My first time hiring a freelancer was a disaster

31 replies
So, I decided to hire a telemarketer. I found one via elance. I had never hired or outsourced before, so I read all the candidates reviews, resumes, ... anything I could get my hands on.

I finally found a guy from Pakistan. He had a 4.7 average score (out of 5) over 8 jobs. He had the experience I was looking for, and a fancy degree (MBA from oxford I believe). We talked on skype. He was very professional, spoke perfect english and I felt really good about hiring him.

He was supposed to start work last monday. I didn't receive my leads until monday evening, so there was 1 day delay which was not his fault. Monday evening, very late, I sent him the leads so he could start calling the next day.

Tuesday, I hear nothing from him all day.

Wednesday, he says he will start calling. Some time later I receive an email that the phone number I set up for him does not work on his computer. He called support and it had something to do with his windows. He did not have a repair disk, so he had to reinstall windows. The entire day was lost because of this.
Wednesday afternoon, he sends me another mail asking for a script. I stated clearly in the job description that we did not have a script and would expect the person who would get the job to write one for us. He did not do that yet, even though he had almost a week to prepare. Luckily a friend of mine who is in the same business had a script. But it was in french, so I had to translate 7 pages, but sent it to him by wednesday evening.

Thursday: He says his pc works fine now and will start calling. The number I set up for him is a google voice number. Throughout the day I checked the history to see if calls were being made. And they were. To the area of portland and milwaukee, where I have no business. None of my leads were from these areas. At the end of the day 120 phonecalls were made, 10 to my leads, 110 to numbers that were not on my list.
I confronted him about this. He said he still had issues because there were no funds added to the google voice number (calling to the states is free and I tested this a couple of times). So, he had to use his own google voice number and gave my number to his brother so he could call his leads. But this number is on my website! What if somebody called and got his brother on the line? Very improfessional! I was not happy about that.

He said he had called 95 of my leads. But I had no proof. He also was very vague in answering questions I had (since the beginning of the week). I asked him to send me screenshots of his call history. He did manage to deliver these within 10 minutes, so apparently he did call my leads.

But still, I no longer felt good about working with him. He did not communicate all the things we agreed upon beforehand. His answers were very vague. He was not reachable during an entire day (while we hired him to work 40 hours per week). He gave our phone number to someone else to use. Our leads were called, but I was not sure if he called them, because he could not tell me what the general reactions and objections from the prospects were.

So, yesterday morning I cancelled the contract through elance. I agreed to pay him the hours he put in. You would think that is the end of the story, no?

This morning I check my email and see a message from my hosting provider, all of my websites have been hacked. I check my domains, all of them display a message from a Bangladesh hacker group. At this point I suspect the freelancer. It's just to much of a coincidence, even though I have no proof. First time in 8 years I get hacked is right after I fire someone.
So, I log in to my cpanel and start looking around. I finally remember I created a company email for this freelancer, hisname@mycompany.com. I want to see if he has done anything damaging with it, afraid that he might have mass emailed my leads talking bad about my company. But I can't login, the password has been changed. My first reaction was to delete that email account. I have asked my hosting support if they can see if there was any irregular activity on this deleted email account, but have not had an answer yet. They are cleaning my server and after that I can restore my backups. I spent the entire afternoon scanning my pc, changing passwords,... so much for my sunday.

If it was the freelancer who did this, I hope he does not do anymore damage, like building spam links to my sites.

So, now I'm looking for a new freelancer, one that will hopefully be a little bit more productive and trustworthy.
#horribly #outsourcing #time #wrong
  • Profile picture of the author wiifm
    In Cpanel all you need to do is assign a new password to the email account, you do not need the old one to do it as long as you are in Cpanel.
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    • Profile picture of the author belgianguy
      Originally Posted by wiifm View Post

      In Cpanel all you need to do is assign a new password to the email account, you do not need the old one to do it as long as you are in Cpanel.
      I realized this afterwards, I just panicked.
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      • Profile picture of the author edeandrade
        What is a freelancer?
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        • Profile picture of the author Christian B
          What is a freelancer?
          Seriously ?

          Well, it's a guy you hire for a given task. You can find them on Fiverr, Elance, ..., even here.

          A freelancer can be useful:

          1) if he has skill you haven't (SEO, writing articles, copywriting, ...)

          2) If he is efficient.

          And, in my opinion, it wasn't a coincidence.
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  • Profile picture of the author XponentSYS
    Just settle up and move on.

    From a guy who has done millions in the medical space using lead gen offers.....

    It is negligent to outsource something as crucial as converting your leads into customers. All I do is coach now and if you were my student, I'd have you on the phone right now.

    What happened wasn't a disaster..... it was a dose of reality.

    You can outsource whatever you want but NOT lead acquisition and conversion because those are too important.

    You want total control which is why you do it yourself or hire someone as an employee IN YOUR OFFICE that YOU have total control over.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    Unfortunately, I have to agree. You are the one who blew this.

    You outsourced a core function of your business to someone you could not control.

    On top of that, everybody fails the first few times with freelancers. It takes some practice to figure out exactly how to hire them, manage them and get the most from them.

    However, hiring them to do your sales work is a cop out, and is destined to fail.

    If you can't do your own sales in the beginning, you need a partner who can do it.
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    • Profile picture of the author XponentSYS
      Originally Posted by Jack Gordon View Post

      If you can't do your own sales in the beginning, you need a partner who can do it.
      Jack.....

      I realize I'm probably being nit-picky now but I agree with everything you said except this.

      PARTNERS SUCK.

      Never had a good experience with them... except ONE time when I made one PAY ME to get out of the partnership but that's here nor there.

      Partners do wierd shit, get opinionated, try to assert control.

      Compromises end up altering the direction of the company and IF it works out (big IF) that person owns a share of your business.

      Perhaps it's me being a "control freak" but more money has passed tgeough me in 10 years than most will earn in a lifetime so I've earned that right.

      My point is.... why give up the ability to CONTROL your company, and HALF OF IT..... for something you can HIRE someone to do, and CONTROL how they do it?
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    Also you made several mistakes with this.

    The first mistake you made was not having a script for him. That's almost a sin. It is your product or service you are trying to sell. No one knows it better than you. So why on earth would you want this guy to craft a script by himself? That was a big fail by you.

    If you do go ahead with this again, make sure you invest the time (and/or money if needed) to get a proper script written that you can give to the outsourcer. To expect them to write their own sales script for a product or service they have very little knowledge of is just ludicrous if you ask me.

    It's like expecting an affiliate to write their own sales page to promote your product.
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    • Profile picture of the author Faulkner
      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      Also you made several mistakes with this.

      The first mistake you made was not having a script for him. That's almost a sin. It is your product or service you are trying to sell. No one knows it better than you. So why on earth would you want this guy to craft a script by himself? That was a big fail by you.

      If you do go ahead with this again, make sure you invest the time (and/or money if needed) to get a proper script written that you can give to the outsourcer. To expect them to write their own sales script for a product or service they have very little knowledge of is just ludicrous if you ask me.

      It's like expecting an affiliate to write their own sales page to promote your product.
      Couldn't agree more. I literally leaned back in surprise as I read that portion.

      Re the hacking, if you find any evidence that points to his involvement, please remember to alert Elance.
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  • Profile picture of the author Go4DBest
    If you have the budget, it is still best to hire native English speaker. Though I have Filipino friends who are great telemarketers, but no one beats the native ones.
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  • Profile picture of the author jgant
    Hire a USA based call center or outsourcing service with project managers, oversight and who specifically offer calling services.
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    • Profile picture of the author Roy Carter
      I'd say it was no coincidence.

      Jack is correct, almost everybody fails the first few times with freelancers. It is very much a case of you having to kiss a few frogs before you find a prince (or princess) I'm afraid. When you do find good ones, treasure them and treat them like the hard to find gold that they are.
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  • Profile picture of the author belgianguy
    Thanks everyone for the insights. I realize now I made mistakes and have much to learn. But that's just part of the game :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author pvijeh
    no one that went to oxford has ever worked in telemarketing
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    • Profile picture of the author Raydal
      Originally Posted by pvijeh View Post

      no one that went to oxford has ever worked in telemarketing
      Why? Is this against the University policy?

      -Ray Edwards
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  • Based on your story, it's also possible that he outsourced the work you outsourced to him.

    If he's an experienced freelancer, he should have informed you ahead of time that he can't work with a script. A professional freelancer or online worker would inform you right away what his work schedule would be.

    The computer problems and the hacking that occurred afterwards really looks suspicious for me. It can't be a coincidence.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    I don't disagree with you, in general. Partnerships are hard and expensive.

    I have one that works well, but that came after many that have been, well, great learning experiences.

    I made an assumption, based on the fact that the OP outsourced a critical component of his business to a third world VA, that he had no budget for a salesperson.

    The other option, in the situation he is in, is to give up some equity to someone who has some skin in the game. There are pitfalls, but if he navigates it right it could solve his problem.

    But, your point is well taken. I said it casually, and it is not a casual thing to do by any means. It is harder (with much more serious consequences for failure) to pick and manage a good partner than it is to pick and manage a good freelancer. And ultimately, it is much more expensive too.

    This should only be considered if the prospective partner brings critical skills and an equal sense of urgency to the mission.
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  • Profile picture of the author Angshuman Dutta
    Frankly freelancers in many parts of the globe get so poorly paid for vital tasks that they'll tell you anything just to get a job and some money. They are not to be blamed for this - it's just the economy.

    Once you pay them you start realizing how many hurdles they have to go through every day to be able to deliver at least half of what they promise.

    I guess its okay to outsource "small tasks" - never anything that is a core part of my business.
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    • Profile picture of the author belgianguy
      Originally Posted by Angshuman Dutta View Post

      Frankly freelancers in many parts of the globe get so poorly paid for vital tasks that they'll tell you anything just to get a job and some money. They are not to be blamed for this - it's just the economy.

      Once you pay them you start realizing how many hurdles they have to go through every day to be able to deliver at least half of what they promise.

      I guess its okay to outsource "small tasks" - never anything that is a core part of my business.
      This isn't always true. In some countries you can live like a king for $25 a day. That's why they charge less and are able to compete with much more expensive western freelancers.
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      • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
        Originally Posted by belgianguy View Post

        This isn't always true. In some countries you can live like a king for $25 a day. That's why they charge less and are able to compete with much more expensive western freelancers.
        This is a myth, and it's quite obvious that you have never actually *lived* in any of these countries.

        Can people SURVIVE on $25 a day? Of course. They can do it on much less, if necessary. Heck, they may even be able to afford a few luxuries as well if they scrimp and save.

        However, to think that anyone, anywhere, is going to live like a king on $600 per month displays the mindset that got you into this mess in the first place.

        You get what you pay for.
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  • Profile picture of the author RogozRazvan
    Originally Posted by belgianguy View Post

    So, I decided to hire a telemarketer. I found one via elance. I had never hired or outsourced before, so I read all the candidates reviews, resumes, ... anything I could get my hands on.

    I finally found a guy from Pakistan. He had a 4.7 average score (out of 5) over 8 jobs. He had the experience I was looking for, and a fancy degree (MBA from oxford I believe). We talked on skype. He was very professional, spoke perfect english and I felt really good about hiring him.
    .
    Yes, because all people who went to Oxford and got an MBA are selling their services on Elance for a few dollars an hour. An MBA costs around $100.000 and virtually guarantees a job (but you are left with a lot of student debt).

    Use common sense. I understand that you couldn't possibly predict the bad experience but if you hired him for the fancy degree, then do a bit of critical thinking the next time.

    If I think about it, it is amazing how many "world-class journalists, MBAs, PHDs and Fortune 500 executives" now work on Elance.

    And yes, in some countries you can live like a king for $25/day, but not as many as you think. For most countries, $25 will buy you coffee and lunch. Even in India which is known for low costs of living, $25/day won't do that much.
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    • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
      Originally Posted by RogozRazvan View Post

      Yes, because all people who went to Oxford and got an MBA are selling their services on Elance for a few dollars an hour. An MBA costs around $100.000 and virtually guarantees a job (but you are left with a lot of student debt).

      Use common sense. I understand that you couldn't possibly predict the bad experience but if you hired him for the fancy degree, then do a bit of critical thinking the next time.

      If I think about it, it is amazing how many "world-class journalists, MBAs, PHDs and Fortune 500 executives" now work on Elance.

      And yes, in some countries you can live like a king for $25/day, but not as many as you think. For most countries, $25 will buy you coffee and lunch. Even in India which is known for low costs of living, $25/day won't do that much.
      As someone who lives in a "third world country" I try to explain it to them all the time.

      After paying almost $20,000 for a university Master's degree, there's no way I'd be working for a $5 an hour.

      Even in my "third world country" a decent lunch costs $5 or more.

      The people who jump at the $5 an hour, even if they are located in India, Bangladesh or the Phillipines, are almost always going to be crap workers.
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  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    If you think somebody who has an MBA from Oxford is working for $25/hr then you are the ideal person who this world is going to take an advantage of at every stage.

    Oxford MBAs could work on Elance. But few of them would price themselves at less than $75-150+ per hr while being extremely selective about the type of projects they bid on and/or accept. And I doubt there are many/any such Oxford MBAs on Elance.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlexanderSaroyan
    Banned
    Oh What a bad hiring!
    That hiring was really disaster!
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  • Profile picture of the author belgianguy
    Just to be clear, he wasn't working for $5 per hour. I payed him $30 per hour + a $300 commission per sale. The expectation was two sales per three days. So if he came through he would not be making $150000 a year, but he would live like a king.
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    • Profile picture of the author David Hooper
      Originally Posted by belgianguy View Post

      Just to be clear, he wasn't working for $5 per hour. I payed him $30 per hour + a $300 commission per sale. The expectation was two sales per three days. So if he came through he would not be making $150000 a year, but he would live like a king.
      At this price, curious to know why you went with a guy from Pakistan, unless you're in Pakistan or that's the country you're calling.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Hooper
    Regarding a fair wage for outsourced work, What $3/hour Can Do... may be of interest to you.
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