Elance – some odd behaviour

A while ago I started using freelancer.com for some odd jobs here and there around coding or websites…. it worked out ok once for a basic website, but seemed to be very poor if I tried to use it for anything a bit more substantial. The main sticking point for me was that freelancer.com took their cut immediately when the project was awarded – so if the bidder turned out to be completely incapable of delivering (which is not uncommon) – they still charged a reasonable amount.


Due to this, I moved to elance – which did not engage in the practice of taking their fees for jobs immediately.

I still had some issues due to the inherent nature of this type of market. For those of you that haven’t used one of these types of sites before – if you post a job, for anything from a basic website to an SQL database and front-end, you will get bucket loads of responses – many of which are copy and paste jobs from people that don’t read the job spec – and are in broken English.

After a while, it becomes easier to pick these and filter them out, however you are still stuck with those that are smart enough to make it look like they can read the spec doc and do the work, but cant actually do the work.

Through Elance I have posted a couple of projects – such as website and an internal timesheet tool.

With these projects, basically I would always have a couple of false starts with someone that was not able to complete the work satisfactorily, until I found someone that could.

Overall, it was still worth it – as even with the false starts and paying out people that couldn’t do the work – our website update cost a couple of hundred, as opposed to the quotes for $6-12k I was getting locally for 7 static pages.


My current project is a timesheeting tool for my business – I found the existing ones out there didn’t meet my needs and/or were a confused jumble of modules that seem to be written by people that actually haven’t run a business before.


On my 3rd attempt – I found a guy that just seemed to “get it” – which is always nice – and all was going well until….


Joyette, Sep 2, 9:08 AM:

Hello hayes,

We have some concerns regarding your job with your freelancer, ‘xxxxx’

There are no messages in the work room, Workview is not being used, and there are no details regarding the work being done in the job proposal. Please detail how you know your freelancer, the nature of the work being done including examples, and how you are communicating. Please provide a detailed response so we may continue to review your Elance account.


This was quite bizarre – so my response was…


Hi Joyette,

Im a bit flabbergasted by this email.

1) There are no messages in the work room because the messages though elance are hard to use, we have been emailing each other constantly over the project lifetime – just not using the, rather poor, elance messaging system.

2) Workview – see above. Workview does not do useful things such as keep track of outstanding tasks on the job – so why use it ?

3) “There are no details on the work being done in job proposal” – the work being done is the work that has been requested. Since this guy actually speaks English we were able to communicate to a level where I was conformable that he knew what he was doing.

4) I know the freelancer via elance…. Hence why I am paying him via elance – What an odd question!

5) The nature of the work being done is what’s requested to be done – would I really be paying the bills if it wasn’t ?

6) We are communicating via email and Skype.

WTF? Review my elance account? Where were you guys when the sh*tty people doing this job last time were lying through their teeth? Now that I have found someone that actually has a clue – now you want to review?

I’m not quite sure where/why this is coming up now – he is doing the work – I am paying him (via elance) – it’s pretty simple. Sure, the date’s aren’t being met – however, I have added quite a bit of work to the spec – hence why another milestone has been added in elance.

This was followed by

Joyette, Sep 2, 3:58 PM:

Hello hayes,

Thank you for your immediate response.

I am currently reviewing your account but need some help from you to continue. Please send us a scanned copy of any Government issued photo ID ( i.e Passport/ Drivers License) in order to verify your identity.

Regards, Elance Risk ManagementTeam


The contractor I was using received one of these too – then with no reason or warning, they suspended his account, leaving him unable to withdraw the funds I had deposited for him.

There is no way in hell any logical person would provide a scanned copy of a passport of drivers license to pretty much any organisation let alone one like Elance. In addition, they are, funnily enough, more than happy to take funds from your credit card without this information, but when it comes to refunds, or asking relatively basic questions that don’t directly make them money – they all of a sudden need this!

After many more emails, I closed my elance account, the contractor eventually got his money…. and we continue to work together outside of elance.

It remains a bit of mystery as to what was really behind this from the elance side – as, if they have any real reasons – they are not sharing them or presenting any evidence of any type of behaviour that would warrant involvement of a “risk management” team…

In short – while elance.com initially appeared to be one of the better freelancing sites, they obviously have something going on behind the scenes and some pretty dodgey practices, perhaps there is something going on due to their merger with upwork…. or perhaps they have always been run by a bunch of idiots and I just haven’t noticed before.

Either way – my suggestion would be to avoid elance & upwork…. I would be happy to hear if anyone out there has had a positive experience with one of these style of organisations.


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