Yes, I know I should have waited for the Escrow account to be funded by the client, but my experience with Elance is very limited. Most of the clients I noticed do not fund Escrow, so I thought once everything is documented and written down in messages and emails, it would not be a problem. And it was not, until this client.

He needed a very fast turnaround, which I did, then he asked for another service, one that I would not have a problem performing, except that it is not under my expertise. I mentioned that, suggested to find another provider, and that was it.

Time passed, and he sent me an email, stating that he still waits to see if the images provided are good enough (as if I would work a second more to the already paid job, even if the images were not good at all... but they were), as the job was under graphic design.

It is almost a month now and he does not communicate with me neither on Elance or email. I wrote to Elance three times, asking for support - they denied it, saying that as long as Escrow was not funded, the job cannot be disputed.

So my question is - what should I do? How can I get my money from the client? He is from USA, I am from Romania. It was a $200 job.

4 Answers 4


I'm sorry to say, but you can't. And I'm sorry again to say, but the people on Elance are right. They always state clearly when getting a new job to not work until the escrow account is funded. They even send emails reminding to not work until the account is funded.

I once did something like this. I started working and finished before realizing the account was not funded. Of course, the difference was that I already did two jobs for this client, so I had trust in him. That doesn't mean I didn't wait for two weeks to get paid for a one-day job.

The bottom line is they can't do anything, because technically that client respected the rules and you didn't. It's a hard blow, I know, but you must get over it and learn from it.

And about getting the money, the chances are slim. There are a lot of people who want to take advantage of good people, and that client seems to be one.

  • Thank you Mihai for your answer. I need to do something though, i am thinking both of me and the other people that will or were working for this client. He used the images i made on his websites and they are now uploaded on the web, publicly. Can't i report somewere that he is using intellectual property without permission? At least if he is not paying he should not have the wright to use my work.
    – Dana
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:07
  • I'm not really sure because I never had this kind of problem before. I guess you should Google for relevant topics on this matter. Here are 2 relevant posts I found that might help you and you should also start looking for other similar content and see what other people do. website1, website2. Feb 18, 2014 at 16:21
  • 2
    Mihail is right. You cannot do anything. In the future don't be ashamed to ask escrow funding or work hourly. All freelancing websites will cover such work and device in your favor. And have courage to decline work if clients refuses to fund escrow.
    – Peter MV
    Feb 18, 2014 at 20:14
  • 1
    @PeterMV, actually, since the client is a US based company he may have a copyright violation claim. It depends on how the contract was worded. Also, it probably isn't worth pursuing for $200...
    – daaxix
    Jun 26, 2014 at 15:35
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    Dana, if you see your unpaid images on his website, you can contact his web host provider and request a DMCA take down of the material. Right transfers don't happen until the bill is paid, and he's using your intellectual property.
    – Voxwoman
    Aug 31, 2015 at 3:14

The job description can usually tell you many things about the client, especially its style, tone, demands, and promised rates. I work in writing, though, but even there we have "clients" who come up with "URGENT", PLZ" and similar "shoutings" often in all-caps. Behind such words, there is most likely someone with embarrassingly-low rates and beyond-realistic demands; in addition, they usually have excuses not to pay you once you finish work.

I see you mention that horrible and ridiculous word "turnaround". You work in a creative industy and you should never allow anyone to treat you as an assembly lane worker. Asking how many words or graphic images you can do per hour is basically the same as asking how much capacitors you can attach to a board or how many square meters of wall you can paint in an hour. With all respects to factory workers and painters, you need to tell yourself you are not that kind of provider.

I agree that most clients are hesitant to fund an escrow account prior to the work completing. However, this can help you tell a good client by reading job descriptions:

  • Detailed job description explaining what they actually want and why they need it.
  • Use of paragraph, orthography: This includes using proper capitalization and punctuation.
  • Good grammar: They may not be natives, but if they're serious, they will manage to have the job proposal written fluently.
  • Guidelines for your job proposal: What would they want to know about you, your experience, abilities, skills that matter, etc.
  • Good track record on Elance: A considerable sum of money has been spent on previous Elance work.
  • Formality: These include elements of a formal letter and the client's representative's name.
  • 1
    This doesn't really answer the question, but contains good information. Perhaps you can ask a new question, and post this as its answer?
    – Canadian Luke
    Jun 10, 2015 at 15:53
  • Yes, it looks like a good tutorial, but it does not reply to this question directly. Yet again, I don't think it should be deleted.
    – Peter MV
    Jun 11, 2015 at 14:23
  • Yes please from me, to moving this to a self-answered question!
    – halfer
    Sep 1, 2015 at 14:43

I have a perfect rating on a number of platforms, as well as among ongoing, long-standing external clientele.

I vet them thoroughly, politely decline well more projects than I accept.

Only once a rapport, thorough understanding and open relationship are established, I then deliver the finished product BEFORE I enter a formal offer, acceptance or contract.

This prevents any negative reviews and 100% mutual satisfaction.


You could tell the client that you are unable to work until the escrow is funded as per Elance rules. You may get lucky and get paid, or you may get completely burned but chances are you’re not going to get paid by just waiting around.

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