Small business owners and entrepreneurs have a lot to think about and keep up with on a daily basis. It comes with the territory. As your business begins to grow, outsourcing can be a great way to reduce stress and daily to-do items. But what happens when you are overbilled by a freelancer? Not only does this increase stress, but it also can cause tension between you and the freelancer when the relationship is intended to do just the opposite.
There are several reasons that you may have been overbilled by a freelancer. While none of them change the reality of the situation, it is good to understand them all and approach the situation in a prescriptive manner.
What Happens if I’m Overbilled by a Freelancer?
Unfortunately, you may eventually run across a situation where you are overbilled by a freelancer. The longer you run your business and outsource to freelancers, the higher the likelihood that you will eventually encounter an issue with billing. But rest assured, most of the time the situation can be remedied with little additional stress or strain on the relationship. Part of this comes from understanding why the overbilling occurred and part of this comes from improving communication going forward.
So what should you do if you are overbilled by a freelancer? First, lets go over some of the common reasons you may have been overbilled by a freelancer.
It was a Mistake
To err is human. As a freelancer myself on the FreeeUp marketplace, I have made this mistake myself in the past. I have logged into the account of the wrong client, I have added hours to the wrong client, and I have even accidentally added the wrong amount of time (both directions) to an adjustment. Sometimes freelancers, just like all humans from time to time, get in a hurry. The incident was not intentional, and most of the time the freelancer isn’t even aware of it. While it is definitely the responsibility of the freelancer to review their hours, mistakes still occur. But that is all that they are – mistakes.
There was a Miscommunication
There are a few different ways to arrange payment between client and freelancer on FreeeUp. There is an hourly time clock, the ability to add a lump sum of hours, and adjustments in case the time clock was forgotten. How you choose to pay a freelancer is up to the two of you. You should always set up a meeting with them prior to beginning a new project to set up expectations regarding pay. This is the best way to help ensure you do not get overbilled by a freelancer. Make sure your expectations are clear and precise and that the freelancer agrees. Remember that sometimes language is a barrier as well. Put the agreement in writing and have both parties review it. Ensure you both know exactly what scope of work is agreed to for the price or amount of hours billed. Another possibility is that the scope of work took longer than the freelancer originally estimated. While this should have been communicated to you prior to billing, the freelancer may have forgotten or not known to do so. Communication is key to a successful freelancer relationship to avoid miscommunications on both sides.
There is Dishonesty
Unfortunately, sometimes people are dishonest. Even though FreeeUp thoroughly vets all potential freelancers prior to hiring, people are sometimes dishonest. While this is rare, it is still a possibility. The best protection for yourself is to document your agreement in writing and be as clear as possible.
What Should You do if you are Overbilled by a Freelancer?
As a business owner, it can be quite stressful to realize you have been overbilled by a freelancer. You may wonder what the correct steps are in order to remedy the situation. You may be tempted to report the freelancer right away, but that is not the best idea. As previously outlined, you may have been overbilled by a freelancer as the result of a mistake or a misunderstanding. Here are the correct steps to take if you realize you have been overbilled by a freelancer on the FreeeUp marketplace.
Approach the Freelancer First
Most of the time you can work out issues of all types by communicating with the freelancer. When my client contacted me for accidentally overbilling, I was able to apologize for the mistake and correct the error within 5 minutes of the email. I had made a mistake and was more than happy to fix it. Just like most freelancers, I had no intentions of overbilling and do all that I can to keep my clients happy. But mistakes happen.
In the case of a miscommunication or misunderstanding, it might take a conversation to figure it out. Freelancers are required to give a comment every time hours are billed, so make sure you always read their comments first to ensure the misunderstanding isn’t in fact on your side. If you have any documentation or written agreements, send them over to the freelancer and ask for an explanation of the billed hours. If their explanation still doesn’t make sense, request a meeting to hash it out.
Contact FreeeUp as a Last Resort
FreeeUp wants you to be happy with the freelancers you’ve hired, and they will do everything in their power to make that a reality. However, they should be contacted only after you have exhausted efforts with the freelancer. It is always best to resolve issues between yourselves. Doing so will help preserve the relationship and minimize stress and hard feelings. The majority of problems can be resolved in this manner including if you are overbilled by a freelancer.
However, there may come a time when you cannot resolve the amount of hours billed. The freelancer does not agree with you and no documented agreement exists. If this happens to you, the next step should be to contact FreeeUp to help drive a resolution. Send an email or Skype one of the assistants for help. If the issue is not quickly resolved, you can set up a meeting with Nathan and he will personally assist you.
As a business owner who is savvy with their spending, it can be very upsetting to see additional hours billed to you that were unexpected. If you find yourself in this situation, you should always contact the freelancer first to see if there was a mistake or a miscommunication on either side. If you still cannot find a resolution, you should then contact FreeeUp to help find a solution.
Homework : How is your communication with freelancers? Do you have initial kickoff meetings prior to project starts? Do you document agreements to estimated hours or lump sums? If you feel your communication could be improved, start doing so today. It makes all the difference and could potentially keep you from being overbilled by a freelancer.
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship. She writes a blog, Engineered Motherhood, for working mothers who need help balancing career growth and time management.