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5a36d0c3
Member

Freelancer has stopped replying to messages, how much leeway should I give?

A freelancer accepted my proposal and I put 1/4 of the total fee in escrow. I sent her the instructions and all applicable materials and haven't heard anything from her for over a week. I've messaged her several times and she's not replying, whereas when I was screening candidates, she would reply within hours. We agreed that the project would take her four weeks, and so now, being over a week in, I'm wondering if she will get it done on time.

 

She has a very high feedback rating, so should I be patient or are these red flags? I can't wait out the four weeks and find someone else if she hasn't delivered. I need the project finished.

 

Or did I do something wrong? The agreement was 1/4 of the money at the start of the project and it's in escrow. Was I supposed to pay it and she's waiting on me? But I find it strange she wouldn't say anything about that and since there's been no communication from her at all, I'm hesitant to pay it.

13 REPLIES 13
lysis10
Member

1/4 of project cost should only get 1/4 of the work so maybe 1/4 of the work is no deliverable?

How much leeway should you give?

That's entirely up to you.

 

Upwork hourly contracts are totally "at will." I like the flexibity they provide. I can close contracts whenever I want, for whatever reason.

 

I can ask a freelancer to turn in a project by 3:00 p.m. And if it's 3:01 p.m., I can close the contract.

 

I can close it if it's 2:00 p.m. if I want to. I'm a very easy-going client, so I don't do that. But there's nothing preventing me from doing so.

 

You're using a fixed-price contract, which is slightly less flexible. But you're still the client. You don't owe the freelancer anything at this point. The freelancer committed to providing work. If she has not done the work, and the deadline has passed, you should feel free to work with other people.

 

You said: "I can't wait out the four weeks and find someone else if she hasn't delivered. I need the project finished."

 

I simply don't do that. If I have a deadline, I don't rely on only one freelancer who I have never worked with before.

 

I rarely hire only one freelancer for projects like this. I hire multiple people. So if one underperforms or doesn't deliver the work at all, the work is already being done by others.

re: "Was I supposed to pay it and she's waiting on me? But I find it strange she wouldn't say anything about that and since there's been no communication from her at all, I'm hesitant to pay it."

 

NO.

 

Do not pay out money for fixed-price contract work before you receive the work.

 

Do not pay "upfront payments."

 

Fund an escrow payment, so that freelancers know the money is there. When a freelancer finishes doing work, she can submit it, and then you can release payment for that work.


That's how the system is meant to work.

This is what I would tell the client today:

 

"Ella: Thank you again for discussing this project with me.

 

"My deadline for this is quite tight, and I have not received any updates or screenshots showing how the work is progressing. I understand that you're probably busy and I don't want to stress you out. I'll go ahead and close the contract out and assign this to somebody who can work on it now. That way you won't need to worry about it.

 

"You should see a request from Upwork to agree to let the escrow amount revert back to me. Go ahead and agree to that, and everything will be taken care of. If there's anything else I can do to help, let me know."

If a client closes a fixed-rate contract before work has been delivered or money released. What happens to the money in escrow, does this revert to the client?

re: "If a client closes a fixed-rate contract before work has been delivered or money released. What happens to the money in escrow, does this revert to the client?"

 

This automatically triggers a reversion of the money back to the client. I believe this requires approval by the freelancer.

 

I have been a client who closed a fixed-price contract that a freelance had done no work on. The money was credited back to my credit card account within a few days, without me needing to do anything.

If I have a project that I really need 4 weeks from now, I'm not going to assign it to a single unknown freelancer with a due date set 4 weeks from now.

 

Here are more reasonable strategies:

 

- Set the deadline to be 1 week from now, giving you time to recover and work with other people if this doesn't work out.

 

- Hire 4 different people to deliver the assignment 3 weeks from now

 

- Hire one person with strict deadlines due every 3 or 4 days for portions of the total project. Break it down so that you see progress and actually receive work (and pay for that work) every few days. This way you make sure the project is moving forward. Divide up the whole thing so that it will be finished 3 weeks from now.

kfarnell
Member

What 'should' have been done isn't the point.

 

What did you actually agree? If you agreed to pay 1/4 upfront, then you should do that.

 

Did you actually agree on regular updates? If not, the freelancer hasn't done anything wrong. You seem to be assuming the freelancer would be responsive, but they may equally have assumed they didn't need to contact you until the project was complete (assuming there were no problems). Again, what did you actually agree?

 

The project isn't late.

 

And currently the freelancer is taking a huge risk as you haven't funded the entire project.

katrinabeaver
Member

Janet,

 

I week seems a little long for no answer and you are totally entitled to an update. You could ask Upwork CS to contact the freelancer on your behalf, sometimes that will get their attention. With a four week deadline i wouldn't panic yet, but definitely you need an update soon. 

"Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn't mean treating everyone alike-Coach John Wooden"

The 1/4 escrow thing is interdasting. She'd be on my low priority list too.

gerrys
Member

No leeway.

 

Instead of a "4 week project", it should have been (at least) 4 one week tasks.

 

NEVER allow a freelancer to operate more that 1 week without a status report and delivery of any work completed to date.

 

NEVER let a freelancer work more than a week without having "something" to show for it; e.g. an outline; wireframes; whatever.

 

No project is that big that in cannot be broken doen into 1 week (or less) tasks. If not, the "project manager" is incompetent.

 

Demand an answer TODAY; else cancel the contract and post a scathing review.

 

If you continue with this client, make it clear what your expectations are.

cupidmedia
Member

This first milestone that you setup for 1/4 of the budget, what due date did you set for it? Was it 1 week or 4 weeks? Hw did you determine the first milestone? What were they supposed to deliver and when? When you message them, what are you saying (paraphrase, you can't copy-paste the messages here).

 

With any project, but especially with fixed-rate projects, it's very important that both the client and freelancer understand each other's expectations. Communication is always the most important thing. If they're not responding, you could cancel the contract and request the refund of the amount in escrow (which requires the freelancer's approval). BUT, if you gave the freelancer a 4 week deadline for the first milestone, and you're complaining after a week that you've got nothing, the freelancer might not readily agree to the refund because they might think they have another 3 weeks.

kat303
Member

What may be concerning, whether or not there is confusion about this being a 1 week job or 4 weeks, is the lack of communication. It's not sure how far into the one week this job has been delayed for. At least, if messages were sent to this freelancer, she should have at least responded with any concerns, problems or information or just to say, everything is on track and I am currently working on your job.

 

I would give her a message. along the lines of =

Hi, I've been trying to establish communication with you and get a quick update on how everything is going .but I haven't heard anything back from you. Is there any problems with anything? I'll look forward to hearing from you how things are going but I have a deadline to be considered. If I don't hear anything from you by (enter time) (enter date) then I'll assume that more pressing things have come up and you are very busy and I will close the contract at that date and time.