Back to » Love the way you work.

Welcome to the oDesk Community! Connect here with fellow clients, contractors, and oDesk staff. Please review our Usage Policy.

Gaming the system

I just busted someone trying to game the system again. Here is what I did to catch him and what they do to try and scam you.

BTW This is the problem with the rule on why you can't dispute based on quality of work or missed deadlines. It leaves an opening for people to game the system.

Here is what usually seems to happen:

They apply for all jobs any job regardless of whether they can do it.

They start their clock and do things like look at your site, login to it, google some stuff, basically a bunch of screenshots that don't really ever show them actually doing anything. (check your logs and you can see they made no changes, or they have done something that is totally not related to the job)

The point is to make it look to odesk like they were doing something so you can't dispute it.

My postings make it clear that they are supposed to take a look, then give me a game plan before they start working and that they must be available on skype to answer my questions and give me updates.

This is usually where I can catch them the first time. If you get them on skype and get the run around it is a red flag. Good contractors can assess something right away, tell you what they are going to do, give you updated and have no problem being available while they are working to answer questions.

These contractors usually develop communication problems. Like They seemed to not have language issues when you interviewed them but suddenly, you are talking to a martian and they can't answer any simple questions and basic stuff will drag on and on.

Then there are the excuses. Their internet is down, computer down, they got sick, their wife had a baby. It is always something big.

After so many hours of this people usually figure out something isn't right BUT At this point they now have you for a days worth of work or more. The good ones can string you along for days and days before a trusting contractor will finally get it.

And because of the rule, you have to pay them for this.

Here is what I just did to bust a guy:

He failed the skype test, claimed his computer was broken, so I immediately made it so his access level would not allow him to do the things he needed to do. So if he was really trying he would have noticed right away and told me he couldn't make changes. Yet he still was working and had not said anything.

Then I tell him to stop working all together and totally remove his access he starts logging manual hours for work that he would have needed access for. When I pointed out that he was logging time with no access he claims it was for work done before. When I told him he didn't have sufficient access then either, he finally admitted defeat and credited the hours.

It sucks you have to go through this to test people but it is the only way to avoid paying for nothing. I have met some awesome contractors here and treat them very well. I really don't like playing these games.

Odesk needs to make changes to their rules to stop these people. Odesk says that in the real world if someone comes and works for your company, you can fire them at the end of the day but you still have to pay them for the day and that doing a better job at interviewing people will reduce risk.

The problem is, In the real world, people show up and you meet them face to face, get a resume and references who you can call, you can do background checks, etc etc. It is too hard and time consuming to scam someone this way all for a days worth of work, it can be done regularly enough to make it worth it.

As we know, online scammers are lazy and online scams only require a little preparation/foot work, then they can collect over and over without leaving their house. So the logic doesn't really apply to the real world.

On odesk, because of this rule, they can make an entire business model of applying to jobs with a little effort and do quite well.

Of course that flat rates reduce this, and I am pretty much always doing this except for the people I have worked with before.

But there are still a lot of people new to odesk who are getting taken advantage of this way.

I don't think there is a 100% way to stop scammers, but contractors should have more recourse to not pay for work like this. We don't have all the tools necessary to really check someone out and I think if we can prove they did NO work or made something worse, you shouldn't have to pay.

anyone else have different opinions or experiences?

Vote Result

Score: 7.8, Votes: 4

Linda A. wrote:
Never pay hourly, pay fixed fee and no upfronts.

Thats how I do it and 90% of the problems are eliminated.

And the threads you've started here about your "lack of problems" bear that out Stare

One person owes me 200$. I

One person owes me 200$. I can't leave her feedback because I refunded her 2$ of up-front (my pretty stupid decision).

So, tell me, why do you think the same person who owes me 200$ won't do the same thing to other people who accept to work without up-front?

<3 Skrillex

Dani, Linda's strategy will

Dani, Linda's strategy will significantly lower your chances of getting decent contractors (proof - look at her threads on this forum and the contractors she managed to attract with that attitude).

You sound like a great client - testing and checking everything before throwing accusations, even when the con-artist contractors probably deserved being flagged right away (totally unprofessional behavior).

The 'quality of work' rule is there to offer some protection to the contractors who actually do the work - otherwise it'll be too easy for the type of clients who want to get results for free to just claim that the deliverables are not up to par and refuse payment. Quality is somewhat subjective (especially in my field) and if they remove that rule, oDesk will have to be an arbiter in these cases, judging if the work done was worth the payment or not.

However, from your post I think you're talking about some sort of coder/developer's tasks. Usually the result and the goals there can be more clearly defined, so perhaps you can set up a deadline (reasonable time frame for the task), limit the hours right after the deadline (or at first glimpse of suspicious activity), and then dispute on base that the final goal was not achieved at all.

/// Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it's the courage to continue that counts.

Hm, should I ask you to go

Hm, should I ask you to go and prove that I'm stalking you... or should I just start a thread like your new one and report you for slander? If you bothered to check, this is my second or third reply in any of the numerous threads you participate in. I purposely avoid them.

I replied here only because Dani's post made some really valid and well thought out points and questions and I wanted to give my 2 cents. Not because of your reply. So please keep your attitude and your hasty accusations for yourself.

/// Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it's the courage to continue that counts.

not all cases

Thank you, yes I totally don't agree with LindaA. Not all cases warrant flat rates. In some cases with troubleshooting, there is no way to know what is wrong and it is very hard to set flat rates for this. Flat rates are appropriate for a detailed project with a definite beginning and ending. Something someone knows in advance and can deliver in a set time.

As clients we also need to consider our contractors too. It is unfair to a contractor and often can create crappy results if you give them a project that is too much work for the rate and sucks their enthusiasm, they have no motivation to do well. There are benefits to flat rates for Clients, it helps us stay on budget and takes less managing and less worry about being ripped off.

But if I give someone a flat rate and they are unhappy and the results are bad or I have to hire someone else to finish it, its not worth it.

I also find that I like to try small hourly projects with new contractors to see how they do. As someone who can do all the work I am hiring for, I am well aware of how long something takes. SO if I give a contractor an hourly job, I can see very quickly if they are being honest and it is a good way to determine who they are and find good people you can trust.

I have had a few who think I don't know better, and try to pull stuff on me and you can see this right away with an hourly project and it saves you a lot of headaches in the future.

Clients make big mistakes by not considering the contractors and putting a little stock into them. By viewing them as slaves that need to take crap from you, you actually are harming your business and it costs you more in the end.

These kind of clients only are looking to increase their profit and get cheap labor, which is actually devaluing your own business and customer. My customers deserve the best, I don't want unhappy people working for me. People underestimate the effects of energy and how that can impact you. If you have miserable people doing your work it shows, and it brings bad luck and draws crap customers.

Cause and effect. I live my life by it and it serves me well Smile

nothing personal

Nothing personal, we just have different opinions on what works for us. I am so very grateful to have gone from being an employee working for people who who were cruel and abusive, to having my own business doing what I love.

I also know that positive encouragement and positive work environments are more beneficial to a business.

example: I have a contractor who is great. I could tell she was having a bad week made some mistakes and missed a few things. So I increase her pay. And she started to do better.

Positive encouragement we all need it. Employees are human and have bad days too.

You just didn't introduce

You just didn't introduce this system well.
If contractor works on fixed paid job send him at least 1$ up-front (who on Earth will going to scam you for 1$?)
If he is working hourly put a limit of one hour, then raise it to two hours, after that raise it to five hours, of course if contractor is a good worker.
Options are many. You don't need to force anyone to take a risk of not being paid. Maybe you are honest, but some others are not.

<3 Skrillex


Gratitude... is the best attitude. Love your business mantra here! May you find all the success this online world can give Wink

p.s. karma is digital

**rolls eyes**

Linda A. wrote:
Thank You!

I can GUARANTEE you Marissa was talking to Dani, not you!

(That narcissism bug you really should get it checked.)


Smart thinking, Dani.

THAT is the way to get a job done and keep contractors wanting to work for you. Nobody wants to work for little money and with someone who only thinks about themselves.

***Don't pay any mind to Linda. She's an attention seeker who needs to spout out her sociopathic, narcissistic BS just to hear herself talk.

Do you go extra mile to make

Do you go extra mile to make your boss satisfied, or your customers if you are your own boss?

<3 Skrillex

Quality Workers

Hard workers are hard to find and the internet is full of scammers so I understand where Linda's rules apply... I hope you really do have a balance with regards to your good contractors.

I wanted to point out though that there are programs that check for plagiarism in articles (copyscape). I have used it to check before paying out per article for contractors. Some contractors offer to use their own account and send a report which is a great way to check. One good way to keep them happy is to pay the job in pieces rather then an overall goal as that will keep someone working... much like hourly does Wink

You pay peanuts you get

You pay peanuts you get monkeys. Let me guess you hired almost the lowest bidder. Shame on you!

you talking to me?

Are you asking me?

I choose the most qualified person that meets my requirements. I shy away from people that are too cheap, just happens to be that the last few times it was a cheaper contractor who ended up fixing issues after someone failed.

I had someone on another post point out that I am only paying someone $12. But you don't see regular bonuses and that they have been paid $11,000 so far. With any contractor who I have used regularly, they get increase and bonuses and I keep them regularly working with fun people.

so no judge ok Smile

Yes I was talking to you. I

Yes I was talking to you. I have a local job that pays the equivalent of billing $50 per hour on oDesk. So the $12 you are offering is next to nothing and you'll be mostly scraping the bottom of the barrel at that rate.

Well, all clients have an

Well, all clients have an option to put a limit of 1-2 hours and then ask the contractor to send them their work, a draft. If that's not good don't allow him more hours. Isn't it simple?

<3 Skrillex