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Escrow and oDesk: Questions, answers, concerns & feedback

To our valued oDeskers - we hope you know that we listen to what you say. We really, really do. We read your posts, we talk about them internally, and we respond the best we can. But, sometimes, we don’t do the greatest job communicating what we’re thinking. So, please accept our apologies and give us a chance to answer your questions about why oDesk does not offer escrow.

The issue of escrow has been raised by some oDesk users. We know this a big deal for both Clients who rightly expect to receive the work they paid for and Contractors who rightly expect to be paid for their work. However, after much consideration, we don’t think escrow is the best solution to an important concern.

For escrow to serve its purpose, you need a real, competent human being to serve as judge and jury, and this costs money, which is why other sites charge significant fees when a project goes into arbitration. Unfortunately, moderation often comes down to “he said, she said” accusations, and our sense is that the system tends to favor the buyer - “I didn’t get what I wanted” is difficult to disprove. In all but the most straightforward cases, the losing side will feel cheated, especially after having paid an extra fee for arbitration.

We avoid the pitfalls of escrow by offering (and strongly recommending!) hourly contracts, which allow us to deliver on the oDesk Guarantee that an hour worked is an hour paid, and vice versa. This protects everyone’s interests while helping to build business relationships and create long-lasting online work partnerships...and that’s what oDesk is all about.

We also take an active role in managing and protecting all oDeskers from bad users. Contractors are highly encouraged to notify us if a client fails to pay them for work done on fixed-price contracts. A contractor can flag the client for non-payment before or after a fixed-price job is closed. We review every flag and remove the client if abuse is found.

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