How NOT to hire on and why not pay upfront


A brief story of an outsourcing gone wrong on oDesk.

We’re revamping our site (not only our side actually…) and we needed a fairly simple outsourcing task: converting an existing (and functional) Joomla template in a WordPress theme. Now, given that the css is there and the graphic has been sliced already, I figured 100$ would be a reasonable fee for the task.

So I post the job on oDesk (offering 100$, flat fee and no upfront) and within hours I get 10+ applicants. Believing I’m the smartest ass in the world, the next day I simply pick the guy offering to work for less, he’s asking 90$ but with a 20% upfront, and have a brief email exchange on with him on oDesk:

“[…]Ok, but we don’t work with upfront… we’ve been let down too many times already.  I’ll change the offer“.

The guy (we’ll call him R.) replies:

would you mind if I demand 20%upfront??
Actually I work with upfront when I work on an fixed job.
Please don’t mind.

And then again:

Please consider my message. It is for my safety. Don’t mind

Don't mind

(Don't mind?)

To which I respond:

Dear R,
We hired people already and we paid them afterwards, you can see this in our profile.
Only once we gave an upfront and the consultant didn’t do the job – so, I’m sorry but we don’t give upfront.
Is this ok for you?

I’m probably assuming too much, but as I asked a question I was then expecting an anwer. The answer didn’t come, but R. instead accepts the counter-offer I made (2$ more than what he offered but no upfront) and  asks me to chat on skype. The conversation on goes as following:

  R.: Hello
  -Me: :)
  R.: how are you???
  -Me: not bad, thanks!
  -Me: and you?
  R.: fine thanks

(Following are about 2 mins of tech discussion…then:)

  R.: but i have another issue
  -Me: tell me your issue
  R.: please don't mind
  -Me: ?
  R.: actually I work with upfront when i wirk on fixed project
  -Me: I see
  -Me: but we don't
  R.: it is secured for me
  -Me: I understand
  R.: without upfront it is very unsecured
  -Me: but we do NOT pay upfront
  -Me: I understand :)
  -Me: but we have paid the guy before and we'll pay you too
  R.: then i suggest that please hire me as houly which will be secured for both of us
  -Me: R.
  -Me: we're not starting well at all
  -Me: 1) this task is very simple
  -Me: 2) 13 people applied for this job
  -Me: and the fact that you first accept the job and then want to re-negotiate is not cool at all
  R.: if you hire me as hourly then you will be refunded the money if the work will
not completed according to your requirement
  -Me: no
  -Me: clear and simple
  R.: please don't mind
  R.: ok
  -Me: dude
  R.: i will work
  -Me: I have the impression we're wasting time here
  R.: sorry
  R.: I am working
  -Me: I don't want to sound like an asshole
  R.: Don't mind please
  -Me: but this is really a simple job, where 50% of it is done already, and as I said 13
people applied, for the same amount of money that we're offering you
(don't mind????)

(don't mind????)

At this point, my internet connection goes down, thanks to my cheap-ass router, which I promptly reboot. When I’m again only, after no more than 2mins, I find the following email from oDesk:

Hi Andrea,

R. ended R.’s contract for Skin conversion on 19-Sep-2011.

Reason: Employer failed to pay

oDesk Support



Please stop world and let me get off

One second later I catch R. again on skype:

  -Me: hello
  -Me: sorry, I went offline for a second
  -Me: hello?
  R.: yes
  R.: tell
  -Me: ?
  -Me: did you end the contract?
  R.: yes
  -Me: so you don't want to do it?
  R.: i don't want to work with you
  R.: bye
  -Me: ok



I'll hang my jacket first, if it works I'll hang myself straight after

I'll hang my jacket first, if it works I'll hang myself straight after

Bottomline: if you don’t who you’re dealing with, don’t expect too much from them or you might be disappointed (as well as get good surprises… but better sticking to the safe side!).

P.S.: thanks to copyright owners of the monkey pics!

  1. Juan Pablo

    Hi Andrea,
    It looks that you think you are too cool because you have $10 to spend at oDesk.

  2. Andrea – that has to be one of the funniest things I have read recently! Thanks for sharing the exchange!

    Have a great day!

    (Don’t Mind) 🙂

Reply To: How NOT to hire on and why not pay upfront


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