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We made payment, then freelancer deleted work before we can't publish the content

Active Member
Brandon W Member Since: Sep 18, 2017
1 of 11

Can anyone please help?

 

I was working with a freelancer for about 6 months, sending him blog article assignments (1/2 of his assignments published on my company's site, the other 1/2 published on other sites). I have since terminated his contract but the last article I assigned him was a guest blog.

 

I sent that particular guest blog to another site (July 2017) to have them publish, but they were slow to respond and didn't try to access the Google Doc until today (9/18). Once I notified the writer we were ending his contract, he deleted the Google Doc and now the other company cannot access the doc so they can publish the article because it's obviously deleted.

 

How can I get a refund and/or report this freelancer? Clearly, we've already paid the freelancer for his time back in July so we own the content. What are my options?

Thank you in advance!

Moderator
Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
2 of 11

Hi Brandon,

 

I'm sorry to hear there is a misunderstanding between you and the freelancer you hired. Please, communicate with the freelancer and try to resolve the issue with them directly. Ask them to grant you access to the content pointing out that it's been paid for. If you are still unable to get it resolved with them, let the team know here and they'll assist you further with reaching out to the freelancer.

~ Valeria
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Active Member
Brandon W Member Since: Sep 18, 2017
3 of 11

Hi Valeria,

 

Thanks for your response. I've emailed the freelancer pointing that out but I doubt he will respond, let alone send me the content I requested. Is there any way we can get a refund or credit for hours billed?

Moderator
Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
4 of 11

Brandon,

 

There is a dispute process available for both hourly and fixed-price contracts under Upwork Payment Protection. However, there is time limit for when a payment can be disputed. You can find more information about it here.

~ Valeria
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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 11

Clearly the client made a tactical error.

 

Which doesn't excuse the freelancer's behavior, of course.

But this is only an issue due to the tactical error.

Community Leader
David D Member Since: Jun 8, 2016
6 of 11

Truth be told, you probably don't have any recourse through Upwork after so much time has passed. 

 

There's a lot of blame to go around here, and as a freelancer as well as a client I don't want to point fingers too harshly, but here's a few things to consider:

 

1. There are almost always problems that arise when you are farming out work to a freelancer on behalf of another client. There are three people involved in the project and the person doing the work is not the ultimate client. Simply put, it's a pain. I know it's a pain because as a freelance writer myself I often find myself presented with opportunities to work in this way. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't. I'm very careful about taking on jobs when I know the ultimate client isn't the person paying me. As a client, you need to be careful working in this way too. 

 

2. Difficult to tell the timeline of events from your initial post, but if the freelancer was paid and the contract was terminated BEFORE they deleted the Google doc then it's likely within their right to delete it. I've done this. When the contract is closed and the work is completed, there's no need for me to hang on to it. I don't want to have to hang on to 1,000 documents forever. And in your case, two months have passed already since the work was completed. 

 

3. Since the work has been completed and the contract closed; how is the freelancer to know you still needed it? How long are they going to be expected to hang on to it until the client (see point #1) decides to take a look. You say that after you informed them you were terminating the contract, they deleted the document. Do you know this to be the case? Or is it possible they deleted the document a month ago and no one bothered to look unti lthe client discovered the link didn't work yesterday? Or was the contract ended a month ago and it was deleted at some point back then? I don't know, I can't tell. 

 

Also, there is always more to the story. Why are you terminating the contract? If it's on good terms, this seems like either an unreasonable reaction or a misunderstanding. If it's on poor terms then there's other things that have transpired. 

 

In any case, a lot of this is moot since the time was paid in July and you don't have any recourse through Upwork that I'm aware of when so much time has passed. A couple of things:

 

I don't love hourly contracts as a freelance writer and honestly I don't think clients should either. You never know how long research is going to take, how long the actual writing will take, etc. And then there's the matter of re-writes or edits that will also be added to the time.

 

I prefer to work on a fixed price per word. I think it works out better for everyone involved. There's pricing transparency and as a client, you aren't billed automatically. This is especially helpful if you are doing what you're doing; that is, using a freelancer to complete work for a different client. Under fixed price contracts, you have to actively choose to release the funds.

 

The problem, however, is that any decent freelancer isn't going to wait 2 months to get paid while the client waits to look at the project and decides to pay you (if that's how it went down). Again, this is one of the challenges in working this way.

 

Ultimately, here's the reality: 

 

It isn't the freelancers fault that the client waited 2 months to look at the document, assuming they deleted it after the work was completed and/or the contract was closed.

 

Yes, you are taking ownership of anything that is ghostwritten, but the key part there is you need to TAKE OWNERSHIP of the document and not leave it on a shared doc that the freelancer has ultimate control over. 

 

Assuming the freelancer deleted the document out of spite recently, that still leaves 2-months worth of time when anyone could have looked at, or saved the file.

 

Assuming the freelancer deleted the document recently, they could have easily presumed that since 2 months had passed and the work was paid for that it was no longer needed.

 

There is always risk involved in paying people for work that is dependent on another party's approval, especially when that party is dragging their feet. This is another reason why hourly contracts aren't always the best fit since you only have a short window of team to review the freelancer's work before the payment is applied automatically.

 

Lastly, and to reiterate; I don't think you have any recourse through Upwork since so much time has passed. Best you can do is just ask them for another copy (assuming they still have it) and hope they respond.

 

Sorry for the long-winded reply. I hope some of this helps. Good luck with whatever resolution you are able to get.

 

Community Guru
Amanda F Member Since: Aug 8, 2015
7 of 11

My suggestion here for future projects with others would be to always insist that the freelancer upload a copy on upworks as well to ensure it is in the upwork system if it wasn't done. I always upload on upworks too for my clients even if I email, google drive, etc. for them so they will always have the file. 

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
8 of 11

"I prefer to work on a fixed price per word. I think it works out better for everyone involved. There's pricing transparency and as a client, you aren't billed automatically. This is especially helpful if you are doing what you're doing; that is, using a freelancer to complete work for a different client. Under fixed price contracts, you have to actively choose to release the funds."

 

While that probably works great for whatever type of writing that you do, I don't frequently undertake fixed priced contracts for my writing jobs (and I use the time tracker for my work so my work is transparent). There are several reasons for this, but I don't want to derail the thread. 

 

If the OPs writer was already paid for the work completed, then that FL deleting the file is understandable if they don't want to keep the writing on file. 

 

 

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

NOT referring to the original poster's situation, but speaking generally:

 

Technically, once a freelancer delivers the files she was paid to create for the client, she has no more responsibility to maintain or preserve those files.

 

I do. Many of us do. It's a "value added" service that we provide to clients. Clients from years ago can come back to me and I'll be able to help them out with this.

 

But there is no obligation to do so.

 

It is the client's responsibility to secure and store delivered files.

Community Leader
David D Member Since: Jun 8, 2016
10 of 11

I get that, and I agree it depends greatly on the type of writing you're doing. Point is, that's what works for me and may work in that type of situation. But of course there are other factors. 

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