So yesterday, like many others I was reading my email and got an interesting one from Elance:
We’re writing because a routine system review of your account identified an unusually high number of disputes, client concerns, poor feedback, or evidence of moving work off the platform. As a result, your account has been placed under review.
You will be unable to bid on new jobs until your review is complete. To complete your review, please take these steps:
- Successfully complete your current jobs.
Your performance on existing contracts will be taken into consideration as we complete your review.
- Mark your jobs as complete and wait two weeks.
Once you have marked your jobs as complete, please wait two weeks so that your clients have time to submit feedback.
- Email us to complete your review.
After the two-week waiting period send an email toAccountReview@elance.com to initiate completion of your review. Our team will evaluate your overall performance and determine if your account can be reinstated in full. (Learn more about the review process here.)
The Elance Trust & Safety Team”
So of course I was upset, I hadn’t broken ANY of the rules had 4.9 feedback and didn’t have any disputes. I just closed out two jobs in the last week and decided I was going to use elance to get more work and upgraded my account (yes, I paid for a better account just days before they put me “under review”). So of course I contacted support and got the same canned response as everyone else was getting:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the status of your review. I am unable to complete your review at this time for one or both of these reasons:
1) You have one or more open contracts. The final review process can only begin once your current job(s) are closed.
2) You are still in the two-week waiting period. Once your contracts are closed, you must wait for two weeks before requesting a final review. This will give your client(s) a chance to submit feedback, which will be an important part of your final review.
Once you have marked your jobs as complete and passed the two week time period, we will contact you within two weeks with the result of the review.
They wont’ tell you Jack for at least two weeks. Absolutely no warning – your business has been shut down for two weeks. GREAT! Woohoo! Way to go elance! Apparently a lot of us took to twitter and elance’s forum and were all met with the same disregard and disrespect. So I decided to do a little research of my own after a light bulb went off in my head while doing some gardening (yes – I do get outside occasionally!)
What I uncovered about the “account review” had very little to do what they were blaming everyone for, but instead they were possibly going after the people that weren’t utilizing elance much – basically they wanted “quantity” over “quality”. My market is small – website security, therefor I don’t get much work through elance. I originally opened my account in 2008, did a little work here and there and just recently wandered back and was hoping to use it more (HA! Jokes on me). So here’s what I did. I went and searched for professionals that did “website security” and started looking at the accounts,
I first noticed that mine was a level 2, apparently because I hadn’t done much work so I started looking at the accounts that were higher levels- yep still active. I then started looked at accounts that were also close to my level but were still active, well those had only been opened in the last year with the exception of this level 4. Flags started going of…
So I looked at a few more, for example this one had only done 2 jobs and was a level 3 – couldn’t see how long the account was open because their profile was no longer view-able (like mine). This one had level 2 and 3 jobs and was also unavailable. Now I found 1 that was a level 5 with 10 jobs, but their feedback was closer to 4 so their account was gone as well.
Now what’s interesting is I found another level 1 with 5 jobs and 3 reviews and it was still active – but I noticed their clients were nicer about leaving feedback ( a lot of mine didn’t and I didn’t realize this was a concern since what I did get was good – never in a million years did I think a client not leaving feedback would cause my account to get suspended!). But then I found this one open in 2012 that was a level 2, with feedback of 3.2 on 3 jobs – and their account was still active!! WTF!!!
So apparently they attempted to implement something like this:
If years on elance > x and number of jobs < q AND level < 3 AND amount of feedback < i OR feedback rating < y – you got ‘reviewed’
Now with that said – I’m only making an educated guess based on the data I could get and I could be completely wrong. BUT what this says to me is that if you weren’t lining elances pockets enough – they didn’t want you using their platform, but it appears that some of the bad apples still managed to get through, while other reliable and legitimate freelancers were penalized due to the length their account had been open, the number of jobs and the amount of clients that were actually willing to leave feedback….
Luckily elance wasn’t my primary source of income – however I’m sure there were some that utilized it as just that and their businesses have now come to a grinding halt.