A couple weeks ago I wrote here about a service called WorkMarket, an ADP-owned company that was breaking new ground in the middleman accounting space by offering a service called FastFunds via which freelancers for companies like the Huffington Post and Yahoo! and others could get paid earlier by agreeing to a service charge of around 7-8%. For me that meant being given the exciting opportunity to give the multi-billion dollar company ADP $52.50 in order to receive a smaller portion of the $700 I was owed by the Huffington Post somewhat sooner than I would have otherwise.
The piece was exceptionally well received, being shared hundreds of times, ending up on Digg, and being reported on by places like The Philadelphia Inquirer, in no small part because of what happened shortly after I published it. The Huffington Post announced they were dismantling the FastFunds feature, The New York Times clarified that they had not yet agreed to contract with WorkMarket and that an interview with their CTO saying they had was posted preemptively, and, even more exciting, ADP and WorkMarket said they would be suspending the service indefinitely to review it.
What a coup! Journalists all over Twitter told me I was a good boy and the popular freelancer newsletter Study Hall called me a “hero freelancer.” Boy did I feel good about that. I got a tattoo of the bird getting fucked up by an arrow that I had used as art for the post too for some reason!
Of course it was all too good to be true, because they all turned that shit back on as soon as the cloud of dust settled. lol some hero.
A Huffington Post freelancer wrote to me saying her attempt to get paid on WorkMarket on October 4 for a piece that she had written back in September automatically withdrew $37.50 from what she was owed, despite having no knowledge of turning on the FastFunds feature on her account. I emailed Huffington Post editor Lydia Polgreen this morning to see if they had reverted back to the FastFunds options as this seems to indicate but she has yet to respond.
UPDATE: “Fast Funds has definitely been disabled,” Polgreen wrote in an email after this piece was published. “Due to an error there was a lag in turning off the function for one of our international markets, but this has since been rectified. If the freelancer is having any issue processing payment for any reason I'd encourage them to reach out so we can address it as quickly as possible. Thanks for flagging.”
For their part, WorkMarket did indeed review the process as promised and turns out they came to the conclusion that it was good as hell after all, they just had to tweak the vig a bit. It’s now an admittedly less outrageous 2%.
ADP’s communications VP Michael Schneider told me the company heard from more than 400 people through emails and phone calls to their support team.
“All of these workers wanted us to reinstate FastFunds to help manage their cashflow,” he said. In a poll on their website 39 of the 40 people who responded said they wanted the option back. An external research study they contracted out asked 214 independent contractors what they thought and 60% of respondents said “they would like a voluntary option to pay a fee for early access to their invoices. More than half were willing to pay more than 2%.”
Schneider shared a sampling of the emails they received asking to get that sweet penalty reinstated.
“The only reason I use your platform is because of the fast cash option and you all do not take any funds from me if I do not use it I know there's a fee to use it and there are other platforms I can get on that charge a fee either way and do not have the fast cash option,” wrote one user.
“Fastfunds is simply the greatest and put workmarket a cut and above all other platforms,” added a second.
Another: “Hope ADP keeps FAST FUNDS. Waiting 30 days to get paid was always a pain. 2 weeks max. When you introduced Fast Funds I was skeptical but came in handy when I needed to access funds to pay bills. I was skeptical at first having to pay a small fee to get my funds - but realized there are some internal costs in offering this service. I found this service valuable for independent contractors. Otherwise, it's back to the same old feedback - waiting 30 days, waiting even 15 days and then not paying right away. Hope ADP and WorkMarket will work this out. It was a GREAT service for independent contractors.”
And another: “So its indefinite? No clue if its coming back? Its one of the things that makes WM great. Its going to kill all your business.”
So… good game everyone I guess.