum weekly hours but only maximum weekly hours. This is very problematic if you expect a job to be completed on a specific date.

  • HARD TO FIND CONTRACTORS - in the few times I've tried to find contractors rather than wait for them to contact me, I had great difficulties finding the right candidates as many contractors post wrong details so they'd be ranked higher in the search results. Contacting oDesk support on these issues yielded no results.

If you wish to receive more details to make this more public or if you would like to know which alternative Colnect is using, you're welcome to comment here.


  1. since you'd been a contractor for a long time before the issue came up, you were at fault. you were responsible for reading the TOS - not knowing what you did was against oDesk policy is not an excuse. ignorantia juris non excusat. ignorance of the law excuses no one.

    i can't see what's wrong about oDesk suspending your account if you violated the TOS.key word: "violated"

    pay for nothing: this is why you can ask your providers to turn on the screenshot feature in oDesk Team.

    with offline time, yes, they can add off-line time without pre-approval, but you can dispute it.

    1. Anonymous, what oDesk did bad was SUDDENLY suspended Colnect's account without even providing a reason. Like in a job, if you had violated a Company policy, the Company would issue a Written Warning first, for the first offense, then disciplinary action after 2nd offense, suspension if 3rd offense, etc.

      This is the wrong of oDesk. Especially their suspension of Colnect's account causes the Company's operation to be affected in huge and of the Freelancer's not to work and no income for 2.5 weeks. Freelancers needed income.

      So oDesk should have inform Colnect's first and give Colnect to explain their side about the kicked-out Freelancer's complain to oDesk.

  2. While the above anonymous comment seems sponsored in fiercely defending oDesk, I'll relate to it anyway.

    How many TOS of websites used is anyone really reading? "Ignorance of the law" - this is ridiculous as oDesk TOS is not a "law" in any sense. They've made a mistake and admitted it by resuming my account but never tried to rectify the damage they've done.

    On "pay for nothing" - you're basically repeating what I wrote so my claim still stands: "Contractors may also add "offline time" without your pre-approval which means they can bill you as they like and you have to stay alert to prevent such billing from occurring."

    1. Yes, Terms of Service are not really read because they are too long.

      Even if it is in Terms of Service, oDesk should consider the consequences of suspending your Contracts SUDDENLY.

  3. You gotta love 'Anonymous's' reply. Doesn't that stink of "I work for oDesk?"

    From my perspective your experience Colnector, simply highlights the horrendous dishonest nature of oDesk.

    The rule of thumb is: Unless oDesk collects a percentage of your transaction, and every transaction, you've violated something somewhere somehow.

    These guys are @ssholes to the extreme.

    I'm happy to report that they were never able to recover the money from us that they claimed they were going to pursue after we disputed the transaction with VISA twice. They DID however attempt to coerce us by disabling the accounts of any other contractor we had ever used with the intention being that those contractors would in turn harass us to resolve the disputes.

    I've been in business a long time, and I've seen some shady operators, but oDesk takes the cake.

  4. The rule of thumb is: Unless oDesk collects a percentage of your transaction, and every transaction, you've violated something somewhere somehow.

    These guys are @ssholes to the extreme.
    Excuse me? You think they're assholes for charging for services rendered?

    I've used oDesk for the past couple of months, and as an employee, I don't mind it. You complain about contractors also able to add 'offline time', but without oDesk that's how every contract works; you're effectively paying them for the time they say they've done without any verification.

    In addition, the screenshot feature stops me doing things I normally do like browse facebook.. no bad thing in my opinion.

    The onus, with odesk, is on the employer to monitor the output you get from an employee/contractor. The same as it is when you hire someone on an hourly basis OUTSIDE odesk.

    With these sites, why not start them on a simple, 10 hour limit per week job, monitor how well they do with that and gradually expand the time they're allowed to log?

    It's certainly the best of these sites i've used, and i've used a few.

  5. I have worked 10 hours for an employer successfully with honestly installed Glassfish successfully and there JAVA environment was not set up. But they are telling me to refund otherwise they will give me bad feedback. How can I get my due amounts? Is there any way that I can't get my due amounts?

  6. I have been working in ODESK for two years. I had the unfortunate mishap of complaining to their customer service and their Odesk Marketplace of my recent buyer (also known as my employer) and some of my co-workers making fun of my ethnicity and my being a disabled person other than having a hairlip.

    If I could draw your attention to their ODESK Marketplace regulations, it bespeaks of two things: GUARANTEED PROTECTION from work and harassment of any form.

    When I complained about the buyer's behavior, what happened was that Customer Service referred my case to their Marketplace and I was asked to submit my evidences from pictures (JPEG/PNG) to chat transcripts of any form if available. I have done all of that.

    While awaiting the result of the investigation, WITHOUT WARNING, ODESK SUDDENLY PERMANENTLY SUSPENDED MY ACCOUNT.

    I was the victim and the complaining party and this is what they do to complainants.

    This horrible story just tells you that ODESK is BIASED if you will complain about American Employers and Filipino Co-Workers. I am a Malasian Christian working from home because of my condition but this does not mean I am not useful nor am I a dependent.


    They claim to have warned me but there was absolutely none and now my account has been permanently suspended and according to their email, it is their prerogative not to reply inspite of the fact that I have a pending complaint lodged against my buyer.



    A very sad situation that ODESK refuses to rectify.


  7. Message: Don't put too much of your life on ODESK, they will push you on the edge of the cliff whenever they want.

  8. HI !!!!
    Very glad to see am not the only one!
    I had been on oDesk for almost 1 year and a half!!
    I was both a contractor and employer with MORE THAN EXCELLENT feedbacks!
    I paid out thousands of cash to my contractors and oDesk made big commissions out of me.
    One day some racist contractors all came against me (some Scandinacians) and falsly accused me. I never got why. The other (Spanish, indians etc) who worked on the project never got why they did this. I didn't respond for weeks and stayed calme til the end of the project. I contacted oDesk several times about this issue but they did NOTHING. of those mean contractors CONTACTED MY CLIENT'S CLIENT (which is forbidden on my NDA and I made all the contractors sing one) to complain that I didn't pay fast enough. If they had looked at my history...I DO PAY. Only this time these people complaining had done some horrible job and we worked endless nights to fix it so payment was delayed and I SPECIFIED that payment would be delayed if there was any problem with the work.
    Still those few complainers went to me client client (one of the biggest internet companies)and I don't know how they found out who he was as I never disclosed it, they said that they did a google search with some of the articles that had been published by some others in the team which had been already paid but were still against me.
    Long story short I lost that client and a 100,000$ contract.
    It was the last straw and I got angry with the contractor and said something rude to which oDesk SUSPENDED MY ACCOUNT FOR GOOD. Had more than 30 contractors under me counting on me for more work that I could have supplied.

    Don't go there. Go to Elance. They communicate with you if there are problems and never permanently suspend anything and communicate about problems.

    A piece of advice: you'll work really hard to build your ratings and build a company and get it snatched away just like that.

    I don't regret getting "angry". It was just too much. Sure I apologized to oDESK a zillion times and regretted the "firm" email I sent but looking back I'm not a doormat and oDesk never did anything. Bear in mind they will use personal emails and skype or anything else to come against you, doesn't even have to be inside the oDesk messaging system.

    The spam is ATROCIOUS. Indians, Pakistanis, Algerians and Nigerians in particular (whom I have nothing against) are extremely aggressive, send recycled letters and the men can be very sexist when they know you're a female employer. I"ve had a lot of insulting messages from providers when I didn't hire them. Very rude. Insults like you wouldn't believe.

    I AM HAPPY THEY SUSPENDED ME AS ELANCE IS THE BEST!!! ITS EASIER TO USE, FASTER, MORE ANONYMOUS, MORE MATURE and you don't get spam and loads of abusive messages. NEVER HAVE. Both parties can agree to terms and request things so as an employer you don't do all the work and are done at the click of a few buttons.

  9. We hired thousands of people during the years we helped oDesk to grow from a little freelance thingy to the purveyor of web comments, opinions - a gatekeeper of the web in a sense as it's a portal through which people are hired to judge, create and even cut/paste web content that would appear completely real. What you're missing is other data that contains the number of persons hired through oDesk to "make or break" your reputation online overall once they suspend your account. Countless thousands are hired by the world's largest websites to scrutinize and/or verify validity of accounts on those site platforms that you are using every day. oDesk is more than a little freelance place to hire or be hired for getting work done effectively, it is a thing that can affect your online reputation across the largest platforms... permanently. Try to play nice because the comment feeds are endless and vast. Some judging talents hired through the portal have seemed to spread undue punishment to places and people completely unrelated to oDesk.

  10. Dear.....,

    We're writing because our Customer Satisfaction Team recently completed a review of your work history on oDesk.

    Unfortunately, they found that your account was associated with a high level of disputes, poor feedback, or other factors that negatively impact client satisfaction. As such, we have temporarily suspended your ability to be hired for new contracts and withdraw funds.

    To remove suspension and withdraw funds, please continue to work on your active contracts. Once these are completed successfully, your account will be eligible for reactivation and withdrawal of funds.

    We hope your current jobs are successful for both you and your client. Please contact us (on this ticket) once the contracts are successfully completed so that we may assess your account.

    Mark Lyndon


    Upon review by our Customer Satisfaction Team, I am sorry to let you know that the suspension of your account is permanent. Please take note that you are not allowed to re-register or use the oDesk service under a different name or account. This decision is final. All attempts to contact Customer Support for reinstatement will be denied.

    Anyhow, we will wait for the rest of your funds to be available on 03 April and we will request our Finance Team to release your earnings to your nominated withdrawal method, Local Funds Transfer - Account ending in ,,,,.


    They told me before that to remove suspension, I have to continue my active contract. Once these are completed successfully, my account will be eligible for reactivation and withdrawal of funds. I completed my contract succesfully and my client gave me good feedback but now you permanently suspended my account. I have 4.62 overall in my feedback but now They didn't allow me to apply for a job. Do you even realize how hurt I am right now! I trust Odesk. But now Odesk is suck! They ruin me.I didn't do anything wrong. Odesk has no consideration now... it's really hurt for me now.

  11. Odesk team management did always cruelty with contracters I also suspended without any prove.

  12. oDesk was unjust. Common sense to inform the Employer first and give them to explain their side before suspending the Employer's account SUDDENLY without reconsidering the Freelancers who need to work and needed income, and Employers who needed to continue their Company's operations done by Freelancers.


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