UpWork.com Perma-banned Me for Trying to Help an Immigrant Client

Aaron DeBee
14 min readMay 30, 2018

During a nearly week-long attempt to assist an immigrant client who was having extreme difficulty figuring out how to use freelance job site UpWork’s program, I finally inadvertently made a suggestion that could have resulted in a violation of UpWork’s Terms of Service, and I got banned from using the site for life.

Update!: The day after this article was published, I was contacted by a member of the UpWork Executive Escalation Team, the decision to ban me was reversed, and my UpWork Account was reinstated!

The funny part is that I am a rule-follower by nature. My much more rebellious and subversive girlfriend makes fun of me constantly about it. You know how there are those lines in a grocery store parking lot that divide one parking space from the space directly in front of it in the next lane? I never cross or pull through those. She thinks that’s hilarious.

“My intent was to help tell the story of a man with a traumatic past who was having a hard time in a situation unfamiliar to him.”

I spent almost 12 years in the military, and I don’t question or violate rules, even the millions of little ones in everyday life that make no sense and seem to have no purpose. I go along to get along, and when I can’t, I punt. I unknowingly make mistakes, like every other human being, but I never intentionally disobey a lawful rule.

That’s why it was such a shock when I received an email from UpWork.com stating that my account had been permanently disabled because I had violated a policy outlined in their Terms of Service Agreement. Now, it is entirely true that I did not completely read every word of the agreement, and I agreed to it anyway. Just like nearly every person does. It’s also completely irrelevant.

I’m not disputing that the policy is in the agreement. I’m not even disagreeing that I technically violated it. I’m saying that it should be and is entirely clear that I did not violate the spirit of the policy, nor did I have any intention to.

My intention, quite conversely, was to aid a struggling immigrant and to try to improve his experience on the site. Are you skeptical? Hang in…

Aaron DeBee

Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor, veteran, Top Rated on Upwork, former Medium Top Writer in Humor, Feminism, Culture, Sports, NFL, etc.