In talking with one of my fellow freelancers, I discovered the name of another employer whom I feel should be avoided at all costs. His name is Ankur Shah, and it seems that he has a number of different websites and projects. Judging by the complaints, it seems that he tends to get his writers on bid sites.
My freelancing friend won a bid to work with Ankur Shah at the beginning of August. She was to write 20 dating site reviews for his website, singlesrated.com, at $5 per article. Below is part of his first email to her:
There are24 [sic] sites that need reviews. Each article can be from 300 - 400 words. They have to follow the outline structure found on the links that I sent to you in the previous email.
These guidlines include sections for grade (out of 5) review pros cons
Price of membership (if you can find it)
We would like to get articles in batches of 5. Can you give me a SERIOUS timeline as to how long it would take for this project? We don’t have much time for this small project. We have many bigger projects to concentrate and we hope to work together for many more projects if you will continue seriously in this beginning project.
My friend finished the work in less than a week, and submitted the completed articles and invoices to Ankur Shah. Along with the next-to-last batch of articles, she included this note:
I was researching True.com and when I visited your site I realized an article has been added to the site already. I also noted that there was another article added that I had already submitted to on the topic, however, the article on the site was not mine. Due to this new development I am holding other articles until I hear further from you, your intentions. 1. Are you collecting from various bidders and only paying for the articles you choose? 2. Were you satisfied with the articles you have received from me? Basically, I need clear communication from you of your intentions with this project. If I am to continue submitting articles with no compensation in return then there is no profit for my services. As I have stated before, I am willing to rework the articles to your satisfaction. If you have chosen another bidder - the professional thing to do is to inform me of those intentions so that I can pursue services for other clients. I do hope that your services received from me have been professional, reliable, and curteous. Please notify me promptly of your intentions so that all services can be met as desired.
It's important to notice here that according to her email, Ankur Shah was already publishing her work to his site, and he hadn't even paid her yet! Not that he ever would... When my friend completed the 20 articles as requested, he sent the following email:
I have send your articles to my client for verification and will contact you as soon as I recieve response from client.
About a week later, he sent her the following excuses:
My paypal account is not working fine because they have blocked my account due to credit card problem. They restricted my access to my account and I cannot transfer the money to you raccount but I will request my one friend to send money to your account. Will it be fine?
Also I have lost the articles which you sent please send once more the articles you did for me. I will be waiting for your response.
Of course, my friend never received payment or heard from him again. This was her final email to him (edited for brevity):
I hope this is merely an over site [sic] and that you have full intention of resolving this situation. I have made several attempts to resolve your invoice for the service I have provided you. I have patiently waited for payment on my services to you. I have graciously given you 2 free articles and have provided you with professional service. I have given you discounted articles at $5.00 per article, where as others would have charged between $20.00 - $30.00 per article. As per our initial agreement, I was to provide you with articles for you to review, if you were satisfied with my work, you were to pay $5.00 per article. As well as, in return, for use of the first free article, you would provide a professional reference with use of articles in my portfolio. I have not received payment, nor have I received your professional reference. You have published 9 of my articles on your site. ... Please contact me immediately to resolve this matter. Your business is important to me, however, a professional relationship is hindered when commitments are broken. Thank you for your time.
I suggested to my friend that she check out Writers Weekly as a possible course of action, and there she found another complaint about Ankur Shah. This one has to do with a completely different site, allpilots.com. However, it is clearly the same guy; even some of the emails are nearly identical. And he did the same thing to this writer: accepted the work, and then simply failed to respond to the writer's requests for payment.
In my opinion this "publisher" is a dirt bag of the worst kind. These two projects were run around the same time, so I wouldn't be surprised if he never intended to pay these writers at all. Be warned - stay far, far away from Ankur Shah and any of his projects!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Ankur Shah: Another name to blacklist!
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Well, you're probably already aware of my discontent with freelance-bidding sites, but they are what they are. Where your friend went wrong was in not requesting an upfront deposit. I used one of these sites for years and always asked for one when I was working with a new client. It's a good way to see how serious the client is about paying. Good clients won't bat an eyelash. Bad clients will make excuses, and that's when you know to run...before you've given away your work to them. In all likelihood, this guy is located overseas, so getting the money she is now due is going to be next to impossible. Live and learn I always say, but please suggest to her that she ask for a 50% deposit on all future assignments.
Thank you for your input and your suggestion! Interestingly perhaps, I myself have never asked for part of my payment up front - and the one time I had a client offer it on his own, HE was the one of the few who tried to screw me. (He didn't succeed, although I had to threaten him TWICE with taking further action in order to get paid.) So, it's not foolproof, but it's definitely a good idea for writers who aren't very good yet at recognizing the signs of a deadbeat publisher. I will let my friend know!
I am the owner of AllPilots.com. Today I discovered the problems with Ankur Shah, whom I hired as freelance writer. What Ankur does is bid on projects through a freelance site and (re)outsources the work on another. He has possibly taken thousands of dollars from freelance writers in this manner. His reputation on the freelance site he uses to bid on is flawless. He delivers his work and gets paid without a problem. What he doesn't do is pay the actual writer. I am submitting proof of these claims and his username to the freelance site he uses in hopes that they will bring him to justice (or at least ban his IP address).
I hope that you will remove the instances of my domain, as I am only a victim who has obtained a bad reputation due to Mr. Shah. My desire is to find the actual writer of my content and clear up this misunderstanding.
Thank you for your input into this discussion. Rather than removing the mention of your site in the blog post, I am publishing your comment, so that readers can get your side of the situation, too. It might also help if you provided your name, so that writers can confirm that it's you they are working with, and not Mr. Shah.
I was referred to this page by a friend who happened to stumble upon this post. I would like to set the record straight that although my name is Ankur Shah (try Googling the full name and see for yourself how many hits you get -- it's almost like the "John Smith" of Indian names), and I'm a freelancer as well, I have no association with the "Ankur Shah" being talked about on this blog.
Please check my full profile on http://www.ankurshah.net or http://www.ankurshah.com
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