Deceptive Practices

Over the last 5 years, I’ve gotten quite a bit of work from the site formerly known as eLance and now known as Upwork.  I’m not sure if eLance just changed its name or if Upwork bought it but it’s more or less the same site, except Upwork takes a bigger percentage.

Yesterday, I received an email from Upwork telling me that my account had been suspended, pending video verification.  I thought it was a phishing expedition so didn’t click on the link but, instead, went to the site and logged in only to find the same message there.  Somewhat annoyed, I followed the instructions and, within a minute or two, was talking to one of their agents.  I expressed my annoyance with the inconvenience and he apologized but then explained the reason, which is the subject of this post.

According to Anthony, there are many freelancers from other countries who wish to hide the fact that they are from those countries, so they make up English sounding names and post profile photos of Caucasians.  Apparently this has become a significant problem, with a large number of the culprits coming from China. Hence the video verification so that they can see that the applicant is who they are purporting to be.

The second problem that Upwork, and sites like it, face is that there are a lot of freelancers claiming to be experts when, in fact, they are not.  Do these people actually believe that they are experts or are they just hoping for the quick con, much like Nigerian scammers, pulling in the gullible.

I was helping a client with a very simple, or rather what should have been very simple, change to an export order.  The ‘expert’ that they had hired had written a long, and complicated calculation, to output the fields in a text string instead of just exporting the individual fields in a csv format.  The calculation was not only long and complicated but it was also completely wrong with conditionals not being closed, extra parentheses all over the place and other errors.  Admittedly, it did work, kind of, but it was an ugly mess.  The client had hired one of these so-called FileMaker ™ experts to build the database for them and it had gone horribly wrong and way over budget but what was worse was that they had been charged well over $8K for something that wasn’t worth $800, but it had seemed reasonable in the first place.

Far too many businesses these days believe in paying low hourly rates. as if that guarantees them an inexpensive solution, but, for many of these businesses, that is a false economy, a subject I wrote about recently in another post (A False Economy) which has had quite a number of views and stimulated a very interesting conversation.  But, in truth, it’s not what you pay for an hour, it’s what gets done in that hour that’s important and when saving money ends up costing you money, going for the lowest price may be the worst decision you’ll ever make.

So, if you are looking for a freelancer, do some due diligence before you hire anybody.  Ask for samples of their work and, especially, ask them to provide you references and check out those references; make sure they are real and not an associate who is answering the phone.  (Never forget the old saying ‘Buyer beware’; in fact, if you’re hiring freelancers on a regular basis, I’d print that out in large letters and post it where you can see it).

I hope this post is helpful and I’d really love to hear your thoughts and observations.

Michael Rocharde, August 10, 2017

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