Guru - Fees
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Guru’s nominal transaction fees are either 5% or 10%; the lower figure applies to projects that you bid on and complete using a Guru or Guru Vendor profile, and the higher number is used if you’re on a Basic profile. Thus, it is possible to get charged 5% for some projects you do and 10% for others, depending on your profile status and how the project was listed.
On the surface, these seem like reasonable fees; 5% is a fairly small number, and while 10% is not, it applies to Basic profiles which have no membership cost associated with them. Unfortunately, these numbers are deceptive, because they do not include certain costs that apply to most projects.
First, the nominal 5% and 10% fees do not cover any transaction costs associated with the client either funding escrow or paying an invoice when work is completed. Guru offers several different payment methods that clients can use, some of which allow money to be transferred to Guru for free. Most clients, though, choose either Paypal or a credit card because of their convenience when doing business online. Sadly, Guru makes the contractor pay for that convenience, not the client: if Paypal is used, 2.5% of the payment is taken off the top, and for credit cards, it is typically 3% (for clients in the United States) or 4% (for those elsewhere).
Second, if you want to use Guru’s escrow feature, you must pay an additional 2% on each transaction. Working without escrow is simply foolish unless you already know the client very well, so I consider this a mandatory expenditure as well in most cases. In fairness to Guru, this extra charge does cover the cost of arbitration if it is needed during a dispute, where other sites sometimes charge more for this service (most notably, Elance).
Add in these hidden costs and you end up with a typical transaction fee of 9.5% to 11% for Guru or Guru Vendor profiles, and a whopping 14.5% to 16% for Basic profiles. For those using Basic profiles, expect to pay a lot: to give you an idea of how big a chunk this can be, I found a project I did on Guru using a Basic profile where I bid $125 and netted only $106.70 after all the fees were deducted. However, for those who pay for Guru or Guru Vendor profiles, those percentages aren’t really out of line with what other sites collect.
Guru charges $3 for paper check withdrawals, and $9 for wire transfers (which aren’t offered in the US). Other withdrawal options are free; see the discussion of payment methods for details.
Mercifully, there do not appear to be any other miscellaneous fees associated with working on Guru.
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