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Payment for incomplete and late projects

Active Member
Jon C Member Since: Sep 30, 2015
1 of 5

Hi Upwork Community,


    This is my first attemp to seek some advice about a current contract through the community. I have been with upwork for the last 3 months and so far it has been a pleasent experience. I would like to keep it that way. 

    I have hired the same developer twice now for a web design. First time, they did a marvelous job and completed the task before the due date. There was one area the developer was not able to complete. I came to the consideration that maybe the # tasks in hand and the due date didnt allow for completion of that certain task. Still, I did my part with providing full payment and a good feedback. I rehired the same developer a few weeks later for phase 2 of the same project. The task started Wednesday(september 16) and had a 1 week(september 23) service level agreement. I followed up initially but didnt want to be bothersome and left the developer to do his work. The due date came and I heard nothing about a project completion. I reached out two days later and the developer communicated that there was a task that was not in par with his expertise. It was the same task that he didnt complete the first time. Finally, the developer turned in the project today(september 30).

    I dont mind too much that the project was turned in late but now have concerns because the project is incomplete once again for the same task. The incomplete task is pretty crucial for the project. The second project was a continuation to build upon the work of the first project. The developer only accomplish 1/2 of the second project. How would I go as for payment? Future credit is not an option  since I dont require any further work from the developer. Your help is appreciate.


P.S. I decided to first try here about options and routes before engaging with the developer. 




Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 5

I would communicate with the freelancer openly and honestly.


Maybe put the ball in his court to a degree, contacting him and saying something along the same lines you mentioned to us above, and asking him what proportion of the originally agreed price he would consider to be fair to be released to him considering that the project was handed in past deadline and incomplete.


See what he says, and then take it from there.


I guess you have a percentage in your head as to what you think is fair (50%), and if that ties up (more or less) with what the freelancer says then you can put this to bed relatively amicably.


Communication is key in situations like this.


Of course you then still have to get the rest of the project done which is, of course, a bit of a pain.


Is the current project entirely funded? If so you can (after talking to the freelancer) release only the agreed percentage to him (say 50%) and everyone goes on their merry way. The freelancer would then be asked to approve the return of the 50% that were not released to your payment method.


The reason why I say "discuss it!" is because the freelancer also has the option to reject the return of the remaining funds that are in Escrow, in which case the whole thing goes to Dispute which can probably be avoided in this case.


If you were to go down that route the freelancer can approve the return of the not released Escrow funds, in which case the money goes back to your payment method immediately, reject it (it goes to dispute) or ignore it in which case the money comes back after 7 days.


All this is assuming that the full value of the second project was funded and the funds are in Escrow.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 5

This isn't that complicated. You hired someone to do a project. He was able to do most of what you need, but there is a part he doesn't know how to do and he was a little embarrassed about it so he didn't mention it.


For the second contract, if he didn't do much of anything, just reach out and tell him:


"James, thanks again for all your work on this project. I don't need anything else done. You don't need to do Final Part X. Can we agree to closing the contract now, and I'll pay you 50% of the contract amount? Because we never really did the main part, and I don't want to make you wait any longer to get paid.


If I don't hear back from you with any objections, then I'll go ahead and pay you and close the contract."


Wait one hour, or wait until he writes back to confirm that is okay with him. Then pay him and close the contact.


If he writes to and says he won't accept that compromise, then write to him:


"James, I am sorry about that. There was a typo in my last message. I meant to say 40%."

Community Guru
Heather H Member Since: May 9, 2011
4 of 5

I agree that you should talk with the contractor. 


A few things to note:


On the first job, he didnt do that part, at that time, you should have asked him about it to get some clarity. When you hired him again, and you did ask him about it, you mentioned he DID tell you that he doesnt have the skills to complete that portion.  Had you asked about it the first time it was skipped, then you would not be in this situation, and you would have only hired him for the second part which he was able to complete. 


Whatever percentage of the work is not done, is the amount you should withhold, since your contractor DID tell you he is unable to do it, I am sure he wont have a problem with it. 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 5

If I was the contractor, and I realized I did not know how to do a certain part, or even if I just don't have time to do a certain part, I would be thrilled if a client offered me a way out by offering to close the unfinished contract and pay for the portion that was completed.