I have had a nightmarish episode with Upwork and PayPal recently (see below), and it was a mind-altering experience. Somehow, during a routine transfer of my cash from my Upwork account to my PayPal account on Tuesday morning, the funds got lost!!!!

Can you believe that?

The funds got lost in thin digital air, and no one seemed to know how to fix the problem. No one!

And it is even more exasperating that all communication from Upwork had ceased completely for nearly 15 hours. And before that I had to deal with PayPal customer care platforms, which turn out to be almost non-functional (it took nearly 14 hours for them to get back to me via their Twitter customer care platform, which by the way, is supposed to be the fastest way to reach out to PayPal).

Woi, woi, woi, woi!!

When this world decides to hammer you, it goes all in. There is literally, no energy spared in making your life miserable. The anxiety itself can cause you to develop ulcers and an eating disorder within minutes.

I even found myself looking back on how I had lived my life in the past week trying to determine what I did wrong to deserve the wrath of the universe.

I am a firm believer in cause and effect. You do something right, the universe finds a way to pay you back in kind. You do something wrong, it leads to other bad things happening to you.

However, I sense that cosmic injustice is involved in this scenario. There’s nothing wrong that I did……..as far as I can tell (maybe there is, I’m a naughty girl, y’all).

Fortunately, the entire mess was solved on Thursday morning, and it involved Upwork transferring back the cash into my account. They told me the problem was with PayPal, which PayPal obviously categorically denied numerous times, and blamed the entire problem on Upwork.

Anyway, I opted to use the Upwork-Mpesa direct route as I could not risk using PayPal again and ending up in a similarly horrid situation. The funds were in my M-pesa in less than 30 minutes, and I could immediately feel all of the pent-up tension slowly leave my tiny body. What a feeling!!

So, what lessons have I learned from this excruciating experience?

  • Before withdrawing from a freelancing site using PayPal or another digital payment platform, check the Internet to see if people have been complaining of delayed services in the last couple of days. For instance, you can search Google for ‘PayPal payment delays recently’.
  • In addition, visit the company’s social media pages to see what customers are currently talking about and if several of them are complaining about delays in payment transfer.
  • Go through some of the major Kenyan freelancing groups on Facebook, and try to assess if any recent posts concern delays in payments from one of the major platforms we use including PayPal, Equity, Skrill, Payoneer, etc.
  • Always have an alternative payment option on the freelancing website you are using. For instance, on Upwork, we have PayPal, and now M-pesa. There are also sites that offer direct to bank transfers, or Skrill, and Payoneer. Ensure there are enough alternatives on the freelancing site you choose to work on for worst-case scenarios. In addition, please ensure that you have set-up more than one payment option on these sites.
  • These payment transfer systems can fail at any moment, and it is usually at the worst possible time. Hence, please ensure that you always have cash somewhere that you can access directly as you wait for these systems to resume normal services.

As a freelancer, always be prepared for a potential crisis. It is the only way to ensure that you survive and thrive in this business.



  1. I bet that it was a nightmare. I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of that. Paypal has their issues every once in a while and can be scary. I’m glad that your problem was fixed.


  2. That would terrify me or maybe panic me is a better way to put it. I’m going to have to check into other payment options because I have been using strictly PayPal.


  3. These days we make online payments quite often and so don’t always check the authenticity. The points you’ve mentioned are so crucial.


  4. I’m so sorry to hear that. Thank you so much for the heads up and I totally agree. It’s hard to trust these online transfers so netter have a backup always.


  5. This sounds like it would be horrifying. Although I have had problems with transfers of cash to and from Paypal in the past. And the money vanished from my bank account and stayed in limbo for a while. It was an awful experience just waiting.


  6. Freelancing can be tough, and when you rely on tools like these for payment, it’s never fun when things don’t work out. Glad there were lessons to be learned from all this.


  7. This is really good information to know. I would have never thought of looking online to check on possible payment delays with payment services. I have Paypal so I will be sure to be more careful now.


  8. Oh my, I’m glad everything’s back at Upqork!! I could have cried a lot with that , knowing that I’ve worked my ass off for the assignments and all. I’m glad everything’s fine now. I have to check the options I have for withdrawing funds, then. Thanks for all your insights! I’m now alarmed by this.


  9. I’m so sorry this happened to you! I am totally with you on the universe working in a cause and effect way, so I would have done the exact same thing as you – figuring out “what did I do to deserve this!?”


  10. How unfortunate that your money disappeared in thin air. I’ve used up work and PayPal with great success. I imagine the whole thing was upsetting for and hope that this post has been therapeutic for you.


  11. Nice article. Paypal sometimes have sh!tty experiences. Right now they’re randomly freezing accounts for people that use Paypal to Mpesa. If you earn much from freelancing, they’re highly likely to freeze your account. Great to know that Mpesa worked fine for you.


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