I have hired dozens of contractors via Odesk and only have about a 50% success rate finding people who are actually as qualified as they represent themselves to be. That being said, I have gotten smarter about how to pay these people, but one recent incident infuriates me about the Odesk management lack of support for me, the client.
This particular contractor provided very shoddy work even though I gave her repeated tries to produce what I needed. She was to illustrate a children's book for me. Her work continued to be substandard so, after her second horrible illustration, I told her I was ending the contract. I tried to be nice and let her down gently. She turned on me like a rabid dog!
I had paid her a 25% upfront advance to get her contract started. When I ended the contract, I advised Odesk and sent them copies of the emails (screen shots) where she told me she was going to take my manuscript, remove my name, and publish the book under her name. I also sent them the emails where she threatened to "follow me to the grave", defame me anywhere and everywhere she could, etc. In response, Odesk's "help" desk quoted their policy to me.
Even though I have spent thousands of dollars with Odesk, they had the nerve to quote standard policy to me stating that once I paid any money on a "fixed price" contract, it was no longer their responsiblity to help me get a refund. And, they told me they suspended this contractor's account, yet I did a search on her name and guess what? Up popped her full profile and her availability so that I could try to hire her for another job. Further infuriated by their lying to me about her suspension even after I provided them with the damning evidence of her horrible nature and unprofessional behavior, I have requested six times now over the past two weeks that a manager call me or email me to resolve this situation. No one has contacted me other than the "help" desk technician who, by the way, keeps spouting off Odesk's lousy policy to me.
I'd say, if you have another option, use it before going to Odesk. Once my current contracts with them are through (the ones where the contractor actually is who she/he says he or she is and where they are very qualified), I will end my relationship with Odesk. After all, a 50% success rate stinks. By the way, I am VERY specific about requirements, expectations, deadlines, etc. on my job posting and subsequent contracts. These contractors are just flat out lying and Odesk lets them get away with it.