I am a Ph.D. Student at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal studying social networking and Business Models. As part of our research, we wanted to develop a social networking site, and openly invited bidders in freelancer.com to bid, clearly giving a detailed project specification.
The company GaiaGrid supposedly based in New Jersey, bid for our project at 2300 Euros. Since they were one of the lowest bidders, had a good presentation of portfolio, we fell into their trap despite them not having a single review on freelancer.com. It was the biggest blunder we did and this report is to warn all potential customers to beware of GaiaGrid.
Their CEO initially claimed to have more than 5 years of experience. Their website states that they have a permanent design office in Hamburg, Germany and a development office in Bangalore, India. They claimed to finish teh whoel project in less than 2 months, and the designing in just 2 weeks. Despite being a complex project, I asked them again and again and their CEO confidently confirmed it. As per their proposal we sent them an advance of 575 Euros meant for designing phase. They also wanted to develop the platform over Social Engine, so we sent extra 240 Euros for buying license fee.
After the confirmation, the ordeal started. I later realised that they have no office in Germany nor in Bangalore. Even the address on their site points to prominent office buildings without any floor details. Their lone CCO, is a talented young student working from home, but busy with exams and other projects. He devoted 2 days to my project.... and then stopped. For 2 weeks I saw no progress. On informing their CEO, I was told off that this is how design works, otherwise I can stop the project and take my designs (but no refunds)
After another week of no progress, it was handed over to another designer in Bangalore, who was working part time. She had informed me that this is being done as a part time job for her, and hence not to expect too quick development. I was concerned about the very slow progress, but at least she was delivering a good design. We had just begun the third page, when the CEO interrupted by saying that I am using up too much of time, and that this project was costing him too many hours.
In those 2 months that was all that was produced, 3 pages of design.... no html, just 30% of the total design work. There was no effort in trying to understand the project, no wireframes.... everything was left to be sorted between me and the freelancer designers. Instead of being apologetic, they started blaming me, and even said they will increase costs.
After that I was convinced that this company does not have the capabilities to deliver. There was total lack of communication, no planning, haphazard approach. Later the designer told me that she hasnt been paid in 3 months, and hence does not feel good about uploading the designs for the 4th page despite having finished it. I was also told that this is just a fledgling company just trying to set up an office at Noida.
By then I had realised that this company does not have the capabilities to deliver, and told them to cancel our contract and refund at least the social engine license fee since they did not buy any license. Instead they sent me a bill of 7000 US Dollars, threatening me with legal action, if I write about my experiences with their scam company.
In short we paid 815 Euros for 3 pages of JPG design. I feel it is my duty to warn others from not falling into their trap.