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Suspensions and keeping oDesk a safe and professional workplace for everyone

Hi oDeskers,

After reading through your posts on suspensions, we’d like to share the background on some recent suspension activity—the actions taken, why, and how we are improving the whole process.

Of the three million registered contractors and more than 500,000 clients on oDesk, the vast majority are hard-working, dedicated professionals. It’s our responsibility to maintain a safe and prosperous workplace for all the honest people who depend on oDesk for their livelihood.

When a minority of users perform poorly, the entire community suffers. Good clients who had a bad experience leave, taking their jobs with them. And those clients tell others about their bad experience, and so on, and so on. So suspending poor performers is something we must do to maintain a high standard of workplace quality.

First, here is a quick explanation of the types of behaviors that result in suspensions and restrictions.

  • Violations of policies. Common policy violations include spamming applications, using a false identity on a profile, and claiming another person’s work as your own. Depending on the violation, we will either issue a warning or restrict a user’s activity. In most cases, restricted accounts will be reactivated when the user fixes the violation and assures us it won’t happen again. For serious cases such as fraud, the account may not be reinstated. For more details, take a look our policies pages.
  • Poor performance. Poor performance is defined as a consistent history of non-delivery of work, poor communication, or delivering work clients find unacceptable. We restrict or suspend these accounts only after determining that their poor performance is negatively impacting the overall workplace. Account reactivation is on a case-by-case basis following a full review of the user’s performance. In some cases, funds are put on hold while the account is being investigated and are released once any active contracts are successfully completed.
  • Fraudulent activity. Fraud—illegal activities like account takeovers, collusion, and coercion—is rare, but when it happens we take it very seriously. When fraud is suspected, we act quickly to protect users by halting all work and financial transactions while we investigate. Fraud is the one case in which funds may be reversed and returned to a client.
  • Now, onto how we’re working to improve how we handle these cases. We know that suspension mistakes have been made in the past and we haven’t always responded quickly enough or with the appropriate information. Which is why we’re committed to doing better by addressing these three areas:

    1. Faster response time
    2. Better information from our customer support team
    3. Improved education

    Faster response times:
    Researching suspension cases can entail a complex investigation and we have not always been able to respond in a timely manner. We apologize and are hiring and training customer support staff as quickly as possible in order to speed up our response times.

    Better information:
    We are also working to improve the information we provide to make it more clear about what triggered the suspension, the specific policy that was violated, and what needs to be done to address the suspension. We now have a specialized team responding to suspension tickets. This team is specifically trained for support and will ensure the communication on ticket status is clear and helpful. (Please note that when fraud is involved we may not be able to share all details, as these details could be part of an ongoing investigation.)

    Improved education:
    Our policies and guidelines are being revised to be more visible, clear and understandable, so that well-meaning contractors don’t get suspended for honest mistakes. This improved educational material will be updated on the site by early April.

    Your feedback has played a vital role in helping us understand what we need to do better. As we continue to make improvements, thanks for your time, understanding, and continued feedback.

    All the best,
    The oDesk Crew

    Vote Result

    ++++++++--
    Score: 8.6, Votes: 44
    Thanks for listening. Might

    Thanks for listening. Might I also suggest that -instead of having to go in through the 'front door' of support- suspended account-holders get an address to drill straight through to the team/people responsible...this will save everybody a lot of time.

    Thank you very much!

    Thank you oDesk! It's fantastic to see that "you" are listening to your contractors and are putting in place measures to improve matters for those unfortunate few who do find themselves in trouble. I think we all understand that such cases are rare, and the exception. It's just that for those who ARE affected, it must be such a terrifying experience, which is what led us to ask for a response in the first place!

    I also like the open and direct tone of the response. Those of us who may have expected some wishy-washy non-response have been well and truly proved wrong on this occasion. Well done!

    Furthermore I second Darren's suggestion. If suspended account holders could go straight through to their "own" fully trained "case manager" that would cut down on wasted support time (and therefor money) and improve the process further.

    I am impressed with this response!

    I think that has been

    I think that has been covered, "We now have a specialized team responding to suspension tickets."

    Thank you oDesk for listening!

    "Specialised team" doesn't

    "Specialised team" doesn't necessarily mean that you can get straight through to them. If you have to go through support and then get escalated to the right person, then that adds an extra step and is wasteful. If you include -for example- an email address of the "case manager" with the suspension notice, the suspended person can go straight through to the right person...meanwhile that leaves the frontline support free to get on with supporty things.

    i agree with Darren, there

    i agree with Darren, there should be a separate "process" for suspensions - they are, after all, "special cases".

    with regards oDesk's latest response to the current issue, i find this better than the "feel good" reply that i was expecting - looks like oDesk took the time to elaborate. good job!

    "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
    Try harder, or care less.

    Bravo, oDesk!

    Petra R. wrote:
    I also like the open and direct tone of the response. Those of us who may have expected some wishy-washy non-response have been well and truly proved wrong on this occasion. Well done!

    Yes, the tone and content of the response is spot on!! Excellent move oDesk!

    Great to see that you guys

    Great to see that you guys are paying attention to our concerns. I agree with Darren, perhaps forwarding suspended accounts and all communication about them straight to the people who are dealing with the suspension will save a lot of time and nerves - no point in going through support if they don't have the answers.

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

    Further,

    the contractor should be notified as the action is being taken on the account, instead of leaving it for the contractor to haphazardly discover the suspension. For many of the common reasons (not concerning fraud) it would be optimal if that initial email included as much information as possible, especially the proper contacts and steps to take (it seems that much of this could be automated, after all. For some common situations, that is. Obviously, not all).

    Communication on something like this should not start via the contractor contacting support upon discovering the issue. Communication should start at the time of suspension and come from the proper (apparently new) oDesk team.

    Overall, though, this response from oDesk is worthy of applause. Smile

    Great response from oDesk

    Thank you!

    Good suggestion from Darren, as usual Smile

    -Darren- J. wrote:
    Thanks for listening. Might I also suggest that -instead of having to go in through the 'front door' of support- suspended account-holders get an address to drill straight through to the team/people responsible...this will save everybody a lot of time.

    Financial Account Suspended

    My account suspended before 12 days ago, now i successfully completed job ,client give me all 5 star , but its still suspended , my earning still on my account i want to get back it, i have work hard nearly 50 hour please help me to get it back.

    Thanks

    Good to hear! Response much

    Good to hear! Response much appreciated.

    Odesk Suspend the account

    *****

    Odesk Now suspend the contractor account with the above the writing email. as its not the right way to proceed.

    As odesk block all the payments of contractors its really not legal.

    *[Removed by Admin]

    Why you people suspend this

    Why you people suspend this user ?????. Who gave odesk permission to hold the payment of the contractor ? ( which of your policies gave u permission to take contractors hard earned money. If one of her active client give a bad feedback . Odesk will get the money in contractors account ?). The above user have 3 good rating and just 1 bad feedback from a bad client . What is the security of our earning in odesk accounts then?

    There is enough bad client in odesk , go and clean them first and with just one bad feedback you people start suspending contractors here

    How we can trust odesk and keep our earnings?
    Serious illegal activity ?

    I wish someone from USA sue odesk for this . They think they can do whathever they like in this service market place . Show some commonsense please and start giving proper training to your specialized customer service ...

    Joby

    That letter was not addressed to her but to someone she knows. She wrote this in another thread. We have no idea who this 'other person' is or what his/her feedback is. All I know is, it is not the person who entered the comment. So you can calm down now.

    (No subject)

    Innocent

    Thank you

    Thank you for the information, Monica. We appreciate the response, given how serious a suspension is. Without any information from oDesk, we would have kept on worrying about whether we'll be next.

    Poor performance

    How is poor performance defined by the odesk suspension team? If let's say you have 4 active clients, 99% good reviews and 1 client complains, will your account be suspended pending review? What will happen to the work for the other 3 clients (who may be happy)?

    Here

    Maria F. wrote:
    How is poor performance defined by the odesk suspension team?

    Here is how it is defined:
    Quote:

    Poor performance is defined as a consistent history of non-delivery of work, poor communication, or delivering work clients find unacceptable. We restrict or suspend these accounts only after determining that their poor performance is negatively impacting the overall workplace. Account reactivation is on a case-by-case basis following a full review of the user’s performance. In some cases, funds are put on hold while the account is being investigated and are released once any active contracts are successfully completed.

    let me get this straight

    So you first decide that the performance is bad, you suspend, then you do "a full review of the user’s performance". Shouldn't that review come before? This is like the police arresting everybody on the street where a murder was committed and then starting the actual investigation.

    Then there's this thing with "funds are put on hold while the account is being investigated". If I have 10 clients that were happy and decided to pay and 5 that complain, you decision to without the 10 for the 2 is in fact theft.

    The idea in itself is not bad. Something must be done with poor performers. However said procedure will be implemented by Odesk employees who, in the past, have delivered a looong list of epic fails. So my trust level is not particularly high ...

    Suspension

    I totally agree with Maria F.-Thanks!

    Got it

    Thanks for this information. My brother faced the same problem. he is all tensed and worried. Because his team is working in odesk. And his more than 600 dollars are balanced and around 500 is pending. He is getting sick just thinking on this issue. He shared all the issues with me few days back. He also apologize on that ticket and also promised that he will never do any kind of mistake, he will never get any more bad feedback and no more disputes will be there. oDesk wanted him to end all the current jobs successfully with good review and he did that also. he thought his issue will be resolved but oDesk is saying that his issue has been submitted to another department. All I am trying to say. There are works he couldn't submit good work. may be 10 out of 50. But also there are works where he did fantastic. And the ratio to good:bad= 3:1. And the main part is he understand his mistakes and promised that he won't do anything wrong that will impact badly on oDesk. So, is there any chance if he gets a chance to work on odesk soon. Cause I saw him how happy he was with oDesk. He can't stay without work and now he is out of work for 4-5 days. He always recommend other people and his friends to join oDesk.

    this is what I am afraid of

    This is what I am talking about. Conclusion is don't keep extra money on Odesk.

    That's called damage control.

    That's called damage control.

    Great to see the improvement

    Appreciated and its always good to know (and see) that oDesk is working/ developing constantly to maintain high standard. Thanks Monica. Now, I want you look on something, which is when a hacker hacked an ac, the user complains and oDesk suspend AE temporarily. And starts to investigate to get the fraud. It takes time, like even more than a month. During this time, when hacker finds out that its impossible to steal money from the ac, its possible, he might take attempts to damage the profile by ending contract, sending annoying message to clients etc. Because, hacker still in charge of that ac. So can oDesk do something about it?

    However, again, thanks for sharing this post.

    Thanks oDesk

    Thanks oDesk To Improve The System and Very Very Thanks For
    Faster response time
    Better information from our customer support team
    Improved education

    node is very good for all of us

    i really appreciate odesk steps to keep odesk better and secure place for us to work with thanks odesk.

    Quality Control

    This is a nice first move in making sure Odesk attracts both quality clients and contractors. I hope that you will also find ways in weeding out spam job posts, plus incorporate a dispute resolution process in the system so that we don't see clients-contractors posting rants/complaints in the forums. Instead, they can resolve their conflict peacefully somewhere else. Good Luck.

    how?

    Marissa S. wrote:
    ... plus incorporate a dispute resolution process in the system so that we don't see clients-contractors posting rants/complaints in the forums. Instead, they can resolve their conflict peacefully somewhere else.

    this didn't exactly make sense. if it's a process, the only thing i can think up is escrow, and we already know that can't be - at least for now (so they say). if they wanted to resolve those disputes they could always do it privately, through communications via their respective emails or the message center. and if you're referring to a separate board for conflict resolution, i don't think that's gonna help either. unless there is a specific rule in the forums saying that conflicts will not and cannot be posted we'll always see rants and complaints about them.

    "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
    Try harder, or care less.

    On Disputes

    I'm not just talking about getting paid on time, but also -- other conflicts that may arise, like the client changing scope of work midway in the project and refusing to pay the contractor if s/he demands for a pay increase and other disputes. Odesk can either create its own dispute resolution center which comes with binding agreement recognized in these countries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Recognition_and_Enforcement_of_Foreign_Arbitral_Awards

    or, get a third-party ADR (alternative dispute resolution) service and implement it on its site. I think Paypal is already doing this.

    sounds interesting, but looks

    sounds interesting, but looks costly. not sure if members will welcome the added expense, in case oDesk decides to implement those features - especially the third party ADR. i'm sure that won't come for free.

    "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
    Try harder, or care less.

    ADR is allowed as per oDesk

    ADR is allowed as per oDesk User Agreement.

    What if I have 49 great feedback & only have 1 negative feedback

    What if I have 49 great feedback & only have 1 negative feedback?

    How can i have a bad performance there???? I received an email from Customer Satisfaction Team and they are telling me i have high amount of disputes, client complaints, chargebacks, or low feedback scores!

    If this is true, I should not have 49 great feedback from my clients!!!!

    THAT EMAIL REALLY OFFENDED ME!

    take a look of my work histories here!!!
    https://www.odesk.com/users/~01ef0bb68b29b2454f

    Hi Jan, Indeed your profile

    Hi Jan,
    Indeed your profile seems not bad. And there will always be unsatisfied clients whatever you do.

    I feel more and more worried about all these new updates. I love odesk, and I hope I won't have to leave it!

    Yes, I know there are some

    Yes, I know there are some unsatisfied clients under my services but in the end, they ended up happy to my work! This is the secret that i have lots of great feedback from my clients, some clients defended me of having a 1 negative feedback if you try reading all of my client's feedback.