Upwork, formally known as oDesk, was started in 2003 by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Stratis and Odysseas created a digital platform that would allow them to work together remotely (Stratis lived in Greece at the time).

Through the last decade over 4.5 million freelancers have joined Upwork, formerly known as oDesk, and over 1.5 million jobs have been posted. Upwork is the largest online freelance platform and is consistently ranked #1 by annual freelancer earnings. In most recent news, Upwork and Elance reached a deal in December of 2013 to merge the two companies which will consist of 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses.

The Good

  • Payroll tools
  • Records
  • Guarantee
  • Employment benefits

Upwork offers freelancers and businesses stress free payroll tools. With Upwork Payroll:

  • Reduce the risk of worker misclassification by working through Upwork’s staffing agency
  • Pay only for hours worked and gain full visibility into how freelancer’s time is spent
  • Provide your freelancers with access to health and retirement benefits

Upwork payroll takes a lot of the guessing out of freelance payment and taxing. With Upwork staffing agency as the employer of record, you:

  • Reduce or eliminate the risk of fines, penalties and interest accrual due to misclassification of contract workers
  • Reduce the risk of legal disputes and negative publicity from worker misclassification

Upwork also offers a guarantee to employers that they will only pay for work that was actually worked. Upwork provides a work diary that tracks hours worked and even gives employers visibility to work-in-progress. Conversely, Upwork promises freelancers that an hour worked is an hour paid. Upwork work diary also provides insurance to freelancers of guaranteed payment for hours worked.

In addition to the extensive list of Upwork benefits, freelancers now have access to affordable health insurance and other employment benefits. Plans start at $105/month and can include benefits like 401(k), dental coverage, and W-2 tax filing.

Based on our comparison of freelance platforms, TBC would recommend using Upwork for the following reasons:

  • Low usage fee
  • Tons of jobs posted (3 million)
  • Tons of freelancers (9 million)
  • Money-back guarantee

The Bad

  • Lowball job offers

While Upwork offers payments guarantees for both employers and freelancers, it does not have mechanisms in place to hedge lowball job offers. In addition, the foreign competition pushes job values way below market value. For example there are freelancers -mostly in foreign countries- who will offer web coding work for $1 to $2 an hour.

The Bottom Line

Upwork is the world’s largest online workplace with a thriving community of clients and freelancers. 80% of Upwork clients say that online work makes them more competitive and helps grow revenues, and a majority say they’ll spend twice as much hiring online in the coming year. Upwork boasted over 900,000 clients, 4.5M freelancers, and over 35M hours worked in 2012. If you are looking for a freelance platform to post or find jobs, we strongly recommend signing up with Upwork.

Fees

They charge 10% of the total price.

Jobs Posted

More than 3 million jobs posted annually.

Registered Freelancers

9 million registered freelancers.

Guarantee / Protection

Upwork has a money-back guarantee beta program. This program is offered on select hourly jobs. They also have a limited payment protection program. Again, this is available on hourly projects.

Payroll Options

All payments go through a secure system. You can pay freelancers via credit card, PayPal, and bank account.

Involvement

Upwork has a Dispute Resolution Policy that they seem to stick to.

You can contact Upwork via email at [email protected] There is no obvious customer service phone number

Are there any inaccuracies in this review? We take our accuracy very seriously and would love your feedback. Give feedback here.

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116 Upwork (formerly oDesk) Reviews

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  1. User Score

    0

    May 23rd, 2017

    BEWARE ON WORKING WITH UPWORK– A BIG SCAN TO INDIANS

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  2. User Score

    0

    May 11th, 2017

    Seem to be unable to hire anyone because there seems to be an error with the site and ti cannot process my company’s card. Support is terrible and inefficient.

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  3. User Score

    0

    May 9th, 2017

    The worst sites for freelancers
    There support desk is lazy and their plan on serving clients is lame

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  4. User Score

    0

    April 27th, 2017 Broken Bow, NE

    I’m a freelancer. First time on Upwork, expecting the best experience, and had the worst. The client who hired me, suddenly stopped communicating altogether, after almost the entire project was complete, then froze the money in escrow, claiming I did not communicate with him nor do the work. I document everything, shared it with customer service via Dispute, and they acknowledged what he did. However… the job was small, $200, so apparently clients have final say about who gets what from escrow, and he refused to pay anything. Customer service said all they could do is recommend we go to arbitration, which costs over $800, not exactly cost effective for $200 in lost wages. The client knows this. Customer service knows this. No appealing to CS resulted in any change, even though they have the evidence that the client is fraudulent. In the end, Upwork only cares about getting the money out of escrow so they can take their cut, and they have no problem cheating the freelancer in the process. Needless to say, this is the first and last time I work on Upwork, and this will be the first of online reviews and a case with the BBB and Trust Guard, in hopes other freelancers avoid Upwork.

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    1

  5. User Score

    0

    April 27th, 2017

    The project “e-commerce website” order was made 3/29.
    The freelancer has not delivered the first milestone “Beta site delivery”.
    Claimed the refund but nothing is happening.
    As of 4/22, UpWork confirmed by email.
    You requested a refund for your unused deposit of $250.00. If the freelancer “NANCY K” does not respond to your request within 7 days, the remaining balance in escrow will be automatically refunded to your payment method.

    Checking with the support team, the deposit had already been released to the freelancer 4/5.

    Now I claim to Paypal to get my full refund from Upwork.

    DO NOT TRUST WHAT THEY CONFIRM YOU!!!!

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  6. User Score

    1

    April 26th, 2017 Coudersport, PA

    I recently posted a job on Upwork for a book reviewer to review my new book. The review would be posted to my own website. Upwork suspended my account, stating they don’t allow paid reviews, and if I had another *violation,* they would permanently suspend my account. I exchanged several emails with them, stating I’ve seen many job postings for book reviews and product reviews on their site (and there several currently posted), and I asked if they would be suspending all those people, too. Instead of responding, they just wrote back they have policy they don’t allow any paid reviews. I looked at their policy, and there was nothing in it about not allowing paid reviews. The only item that discussed reviews said they do not allow reviews for pornography or violent material. I again wrote them and asked them to point tot he exact paragraph that said “no reviews of any kind.” Instead, they sent a paragraph that basically said they could change the rules at any time. In other words, they can suspend a person’s account for any made up reason with no accountability.

    I’ve read through many of the reviews of Upwork on this Best Company site, and many people stated their accounts were suspended for no good reason, even in the middle of contracts. This is not good. I will be taking my business elsewhere.

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  7. User Score

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    April 24th, 2017 San Francisco, CA

    They suspended my account because I left a 5 stars feedback for a client and then I requested him to do the same if possible! yes they suspended my account for this simple request! their support team just copy and paste a message in my ticket without any clear reply. they are so rude and implacable. I am really disappointed to continue to work on this platform. my job success is 90% with +300 five stars feedback from 2 years ago. Do not waste your time please. UPWORK IS A BIG SCAM.

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    1

  8. User Score

    0

    April 13th, 2017

    Has to be the worst, most incompetent, scamming company in the history of scamming companies.
    The Freelancer I hired was obviously working on other things while supposedly working on my site and yet Upwork would still not refund any of my money. Even though there are clear screenshots of him working on things other than my site, and it took him 6 hours, over a 1 week period to do 30 minutes worth of work, in such a shoddy manner that it had to be redone, they still refused to refund me anything. On top of that they accused me of trying to pay the person offline, without any evidence whatsoever. The other freelancer I was working with at the same time was a bit better, but I have to say, if you ever hire someone to work on your site, never pay them by the hour. Always insist on a flat fee with a guarantee of what will be done and insist on a set refund if it isn’t and pay as they go with strict milestones. Such a ripoff!

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  9. User Score

    0

    March 21st, 2017

    Just a horrible unprofessional nightmare, they suspenede my account for no reason other than they saw it was best fit to do so

    I had customers seeking me up on there so I created a new account using new email, it got suspened

    I created another account after months, it got again suspend and they still to this day haven’t responded to a single support ticket

    absolutely unprofessional, I’m glad to be gone, but this way? no I’ll go and tell the world about them if this is going to be the end

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    4

  10. User Score

    0

    March 18th, 2017

    their management is stubborn, irresponsible and arrogant management. when they decide to push someone off the bridge, they do it anyway possible. they give stupid/funny/baseless reasons to explain the worst decisions they make to screw someone who worked on their form and relied on them for years. even though he had a great work history.

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    4

  11. User Score

    0

    January 26th, 2017

    Hi,

    I received an email, while in the middle of a possible project, that my account had been Permanently Suspended, without notice without any good cause… the reason: the number of projects that I applied for without being awarded (full disclosure.. that was only my first 2-3 months when I started, because I wanted ANY job, just to build some history and feedback)

    After the first 2-3 months, I applied once every one or two weeks, and they just closed my account after 2 years, I`m not even sorry since their platform didn`t provide much for me, but their customer service is close to none.

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    6

  12. User Score

    1

    January 25th, 2017

    I used to love oDesk/Upwork; I earned a lot from this website. However, this past year, I became an inactive freelancer and then just this month i jumpstarted my online job hunting once again; with so many freelancers having similar skill set as me, I am finding it hard to land a job – and UpWork just suspended my account just because “I’ve sent too many proposals and cannot find a match”. I appealed for them to reactivate my account even sending them docs and certificates but they kept my account suspended, even telling me they might no longer reply to my emails anymore. Bad thing. Not recommending this online site to people who are trying hard to look for a good online job.

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    6

  13. User Score

    0

    January 24th, 2017 Corinth, NY

    I signed up with a freelancer account on Upwork about three weeks ago. I made my profile all spiffy, did the “video conference” to verify my account (which was awkward as I was talking to an Indian woman who sounded like she was working in her home – I heard a baby crying in the background), and sent out proposals.

    I received three job offers. The first two were apparently part of a large spam/identity theft organization. I was asked to share my personal information (birth date, address, etc) over email to these people to “begin work”. Thank god I Googled the companies because I found out they were spam/identity theft/information selling companies. Go figure.

    The third, and possibly worst, client who corresponded with me was for a quick proofreading project. He wanted me to proofread and edit his 100-word piece. He initially came to me and asked me to lower my price by half, which meant I would walk away from the project with $8. (Upwork charges a ridiculous “fee”….$2 on this project in particular). I agreed because, hey, this was my first freelance “gig” and he also said the project wouldn’t take more than about 15 minutes. So, hey, why not?

    Well, little did I know that this guy would have me back and forth for two hours with this freakin’ (sorry for the language) proofreading project. He was rude throughout the whole process, asking me if I knew what I was doing (despite the fact that he hired a “beginner” proofreader/editor…I am not a professional by any means). He was copy/pasting links to articles where he thought I had misused words. He even questioned whether I should capitalize a country’s name if it was used as an “adjective”.

    Two hours later, the darn thing was done and he didn’t pay me for about a week after that. I rated him a 2-star, which I thought was pretty generous considering our work experience. This is kind of when things turned ugly. He blew up on me over the Upwork messaging system because I rated him poorly. He demanded I re-rate him and give him a higher rating. He started telling me, “you better hope karma isn’t real.” and “with your attitude, it’s no wonder you do work for $8 on a weekend!” and “I hated your work anyway”.

    He then ended our conversation with, “Karma is real, I’ll let you think about that”. All because I left a real, unedited review of our work experience together. Well, after that, he sent me a review response making fun of my abilities, saying that just because you speak English doesn’t mean you’re a writer, etc, etc. The guy was really going off on me. To say that I felt horrible, demoralized and cheated (I made $4 an hour working for this guy…) would be a total understatement.

    I didn’t know what else to do but block him and send a message to Upwork. Despite the fact that I literally titled my message to them, “I am being harassed by one of your clients”, it took them days before they got back to me. When they did get back to me, they simply said that my case would have to go to upper management to be handled.

    This past weekend after days of not hearing a response from “upper management”, I kept rereading the guy’s review and taking into account that the only other two job offers I received were from spam/identity theft companies, and I decided to close my account. Wouldn’t you know that about three hours after closing my account, Upwork emails me and basically says, “We’re sorry for this experience. Rest assured that we’ll look into it and if he’s found to be violating any of our terms, we will take appropriate action. As we part ways, good luck in your future endeavors.”

    I find it ironic that they were ignoring the issue until I was the one who closed my account. It goes to show that Upwork values their clients, not their freelancers. They were willing to lose me as a freelancer but not the client, who is ultimately the one bringing in money. It’s a sad and pathetic way to run a business. That was my one and only experience working on their site and I’ll admit, it was so horrible that I would never recommend Upwork to anyone. The clients are able to run the site and do what they please, including harassing freelancers.

    I’m sure there are clients using Upwork who are fine, but when you deal with one who’s literally harassing you and prolonging a project to the point where you’re working for slave wages, they don’t provide the customer support that we, as freelancers, so desperately need!

    EDIT/
    I received an email just awhile ago that said my “support ticket” with Upwork was closed. Which I’m taking as meaning they are no longer handling the complaint. Probably because I closed my account and they didn’t see a reason to lose a client. Figures.

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  14. User Score

    1

    January 12th, 2017

    I work, or used to, at Upwork as a freelancer for about 1-2 years and never had any problems as the staff is very helpful and the plarform a lot resourceful. Unfortunately, yesterday I received a e-mail telling my account – without breaking any of the company policy – was being suspended indefinetely, reason being I was not getting as many successful job proposals as I should (as if I didn’t want it?).

    And that was it, with nothing but a “We carefully reviewed you situation..” e-mail and without any previous warning about how my account could be suspended if my job rates didn’t go up, I was permanently banned from the platform with no anwsers. I really used to look up to Upwork but this kind of policy is nothing but disrespectful.

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    3

  15. User Score

    0

    January 5th, 2017

    Hi Veiko, completely agree. They now have an additional whereby, any preset max hours allowed for the freelancers to work will be automatically billed. Regardless if the freelancer works or not. For example, I intended to hire a freelancer for 40 hours a week. He only worked 3 hours that week and billed me for the 3 hours. Upwork charges me the 3 hours, which I was completely fine with and then at the end of that work week, Upwork bills me another 37 hours! Subsequently the following week when there was no work done, Upwork bill me 40 hours of work. In total Upwork billed me 77 hours of work which the Freelancer never initiated as it is clear from the contract screen the hours only that has been billed by freelancer was 3 hours. I paused the contract and raised a dispute with Upwork.

    They took me to a help page which I needed to raise my dispute. Then Upwork Customer service request I raised it with the freelancer and request that they refund the money of which I responded with “It has nothing to do with the Freelancer” It is clear from the contract summary page, the Freelancer has only charged me 3 hours and that the rest has been by Upwork themselves.

    After raising the dispute and it appearing on the “Help” page under my login. Upwork then moves my help request to a “Case” status which is another external page (which by the way is NOT accessible through my Account page” so everytime I wanted to view the “Case” I have to find the email they sent and click on that link.

    After all of that, Upwork Customer Service have advised that they will now need to review the case (even after me giving all evidence and print outs of their error with screenshots to their system).

    It has been 3 weeks, I am USD $987 poorer with no resolution at hand and waiting for Upwork to respond to my request for refund. Plus a lost of about 10 hours of my life trying to get all information that they have requested and then having to validate those information which in the first place they could get those information themselves if they bothered to look into their own system!

    I have been a customer of Upwork (previously oDesk) for over 3 years now and have spent over USD $40,000, so am aware of what their previous process was with regards to payment. It would be clear to me the new merger of oDesk and elance is purely to rip and scam customers of funds.

    Don’t even get me started on their escrow BS.

    An extremely pissed off client.

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    3

  16. User Score

    0

    December 23rd, 2016

    My account was suspended because I contacted too many people. this is very fake website.

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    2

  17. User Score

    0

    December 17th, 2016 Rockaway, NJ

    After setting up and charging for the contract work, they suddenly froze the account and demanded government issued color copy id with birth date, address, color picture AND the full credit card information, even the charge was approved and the contact already well underway. The poor freelancer was stuck after having done half the work. Every so called customer rep, as they would not identify themselves, would give the same stock answer, “Irregular activities” but would not say what it was, when it was or anything else. When they were asked to closed the account, “Someone will get back to you”. This is how you know this is a Scam.

    STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY – google upwork reviews or complaints and you will see the continuous stream of the same issues.

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    3

  18. User Score

    0

    December 14th, 2016

    I got a job with some company, they never payed and then my account was suspended because I contacted too many people. WTF ?

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    2

  19. User Score

    0

    December 10th, 2016

    I don’t recommend this platform.
    Really Bad Platform,
    It’s only for the client, don’t consider the needs of the freelancers,
    for example, if the client dispute for the developer’s work, Upwork only consider the client’s need, not consider the freelander’s side, although the client is faker, liar.

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    5

  20. User Score

    0

    November 30th, 2016

    Not very good customer service once you need anything. Can just put your account on hold if they think you paid someone outside of their system and they lost $0.5 because of it.

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    1