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Fix price project and how to deal with it

I am often crawling here on forum where contractors share their bad experience regarding fixed price projects. Typically it looks like this: Contractor gets fixed price project and employer is responsive, interested when will be delivery, promises lot of work to follow AFTER you finish, talks about mutual confidence and honesty etc.... After the job is finished , guy just disappears leaving you without any payment.
I will give few advices regarding this:

1) check if he's paying method is verified (don't even start to work if it is not).
2) does he have a history? e.g. if he had lot of successful contracts ended and feedback is ok, he is probably not a cheater
3) ask for symbolic advancement payment. This one is good. e.g. Minimal advancement payment request is 4% of the whole projects price. So , for 50$ worth project ,you could ask for 2$ advancement payment. The only way how you could leave him a feedback is if there was at least 1$ payed so this gives you chance to give worst possible feedback in case that employer chose not to pay. It will not help you get your whole amount of cash back but at least "employer" will be stop in taking advantage on one employer after another. If employer says that he doesn't want to pay you 2$ in advance cause he was scammed before(e.g. payed in advance but didn't get the work done) , tell him that's the reason why you ask only for symbolic value (in this example 2$). After all, if employer don't have confidence in you for 2$ why you should have confidence and give him 50$ worth of work?

I am curious to hear your experience on this topic.

Vote Result

Score: 10.0, Votes: 5
Totally agree on this

Totally agree on this topic... even though I'm still trying to get my 1st real contract here, I've already seen many things that you, Milos, describe well in your post.

As I'm mainly into graphics and logo design, along with data conversion jobs, I've been trying to secure my work from day one.

How, you may ask? Well, as for the graphics, all the employer needs to see is a mockup (preview) picture of what you're capable of doing.. no need to send him full-layered PSD file that he can alter any way he wants to, instead send him ordinary flattened image protected with your own watermark (a semi-transparent line of text or symbols) over crucial parts. This way the employer can see whether you meet his requirements and can point out to (eventual) corrections before accepting the final version. At the same time, he cannot get away with your art before paying you out cause the preview-picture is 'spoiled' with your protective watermark.
Since you're presenting (almost finished) product, he's gonna be more willing to accept your demand for payment before releasing final unprotected version of the same picture to him.

The same applies to video-producers, after-effects wizards, audio-producers, voice-over jockeys, etc.

Data entry is a bit more tricky when it comes to locking up your data, but still is feasible.. Word and Excel files can be password protected, read-only. You can always go for print-to-PDF option, where you fire up all the security restrictions leaving the employer with a read-only.. quite enough to see what you've typed in, sorting applied, etc. and pick you among dozens of the applied contractors..

Haven't considered the other types of jobs on odesk, but I guess there are ways to protect your work from fix price projects scammers..

Thanks Dalibor, that's great

Thanks Dalibor, that's great advice for everybody who is dealing with graphic stuff!

50% upfront

I disagree with symbolic payment option. It is not helping much if the job is done professionally, and employer does not pay. It just happened to me recently, the man is con artist. Bad feedback can not hurt him, since he is still hiring, with several worst feedback reports in the record. 50% upfront can save you from total loss. And 50% upfront is fair deal. Why should you trust employer more than he is trusting you? Especially if you have great feedback.

Before you had applied for

Before you had applied for job that employer already had at least two 1 star feedbacks. One of those feedbacks said something like: "Very bad experience to work with him, we had have ever. Abusing..." and interestingly it was for similar job you have applied.
Obviously that should raise a red flag and result in asking 50% or more upfront. Personally , I would never apply to a job where employer has two or more 1 star feedbacks.
Symbolic payment is there to mark bad employers so others can evade them but I agree that's useless if contractors continue to apply for jobs even if there are some very negative experiences in the employer's history.

Fixed Price Project Feedback

I wonder how my employers can leave me feedback every month without ending the contract? I have 3 great employers and I have been working for one for the last 5 months and the other for 2 months now. Mr. 5 Months comments are great in the payments portion, but I believe it doesn't show in the feedback portion. Is there a way they can give me a review without ending the contract? I believe neither one of us want to end the contract just to get a review. I have a great working relationship with them. Thanks!

Louella, I think that getting

Louella, I think that getting feedback is possible only at the end of contract and it will be shown on screen in case that you were payed at least $1. Why you would want feedback at the end of each month? Feedback should be overall impression of your work for a specific employer during the time you had contract.