– Claire (August 2013).
Over the weekend I examined a recent payment I’d received on People Per Hour. I noticed that their commission increased suddenly and without warning.
My weekly invoice for this client, which is only for £20, normally attracts a fee of 4.5% – in other words, 90p. I was surprised to see a fee of £2 had been applied by People Per Hour.
Was this a People Per Hour scam of some kind? I was worried, so I emailed their helpdesk straight away to report the mistake.
People Per Hour Fee Rise
At around 5.30pm yesterday I received an email from People Per Hour confirming that the service fee has been increased behind the scenes. The company had apparently done this without informing anyone working for clients through the site. Nobody had been told.
Staff say that the email notification that was due to be sent had failed, but that was only going to be sent after the change anyway.
Additionally, someone called their office at midday yesterday to ask about the issue and nobody knew anything about the fee change – apparently.
There has been no announcement via email, on their forum, on their blog or on their Facebook page. The pricing page was only changed yesterday afternoon after they had started applying the new fee. The site dashboard and T&C document hasn’t been changed.
Some people are paying £14.95 for Platinum membership in order to reduce the commission they pay from 10% to 4.5%. They are now effectively being charged 10% on a £20 invoice (even more on a smaller invoice), making their subscription completely ineffective. How is that fair?
Even more bizarrely, if the invoice is for £20.01, the fee drops back to 90p. People Per Hour staff say that the charge is £2 for all invoices of £20 or under. This is a lie. This was a mistake. Fellow copywriter Zoe Goodacre raised an invoice for £24 and was charged £2.
There is no longer any reason to take on small jobs for tiny businesses and individuals. (This is the kind of work that almost everyone does in the early days: it helps you to build your profile and feedback ratings.)
Shifting Goalposts: Is It Legal?
I’m interested to know whether freelancers believe it’s fair or legal to retrospectively apply higher fees to an existing agreement. It’s certainly unethical. It’s like sticking a few extra quid on a client’s invoice because you need to buy a new keyboard, or dipping into a bank account for a bonus Direct Debit without permission.
What happens when the minimum fee goes up to £10, £15 or £20? Will they tell me, or will they just take it from my next assignment and inform me later?
More information for freelancers
Update: People Per Hour have now deleted the forum thread. It was posted on a forum ironically called ‘We Listen’. Apparently, they don’t. The new thread is here.