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8bcc2b2e
Community Member

Any advice for new Upwork client - not happy with freelancer

Hi community,

 

I'm new to Upwork but have hired freelancers outside of the platform. I rently hired two freelancers on Upwork to write two separate eBooks for me. I'm very happy with one freelancer's work. The problem is with the other freelancer.

Since I'm new to Upwork I want to handle the situation fairly and correctly. I'd really appreciate some advice from the community. Here's a summary:

 

  • Before hiring I exchanged messages with the freelancer and reviewed her writing samples (one in particular because it was on the same topic as my book).
  • I then sent her a two-page document explaining expectations for the work and summarized the key points in a message. 
  • I explained that the project would be broken into four milestones. 1. submit detailed outline, 2. submit one chapter, 3. submit full manuscript + book description, 4. submit revised manuscript (based on my comments). 
  • She agreed to my process and I sent her an offer. I funded the first milestone ($100 for the outline).
  • Today, the freelancer submitted a full manuscript and asked for payment in full plus a bonus. I thought she was working on the first milestone as agreed and so was confused by this.
  • I let her know that she was only supposed to submit an outline at this stage but released the first $100 for her time and as a gesture of goodwill (maybe she hadn't understood the concept of milestones?!)
  • I just started reviewing her manuscript and it doesn't match the quality of the sample she sent me. Nor does it meet my guidelines (for example I asked for action steps at the end of each chapter).
  • So I looked more closely at the original writing sample to compare it to the work she'd submitted for me. And I recognized the intro in her sample - it's from a Kindle book that I came across during my own research for this project. The rest of the sample is not from the same book. 

As I see it, the freelancer didn't follow my writing guidelines or the terms of the project (i.e. submit according to the agreed milestones). Also, the book description hasn't been submitted. And the book is so far from what I expected (based on her writing sample) that I don't even want to ask for revisions. 

 

Having said that, I really want to do what's fair and correct. I used to be a freelance writer myself and understand what it's like to be on that side of the agreement!

 

Any advice on how to handle this situation?

 

Thank you!

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
iamchunchunchun
Community Member

If I were you, I will let her have the $100, but nothing more. And I also suggest you to give an honest review about her work quality.

 

She should have sent you the detailed outline before working on the content, given it was agreed by both of the parties. Thus, you don't have to pay anything more than the first milestone.

 

On the other hand, it may, or may not, worth your while to try to get the $100 back. I personally would probably treat it as my business expense.

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19 REPLIES 19
iamchunchunchun
Community Member

If I were you, I will let her have the $100, but nothing more. And I also suggest you to give an honest review about her work quality.

 

She should have sent you the detailed outline before working on the content, given it was agreed by both of the parties. Thus, you don't have to pay anything more than the first milestone.

 

On the other hand, it may, or may not, worth your while to try to get the $100 back. I personally would probably treat it as my business expense.

Thank you for your input!

 

I'm okay with the $100 spent - the freelancer must have put in time to create a 25K word eBook (even if there is a lot of padding, weird formatting, etc). Also, I see this as a learning experience on my side. This brings me to a related question - how to avoid this happening again? For example:

 

1) Should I require a voice interview before every hire (which Upwork freelancers seem to shy away from)? 

2) Should I have set this up as four small projects instead of using milestones? One reason I set milestones is so that I can review progress and quality through the project (with the assumption that in the worst case scenario, I can cancel the contract mid-project). Are milestones not used in this way? 

I think you are already using the milestone system in the right way. It's the freelancer's fault in this case.

 

Some clients would choose to create a smaller milestone in the early stage of the project, when they don't know the freelancer very well. This could be one way for you to limit your loss. 

 

And, as you suggested, voice interview is also a good way to drive the scammers away. I can't speak for the others, but I am fine with voice interview unless it takes more than 10 minutes.

 

 

She copied someone elses work and you say the solution is let her keep the $100? !

versailles
Community Member


@Sally M wrote:

 

  • So I looked more closely at the original writing sample to compare it to the work she'd submitted for me. And I recognized the intro in her sample - it's from a Kindle book that (...)

 


Stop!

 

Sally, this is a fraudster. They are the scourge of Upwork that harms not only clients but also the true pros and the reputation of Upwork.

They send out stolen and plagiarized material as samples to get the job and then they try to milk clients.

 

Once you noticed this plagiarism, there is no more trust to have. Here is what I would do: I would agree to release a partial amount of the $100, explaining to the "freelancer" that the alternative is a dispute (even if you don't really mean to go that far).

 

It is important that you pay her some money because that way, your public feedback will show on her profile (otherwise it won't). And you need to leave a honest public and private feedback, so others will know who they are dealing with.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Thanks - actually I've already released $100. That was the payment for the first milestone - it's a $750 project in total. But that's okay, I learned an important lesson. I'll be even more careful next time I work with someone new.

 

I was reluctant to call plagiarism... though it certainly looks that way (very unlikely she's the ghost writer for that portion of the book I found). I feel sad - as a client - and previously a freelancer - we need platforms like upwork. It's tough when fraudsters are making things hard for all of us.

 

I'll take the advice from you all. Thank you!

alphazomgy
Community Member

"You get what you pay for 'round heahhhh chile."

The $100 was just the first milestone - the total project was $750.

You did not in any way deserve what happened to you.

But $750 to write an entire book is very, very low. Even starting out I never ghostwrote a book for less than $1200. Most decent ghostwriters charge on average $50-$60USD per hour of work. That's OK though. A lot of clients just don't know what good work will cost

That being said, If the freelancer agreed to write a book for you for $750, she should have put her very best effort into that book because she agreed to that price. You were conned, and that is a horrible way to treat a client. I am so sorry this happened to you. You didn't deserve that treatment.

If I agree to ghostwriting, I charge hourly. If it only takes 25 hours, I've still put my best work out there. This is really sad for those of us who are legitimate writers and contractors like the one you encountered give us all a bad name. I hope you have better experiences here.

Indeed, $750 was a rock bottom price, but I agree with Melissa on the fact that a rock bottom price is not an excuse for a contractor to scam the client.

 

If you pay a lower price you may expect lower quality, but not lies and plagiarism.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

I agree with the above re your price being on the low side of things, but that being no justification for any freelancer who agreed to that price subsequently offering less than his or her best work. (Sorry. That statement is wordy and phrased in an oblique manner.)

 

However, my main point is this: Any freelancer who objects to a brief phone call (or Skype) should be red-flagged and probably dust-binned. I do writing, editing, proofreading, and translating. I have never objected to a brief phone call. There is no particular reason for a legitimate freelancer to avoid a brief verbal exchange; even time-zone difficulties can be worked around.


@Janean L wrote:

 

However, my main point is this: Any freelancer who objects to a brief phone call (or Skype) should be red-flagged and probably dust-binned. I do writing, editing, proofreading, and translating. I have never objected to a brief phone call. There is no particular reason for a legitimate freelancer to avoid a brief verbal exchange; even time-zone difficulties can be worked around.


 Nobody has to hire a freelancer who refuses a phone call or skype. There is no reason why somebody does not want or can be availabel for a client 24/7. I struggled to Skype with a client because we both have small kids that kept interrupting or it was in the middle of the night. We finally spoke at 2 am.

There are loads of good reasons for people to object to a voice call. I'm due to have surgery on my mouth. If it turns out to be more extensive than I hope, speaking via Skype will be impossible for a while. That's only temporary, but some people here have hearing issues.  That doesn't mean that they're only fit for the bin.

Sally M,

 

I also think you should report the freelancer. Plagiarism - theft - is unacceptable. Her account should be permanently suspended. If she tried it on you, she most certainly will try it on others. I wonder too, if her profile has not been stolen from some other freelancer.

@ Kim --  Your situation is legitimate, for sure. But rare. The issue of hearing difficulties is also legitimate, but even that can be worked around to some extent, with technology, teletyping, etc.

Skype?

 

I find Skype to be a HUGE waste of time. First of all, anything that can be done on Skype can be done on Upwork chat this includes voice and video calls. Doesn't the chat even warn people when the word Skype is even used?

 

I have found that people who tend to ask me to either get on the phone or go on Skype tend to be people fishing for free work. I would say I used to spend a good 2 to 5 hours on occasion with people who just had nothing but questions but no commitment to hire someone.

 

I even ran into someone who had two people hired, and I guess he wanted to hire someone else so he had me watch youtube videoes - he also told me I should buy this book from a guy he follows. Which I ended up ordering this book. He would tell me "Perfect go ahead and start the job" This was without evening sending the job confirmation. I went as far as sending him instructions on how to start a job on Upwork. I even went with common sense "I cannot start the job until you send the confirmation." There's always two sides of the coin.

 

 I have seen others on Reddit Upwork say the same thing about phone calls and Skype on prospective clients. Ultimately, I consider prospecting or project management to be billable work. 


@Joshua C wrote:

Skype?

 

I find Skype to be a HUGE waste of time. First of all, anything that can be done on Skype can be done on Upwork chat this includes voice and video calls. Doesn't the chat even warn people when the word Skype is even used?

 

 I have never been able to get voice or video to work in the Upwork message center and I have never heard of anyone who has used either function successfully. I've seen numerous comments in this forum about it. When UW required me to do video verification of my identity last summer, we had to use Skype because the UW app would not work.

 

I have found that people who tend to ask me to either get on the phone or go on Skype tend to be people fishing for free work. I would say I used to spend a good 2 to 5 hours on occasion with people who just had nothing but questions but no commitment to hire someone.

 

Spending that much time with someone who has "nothing but questions" has nothing to do with Skype. It suggests you need to sharpen your own vetting protocols. It's absolutely true that inexperienced and/or disorganized clients can suck up way too much time if you let them, but I would forfeit some of my best opportunities here, if I were unwilling to take a phone or skype interview. I usually indicate in a proposal that I am available by appointment for a brief convo via phone or chat, to discuss specifics. It doesn't matter to me whether that happens via UW messaging, Skype, phone or some other channel. If there are any clues to follow, I spend a minute or two checking out the client off-platform ahead of that conversation; and I set a time limit of 20 minutes (30, if the opportunity is especially enticing to me) to figure out what the next steps are that make sense. Often, they need a project that will be most appropriately handled as a fixed-price contract, but additional discovery and consulting is required in order to scope that project. A couple of times last year, I provided that for free, thinking it was reasonable biz-dev investment--as it would likely be "out in the world." Both times, once the client understood enough (or thought they did) about how the project needed to be set up, they ghosted me. So now, I make it clear that consulting is available on an hourly basis. Sometimes they hire me, sometimes they don't, and I don't work for free.

 

I even ran into someone who had two people hired, and I guess he wanted to hire someone else so he had me watch youtube videoes - he also told me I should buy this book from a guy he follows. Which I ended up ordering this book. He would tell me "Perfect go ahead and start the job" This was without evening sending the job confirmation. I went as far as sending him instructions on how to start a job on Upwork. I even went with common sense "I cannot start the job until you send the confirmation." There's always two sides of the coin.

 

 I have seen others on Reddit Upwork say the same thing about phone calls and Skype on prospective clients. Ultimately, I consider prospecting or project management to be billable work. 


 

jr-translation
Community Member

Most has been said already but here's an advise for the future: Take your time to review the work before releasing a milestone. You have 2 weeks once the freelancer pressed the release payment button.

You should also report the freelancer for violating the ToA.

hilltechnology
Community Member

There's a vital pricing consideration that needs to be considered for every job.

 

Personally, I say go hourly every time unless it is a massive project and you've worked with this person before.  There is a particular trust between freelancer and client that needs to be earned mutually. I always keep my clients informed of my process and give them a clear communication of billings. 

 

I would even consider reaching out to an expert and asking someone for an honest pricing estimate. Sometimes it is best to spend a bit more to get better quality.

That's my two cents on the matter.

 

- Joshua.

 

 

 

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