I have been active on upwork for a few weeks, offering my expertise in various domains. However, within less than a week of my upwork debut, I had the horror of my life, which started with an email I received about upwork account suspended. The subject line read as
“Upwork Help Center: Your Upwork Account has been suspended.”
For a majority of upwork freelancers, this is the end of the road. Upwork has been updating its policies quite aggressively to ensure that it eliminates all sorts of malpractices and provides a great environment and platform to its freelancers as well as the clients. On one side, this is a laudable move for the serious freelancers as well as the clients, it might get a little frustrating for the new freelancers who have just started to offer services.
Another frustrating part is that upwork team never discloses the reason why your account was suspended. They leave it upto you to figure out.
Once my account was suspended by upwork’s quality team, I had no idea of why it happened and if there was any chance to get my account back. I had just finished my first ever job on upwork and the payment was still pending with upwork (upwork takes 5 days to release the payment to your account after the client has paid to ensure security on the part of the client). I searched online, read tens of articles and not one article was able to give me an exact reason as to why my account could have been blocked. Because, according to me, I did everything right and even completed a project in less than a week with an amazing feedback.
I did my research on Quora, various forums and even the upwork community and figuure out the major reasons, which are responsible for the suspension for upwork accounts in majority of the cases. I have discussed some of them right below
Major reasons of upwork account suspension for freelancers
- Having multiple accounts : This is not a common practice, however, a lot of freelancers try to outsmart the upwork system by creating multiple accounts for more connects (upwork offers a limited number of connects per month and you need to pay to get more to bid on more projects). Some freelancers even make different accounts for reciprocal reviews, fake job posting etc.
You got to realise that upwork is the largest freelancer website in the world and they have their technology in place to determine such practices. They have multiple ways to figure out if one person is operating more than one account and will immediately suspend the account, without giving the freelancer even a chance to recover the account. So do not do this mistake ever, if you want to have a career working on upwork.
- Accepting Payments outside Upwork : This is yet another reason that can lead to the suspension of even the established freelancers. Often, freelancers start with smaller projects where the payout isn’t too high. Once they start getting bigger projects, the 20% commission (10% if the billing from one client crosses $500) starts to seem big to the freelancers and they start to find out ways to save on the commission.
In such scenarios, often freelancers suggest ways like paying on paypal or through different means to the clients. In many such cases, the clients end up paying outside the Upwork system and that is a big violation of upwork policies. At the time of sign up, upwork clearly states that any financial transaction taking place outside the upwork system for the job posted on upwork will lead to serious steps taken against the employer as well as the freelancer.
Upwork has invested millions of dollars in creating a platform that is admired by millions of freelancers and clients alike. They have bills and salaries to pay, server and technology costs to take care of and the commission from our transactions is the fuel that enables the backend of upwork.
- Sending automated proposals (Copy Paste Proposals) : Selecting the most suited projects and bidding on them can be time consuming, however, you got to realise that there are serious employers waiting for your proposals and if you are spamming by copy pasting the proposals, you are wasting time of your employer as well as not really adding any value to the system. Upwork counts this as spam and most probably, will leave you with a suspended account.
- So many pending proposals without any positive response : To ensure quality, upwork encourages freelancers to submit professional proposals which are worth hiring. If you have been sending proposals without any employer getting back to you for a discussion, this will be an indication to upwork that your profile is not worth hiring. In such a case too, upwork will end up suspending your account and all your pending proposals will be withdrawn automatically.
- Poor feedback or client interaction : If you have been hired by a client and the client did not like your work, this gives a red flag. If this is repeated multiple times with repeated clients, upwork will suspend your account as you are not able to add any value to the upwork ecosystem. Also, if you are not professional enough in your interactions with clients, your account will meet the same fate. Upwork tries to ensure quality of work through quality freelancers for the employers
Major reasons for upwork account suspension for employers
- Taking the payment outside upwork : Just like freelancers, employers too try these tactics to save on the upwork commission.
- Rejecting the completed work or giving unfair feedback : Many times, employers, knowingly reject the work done by freelancer so that they do not have to pay for the completed work. Or they even threaten the freelancers with low feedback. This is unethical in upwork rulebook and can lead to suspension of employer’s account.
How to recover suspended upwork account
One of the good/bad things about upwork suspension is that the system does not give you a reason when the account is suspended, however, you can appeal against it to the upwork community center. So first of all, you need to figure out why your account was suspended. At times, it is also possible that your account was wrongly picked by upwork algorithm and you didn’t necessarily commit any mistake.
If you are sure that you did not make any unpardonable mistake with your upwork account like having multiple accounts or accepting payment outside the system, you can reach out to upwork support center with an explaination requesting them of reconsidering the suspension. Upwork might take days or weeks to reply to that, so make sure not to send hourly or daily reply. If it is taking a long time, you can simply leave a reminder to bring your case up in the system.
If things go your way, you will get the account back.
How I recovered my upwork account after suspension
So I signed up for an upwork account last month to try and figure out if I could use my free time after office hours to earn some extra money. Things were good until that fateful email telling me that my upwork account has been suspended. I had no clue of the reason and keeping my calm, I simply replied to upwork support on the thread that they created.
I stated in my reply that I am new to upwork and knowingly, I did not violate any of the terms. However, even if I had violated something unknowingly, I’d make sure not to repeat that again. I also wanted to know the reason why my upwork account suspended.
Within a few hours, I got a reply from the upwork team stating that my account was fully restored. While I enquired about the reason why my account was suspended, I got a reply which stated that upwork will not share the specific reason for which my account was suspended as it tries to protect the information going out of the system that can be used unethically to surpass the detention system.
So my experience ended up just fine as I was able to get my account back in just a few hours. However, you might not be that lucky, so always ensure you follow the best practices while on upwork and create a community which is of benefit to everyone.
Do share your thoughts in the comments section and let’s discuss.