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

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

I don't doubt that you are disappointed by this turn of events.


It is entirely possible that what the freelancer did is NOT fair, and NOT right.


But that doesn't necessarily mean there is a way for you to get your money back.


Escrow has special rules. Upwork has specific rules. People at Upwork aren't allowed to determine what is moral or righteous. They have to abide by those rules.


 One option you have is to apologize to the freelancer for the misunderstanding, explain that you won't be able to use these files, and offer to pay him half of the money immediately if he will agree to release the remaining half.


Another option you have is to stop communicating with the freelancer completely and this contract completely right now by releasing any remaining escrow funds and closing the contract.


You could also ask the freelancer for a complete refund.


You could also close the contract and trigger a complete refund request, which the freelancer would need to agree to. If the freelancer doesn't agree, then the next step would be a dispute. The next step if that doesn't work would arbitration.


I discourage clients from getting into disputes and arbitration, because these processes primarily only benefit freelancers. But these ARE options.


If you can work out a compromise with the freelancer, that is better for everyone.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
12 of 17

Panagiotis K wrote:
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?


If the freelancer has not delivered the work, you do not pay him, and if it were me, I would dispute and take it to arbitration if necessary.


ETA: Assuming you have only seen screen shots which would not be usable.  

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

re: "If the freelancer has not delivered the work, you do not pay him"


I completely agree.


But what if the freelancer DID do the task that was specified in the original agreement? And the freelancer DID deliver the files?


But then the client has an explanation for why he wants something different than that?

I think that is the situation we may be facing.


In order to fully understand the situation, we really need the freelancer to come here and explain his side.


Having ONLY heard what the client has said, it sounds like the client is justified in being disappointed, and it sounds like the client is violating Upwork TOS.

Active Member
Panagiotis K Member Since: Feb 1, 2020
14 of 17
It seems the freelancer is not interested in joining the discussion (thanks for offering and for considering both sides of the argument). However, in our chats he has not been able to explain why he felt it was appropriate to use design applications that we had not discussed. It seems he did not have either the experience or desire to use the applications we discussed which is at the heart of the issue. However, I am hopeful he will produce the necessary source file and have given him some incentives to do so.
Community Guru
Heather H Member Since: May 9, 2011
15 of 17

Did you specify exactly which program you wanted him to use at the start of the contract? From all of your replies, it seems as if you did not. You asked for a finished product, and never mentioned anything about revisions or whatnot. 


If you did ask for a specific program to be used, and he delivered a different one, then you have a basis for dispute. If you did not specify, but he delivered a file to you that you can actually use and follows the guidelines you provided, then he is due his money. 


As long as the files he provides are what you asked for at the start, and they actually work, he is not obligated to give you an advanced program that you don't already own. You can ask, but he does not have to agree. 



Active Member
Panagiotis K Member Since: Feb 1, 2020
16 of 17
As I mentioned earlier, the files he exported are universal in format (similar to how .txt files are accepted by text editors). But because they lack the proprietary formatting features from the original applications he used, it limits the type of enhanced revisions that are possible. We only discussed the use of one application and he did not use it based on the file types he provided.

A suitable analogy would be using Microsoft Word for document design and then publishing to Acrobat PDF but then not sharing the Word file for future revisions which is what was mainly used for the design. To add a twist to this analogy, let’s say the project was actually supposed to be developed in Open Office which is free (similar to the application I asked him to use) then published to PDF. So the PDF export alone won’t be much help for future revisions either way due to the inherent limitations of editing a PDF.

Had the freelancer stuck to the intended design tool, the requested source file would not be an issue.
Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
17 of 17

Hi Panagiotis, 

I'm sorry to learn about your experience with this freelancer. I can see that you have reached out to our Customer Support Team, and they have given you advice on your options, regarding this account concern. If you need further help, please feel free to reach out through the same ticket thread and the team handling your case will assist you further.