Guru - Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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Guru offers both fixed price and hourly options for projects, though fixed rate projects are by far the most popular. The site requires indirect payment using its SafePay service, and goes beyond many other sites in how religiously it expects clients and contractors to adhere to this policy. It supports a nice variety of disbursement options with several free and others offered at a modest cost.
Like its main competitors, Guru supports both fixed rate and hourly projects. However, virtually all projects actually found on the site are flat rate; there are very few hourly listings. The relative scarcity of hourly projects is likely due in part to the higher-end focus of the site, but is also probably related to the fact that hourly compensation comes across as somewhat of an “afterthought” in Guru’s proposal listing and bidding mechanism.
During the project definition phase, there is no specific question asking the client to choose between flat rate and hourly; instead, there is just an optional item called “Rate per hour offered” on the third page of the project description form. This defaults to “Not Relevant”, which signifies a flat rate project; if it is changed to an actual dollar range, the project becomes hourly. Many clients seem to find this unintuitive, because I often see listings where the project has been put into Guru as flat rate despite the project description specifically asking for hourly quotes.
The hourly rate system is also weird from the standpoint of contractors. If a project is listed as hourly they are asked to provide an hourly rate as part of their proposals, but also still asked for an overall budget range. I’m not sure what the point is of bidding on an hourly basis if there’s going to be an overall project price as well.
Guru asks clients to select a budget range for flat rate projects from the following list:
Sadly, Guru also allows clients to “wimp out” by selecting “Not Sure/Confidential” for their project. I dislike making this option available because even though there are some legitimate uses for it, too many clients use that selection as a copout rather than thinking through what they really want to spend.
Approximately half of the projects on Guru are in the “Under $250” category. The minimum bid on any project is $25.
I should also note that Guru is a bit unusual in that it allows clients to specify “alternative” compensation methods that are prohibited elsewhere. For example, clients are allowed to offer to pay partially by commission or in trade of services, as long as this is in addition to either a fixed rate or hourly payment.
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