oDesk - Project Quality
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Client Verification Policies
oDesk has a client verification process that must be followed before a new client can hire and pay a contractor. This involves oDesk making two small charges that total $10 on the client’s credit card, then the worker contacting the credit card company to determine what the two figures were, and entering them on the oDesk site. oDesk then credits the $10 back.
Sounds good, but the problem is that this does not need to be done before posting a project! Thus, while this verification is obviously an important step in helping reduce the incidence of fraud for projects that are actually awarded, it is of no value in helping ensure that only proper clients post projects in the first place. In fact, it is quite common on oDesk to see projects posted by fake “clients” who never have any intention of hiring or paying anyone. I have in the past even seen instances of multiple phony projects posted by throwaway accounts all spamming for the same service or off-site project.
Frankly, I consider this unacceptably unprofessional; oDesk could and should do better.
oDesk is similar to most of its competitors in that it does not screen and approve projects prior to posting. After a client writes up and submits a project listing, it goes into oDesk’s project database and appears on the site after a short delay. The company relies on violation reports from contractors to identify and remove illegal projects after the fact.
oDesk doesn’t give any justification as to why it doesn’t screen projects, but the usual reasons are cost and delays: pre-approving listings requires paying people to do this work, and also imposes a lag between the time a project is posted and when it becomes available to bidding. Really, though, these both boil down to money: a company grossing as much money as oDesk is could easily afford to hire staff to screen projects and do so in a timely manner.
I think their refusal to do this is a short-sighted decision: it saves them money, but hurts the reputation of the site. The site is positively overrun with jobs that violate oDesk’s own stated policies, and while the oDesk is usually pretty quick to remove these when they are reported, most of the cheap contractors on the site would rather bid on this work than get it delisted.
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