I have had two bad experiences with freelancers on different websites which ended up in bad terms

The first freelancer refused to complete the job saying that he has been doing work for more than the agreed amount, which is not true as we had to refuse his work 5-6 times due to issues with it, we had to pay him 50% of the amount after the first time he submitted his final update which was still broken

The second freelancer convinced us to pay in advanced 15% of the amount and then we got nothing back, he claims that he complete most of the work and wants another payment but wont show us the work at all

I am a novice when it comes to making sure everything is going to the plan as I am too busy to even check with the developer, what is the right way to make sure that I get a work that would satisfy my managers and assures us that if the work is not satisfying, we would get our money back

  • This question is about a freelancing problem and not a problem in the field of project management. As such, it's off-topic on this site. For future Freelancing questions, please see Freelancing.SE
    – jmort253
    Feb 15, 2018 at 11:26

3 Answers 3


I see two broad approaches to solving this issue. One Agile, one not.

The "non-Agile" approach is to hire a lawyer and have your contracts drafted in such a way that the burden of miscommunicated requirements falls on the vendor (freelancer) instead of the customer (you).

The downside of this approach is that few experienced freelancers will bother to accept such a contract, leaving you only with those who are either down on their luck or don't know any better.

A more Agile approach would be to draft a contract that included iterations; say, one week. At the end of every week, you will meet with the vendor, spending an hour going over the product. At this time, you can clarify requirements (because, trust me, the vendor didn't understand what you really needed the first time. It's doubtful you understood them). You can also choose at this time to either continue the project/contract, or terminate it (and have the vendor hand over what they currently have).

One risk of this approach is the risk of shoddy work, as you're currently facing. However, this risk is mitigated by only being 1 week of work at most. It can be further mitigated by vetting the vendor beforehand, as David Espina suggests.

A cost is the time you must spend (1 hour per week). However, if you're unable to allocate even that amount of time to the project, then it must not be very important in the first place. So don't bother pursuing it until your workload has cleared some and the project has moved up in priorities.

  • I have made a contract before starting both projects, and the freelancers agreed to the contract In both contracts I have listed everything about the project, how it would function, how we want it to look and much much more information But for the case with the second freelancer, after months of working, they requested the payment and I replied that unless the milestone is met, we will not pay and that it is in the contract that they have signed. Their reply was "we do not approve of your agreement" and simply like that, I couldn't do anything The first approach might be better for me Feb 18, 2018 at 6:27
  • @Faezabdulkarem If you have a contract, and the vendor is violating it... then yes, you probably need to go to a lawyer. That's a legal issue, not a PM one.
    – Sarov
    Feb 20, 2018 at 14:09

The problem is not your freelancers. Did you obtain references on their performance by previous buyers? Did you validate their solvency? If not, those are two things you can do prior to a contract to ensure that you filter out lower performers. Next issue is your contract for performance. Many high performing freelancers may not be as solvent as necessary to work for long periods of time without receiving some payment. So you have some risk here but you can mitigate this to a decent degree by putting into the contract lower level deliverables, reports, schedule, and milestone payments that enable you to monitor progress. If you cannot verify and validate a deliverable / milestone, you don't pay. You can also load incentives in that payment, such as an increased fee or a penalty, if certain criteria are not met at one of those lower milestones.

But the biggest issue to fix is in your last paragraph, that you're too busy to even check.... The couple of mitigators I wrote above will do you no good if you can't do your part in it. If you're too busy to check up on progress and they failed you, it is 100% your fault. Sorry to be harsh but, as far as PMing is concerned, this is the job.


Well, when you buy a service, you're always at risk of getting not what you expected and not being able to get the things back. This problem is relevant not only to freelancing relationships, but for regular employment as well.

So this is a question of risk management. If not to be verbose I would say: "The less you invest, the more risks you have". Do not try to save costs on cheap employees with low rating. Rather pay more to the people who value their reputation.

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