While trying not to make this a rant, I'm actually considering a suit against them for slander (I realize the term for written defamation is libel, but by writing individual emails to my clients instead of publishing it in a newspaper, for example, it's more like slander to me).
They have a Dispute Resolution Center. Last summer it was used by a client for whom I wrote an e-book because she was upset that I refused to rewrite her e-book for her because she wanted to take a different direction. She had approved my proposed Table of Contents before I started and while I may have gone off on a tangent, and I was willing to edit that part, I stuck to the Table of Contents she approved very well. At that time they were just starting their Dispute Resolution Center and had a consultant on board who is a professional mediator - an attorney who has written numerous journal articles about arbitration and mediation. I prevailed in that instance because, well, I was right. I was still willing to edit the part that was arguably a little off, but the client walked away.
Then a grant writing client went through the DRC to ask for a full refund because they didn't have a grant yet - after three months of delays caused mostly by them. I had written a draft proposal and some other related documents for them.
At that point, someone working there named "Stacey," suspended my account because she was receiving "numerous" phone calls and letters of complaint. I found that interesting because their own Terms of Service states that they will only handle disputes by email. And no other client had spoken with me.
I agreed to a 50% refund for these clients. Instead of saying, "thank you for your cooperation," Stacey said she would provide my contact information for any client who wished to take action against me for fraud and theft. She also said the "deal" (I provide the 50% refund to the clients) was off if I didn't have the money in her hand by such and such a date. I later found out her previous experience had been in credit card collections, and she did treat me exactly as though I was a deadbeat credit card customer. Apparently all the training in mediation was lost on her. Even when a dispute would start out with one of Stacey's sane coworkers, Heidi or Cara, somehow Stacey would horn in on our conversation and I'd again be the deadbeat.
Back to providing contact information to clients who asked, I said that was fine, as all the clients should have my contact information anyway, but expressed concern about giving out my social security number, which I felt was excessive and possibly would open me up for identity theft, and I provided my business EIN.
Implicit in this communication from Stacey was that she was providing my full contact information to those who would contact her. What she did: contact every client for whom I had ever bid on a project, whether they had complained or not. I had 18 active clients and only 2 verified complainants, one of whom was determined to be not necessarily valid, and the other whom I thought I had reached an acceptable compromise. Because the Terms of Service says they will not converse about a dispute over the phone, I have to believe that the "numerous complaints by phone" she claimed to have received "every day" must have been a lie. She sent an email which encouraged all of my clients to take action against me for theft and fraud.
I knew nothing about this until my clients started emailing me. A few of them demanded an explanation, which I provided, but in the end, most of them had the attitude of "so...are you still writing my grant?" There was one who said she was going to sue me. A couple of weeks later, her business partner wrote to me and said, "I've missed receiving weekly updates from you. What's going on?" I said, "Ummm...we aren't working together anymore. Evidence of this was your indication you were going to sue me. I will still provide a refund to you rather than facing a lawsuit, but I need a little time to gather the money." Apparently the partner knew nothing about this and later "Sharon" the partner I'd been dealing with, wrote and basically said, "never mind; let's just keep going."
If you are any kind of freelancer be CAREFUL about Guru. You pay the fees but the employers are always right. They have practically ruined my writing career just because some clients used their dispute resolution center for its precise purpose - to settle disputes.
Sioux City, Iowa