Here's my experience:

I registered for an account, having read the terms and conditions, towards the end of last year. I entered all of the appropriate information and waited for my account to be approved. At this point I presumed that the linking of my bank account and linkedin profile had been sufficient to establish my identity to an acceptable standard and that the reserved right to request additional identity documentation had not been necessary. My account was approved and I began bidding on projects. I undertook a single project to ensure that everything was above board and that I was paid for the work. The project was completed, the client paid and I withdrew the proceeds without issue.

Having had everything work smoothly I then spent time preparing proposals with draft layouts or functionality which took considerable time as well as anonymising work to use as examples and began bidding for substantially more work and requesting a reduction in my existing job to allow me to move to becoming a full-time freelancer. I reduced my expected charges to enable me to obtain some completed work and establish the quality and reliability that would generate a reputation for increasing my rate and still being awarded work.

Everything was going very well and I had completed a number of projects with excellent feedback, had projects in progress and had spent considerable time with clients who were ready to award work to me.

I requested a further withdrawal from the funds I'd been paid and continued working on projects. When there had been no deposit in my account I checked the transaction page which said the the payment would be transferred to my bank account within 1 working day. When the funds were still showing as pending I contact customer support as, by this time, I was concerned that the transfer would not be made in time to cover my mortgage and other bills due out of my account.

I was then told that there was a mandatory requirement to provide the identity documentation. I had numerous issues with this:

  1. It is entirely unreasonable to withhold the payment without providing some notification that there is a problem and just wait until a complaint is made
  2. If such documentation is required then it should be part of the initial registration and account approval - some people may not have the documentation requested (I have no utility bills in my name for example) which then leaves the money "stuck" and no possible resolution which again is entirely unreasonable
  3. I was being asked to provide identity documents that could be used for fraudulent purposes and identity theft. PeoplePerHour claim to be registered with the ICO as a data controller and repeatedly assured me that they were even providing a registration number. I checked the ICO databaseusing the registration number provided without success. I then searched People per Hour, PPH and the postcode for your practice and found no such registration. PeoplePerHour are therefore in breach of the Data Protection Act and any contractual requirement, including rights reserved, become an unfair term and are unenforcable. I refuse to provide identity documents when the company demanding them is not registered. I consider this tantamount to blackmail as they repeatedly refused to release the money which I had legitimately earned until I provided this documentation.

The final communication I received was that my money would be released and my account deactivated. Despite making it clear that this was entirely unreasonable and that I had work that had not yet been billed my account has now been disabled. I have e-mailed asking for my account to be reinstated but have received no response and have now lost out on agreed work that was due to begin in addition to work already completed and not yet billed.

I have now written a letter threatening legal action to recover over 2000 which I am told has been passed to the CEO and I still haven't had the money that was in my PPH wallet