It’s been a stressful month for us so far here in Penang. One of the worst parts has been dealing with oDesk – a company I have been using to find freelancers online and a company J was using to grow his freelancing business. I had no idea what a terrible company they are to deal with until we had an issue.
There are countless stories online of how oDesk has scammed people out of money. For this reason, and the hope that I can generate enough publicity of this issue that they actually stop this process and reactivate my account, I wanted to document what has happened to us here. I urge you to consider if you really want your finances and income tied up with a company that can suspend your account at any time with no real recourse to recover your funds.
Part 1: Our accounts are suspended
Both our accounts are suddenly suspended. We received no notification of this from oDesk. We find out because I had recommended J to a blogging acquaintance of mine. She tried to find his profile in oDesk and could not. I log into my account and see I have been suspended (with no mention of why). I get on live chat and they can’t tell me either. I raise a request and just have to wait and see.
J logs in and can’t even see a suspension message. He contacts live support to ask if he has been suspended and that is how he finds out.
Part 2: ID verification
We learn from talking to others online that our problems would have been caused because we have logged on from the same computer. Countless others who share computers have also been suspended because of this and never been able to get their accounts back (do a Google search). They remove J’s access to live chat. He realises they also removed all his open job applications.
The ID verification is a joke. We both get declined the first time. They actually said I had modified my passport scan! I contact them via support, live chat, Facebook and Twitter. Nothing helps to speed them up or get a response past that I have to wait. Eventually we are both verified however.
Part 3: No response. No way to get our money
We are verified as individual people now, but both our accounts are still suspended and we have no way to withdraw the money that we have in our accounts. Support is not responding. I spent an hour going through their terms of service but I can’t see what we have done wrong.
J has an open job They have said previously that he still has access to it and should complete it. This is probably the part that angers me the most. They want him to finish a job when there is no way he can get paid.
Should you use oDesk?
That is obviously a personal decision I would be very cautious about having all your income tied up in a system that can suspend you at any moment with no real recourse. There seems to be no recognition from the company that suspending accounts causes real financial hardship and is messing with people’s lives.
Problems should be resolved in a timely manner. Logging in from the same computer as someone else is so easily explained, I don’t understand why accounts need to be suspended. The investigation could take place without that drastic step. And they should certainly notify you if your account is suspended and tell you exactly what action they have taken (like removing all your job applications).
Unfortunately, it is not just using someone else’s computer that you need to be weary about. There are lots of other stories, like someone who had their account hacked and there was no way to recover their income (but oDesk still kept the payments for themselves!).
Have you had a bad experience with oDesk?
Update: Just after publishing this J’s account was re-activated. Please help me achieve the same result!
Update (that evening): My account has now thankfully been re-activated as well. HOWEVER, it comes with the stipulation that if they ever have a problem with my account again (for whatever reason), then they will not look at the problem until I have completed all jobs and even then, they would probably just deactivate my account. Basically, if they decide to randomly suspend me again, then I have to work for free and then they will probably shut down my account – you can not get paid with a suspended account.
Crazy stuff. Particularly for me at the moment as my computer is currently out of action – I am using an internet cafe so I can’t even log on to check if I have actually been reinstated as if someone has used this computer previously for oDesk then I could be suspended again!!