A few days ago, I was talking about how I found some Chinese programmers who would sell me their programming code for a video game, that I could then convert into an audio game.
I wanted the programmers to simply show on the screen the words: 10 diamonds, 6 clubs, 9 hearts, 8 spades, Q hearts. If they could make that transition, I could easily convert their code into an audio game.
All four of the programmers were from China, and I discussed what I wanted with each of them. They came back with offers from $500 to $2000, much higher than my budget. Two of them finally dropped their offer to $250, and I selected to work with Lian. His English was fairly good, and he understood my goals.
He asked for a $50 deposit to start the project; I put $250 into an escrow account with Freelancer.com. One feature of websites like Freelancer – websites where you can hire people anywhere in the world to do work for you, (including Guru.com or Elance.com) is that they will maintain an escrow account for your funds, and release the money to the contractor in stages. Each time the contractor completes another phase of your project, you tell Freelancer.com to give the contractor some of the money. If the contractor fails to deliver, or there is a disagreement, you can have the problem arbitrated by the Freelancer.com.
He confirms that he can deliver the modified program in two weeks, and I release the first $50 payment to Lian. Two weeks later, I contact him, and he says he’s been a little delayed, and will have something to me in a week. One week later, I contact him several more times, with no response. A week after that, he tells me that he was very busy finishing a project for someone else, and that I would have everything I want in three days.
Two more weeks go by with no word from him, so I open up a dispute with Freelancer.com. He immediately responds telling me that he is currently sick with Ebola, and he is in quarantine and won’t be able to finish until he is released. Keep in mind that this was when the media was consumed with Ebola reporting.
I’m sure he thought I was a naive, but couldn’t he come up with a better excuse than Ebola? Living in Beijing (or so it claimed on his Freelancer.com profile)? It confounds me to this day why he chose this excuse, if he actually intended on finishing the project. If he never had any intention to complete the project, why did he bother?
Freelancer.com found in my favor for the dispute, and refunded my money.
Update: He contacted me about 4 months later, and asked if I had any more projects for him. I asked him how he was feeling after his life-threatening illness and he had no idea what I was talking about.