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Should I end contract for completed work before receiving project source files?

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Active Member
Panagiotis K Member Since: Feb 1, 2020
1 of 17
A freelancer I’m working with insists I end the contract for work he completed and that I submit payment before he shares an important source file for the project. How should I proceed?
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Community Guru
Antun M Member Since: Jan 27, 2018
2 of 17

Panagiotis K wrote:
A freelancer I’m working with insists I end the contract for work he completed and that I submit payment before he shares an important source file for the project. How should I proceed?

Don't do it.

No reason to keep files as hostages.
Let them know that as soon as they send you the files you're paying for, you'd approve the milestone and they will be payed.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 17

That is an interesting question.


First of all, you should understand that this freelancer is violating Upwork protocol. What he is saying to you DOES NOT reflect how this is supposed to work.

 

There are only three possibilities:

1. The freelancer is a scammer. He wants to get money from you before he turns over files because he knows the files are not right.

 

2. The freelancer has done good work and has the right rules, but he does not understand proper Upwork procedure.

 

3. The freelancer completely understands Upwork procedures, but he wants to do things his own way.

 

That leaves open the question about what YOU should do.

 

Here is one possibility. Tell him you think there may have been a bit of a misunderstanding between the two of you, so you went to the Forum to ask about this. Tell him that an Upwork freelancer said that he must fit into one of three categories. Copy what I wrote above, and ask him to identify which of these categories he fails into, so that you will know how to proceed with paying him.

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 17

I want to share something else with you. It may not be directly related to your question, but it provides context.

 

Like the freelancer you hired, I too work on Upwork as a programmer, creating website and software systems for clients.

 

I do both hourly and fixed-price contract work. Here is what I do every time I am hired:

 

I create a private server account where I do all of my development work. I immediately provide the full root access credentials to the client. These are the same credentials that I have. I do all of my work on the server. This means that the client has continuous access to all work, all source code files, all of the time. I encourage the client to check out the work and test things as often as he wants to.

 

When I use the submit button, I do not actually provide anything new to the client. The client has ALREADY had access to all of the work, all of the time. There is no way for me to hold any files "hostage."

 

Holding files hostage is NOT how Upwork intends fixed-price contracts to be done. This violates escrow rules.

 

I am not saying that every freelancer on Upwork needs to work the same way that I do. But the way I do it IS a viable option. It demonstrates trust in the clients. The way the original poster is doing things is NOT an allowable option.

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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
5 of 17

Preston H wrote:

 

When I use the submit button, I do not actually provide anything new to the client. The client has ALREADY had access to all of the work, all of the time. There is no way for me to hold any files "hostage."

 

Holding files hostage is NOT how Upwork intends fixed-price contracts to be done. This violates escrow rules.

FWIW, the process you describe is ALSO not what Upwork intends. 

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Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
6 of 17

What is up with "designers" in this place refusing to give up source files? Mannn it's like coders only delivering executables. They're just trying to extort more money out of the client. 

 

This dude wants the source file. Give him the friggin source file my god.

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Panagiotis K Member Since: Feb 1, 2020
7 of 17
He basically told me that I did not originally request a specific file type that is now in question. However, I did not know that he was going to use a different application for the design work. So when he sent me screenshots of the design in the application he used, I realized that he was using one which I’m not familiar with but it’s used by many other designers. So when I asked for that specific source file, he said he already sent me what I originally requested (in a different format). But he thinks that since I did not request the newer file type at the very beginning of the contract, he’s not required to share that with me. That’s on its own indicates that he’s not trustworthy. Will opening a dispute help resolve this matter?
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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
8 of 17

re: "Will opening a dispute help resolve this matter?"

Maybe.

 

If the freelancer did the task that you asked him to do, then you are supposed to pay him.

 

If you did not specify a specific file type in your original agreement, he is under no obligation to provide that file type to you.

 

If he is providing you work created using a more common, more standard format, then it sounds like he is doing you a favor.

 

We are only getting one side of this story. You may wish to invite him to come to this thread and explain things from his point of view.

 

re: "...he thinks that since I did not request the newer file type at the very beginning of the contract, he’s not required to share that with me."

 

There may be some confusion here about the nature of a fixed-price contract.

 

A fixed-piece contract is made for a specific amount of money, payable when a freelancer completes a specific task. The funded escrow money needs to be released to the freelancer when he completes that task and provides the promised deliverable.

 

With a fixed-price contract, there can be no modification to the original task. There can be nothing added to it.

 

If a client wants anything new or changed, then the client may release any remaining escrow funds and negotiate a new contract or new milestone.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 17

An analogy may help:

 

I hired an illustrator to provide me with an editable vector graphic of a cartoon dog wearing a firefighter uniform. I said that the dog needs to look frazzled.

 

The freelancer provided me with an appropriate file, but I noticed the dog was a cocker spaniel. I then told the freelancer I wanted the dog to be a poodle. The freelancer pointed out that I did not specify a specific breed of dog in my original agreement with him. He refused to redo the work.

 

Do I need to pay for this work, even though I can't use it?

This may illustrate how the freelancer in the original poster's situation feels.

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Active Member
Panagiotis K Member Since: Feb 1, 2020
10 of 17
The problem here is that he used an application that is the only useful one to properly capture all the design settings for further revisions to that project. The files he’s provided are highly restrictive in what can be edited if additional work is needed. As I said earlier, he used an application that was not specified in our contract (so the dog illustration analogy doesn’t apply in this case).

So by not being transparent, what he essentially did was secure the most relevant source file for himself and now holds me hostage to him for any future revisions. He didn’t make it known he was using a different application than what we discussed until the end. How is that fair to the client?
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