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Dark Side of Upwork

Upwork is a platform that connects freelancers from all fields of work (software development, design, writers, translators, sales, project management, virtual assistants, and many more) with people who need their services. We all heard of success stories how people started making a lot more money when they switched from their regular 9 to 5 jobs to Upwork. And for many cases this is true, and if you prefer being paid based on your performance, if you want to choose projects you work on –basically if you want to be freelancer, Upwork and similar platforms are great.But what happens when they for any reason decide to suspend your account?

Few words about my backstory on Upwork – I created account few years ago to see what’s all the fuss about Elance – that’s how it was called before they merged with Odesk in 2015. And it looked great –a place where you can find some real work or side projects and earn some extra money. One thing I noticed is that to score first job it needs additional effort, as you don’t have enough reputation, which is desired by most employers. As I was busy with other things in my life back then, I’ve decided to put it on hold.

I haven’t used my Upwork account for few years. Then a good friend of mine @IvanRadunovic, freelancer on Upwork, who expanded his freelancing business to company, challenged me to try to find some clients there. As I like challenges, I decided to accept that one, and quickly applied for one job. Soon after I’ve completed my profile, added skills, experience and education, a completed few relevant tests. In following days, I sent few more applications and even received responses for two jobs I applied for, and an invite to apply for one job. I was very happy to be already in negotiations to be hired as freelancer. And negotiations like any negotiations need some time. People are busy, considering offers and similar. I didn’t want to be pushy, so I applied for few more jobs.

In the anticipation of responses from potential clients one night, just out of blue, I receive following email:


I immediately sent an appeal, trying to politely explain why it is ridiculous to suspend my account:

I’ve heard somewhere that different teams control their customer service and their appeals. So, I’ve decided to ping themon Twitter and Facebook. Here’s the Response I’ve received looked something like this:

What happens next is that I’ve received response from appeals:

Needless to say how pissed I was after receiving this. “Your Upwork account will remain suspended” and then “If you have any open contracts you will be able to complete that work and receive payment through our site.”

And the reason? No one knows.

They said that I was sending “high number of proposals for jobs on our site without many contracts or earnings”. They give 60 connects monthly to each account. I used 20 connects to apply for 10 jobs over a course of less than 2weeks 3 of those day before and during the day of suspension. Had OPEN discussions with 3 potential clients. And in the middle of that, during Q4 the busiest time of the year, they decide that they must clean up their pool of freelancers!?

Few questions that arise here are:

·      Why do you give freelancers 60 connects, when you suspend them if they haven’t closed any job while using third of that?

·      Why would you suspend someone who is in the middle of negotiations with 3 potential clients?

·      Who are the people who are deciding the faith of freelancers?

·      If appeal is “each case will be manually reviewed by Trust & Safety”, why is there problem to provide 2-3sentences reason of what driven their decision?

·      What kind of customer service at one point decides to ignore customers? Well this one’s kinda obvious – it’s bad customer service ????

I get it – a lot of businesses operate in cut-throat fashion. If you do not produce results, you are out. But this is freelancing community we are talking about. Freelancers probably more than any other professionals improve their skills over the time. As in any other business the beginning is most difficult.

I’m sure there are the others that were unjustly kicked from Upwork, just like me. And unfairness happen all the time.