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Last updated: Feb. 26, 2016

28 Elance Consumer Reviews and Complaints

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Feb. 26, 2016

Hired a company to complete a website. They did not complete the job. Paid $850 with $450 in escrow. Sent messages to Elance indicating the provider was not responsive and did not complete the job. Elance told me if the provider did not agree to the terms no funds will be released. Elance released funds automatically after telling me they would not unless the provider accepted the terms then told me that they would charge me $895 to arbitrate the matter. They ignored the dispute resolution phase which is supposed to be mandatory and said I did not agree to pay the $895 to arbitrate. Clearly Elance did not read the emails and allowed the provider to keep the money because they get paid a percentage of what the provider earns. I sent correspondence from support but nothing.

Original review: Feb. 24, 2016

Two years ago I was hired through Elance. I completed my assigned task and the company transferred the earnings as requested. I am still waiting for the earnings to be made available to me. They said first I needed to add a profile picture which I couldn't do due to an error on their site. Then they said I needed to make an appointment on Skype to verify my identity. The only times which were available were very early in the morning or during the night. So far I have made two appointments, one at 5 am and one at 7 am. I was not contacted at either time. Still waiting for the money which I earned.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Feb. 11, 2016

I hired a company listed as NYC studios to do my website design for $439.00. The preliminary design looked good and they requested funding to complete and deliver. When funding was forwarded, they disappeared, did not respond to requests for arbitration -- as Elance set up -- and Elance basically washed their hands of the situation saying they were only a "service to get business people together". They also cancelled the offending party's account, so I can't track him down to pursue legal remedy; but of course he showed up with another, undaunted. DON'T USE ELANCE OR UPWORK... THEY WILL NOT PROTECT YOU!

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Nov. 6, 2015

Woohoo. I got back my money from this ** called Elance. I was also frustrated by my Elance account suspension and even after a 1 month of email exchanges they were still holding all my payment amount. And it was more than 6000 USD which is a good amount for me. Finally, I had taken some steps and got all my money from different channel. I just don't want to post the trick here as it may be visible to Elance ** people. If anybody is interested to know, I will be happy to share the trick in personal message.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 29, 2015

Several months ago, I signed up with Elance is a marketplace that brings businesses that need writing services together with freelance writers seeking jobs. Elance claims an annual business volume of 200 million dollar or so. They recently 'merged' with Upwork, a competitor. The company has plenty of job offerings both locally and from all over the world. Jobs offered are not only writing jobs. I signed up for writing and translation. Freelance writers can potentially make lots of money if they can find customers willing to hire them. That is where comes in. They find businesses in need of writing and post the jobs on their website. Freelance writer then bid on the jobs.

The trouble begins right there. Bidding is open to freelancers worldwide. That means that a writer in the United States has to compete directly with writers from many developing countries and countries with low cost of living. The result? Bids are extremely low. As low as hourly rates of two dollars. Even quite demanding proofreading jobs pay less than 10 dollars. Ghostwriting an eBook of about 100 pages gets you an hourly rate of maybe 15 dollars. More likely less than that. A writer in Africa can live on that.

Just as important as the extremely low payment rates are the fees charged a writer on his earned income and, worse yet, the transfer conditions for his hard earned dollars. Elance charges a writer 8.75% of his income for their services. They double dip by charging the vendor an even higher amount for their listing. I could live with that because elance provides the platform and opportunity for writers to make money. Enter Upwork! They are charging their writers a flat 10% fee. Of course, they also take the job providers to the toll booth.

Now listen to this: When a writer has finally earned a little and his earnings are released from 'escrow', he is free to transfer his earnings at any time to his bank. So you think Elance thinks differently and so does You have to tell them to which account to transfer your funds. You tell them. Then you get an friendly email happily announcing, that for security reasons, you cannot make a transfer now. Wait five days for Elance/Upwork to check security and then transfer the funds you earned. Never mind they are yours. Elance/Upwork is so concerned with the security and safety of your account that they have to check your Paypal or any other account. I bet they even are concerned about the security of the prepaid debit card they offer.

I am convinced that this pseudo concern with the security of your own account is just another way for Elance/Upwork to hang on a little longer to your money. Why? First of all, when it comes to their fees Elance/Upwork have no such scruples. They have authorized themselves to charge the fees immediately to your account. No waiting period for security reasons! Secondly, the CEO of Elance is a former Paypal manager. He was there at a time when Paypal was pulling similar shenanigans on their customers. I did not trust Paypal then and I do not trust the intentions of and now. They are shady practices unworthy a company that claims to turn over 200 million dollars a year.

Third, if you search the Internet for reviews of and complaints about, you will find a myriad of complaints. Most are associated with waiting periods, delayed release of customer funds, and often seemingly arbitrary account freezes for security concerns. Sometimes they call it security reasons. Nevertheless, they have the same effect. and sit on the money of freelancers while investigating security concerns. Some complaints claim for months, holding thousands of dollars. At a 200 million dollar volume we are talking substantial interest amounts flowing in the coffers of elance and I cannot vouch for the merits of these complaints but their frequency and similar pattern speaks volumes.

The companies respond to the complaints with the proven and tested "gotcha" approach. They ignore contact emails. If they answer, they do so with some canned text that does not address the complaint. Worse yet, they point to some obscure provisions in their terms of service. and run on complex software. It usually works rather well but mastery has a learning curve. The concept of bringing together businesses in need writers for their websites, social media sites, sales and marketing material, and freelance writers who can perform these services is a good one but a word of caution is appropriate. First, it is extremely difficult to get hired as a freelancer if you do not have a track record. It can take weeks and months before a freelancer lands a job. And then it is most likely massively underpaid.

Most importantly, as a writer, you have to worry whether you will get your hard earned money or how many obstacles and put before money transfer into your account. Remember, they have security concerns about your account. Do they want to prevent you from squandering it on wine, women, and song? Not with income from! I cannot trust any business that engages in questionable and shady practices like fake security concerns. and their security concerns for my Paypal account remind me of an eerily similar experience. I had a Paypal account running for a while. Then out of nowhere Paypal developed security concerns. They requested information they already had on file for a year or so. I told them where to put their account 'security concerns', withdrew all funds and left them sitting with a worthless, empty, unused account. It is still sitting there but the executive in charge at that time has now moved to and with him the security concerns.

If and did not have functioning websites, vendors, and freelancers actively involved in business, I would call this a sham business. Since they do, a say that their CEO, chairman of the board, and the entire management should be ashamed of their objectionable "security concerns". That is definitely an excuse for keeping other people's hard-earned money in their pockets a little longer. Shame on and shame on the CEO of

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Oct. 20, 2015

I have been on Elance as a service provider for years. On Friday October 16 at 12:05 pm I received an email without any notice that my account was being put on hold because of what they deemed to be in "violation of their terms". I talked to a customer service rep who said I would need to speak with someone in Risk Management, but they only communicate via email. I finally got an explanation via email that they were suspicious of activity on my account in relation of a current client of mine. They seemed to think that the transactions were not real. After providing them exactly the information they asked for, they then proceeded to require me do an identity verification check, which I did. They then proceeded to ask for a verification of my credit card. A card that has already been verified and has had activity.

As of right now I am still waiting to be able to access my account to withdraw MY funds (they do not belong to Elance). The amount is over $2,000 and I cannot access it, and I am having to go through all of these steps because they made a determination that my account activity "may" violate their terms. I was given no notice that my account was under review... Was given no chance to address the issue. I have had great experience with Elance for years... But this is ridiculous. DO NOT do business with this company if you are not prepared to have your money held without cause!

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Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: Sept. 10, 2015

I had a 5-star rating on Elance, which means that my clients were perfectly happy with me. Out of the blue Elance sends me an email saying I have bad client feedback and I am on "probation" of sorts. I tried and tried again to find out who was unhappy with my work. The help person would send me back canned responses. I got mad and cancelled my account. To make matters even more frustrating, I just got an email saying that I haven't improved and so they are closing my account. So someone is unhappy with me but I am not allowed to defend myself and they can't even tell me what this was about. I don't even believe them. They lost a freelancer that was making them money--it makes no sense. If you are a freelancer STAY AWAY from Elance. They will treat you like crap.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: Aug. 12, 2015

Beware of Elance - Use at your own risk. I have contracted developers from Elance which have pulled out midway through, leaving me with an unfinished build and partial source codes. After filing a dispute with Elance the developer agreed to return a portion of the funds paid to him. That developer never returned the funds and removed his company and himself from Elance. When I asked Elance for assistance I was told that they could only provide me with his contact info and I could pursue this matter outside of Elance.

So lets review - a developer promoted on their webpage, quits the job and agrees to refund me. Instead he closes shop, runs and the organization promoting him, collecting their job fees along with developers payment tells me to pursue him outside of them. Elance is designed to bring foreign developers (mine from India) to American entrepreneurs. They wash their hands of the matter providing zero assistance. So now I must hire a lawyer from India (on my own) to retrieve my funds. I never the job completed, lost money and must chase this developer. Save yourself the aggravation, headache and lost fund. STAY FAR AWAY, FAR FAR AWAY FROM ELANCE.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: July 17, 2015

A friend of mine recommended me and I tried to use it. I was trying to authenticate my credit card. I was charged to authenticate my credit card and now I can't even log in at I always receive the same message saying: "Your Elance account is expired". I made 3 requests at Elance Customer Support and didn't receive any contact from them. I tried to call them and they said that they don't know what happened and they will return my contact in 48 hours. That's really a problem because I am about to lose a job opportunity because my boss was willing to pay me by Elance and now my account is expired!!!? That's seems to be scam. All my requests are ignored and you CHARGED my credit card. That's a shame.

Original review: July 17, 2015

I received an email on 7/13 from risk management, stating they were suspicious I opened two accounts and therefore violated the terms of service agreement. I mostly use Elance as a freelancer, but recently had hired someone to help with an IT project. I have all five star reviews and have generated thousands of dollars in revenue. The risk management group went on to state my account was being "locked" while they investigate the duplicate account issue. Mind you, the person I hired is a man with a different name, from three states away. I am not sure how they concluded these were one person trying to sneakily create duplicate accounts.

Anyway, I have a good amount of money in my account for withdraw and am unable to do so. I have several pending projects as well. I promptly replied to the risk management email, as directed, and have yet to receive any type of response. I have phoned customer service 3 times since then and sent follow-up emails to no avail. Customer service tells me that risk management does not have phone access (huh?) and therefore, they can only send emails stating I request my issue be expedited. Until my account is unlocked for "suspicious" activity, I am unable to withdraw funds from work that I completed and am owed money. I have submitted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. I plan to deactivate my Elance account and take my clients and business elsewhere. Such a waste!

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Verified Buyer
Original review: July 6, 2015

I did work through Elance in March, April of this year - earning $561.16. Without conversation or any form of open communication - they FROZE MY ACCOUNT so that I could not withdraw the money fairly earned. My customers were happy with the work I did (market research and report writing). They froze my account in early April.. It has now been THREE MONTHS - I have verified my identity and complied with all of their requests yet they are non-responsive. I have attempted via email, online customer service and telephone to discuss this yet the business unit does not speak to customers - so customer service sends a note to try and get a response. What do I need to do to withdraw MY MONEY? Could you please advise?

Verified Reviewer
Original review: July 2, 2015

As far as I can tell Elance/Upworth is mining information against their publicly stated policies. They froze my account and withheld my earned account balance, refusing to call me directly (it is this department's policy not to call anyone) or contact me back via email for over a day. Even though I have 5 star reviews, have been an active user for years, verified my ownership and name with multiple US banks through their website for over a year, and gave them my government issued EIN. They failed to give any explanation for the freeze until I call in. When they claimed that the bank account name differed from the contact name, I removed all business names and changed them all to the same personal name associated with the bank account. After doing this they provided no feedback, just a generic reply that directed me to a page.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: June 24, 2015

I have used Elance for years and overall I have not had issues until recently. I work with a few clients who have added me as team members so I can post jobs and hire freelancers for them. This triggered an alert so it looks like I created multiple user accounts. The support team was actually really nice but I was not contacted by the risk management team until 5 days after the support ticket was opened, and that was after 2 phone calls. There is no access to the risk management team which is very frustrating. I have sent multiple replies, made multiple phone calls, and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureaus. It really should take no longer than 3 days to resolve an issue. 12 days is definitely too long; especially without an update.

Verified Reviewer Verified Buyer
Original review: June 16, 2015

I filed a request for refund and was denied because of this: "Dispute Resolution. There are no time sheets submitted with billable hours to dispute over. Payment of past time sheets cannot be disputed over. Disputes for hourly jobs must be filed within the 5-day 'time sheet review' period once time sheet is submitted by Freelancer."

How could I know within the time periods of these time sheets that work was not being done correctly? It took another developer to rebuild the site before we identified the problems. Not only that, but I had gathered an extensive amount of evidence (that was not even reviewed) including a video of the Freelancer holding my passwords as extortion in return for a good review. So what about your good practices/ code of conduct?

I read through it and this freelancer crossed your line numerous times. But 'cause I didn't file within 5 days of each pay period, I'm not eligible for a refund. Instead you are going to continue to let this freelancer operate and take advantage of additional customers. You have no real protection for your customers in an hourly billing situation. In no way could I have known after each pay period that the work was not functional. It took hiring another developer to expose the coding errors and hacked extensions. Please have this freelancer try to show you a working site that they delivered to me, they can't. The site looks good but does not work. Again there was no way for me to know until I stopped them and had another developer look at it. I am going to file a compliant with BBB and look into legal advice due to the lack of protection you provide to a customer who has an hourly bid job.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: June 7, 2015

Contracted architect to deliver construction documents for single family home. Architect bid was high, but his references appeared to be legit. Red flag #1 he was anxious to start and finish when I tried to make it a 60 project. After money was delivered on time I received renderings and simple items... but nothing I can take to a builder or bank and get estimates. When I complained I was sent more beautiful renderings. Now I was worried that he embellished his credentials to get my money.

Project was to be complete in 30 days as he suggested. He was paid the final installment of $4000.00 in Oct 2014. It is now June 2015. He emails once a month saying he has family problems etc etc. He promises he will send my plans but nothing. When I complained to Elance they said there was nothing they can do since I paid him already! I asked them to ban him from their site until this is resolved! So he won't take others money! I sent Elance all his emails. Nothing happened still. They don't care. I have used Elance 2 times. I strongly do no not recommend this site for any transactions involving $100.00 or more. To many people looking to get experience on behalf of your dollar! My dream home plans up in smoke. :( Thanks Elance.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: May 10, 2015

Elance suddenly suspended my account. So, I can't bid on job anymore. Technical support explained me to upgrade, I did. They instructed me to verify, I did. I also verified all staff members. Somebody hacked my account and added "Payoneer" & "Skrill" account. Even after complain, no feedback form Elance. They blocked my account without any intimation, & all my earnings is probably lost. There is no positive/helpful feedback on any complaint for last 10 days.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: May 5, 2015

I just had my account shut down on Elance as someone who was testing the waters to hire freelancers to complete programming tasks for my startup. I have to say the one freelancer I hired who accepted a proposal did an amazing job. I had one other one who flaked out, and no bites on the 5 other jobs I posted. I think the reason my account was shut down is ludicrous. Because my jobs haven't led to activity? I posted 10 private jobs of which only 2 people applied for after I invited over 100? I don't understand why my account was suspended? If my jobs are private, it's not like others are out there trying to apply for them. Of the two people I hired, one completely flaked out on me mid-job, and the other completed the job and was paid upon completion. As far as I'm concerned their system failed me, which is why I don't understand why my account was closed? What's the point of private listings, if you have to have them fulfilled?

That's what I had understood one of the comforts of posting a private listing, as that I didn't have people applying for a job without me not issuing it. I had a strict criteria of candidates, of which none applied. I wasn't low-balling either. I agreed to pay their market rate. Was I supposed to withdraw my jobs after nobody qualified for them? Or should I have loosened up my requirements and given the work to someone who was unqualified? Or should I just not post requirements which might not find a qualified candidate and hire a proper firm? You've left me in the dark here with no reasonable explanation. The fact that I am expected to commission unqualified candidates is sheer lunacy. Perhaps I set the bar too high in hoping to use Elance. Perhaps it's more for hobbyist programmers? I will be happy to take my business to any of the competing freelance companies.

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Original review: April 21, 2015

I engaged the services of a freelancer through the user of their online service. Half way through the project, I get an email indicating that both my account and the freelancer's accounts have been suspended because they suspect it was created by the same individual. Follow up calls to their customer services is answered with "Risk Management is looking into it and will resolve it." It has now been over 3 weeks and I don't have any resolution. They will not call you back, despite several emails and phone calls to them asking for a return call. In the meantime, I am out of the $$$ that I have paid thru their website and the project is on hold. Also, the freelancer is out of the money he was supposed to have received. The project status is on hold until they "research it." No timeline, no return phone calls, no follow-up despite repeated requests.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: April 14, 2015

I have been calling and trying to work with Elance for the past five weeks. They have locked my account due to inactivity in my account (I hadn't filled out a status report from one of my clients). As soon as I was made aware of this I immediately took all the actions that they requested. What followed was radio silence. You cannot speak to Risk Management (who start at 12:00 EST) and they are the only people that can clear my account. I was told by one of the CS reps that people have been waiting over a month for their account and there is nothing they can do. Now I am waiting on payment of over $1000.00 and cannot accept another job from a happy client which is another $1000.00 job. The customer service reps are not empowered to do ANYTHING and the poor things just have to listen to complaints.

When I finally got a manager on the phone he was rude and told me there was nothing he could do either and that they were waiting for more information from my client. That was the first time I had heard that in FIVE weeks. I should not be held accountable for the lack of action on their side. I have lost five weeks of work, am unable to pay my bills because they are holding my money and are no help. I am completely helpless and now plan to place this message in as many places as possible in hopes that management will hear this and made some necessary changes to their business model.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: March 30, 2015

In January, 2015, I hired a Freelancer via Elance to fine tune and promote my Kickstarter Campaign for my life-saving book for women. In January I made the initial $400.00 - in February the final $40.00 to complete my obligation for a fixed price account of $800.00. On 1/12/15 the Freelancer asked I release $400 from Escrow as she said funds were needed for pre-marketing campaigns, articles, press release, etc. I saw nothing. In February she asked that the other $400 in Escrow be released and that I would have product by 2/25 "Wednesday." To date I have received NOTHING from the Freelancer and Elance says that unless she gives them permission, I am out $800.00.

As a Senior Citizen who made these two payments as required from my monthly Social Security checks, I am horrified. I cannot afford this loss and this non-response. The reason I chose this particular Freelancer is that Elance gave her a 5-Star rating saying that she had 22 jobs with $9,385 in earnings to date. "That on a 1-5 Scale!" I now feel that I have been misled by their rating of this Freelancer else I would never have signed on with her and trusted her with my monies.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: March 3, 2015

A well-designed user interface is extremely important for web-based services. Elance fails in this department. After writing up a job description and supposedly saving it, I was unable to find anything in the jumble that passes for a user interface. I have other complaints, but I'll just lump it all into what I consider negligence in the form of poor interfaces. I asked to have my account canceled, and Elance refuses to do that, which is why I felt compelled to make this complaint.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: Feb. 16, 2015

I have worked on for over 5 years and brought clients to the website as well. I do administrative, customer service and much more on there. I have only had a few small incidents during my time on the website. I send my friends and family there when they ask how to find legit work from home jobs. There are the occasional scammer on there, but an informed freelancer won't take those jobs. There's even a part of the help center that teaches you how to avoid the scammers. As we all know, scammers end up everywhere, even legit websites have issues keeping them away. It’s a full time job.

Elance is not responsible for refunding money when jobs go bad, the Freelancer is responsible for that. If I take a job for someone and my client is not happy with my work, then yea, I need to refund them. I see one person called it a staffing company. LOL. Elance is not a staffing company, they are platform that brings together freelancers and businesses that need their services.

I'm amazed at the complete user ignorance in these posts on this website. Has anyone that commented here actually learned how to use the platform correctly? Did you even realize you were hiring and choosing your own freelancer? Or in the case of those who hired or worked… managing your own job? The website gives us all we need to succeed. SMH. I have made well over 40,000 usd in the past few years doing small jobs on for various companies that needed my skills. It's a global marketplace where jobs can be found by all skill levels and price levels.

I give a 5 star rating. Sure their customer service for the website could be faster (I've had my issues in the past too) but the website is not liable for your stupidity of how to use it, when they give you everything you need to learn and you don't read, watch the E University videos, how can you blame them for your ignorance? Really? Elance is a valuable resource to someone trying to make a decent living from home, especially stay at home moms like me. Just be smart and read about how to spot the scammers!

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: Jan. 10, 2015

I asked Elance for a refund, but their customer service is poor and they told me they "never received a complaint". ** is the worst of the worst. I basically held his hand and gave him more than enough information (SQL Fiddle with proper data, a somewhat working query, and explicit instructions) and he still dropped the ball. He kept sending me queries which were exactly not what I asked for, and after I told him this, he tried sending me random queries and asked me to "try them out". They didn't even return what I was looking for in the SQL Fiddle much less my actual site. I would NOT recommend him, and frankly, I wouldn't recommend Elance either. Please be careful of this Elance scammer, he just stolen from me $700! When you authorize it to do the job, he just asks for more money and claim you did not describe properly the task. Be careful!!!

Verified Reviewer
Original review: Nov. 17, 2014

After reading a job spec from Elance (the first time I have come across that agency) I was interested in the work but replied asking for more information and suggesting that they try to use more correct English. After a couple of exchanges in which no useful information was added I got a reply from them (from Hardik **) as follows: "I think your not right candidate. Take your knowledge with you." If Elance is looking to find people willing to take on work they should be thinking about providing more complete job specs and providing better staff training.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: Nov. 13, 2014

Without any prior notice elance stop expired my account even I have existing contract with 450$ a month. They should not close this account even some bad issue. They can limit feature but I totally disagree, they will not close an account. They should warn. Elance scam my money more than 1000k in future life income. I must go to court and get official notice. It's our career issue. So if you work hard, take exam test and other hard work all will be vain.

Verified Reviewer
Original review: Jan. 3, 2013

Elance has been a good place to do freelance work and grow my business. But recently, there has been a number of scammers that use their site to get free work done. They pass verification and are allowed to hire on Elance. I have lost over $1,000 to these scammers and also have gone through a lot of stress and mental torment. They have refused to help me out and even suspended my freelance account with them, so I am being penalized for bringing scammers to their attention. It is my fault that disputes has risen from scammers that they allow in their platform. They have it in fine print that they provide a guarantee for payment but they did not follow it and decided to suspend me. I am hoping to find a way to make them liable for this.

Original review: June 23, 2011

Elance abuses privacy! I have just been informed by a third party that Elance released my transaction history! This third party is not a registered user of Elance, there was no subpoena, no warrant and no request from any law enforcement agency. But this third party was able to send several well-crafted emails to Elance inquiring about my account, acting as a third party and was able to get access to my transactional history. Be warned of Elance. They do not protect your privacy.

Original review: July 27, 2010

I joined Elance and paid the $20 monthly fee. I bid on two jobs, was awarded one, and successfully completed that job. The client marked it completed, paid me through Elance's system and left positive feedback. When I next signed in two days later, my Elance account was blocked from viewing any new job postings. I contacted Elance seven times before receiving their response, which was that they had a problem, not with me but with someone else's account. They couldn't tell me the nature of that problem out of privacy concerns, but until the other account holder resolved the problem I could not view any new job postings. Elance did quietly refund my money, but they are refusing to remove the block on my account or adequately explain why it was ever imposed. So two stars because they did refund my money, but what a bizarre way to conduct business. I cannot recommend Elance.

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