Several months ago I had the need for an additional project beyond my company's capacity. vWorker seemed the ideal solution.
I found what appeared to be a well qualified individual who was very helpful and friendly, and had a very positive relationship. As the project progressed, my confidence in the work grew, and I allowed the worker extra time to finish a challenging task.
Based on progress and quality I was able to confidently bid on a large commercial project (for which this would be a small but critical part) and was successful. I was able to hire some local resources based on my client's deposit. my client was happy and everything appeared to be going smoothly.
Then I noticed some problems with the quality of the code and reported them to worker. Instead of addressing the problem, the worker became highly combative, and outright insulting, and placed the project into arbitration.
One would expect the vworker arbitrator to see through that, particularly as the worker posted even more insults and what should have been plainly seen as falsehoods to the point of libel (and I am well aware of the legal definition of the word).
The developer continued to email and harrass me through postings to the site for several weeks. The arbitrator ruled that the arbitration raised against me (which stops all work and ties up the funds, preventing me from continuing with another developer) was unfounded, but did not end the arbitration or address any of the violations by the worker which their own ts+cs clearly state will result in the arbitration being thrown out.
Instead vworker insisted that I set a new deadline (not one I agreed to, but one they imposed, based on obviously inaccurate information provided by the developer). To add insult to injury, they stated that if I did not agree to this deadline I would be guilty of stalling the arbitration process -- something that the developer had been doing for weeks, while my relationship with my client degraded and I paid salaries to my local workers to wait for a project that was effectively frozen.
I could go on and on. vworker will not take the project out of arbitration, and insist that I accept work from this worker (including using my own resources to repeatedly test it and report back issues -- indefinitely as far as I can tell). Even though I have made it clear I have lost the contract and have no further use for this work -- thanks to the delaying tactics of this developer and the indifference of the arbitrator.
At this point, my opportunity is lost and I have made a significant loss: far more than the cost of hiring the vworker. I am luck in that I have the legal resources to file against vworker, but many who use them will not. They have several very difficult Ts+Cs to challenge:
- You pay up front and have to acknowledge you have no further right to the funds.
- You have to acknowledge that arbitration rules are final whether or not they are reasonable or fair.
- You have to follow arbitrator instructions to the letter or risk immediate forfeit (which means all funds). Sounds easy until the other party posts falsehoods and the arbitrator instructs you that you may not respond, then the arbitrator demonstrates he/she believes those falsehoods.
- The arbitrator can make any decision unilaterally, will ignore valid points and demonstrate that he/she has not even read your entire argument.
- The arbitrator is judge, jury and executioner, and has a main mission of protecting Exhedra from further liability, whether or not it is the fair or correct outcome.
- The developer can place the project in arbitration at any time for any reason. You will have no protection, and your project can be tied up for months.
I will keep everyone posted how I get on in the legal battle to come.
While I ultimately must blame myself for choosing such a high risk scheme, some of the risks were not obvious, and I urge anyone who wants to hire a vworker developer: think carefully. You might get a quick and low-cost win, but the risks are enormous and vworker is unlikely to lift a finger to protect you from rogue developers -- and they can tie you in knots for months at a time.