I learned a valuable lesson today.
For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to get work through the freelancer.com site. I’ve put two or three bids up (being limited to 8 as a free user) and participated in an animation competition. I thought I was being pretty careful, only bidding on jobs I knew I could do (but was pretty unlikely to get) and participating in contests where I could use my entry in my portfolio or demo reel, as being realistic, I didn’t think I’d likely win any of those either.
The site came highly recommended on the many blogs and forums I searched through looking for ways to start doing freelance work, and as far as my limited experience told me, looked legit.
Well, in short it’s as legit as that security job I worked during uni – they grossly underpayed us, and broke multiple worker laws that had to do with extra hours, breaks between shifts, breaks, holiday pay… ect. But as long as there were people desperate enough to work there, who didn’t complain or sue, they made lots of money and everything was fine.
It looks like something similar is happening with freelancer.com – they charge both the employer and the employee large fees, for everything. Doing further research into their scammy ways I’ve found multiple threads with hair-raising freelancer horror stories, worthy of a Rubber Onion Podcast episode or two: they withdraw payments, charge double and triple, refuse to let you withdraw your fairly earned money, and in my case, charged me project commission for a project that doesn’t exist. They fully acknowledged the fact, but shifted the blame on me, saying I didn’t run a good enough background check on the employer, and shouldn’t have trusted them… and charged me anyway, a whooping 10 bucks. Not too high a fee for such an interesting experience, but pretty frustrating nevertheless.
So as far as I’m concerned, I will not be working further with this shady, greedy site, and I’d strongly advise anyone else against it. I’ll be exploring other alternatives, and probably writing about them here. I’d love to hear from any of you guys if you had any experience with freelancer.com or any other freelance site.
Update: Seems people keep stumbling upon this post, so I’ll just stick the update here as well. I posted about my unhappiness with freelancer.com both here on the blog and on twitter (don’t know if that had anything to do with the results though). A few days after this post I got contacted by their representative again, since I never marked the issue as resolved. I repeated my complaint, and this time they replied that they looked into the issue further, and out of consideration are not going to charge me the 10 bucks. I’ve not used the site since.