vWorker - Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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vWorker is similar to other sites in some aspects of how it handles payments, but has a few unique features. It supports both fixed price and hourly projects, with the former much more common than the latter. The company insists on all transactions going through the site, both to ensure it is paid its fees, and that clients and contractors are protected from fraud. vWorker is unique among the large sites in categorically forbidding advance payments. It supports several disbursement methods for contractors, and has implemented a nifty automated semi-monthly payment system, but has relatively high withdrawal fees.
Here are some more details.
vWorker has traditionally been a fixed price marketplace, but recently (perhaps in 2009?) added hourly projects as well. It also has a special category that it calls “bulletin board projects”, which are meant for full time job listings. These projects deviate from the normal vWorker setup, in that clients are charged a flat $50 fee for them and contractors don’t pay a transaction fee. However, they appear to be extremely rare: I have literally never seen one on the site. (It may be that vWorker has abandoned this model altogether, and forgotten to cleanse references to it from the site’s help files.)
Most of the projects on vWorker are fixed rate, which the site calls “pay for deliverables”. On the day that I wrote this topic, I found 2,492 open projects on vWorker, of which 2,249, or nearly exactly 90%, were fixed rate; 243, or about 10%, were “pay for time”, or hourly jobs.
vWorker divides its fixed price jobs into tiers by approximate project value. These used to have names such as “very small project”, “small project”, etc., but vWorker did away with the labels in favor of simple dollar value ranges:
Unfortunately, clients are not required to enter a budget range; they can specify “Not Sure”. Of the projects open at the time that I write this, a full one-third have no budget range, which is unfortunate in that it makes bidding more difficult.
The lowest category starts at $4 because that’s the minimum project value, a direct consequence of vWorker’s minimum $3 project fee. Of the projects that did have a budget entered in the sample I captured, around 45% were in the $4 to $99 range, 36% were $100 to $499; 17% were $500 to $4,999; and only about 2% were in higher categories.
vWorker absolutely requires the use of indirect payments through their system for all transactions. This is done not only to ensure that the company is paid its transaction fees, but also to provide protections to both clients and contractors. vWorker is the only site that mandates the use of escrow on all transactions—even for hourly work—and that means the site must act as intermediary for all payments.
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