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Thread: How can i make sure that my web programming contractor is providing me what i am payi

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    How can i make sure that my web programming contractor is providing me what i am payi

    I am working on a project with a web programming company in India for almost 4 months now. The project when it started had a timeline of 5 months with 3 developers, 2 senior and 1 mid level and a part time designer. I have been paying on monthly basis for the resources. My contact person is an account manager in the company for this entire duration. I have not been introduced to the team who is working yet.

    We are now at end of month 4 and as far as I can see the work is only 50% complete if that much. And the progress also makes me think that maybe they do not have the resources on the project that they claim are on the project. And now since the project will take longer than 5 months i have to pay more than what i initially budgeted which is frustrating for me.

    Below are something that i need input on:

    The worklog i got from them have a few items below are these justified?

    Login Module took 32 Hours
    The registration process which has a registration form along with activation process via email and then confirmation welcome email took 25 Hours
    Creating a facebook style wall for posting status with “More” feature to load more statuses in async mode. this took 50 Hours

    Are the above hours justified? They do not make sense to me as for me i thought login and registration along should not take more than a day max 2.

    Some explanation here and what could I ask to make sure I am getting what i am paying for will help.

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  3. #2
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Depending on the complexity of the registration form, then yes, that shouldn't take more than a day or two. Two is if the registration form is a multi-part form and requires several fields and has other complications to deal with (e.g. fields dependent on other fields, custom checkbox information, validation such as "check at least 2 of the following", etc.)

    The Facebook style wall can be complicated. I've done something like this, and it's a bugger...mostly due to cross-browser issues and whether or not you're using a WYSIWYG editor for the posting. That very well could have taken 50 hours, depending on what exactly you wanted and how complex it is. I'm not going to say it "is" justified because it depends on what exactly you want for features. I'm not going to say it isn't either, though.
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    Senior Member kralcx's Avatar
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    In the future you might want to set a fixed price and make payments based on select milestones vs. just paying hourly. This is especially true if you are unsure of what's being done and how long it should take to complete. Also in the future you may want to use a service such as Elance; they offer a little more protection than just going it alone (never use ODesk...I hate ODesk...they robbed me for almost a grand).

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    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Can you elaborate more on the "robbery"? I'm legitimately curious and I'm sure others are as well.
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    Senior Member kralcx's Avatar
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    As far a ODesk goes; I was the client and I had paid a 50% deposit to my contractor when ODesk shut down my account. I later learned that ODesk shut down my account and my contractor's account at the same time right after the money was sent. So the money is still under ODesk's control because they shut down the account so my contractor was unable to withdraw the money. Due to circumstances beyond my contractor's control we both agreed to just cancel the project and I vowed to never use ODesk again. When I asked for my money back (paid via credit card) ODesk said they can't do that because I sent the money to the contractor, but they admit to shutting down his account just like they shut down my account. So I called my credit card to have them issue a charge back; to my surprise ODesk convinced the credit card bank that the money had been transferred to the contractor even though ODesk shut down the account. In other words ODesk still has the money and they have never denied that fact to me! So because ODesk convinced my credit card bank that nothing was wrong I got stuck paying almost a thousand dollars for no service and all the money went straight into ODesk's pockets!

    The thing that is so sickening to me is that ODesk does not deny that they have my money; they just refuse to give it back to me! ODesk has also refused to give a reason for closing both accounts!

    In my opinion ODesk is following a similar business model that Paypal has used successfully for many years. Paypal closes thousands of accounts a day, holds the money, and forces the person to wait (6 months if their lucky) to get their money back. Paypal makes a lot of money this way, either thru straight theft or holding large sums of money and playing with the interest. http://www.paypalsucks.com/

    It appears ODesk has tweaked Paypal's business model a little, yet this new model of thievery seems just as successful. If you're ODesk why take a percentage when you can steal the whole thing! I have a feeling I am not the only one ODesk has done this too.

    This happened to me on July 5, 2013 and as of today ODesk still has the money, still acknowledges they have the money, still have both accounts closed, and thru my credit card I am responsible to pay this bill for absolutely NO service rendered!

  7. #6
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Okay...I have a tough time buying that story. oDesk does a lot of strange things, and I have personal suspicions pertaining to them from the contractor side that I'll get into at a later date, but one thing I can say about them is that they don't just shut down accounts. I've had one for over four years now, and they don't do that...they just don't.

    Think about it...they take 10% of every transaction that occurs through them, and you made a 50% deposit on a contract (which obviously is a fixed-price contract). You say "paying almost $1000", so let's say you're talking $990 (since $900 + oDesk's 10% = $990.00, so the math works out well for this example). So if they pocket all of that money outright, they're up $900 from where they'd normally be if they were "ethical" (not $990, because they were getting the $90 either way).

    Now...you said this was a 50% deposit on what appears to be a fixed-price contract, something that oDesk offers as an "as-is" service for all practical intents and purposes. Yes, you can put fixed-price jobs up there and yes, oDesk takes 10% on top of what the contractor charges, but they also state outright that there's no guarantee of payment for the contractor, nothing promised from either side, and if there's a dispute the two parties are on their own. While most of the risk is assumed by the contractor, there is something of a "buyer beware" implication here as well. You really should have used the hourly option here for three reasons:

    1) You can see exactly what your contractor is doing.
    2) The contractor is guaranteed to get paid, assuming the contractor isn't screwing the pooch (which is usually pretty obvious from within the oDesk setup).
    3) oDesk is a whole lot less likely to shut down an account with an hourly contractor in it for the reason I'm going to get into below.

    SIDE NOTE: I'm not second-guessing you here...if you had told me this before you hired the contractor, I would have suggested paying hourly through oDesk. It's actually a lot less risky that way if you know how to set up the contract, set up the hours (you can cap a contractor's hours) and do it properly.

    Now, back to the point. Let's go back to your math of oDesk being up $900 based on them scamming you. But let's take a look at what could have happened had you two completed the contract through oDesk...as in the contractor put forth the effort and everything went the way you would have expected it to. Since you paid a 50% deposit, there's another 50% that comes due at the conclusion of the project. Since the math is really easy here, $90 is their cut, so they're now up $810.

    And at this point, we get to the reason I really don't believe this story...the conclusion of the contract. For those of you who don't know how oDesk works, there's a "double blind" rating system that concludes each contract. Each party can rate the other and doesn't see the rating on the oDesk.com site, so there's no way to know whether employee gave contractor a bad rating or vice versa. If a deal works out well, both sides generally review positively, which is exactly what oDesk wants to see...they want to see good business conducted between two people, and have a vested interest in that result. Why? Because oDesk adds 10% onto every transaction conducted on their site. So it's to their benefit to see a positive transaction...a positive transaction leads to positive reviews, which leads to both more business for the contractor (at 10%) and more contractors for the employer to hire (at 10%). On top of that, the positive review is something that is used by oDesk as a filtering mechanism; employers and employees with positive reviews can be filtered out, leading to more work for them.

    Going back to the math, they would need the contractor and/or the employer to do another $8100 worth of business on oDesk in order to recuperate that which they would have lost via their own ethics, which given their system isn't all that difficult to do. A decent contract can generate that level of work over the course of a year or so. And it doesn't have to be one side...the contractor could generate say $5000 and the employer $3100, for example.

    So no, I don't believe your story as presently constructed. They might shut down one account if they suspect something, and I've seen that done...or they temporarily pause a contract due to low funds...I've seen that done as well. They don't just randomly shut down accounts, and they definitely don't just shut down the accounts for both parties of a transaction.

    This part also makes me suspicious of your motives:
    Due to circumstances beyond my contractor's control we both agreed to just cancel the project and I vowed to never use ODesk again.
    So you paid a guy 50%, both accounts got shut down "right after the money was sent", agreed to cancel the contract for circumstances beyond the contractor's control (which would have had to happen after both accounts were shut down based on your story)? Do you not see why that would look strange to anyone objective?

    There's something more to your story than what you've told us, or something you told us that isn't true. I don't know what that is, and I don't really care what it is...but the bottom line and the only thing that matters is that your version of events and reality are two different things.

    As far as PayPal goes...pretty much the same thing. They have issues, and I'm not going to say they don't. But you can't last as long as they do by "stealing people's money" and getting away with it. They've been around way too long for that to be their business model...if it were, they would have long since been exposed conclusively and they'd be done. There really isn't anything more that needs to be said here.
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    Senior Member kralcx's Avatar
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    It's your right not to believe me if you don't want too, although I don't know why, I am not a competitor to ODesk and you asked me to tell you what had happened. ODesk did just shut the accounts down. If ODesk doesn't want to do business with me I don't have a problem with that, but they kept the money; that I have a problem with.

    Hourly option wouldn't have made a difference (more importantly I didn't want to use an hourly option); I don't have a problem with the contractor I have a problem with ODesk.

    Sorry Game, I normally respect your opinion and logical, but not this time. Your conclusions just are not logical at all. How you concluded the contractor and employer need to do another $8,100 worth of business to recuperate what they would have lost makes no sense at all. ODesk just took almost a $1,000 period; no ratings, no reviews, both accounts closed. The money is sitting in the contractor's account but it is of no use to him or me because the account is closed and transfers are not possible.

    Anybody reasonable that uses a service, like ODesk, transfers money to a contractor and then both accounts get shut down. It would be very reasonable to ask for the money back. I of course asked ODesk first what was wrong and to re open the account; ODesk refused. Only a fool would not try to get their money back. From my point of view when ODesk closed the accounts it looked like ODesk was trying to scam me.

    Game, the way you talk it is as if you have an interest in ODesk. I don't know if you do or not, but that is how you come across. You asked me what had happened, you refused to believe it, and then came up with psedo-science as to how it would be unlikely for ODesk to do such a thing.

    When I mentioned Paypal once again you just can't believe such a thing is possible. Even though Paypal has been doing business that way for years. Paypal isn't regulated like a bank and it's a numbers game. Thousands get screwed but overall it's a very small percentage. The media doesn't report on it so the average person doesn't know about it. I gave you a link to a website about paypal; I guess all those people and people that I know personally that have been screwed by Paypal are all wrong too! Because you haven't been screwed by ODesk I guess it can't possibly happen to anyone else!
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    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    The reason I don't believe you is because your story as you have outlined it to us doesn't make sense and that there's a very large piece of missing and/or incorrect information. oDesk doesn't shut down accounts right after they start, and especially right after they've paid...they just don't. You can call my explanation pseudo-science if you like, but the bottom line is they don't. if they did, they wouldn't have lasted at least the past four years for the simple reason that too many people would have gotten too wise to them and they would have shut the thing down (or had it shut down) by now. They've clearly taken a long-term approach with their business model, not a short-term one.

    Maybe your contractor was doing something you didn't know about. Maybe your account was "closed" due to lack of funds or an issue with your credit card (it's not actually "closed" but in a state of suspension that's easily enough resolved). Maybe your job was for something it wasn't supposed to be for. I don't know, and I'm not going to speculate other than that "there's something else you haven't told us". If everything had happened exactly as you explained it, you'd have every right to be pissed off, but it didn't.

    The same logic goes for PayPal. I won't say they don't have issues...among other things, they've got an e-commerce API that has two entirely different developer manuals for it. The rants and raves on paypalsucks.com have been there for several years now, and yet they're still standing. Why? The rants and raves come from tinfoil hat wearers, low-grade businesspeople who are quite often doing something pretty shady, and people who have at best a fifth-grade education. It's pretty much the same as listening to people who claim "Google is Evil"...if you really pay attention to the people that are making those sorts of claims and why they're making them, it completely invalidates anything they're saying.

    I have no interest in oDesk and I make no money from defending it here. I have a few clients on there in the short run, and that's it...I'm planning on getting rid of it myself. I also have a suspicion about something they're doing. But again, your story is flawed.
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    Senior Member kralcx's Avatar
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    All of your speculations on why the account could have been closed are wrong! The bottom line is you don't believe it is possibly for ODesk or Paypal to do something unethical or borderline illegal.

    Anyone that breaks with your view of the world in your mind is a conspiracy theorist.

    I only answered your question about what had happened to me with ODesk because you had asked. I see now that was a waste of my time!

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    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I never said it wasn't possible. What I said is that you didn't tell a complete, factual account of events. Let me state this plainly and clearly...oDesk doesn't, under normal circumstances, do things the way you laid them out. If they were going to shut down accounts after an initial transfer, they would have done it to me four years ago. They would have done it to everyone that has hired me on the site four years ago. They would have done it to the seven active contracts that are there right now on oDesk for me. They haven't yet, and they're probably not ever going to.

    Something else that you probably don't know, and this is something that I personally hate by the way...oDesk just announced that all contractors will have the funds in their accounts automatically sent to their primary method of withdrawal (PayPal, bank account, etc.) at least once a month if the contractor's balance exceeds $1000. I can personally verify that they do this, as I had a balance that high and they sent the money to my PayPal account. I didn't need the money at the time and I wanted to build it up before withdrawing it so as to minimize the impact of the withdrawal fee (it's only $1.00, but why pay it twice when you can pay it once?) So they're not sitting on large sums of contractor money, either...not like that. They clear it out. Like I said, I hate this policy and they just introduced it a few months ago, but if they were going to horde money, that's an easy way to do it. This is one of the reasons I'm personally looking to drop oDesk at some point in the not-too-distant future. But that reason also renders the whole "they horde money and steal it" invalid.

    Here's something else to consider...you couldn't get the money refunded to your card. Little-known, yet extremely important fact about credit card disputes...burden of proof lies with the merchant, and by default banks will side in favor of the holder of the card. That means that, as soon as you filed a dispute with the issuing bank, you got dealer's odds at the casino. You were the heavy favorite. You don't have to do a thing other than make a reasonably cogent argument to the bank and they'll take your side...unless of course, oDesk can prove that a satisfactory transaction took place and that you were a knowing and willing participant. They can't just go to the issuing bank and say "yes, he paid for this service and here's what we did". They have to show that you used your credit card, that you supplied the CVV2 number, that the IP address geolocates to at least a reasonable proximity of your own address, they have to show whether or not you're entitled to a refund under any refund policies they may have, and in general they have to supply enough evidence for someone objective to say "yeah, they proved that this is a legitimate transaction." They can't just come up with a plausible-sounding story to convince your bank...banks aren't that stupid. They have to back it up. So if you lose that argument and the bank doesn't refund the money to you (something they have a vested interest in doing), it means that oDesk's case has to be much stronger than yours and there has to be a reason for that.

    Just to add a little more to that, something else that people don't know is that a lot US banks hold a very dim view of freelance contracting, particularly offshore contracting. I'm not sure if your contractor was offshore, but I can tell you for a fact that if you have a dispute with an offshore contractor based on service not provided and you file it with your issuing bank, the US bank will refund the money to your card within 24-48 hours and require the contractor to provide proof before the money is taken back out. I saved a client of mine over $5,000 because of a similar situation.

    So like I said, your story isn't true. Either you're not telling us something or you're misunderstanding something. Maybe your contractor was doing something shady on oDesk and you were guilty by association. Maybe you cut a deal with this contractor or someone else outside of oDesk before the accounts were frozen. Maybe your contractor did that. Maybe you both did it on some level. Maybe they thought the job was illegitimate for some reason. I don't know. I could speculate all day, but it's pointless. You may or may not know yourself (my suspicion is that you do, but it's just that...suspicion). Whatever the case may be, you lost money and you probably deserved to.

    I've never said that companies like oDesk and PayPal can't operate unethically. I've never said that they can't do anything illegal. Any company can. The problem is that the people who are making these sorts of claims are providing absolutely no real proof or evidence, and these companies exist in the full scope of the eye of an excessively paranoid David vs. Goliath society. paypalsucks.com has been around for several years now. So has PayPal. You would think that a site devoted to bringing PayPal down would have done it by now if the site and its members could have compiled even the slightest bit of sufficient evidence. Any lawyer or politician looking to advance his/her career would jump all over the opportunity to bring a company such as PayPal to its knees. This hasn't happened yet, and until it does there's no way any sane human being should subscribe to this sort of thinking.
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