Freelancer.com is an Australian company operating in most countries around the globe.
The 3 things that Freelancer.com advertises about any payments (called milestone payments or milestones in their system) you make into their system are:
1) “Safe and Secure. We hold your milestones until you decide to release them.”
2) “Refundable if you are dissatisfied and the milestone is not yet released.”
3) “Controlled by you. Release them only if you are 100% satisfied.”
Based on Australian Law (and US), Australian businesses are barred from creating false or misleading impressions through their advertising, websites, etc…:
“Businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.
This rule applies to their advertising, their product packaging, and any information provided to you by their staff or online shopping services. It also applies to any statements made by businesses in the media or online, such as testimonials on their websites or social media pages.
It makes no difference whether the business intended to mislead you or not. If the overall impression left by a business’s advertisement, promotion, quotation, statement or other representation creates a misleading impression in your mind—such as to the price, value or the quality of any goods and services—then the behaviour is likely to breach the law.” -https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/misleading-claims-advertising/false-or-misleading-claims
I paid $640 for a web development job that was to take 15 days according to our contract. 3 weeks after the job was supposed to be completed, the worker had not even completed a single webpage. During the 5+ weeks I worked with him, he continually lied to me about what work was completed, about when updates would be made, or about when he would contact me. Many times he said “be back in an hour” and 3 days later he would respond without an update to show. After 5 weeks of this behavior I could tolerate his unprofessionalism and lack of respect no longer.
In accordance with the advertised policies at Freelancer.com, I immediately requested a refund from the staff at Freelancer.com. They refused. What happened to my money being “safe and secure”, “refundable if I’m dissatisfied”, and “controlled by me” as they advertise directly beside their payment screen? These claims are all fraudulent marketing schemes employed by Freelancer.com (against the law) to scam the average consumer into believing their money is safe, secure and in their control, when it absolutely is not!
Australia law on canceling a service states:
“If you have a major problem with a service or a minor problem that can’t be fixed within a reasonable time you have the right to cancel a service contract, when it is:
- provided with an unacceptable level of care and skill
- unfit for the purpose you asked for
- not delivered within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date.
Suppliers should give any refunds in the same form as your original payment.
You can also ask for compensation for damages or losscaused by the problem.
If you have a problem with a service, take the following steps:
- Contact the service provider verbally or in writing to explain the problem. If the provider cannot fix the service in a reasonable time, state that you want to cancel the service contract.
- If relevant, also ask the service provider to compensate you for any damages or losses caused by the problem.
- If you’ve paid for the service and it has already started or been delivered, negotiate a refund to cover the services that failed and any advance payments.
- Show proof of purchase with a receipt or bank statement.”
The service rendered to me was provided with an unacceptable level of care and skill. I did not receive a single completed page which makes the service unfit for the purpose I asked for. At 3 weeks past the 15 day contract period, it was not delivered within a reasonable time. I am therefore entitled to a full refund as per Australian law.
I contacted the service provider in writing to explain the problem. I also explained that by refusing to refund me, and using misleading marketing practices, they were in violation of numerous laws of both the US and Australia. The agent didn’t care, she just kept reciting company policy to me as though somehow their policies supercede Federal Laws.
I informed them that not only was I entitled to a full refund as per Australian Law, but that I am also entitled to additional compensation for lost time and productivity under Australian Law.
Compensation Covered under Australian Law:
“Compensation includes the cost to you caused by a problem with products or services. This is usually financial costs, but can include other costs such as lost time or productivity.
It can be hard to put a dollar figure on compensation for damages and loss. Compensation should put you in the position you would have been in if the products or services had done what they are supposed to under consumer guarantees.
For example: A consumer took their curtains to a dry cleaner to be dry cleaned. When the consumer returned to pick up their curtains they were badly damaged. The consumer would not only be entitled to a remedy for the defective service (e.g. a refund for the dry cleaning fee) but also have the dry cleaner pay for the loss incurred. This could include the dry cleaner paying to replace the curtains.”
Of course they also refused to pay me any compensation, but instead continued to recite policy as though somehow their company has the authority to enact policies that directly violate Federal Laws.
According to the Freelancer.com staff member on live chat (screen shots of chat attached), the only person who has the ability to refund my money (despite the fact that no funds were ever released to him) is the worker who had lied to me for weeks, failed to deliver on promises and was 3 weeks past due without a single completed page to show for himself. HE is the person in 100% control of my money, not me. And when he refused to refund the money (even though it was sitting in a Freelancer.com escrow account), the staff member told me I would have to file a dispute to recover my funds!
After submitting a dispute they forced me to wait for 4 days to get a response back from the unprofessional worker; however this is not a resolution. No, it’s a negotiation to try and reach an agreement. What happens if an agreement is not made? One of 2 things:
1) Freelancer.com steals everything you paid and pockets it in their account
2) Freelancer.com forces both parties to pay a $38 mediation fee for their staff to review the dispute
What happens after arbitration? Well there are no guarantees that you’ll get your money back (even if services were never rendered to you). IF they do refund your money, it’s also not what you originally paid! They will pocket 5% of the disputed amount, plus all processing and freelancer fees you have already paid! This is a fraudulent scam. I have no turned Freelancer.com in to the FTC, FCC, ACCC and NSW Fair Trading Divisions of the US and Australian Governments.
Freelancer.com uses illegal marketing practices to fool consumers into believing your money is safe and under your control, when it not in your control whatsoever after you give it to them. And if/when you are able to recover your funds after a dispute, they will never refund you in entirety as required by the Australian laws that govern them. Nor will they compensate you for lost time and productivity, as required under Australian law. In essence, this company believes they are above US and Australian law, that they can defraud whoever they like, and use illegal and deceptive marketing practices to steal money from you. Do yourself a favor and use a different website if you care to find a freelancer to work for your company!