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I’m sure it’s happened to you. You hired a contractor on oDesk, and for some reason it just didn’t work out. Perhaps they stopped responding, or perhaps they just did terrible work. Either way, the question remains: should I leave a negative feedback for this contractor or not?
Your gut reaction might be, “Sure, I’m the client. What do I as the client have to lose?” Well, it’s not that easy. Many clients fear leaving a bad feedback because they worry the contractor will reciprocate with an equally bad review. This can damage the client’s ability to hire good contractors in the future.
In this article, we’ll look at the feedback tools oDesk offers and how to use them to your benefit as a client.
oDesk gives contractors and clients the opportunity to leave feedback for one another after a job has been completed. This feedback is beneficial for everyone; it helps clients make good hiring decisions and allows contractors to share their perspectives. Not too long ago, I wrote a pretty extensive article on why oDesk feedback matters.
As pointed out on the oDesk support site, leaving feedback for contractors is quite simple:
oDesk separates feedback into public and private sections. The private section asks the client why the contract is being ended and if he or she would hire the freelancer again for a similar project. This section is not visible to the contractor or the oDesk community. The public section asks for a feedback score based on a 5 star system for the following attributes: skills, quality of work, availability, adherence to schedule, communication, and cooperation. The public section is what becomes visible on the freelancer’s profile.
oDesk’s feedback system is considered “double-blind.” In other words, you can leave a negative review for a contractor, and that contractor may not see your feedback until one of two events happens: 1) the contractor leaves a feedback OR 2) 14 days have passed (read more here).
Also, the client appears to have the most control over the feedback relationship. If a contractor sees your negative public feedback and wants to change his or her review to take out vengeance, you would have to give the contractor the power to do so from the contract room. That’s an unlikely scenario, unless you’re easily manipulated.
At the moment, I’m not aware of a simple way for clients review their oDesk feedback scores. When doing research for this post, I only see two options for reviewing your client feedback rating: 1) posting a job and reviewing what contractors see (see below) or 2) reviewing each contract individually within the team room. If you go with option 1, you’ll see something like this in the right and bottom margin of the job post.
Here’s the bad news – I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. oDesk does provide certain safeguards for you as the client, particularly the double blind process and 14-day review period. However, some clients are still squeamish about leaving a bad public review, regardless the process. When in doubt, if you’re still unsure about leaving a bad public review, you could leave a truncated public review (maybe 3 stars? plus a luke-warm comment) and also leave a private review that would be sent to oDesk to investigate. However, I’d encourage you to develop your own internal policies for leaving positive and negative feedback. Some clients prefer to be more forward in public reviews, while others prefer to be more passive and chalk up mistakes partially to their own fault. It’s up to you.