Dispute Resolution Services
How do I open a dispute case?
Employers and Freelancers are usually able to resolve a dispute amongst themselves. Therefore, we recommend that you first attempt to resolve the dispute directly with the Employer. If the Employer is unwilling to work with you to resolve the dispute and there is more than $25 of the SafePay payment yet to be approved, simply contact us to initiate the dispute resolution process.
Please provide us with,
- Your name
- The Employer’s name
- The SafePay ID (alternatively, provide the Project ID)
- A brief description of the problem.
- Proof of work completed to date.
All communication with the Dispute Resolution Department (DRD) must be via email for documentation purposes. The team will not discuss dispute cases over the phone. Upon receipt of your email, we will send you a confirmation email.
Note: We do not provide dispute resolution or collection services for unpaid invoices. If an Employer has failed to pay your invoice after work has been completed, you will have to follow up directly with the Employer. In the future, we recommend using SafePay to avoid unpaid invoices.
How does the dispute resolution process work?
After you submit a request to the Dispute Resolution Department (DRD), the process begins with a case review to confirm SafePay was used. It will then be passed to a mediator. Finally, if needed, the case will be passed to an arbitrator.
- We review your case and confirm that more than $25 of the SafePay payment has yet to be approved.
- Once confirmed, your case proceeds to Mediation or directly to Arbitration, depending on the dispute.
- We gather information to assist mediators in your case.
- You and the Employer receive a personal email from the mediator detailing why the case was opened, describing the dispute resolution process, and including a “Consent to Mediate” form.
- You and the Employer must digitally sign and date the consent form within two business days.
- If one of the parties does not respond within two business days, the case will be forwarded to the arbitrator and 100% of the SafePay payment will automatically be transferred to the other party.
- If evidence suggests that a Freelancer has completed only a portion of the work, and is due only a portion of the funds, the arbitrator will pay only the due portion of the funds to the Freelancer, even if the Employer does not respond within two business days.
- After both parties respond, the mediator will ask a few questions to begin the Mediation process.
- If you and the Employer reach an agreement during Mediation, the mediator will upload a Mediation Agreement outlining your agreement.
- Your case may be moved to Arbitration for a number of reasons, including (1) either party requests it, (2) the parties reach an impasse, (3) the mediation has exceeded the 10 business day limit, or (4) at the mediator’s discretion.
- Some project tools for the project under dispute are locked for the duration of the case.
- The arbitrator reviews all project information, including online and offline project communications, in order to render a final decision. The burden of proof is on the Freelancer.
- A legally-binding ruling is decided by an arbitrator, and the parties relinquish control over the outcome and resolution of the dispute.
- The DRD allocates the funds according to the decision to the appropriate cash account(s).
- Both parties receive the arbitrator’s decision via email and the case is closed. Arbitration rulings are final, legally binding, and cannot be appealed.
What is the cost of Guru.com’s dispute resolution services?
If dispute resolution services are needed, a dispute resolution fee of 5% (minimum of $25) is deducted from the disputed amount. This fee offsets the cost of the dispute resolution services.
Our dispute resolution department will not assist with disputes over amounts of $25 or less simply because the minimum dispute resolution fee of $25 would consume the entire payment.
Note: If we find that the Employer with whom you have a dispute is abusing our site or engaging in an unreasonable number of disputes, we will waive the dispute resolution fee so as not to hold you responsible for their behavior.
In Mediation, the parties participate in determining the outcome and resolution of the dispute. In Arbitration, a legally-binding ruling is decided by an arbitrator and the parties relinquish control over the outcome and resolution of the dispute.
What if I have a dispute and the Employer failed to pay the SafePay request?
Guru.com can only mediate or arbitrate disputes over SafePay payments still within our control. We cannot assist with disputes over unpaid invoices and unpaid SafePay requests because we have no control over the funds in question.
It depends. If the Employer has received additional complaints recently, we will certainly take a closer look and possibly close his account. However, if the Employer rarely engages in disputes, we will not close his account.
When dealing with services, it’s never black and white. There is always gray and, therefore, there is always the possibility of a dispute. We cannot close a user’s account due to a single or rare dispute. Again, rest assured that, if the user has a pattern of engaging in disputes, we will certainly take action. We have no intention of continuing to expose our users to, or risking our reputation on, folks that have questionable or careless business practices.
Can I dispute the feedback rating I received?
No, the dispute resolution department will not mediate or arbitrate disputes over feedback ratings.
How can I prevent disputes?
The best way to settle a dispute is never to have one in the first place. Preventative contracting, much like preventative medicine, can save on aches and pains that arise as a result of misunderstood project needs, inflated billing, or incomplete work.
The two best ways to prevent a dispute are engaging in clear and constant communication with the Employer and creating a Project Agreement that outlines each piece of the project. When both parties understand what is expected and what will be provided, 99.9% of disputes will never occur.
- Clear communication - Maintain good communication throughout the project. Good communication is key, be it at the beginning to discuss the project needs, terms, and schedule; in the middle to discuss progress, changes, and roadblocks; or at the end to review and confirm the project. The majority of Freelancer/Employer relationships that fail do so as a result of poor communication. We recommend that all Freelancers use Work Room Discussions to communicate with the Employers. It’s convenient, centralized location and real-time notification features make it ideal for keeping track of project discussions.
- Detailed Project Agreement – Create and upload a Project Agreement that details all aspects of the project and your relationship. The Project Agreement should include information on the project scope, deliverable dates, payment terms, ownership, confidentiality, termination, dispute resolution, and expenses. The Project Agreement protects both parties by defining the expectations in writing before proceeding.
There are several additional steps you can take at the start of a working relationship to help prevent potential disagreements.
- Don’t make assumptions — Be specific and precise when you and your Employer outline the project requirements and timeline for deliverables in the Project Agreement. If you don’t understand what an Employer needs, don’t hesitate to ask.
- Communicate clearly and respectfully — Make sure that what you are saying is understandable and clear. This is especially important if you and your Employer are from different parts of the world. Treat the Employer with the same consideration you want to receive.
- Build trust — Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Make every attempt to always follow through on what you say you will do and when you will do it. If you do not have the required skills or experience for a particular job, let the Employer know up front. It is better to lose a job and gain respect than to mislead and disappoint an Employer and have your shortcomings revealed partway through a project.
- Stay in touch — If you are traveling or are going to be unavailable for a day or longer, let your Employer know at once. Some Employers will panic when they are in the middle of a project and cannot reach you.
- Accept constructive criticism— If you submit work that does not meet an Employer’s expectations, ask him or her to explain precisely what needs to be changed and establish a timeframe for receipt of the revisions.
Occasionally, regardless of your efforts, working relationships get off to a rocky start or encounter bumps due to miscommunication or misunderstanding. Most interactions can be mended and projects restored if problems are adequately addressed early on.
- Don’t rush to judgment — Crises and emergencies are universal. Give the Employer the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to explain any delays in communication or in getting feedback or compensation to you.
- Be responsive and accessible — If an Employer asks questions, respond in a timely fashion. Most Employers want a cooperative relationship, but a project may get off track without your input.
- Maintain trust — Follow through with what you have agreed to do, and continue to communicate in a respectful, professional manner.
- Document your communications — Use the Work Room Discussions tool for all your communications. This way both parties have a structured and secure way to reference what was discussed and agreed to.
- Speak up — If you are confused about your Employer’s expectations, don’t fume in silence. Your Employer can’t address problems if he or she isn’t aware of them. Most Employers are more than willing to respond to requests if they are asked openly and respectfully.
- Give Employers time to review the work — Employers need time to make sure they are thoroughly satisfied with the deliverables before they approve it. If you pressure Employers to approve the work quickly, you risk negative feedback, not being selected for future projects, and the pursuit of a refund via Guru.com or a lawsuit.
If, despite all of your efforts, you and the Employer are unable to agree or are simply displeased with each other for various reasons, a few simple steps can keep the situation from becoming disastrous.
- Don’t despair — If you used SafePay, you can contact Guru.com’s Dispute Resolution Department and pursue mediation and/or arbitration services.
- Stay calm — It is easy to panic or get caught up in anger when a working relationship sours or a project falls behind schedule. However, you’ll be able to reach a resolution more smoothly and quickly if a cool head prevails.
- Maintain professionalism — Even though communications have become strained, you can still interact with dignity. The most satisfying resolutions are achieved without resorting to hostility or malice.
- Brainstorm — There are countless ways that disputes can be amicably resolved. Your initial position may not be one that the Employer will agree to, but other ideas might be acceptable. Be creative and assertive in suggesting possible solutions.
- Put forth a good faith effort — Your satisfaction with the outcome of a dispute is directly related to your input into the resolution process and your willingness to negotiate and remain flexible.