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konstantinlitvin
Community Member

relationships with the client after fixed-price work done

Hi.

Am I correct that after a client paid me for a fixed-priced project It means he accepted the work and he could use the result of this work at his own risk and peril. Am I responsible as a freelancer for the bugs in the software which might appear in the future after the work was delivered? What should I do if the client will blame me for this?

 

It looks like the client I am working with didn't check the result of the work well enough and he wrote me after around a week I got paid: "We made a mistake with trusting you to provide us with correct and truthful information... I am not angry at you. I made some promises on when we would start to other people" I made a typo when answering the client's question about work results and it might be prevented if the client checked the result of work.

 

One more thing. The client asks for endless fixes and asks too many questions. He misrepresented his skills in python. He couldn't even install packages and instead of using google tell me to fix this type of thing very insolently and impolitely. He tried to call me at midnight without making an arrangement.

I've already done for them by far more than they paid for and wouldn't like to hurt my reputation with a bad review but would like to stop these frustrating relationships. Could you give me advice, please?

 

Thank you!

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
kinector
Community Member

Thank you for posting this, Konstantin, you have good and fundamental questions that are relevant to most of the software developers over here. Many will benefit from reading this thread.

 

Here are some perspectives that are drawn from over 20 years of IT work of which 8 years as an entrepreneur/solopreneur relying on nothing but my own skill. Not sure if these help you to solve the current issue as the situation looks quite unproductive, but take these tips with you to the future projects. ๐Ÿ‘

 


Konstantin L wrote:

Hi.

Am I correct that after a client paid me for a fixed-priced project It means he accepted the work and he could use the result of this work at his own risk and peril. Am I responsible as a freelancer for the bugs in the software which might appear in the future after the work was delivered? What should I do if the client will blame me for this?

Responsible? Yes and no. Depends on how you define your work! Your only mistake here was not creating and managing the expectation, not putting it in writing, and therefore your undeniably unprofessional client is able to attack you and it is hard to close the project honorably.

 

Next time, before the contract starts, you will surely remember to put limits on what you promise to do and what you don't.

 

In my case, it depends on the project, client, contract, etc. but typically I would offer something like 1 calendar month of free bug fixes after the project has been closed. Sounds absurd? It might. But it makes the client feel perfectly safe.

 

Fortunately, I haven't got any bug fix requests since I make sure it is part of the project to run the software I make in the real context. So, by the time we close the contract, both of us know there are no bugs. It's already fully tested, installed, fine-tuned, upgraded as needed, verified, and accepted by the client. It's easy.

 

It looks like the client I am working with didn't check the result of the work well enough and he wrote me after around a week I got paid: "We made a mistake with trusting you to provide us with correct and truthful information... I am not angry at you. I made some promises on when we would start to other people" I made a typo when answering the client's question about work results and it might be prevented if the client checked the result of work.

You should probably not make your client assume your work is imperfect at the time of delivery and they need to find the bugs themselves. This attitude would not keep you in this field very long (at any job, actually).

 

Alternatively, you can try to write a long disclaimer to every client before every contract basically saying that:

- there will be bugs, lots of bugs

- to fix the bugs (i.e. programming mistakes) will cost extra

- if not paying you an unpredictable amount of extra, the client is responsible to fix the bugs

 

Technically, you can do this. You define what your work contains, you put the borders.

 

But I'd be pretty surprised if anyone ever hired you. The software you make needs to work in the client's context. Otherwise, the client won't be able to make use of it for their business, right? They would probably lose money because of your bugs. So, your software would not solve the original business problem the client hoped to get sorted out.

 

One more thing. The client asks for endless fixes and asks too many questions. He misrepresented his skills in python. He couldn't even install packages and instead of using google tell me to fix this type of thing very insolently and impolitely. He tried to call me at midnight without making an arrangement.

I've already done for them by far more than they paid for and wouldn't like to hurt my reputation with a bad review but would like to stop these frustrating relationships. Could you give me advice, please?

 

Thank you!


Are you saying, that the client should be equally skilled in Python as you are to take over your code (that is undoubtedly genius stuff)? If so, why does the client need to hire you? Just to move the job he could do himself from his desk to yours so you just "do it"? That's the classic "code monkey" business which is driven by cost-saving and the cheapest guy gets a lot of work. Not a very great business for you, I'd imagine, as people usually get paid peanuts for such projects.

 

Your expertise that is higher than your client's skills is your greatest asset! This is the core of all your freelance business.

 

The client is impolite because of frustration and the lack of control over things. Going unprofessional is of course not excusable and you as a solid professional will never respond in kind. Keep your cool, fix what you can, and try to make the client as happy as possible. Happy clients pay, unhappy ones bring you nothing but trouble. From now on you will manage the expectations and understand the context of the software you make much better, I'm 100% sure. And you pre-emptively avoid most of the trouble from the beginning.

 

Whatever happens now, don't get stuck chewing it if it doesn't end well despite all your efforts. Finish this project, look into the future, and keep going. Smart guys like us learn this from one little mishap.

 

You'll be fine, good luck Konstantin! ๐Ÿ‘

View solution in original post

3 REPLIES 3
colettelewis
Community Member


Konstantin L wrote:

Hi.

Am I correct that after a client paid me for a fixed-priced project It means he accepted the work and he could use the result of this work at his own risk and peril. Am I responsible as a freelancer for the bugs in the software which might appear in the future after the work was delivered? What should I do if the client will blame me for this?

 

It looks like the client I am working with didn't check the result of the work well enough and he wrote me after around a week I got paid: "We made a mistake with trusting you to provide us with correct and truthful information... I am not angry at you. I made some promises on when we would start to other people" I made a typo when answering the client's question about work results and it might be prevented if the client checked the result of work.

 

One more thing. The client asks for endless fixes and asks too many questions. He misrepresented his skills in python. He couldn't even install packages and instead of using google tell me to fix this type of thing very insolently and impolitely. He tried to call me at midnight without making an arrangement.

I've already done for them by far more than they paid for and wouldn't like to hurt my reputation with a bad review but would like to stop these frustrating relationships. Could you give me advice, please?

 

Thank you!


As this was a fixed-price job,  all the client can do is to dispute the payment, which you could either refund or refuse. If you refuse, he could take it further to arbitration, which would cost you, the client and Upwork, but I think it is very unlikely that this will happen.

 

If the client closes the contract, then he has to leave feedback, and if its bad, you can wait and see what effect it has on your JSS. If it gets badly hit, you can use your top-rated perk and have all the feedback (public and private) removed, or if your JSS only goes down two or three points, it might be worth just sitting it out until it improves. 

 

As you have been paid for the job, I think you should refuse to do any more revisions, and stop communicating with this client, unless he disputes, in which case you must follow everything CS tells you to do. 

 

It is an unwise client who asks a freelancer to work for free.

 

As a client, my projects are important. I can not afford to have freelancers doing development work on my project for free. I don't want people who are not motivated working on my project. Or who resent having to work on it.

 

If I find problems or bugs, then when I contract the developer who is no longer under contract, the first thing out of my mouth is "Can I hire you to...?"

 

I make it clear that I want to PAY MONEY to the freelancer in order to have him make new changes, fixes, etc.

 

The last thing I want is to have a reluctant developer working on my project source code. Or more likely... not working on it. A developer might say yes to my free work request, but I would be last on her priority list. Yes, she wants to help, but she has PAYING clients who she is going to attend to first. When will I actually get this new feature or bug fix if I am not offering to pay her? Next week? Next month? Maybe never...

 

If the freelancer declines to accept payment, that is his choice. I might not press the matter if it is a small issue.

 

I don't do this to be nice. I don't do this because I care about the freelancer. I do this because I care about my project.

kinector
Community Member

Thank you for posting this, Konstantin, you have good and fundamental questions that are relevant to most of the software developers over here. Many will benefit from reading this thread.

 

Here are some perspectives that are drawn from over 20 years of IT work of which 8 years as an entrepreneur/solopreneur relying on nothing but my own skill. Not sure if these help you to solve the current issue as the situation looks quite unproductive, but take these tips with you to the future projects. ๐Ÿ‘

 


Konstantin L wrote:

Hi.

Am I correct that after a client paid me for a fixed-priced project It means he accepted the work and he could use the result of this work at his own risk and peril. Am I responsible as a freelancer for the bugs in the software which might appear in the future after the work was delivered? What should I do if the client will blame me for this?

Responsible? Yes and no. Depends on how you define your work! Your only mistake here was not creating and managing the expectation, not putting it in writing, and therefore your undeniably unprofessional client is able to attack you and it is hard to close the project honorably.

 

Next time, before the contract starts, you will surely remember to put limits on what you promise to do and what you don't.

 

In my case, it depends on the project, client, contract, etc. but typically I would offer something like 1 calendar month of free bug fixes after the project has been closed. Sounds absurd? It might. But it makes the client feel perfectly safe.

 

Fortunately, I haven't got any bug fix requests since I make sure it is part of the project to run the software I make in the real context. So, by the time we close the contract, both of us know there are no bugs. It's already fully tested, installed, fine-tuned, upgraded as needed, verified, and accepted by the client. It's easy.

 

It looks like the client I am working with didn't check the result of the work well enough and he wrote me after around a week I got paid: "We made a mistake with trusting you to provide us with correct and truthful information... I am not angry at you. I made some promises on when we would start to other people" I made a typo when answering the client's question about work results and it might be prevented if the client checked the result of work.

You should probably not make your client assume your work is imperfect at the time of delivery and they need to find the bugs themselves. This attitude would not keep you in this field very long (at any job, actually).

 

Alternatively, you can try to write a long disclaimer to every client before every contract basically saying that:

- there will be bugs, lots of bugs

- to fix the bugs (i.e. programming mistakes) will cost extra

- if not paying you an unpredictable amount of extra, the client is responsible to fix the bugs

 

Technically, you can do this. You define what your work contains, you put the borders.

 

But I'd be pretty surprised if anyone ever hired you. The software you make needs to work in the client's context. Otherwise, the client won't be able to make use of it for their business, right? They would probably lose money because of your bugs. So, your software would not solve the original business problem the client hoped to get sorted out.

 

One more thing. The client asks for endless fixes and asks too many questions. He misrepresented his skills in python. He couldn't even install packages and instead of using google tell me to fix this type of thing very insolently and impolitely. He tried to call me at midnight without making an arrangement.

I've already done for them by far more than they paid for and wouldn't like to hurt my reputation with a bad review but would like to stop these frustrating relationships. Could you give me advice, please?

 

Thank you!


Are you saying, that the client should be equally skilled in Python as you are to take over your code (that is undoubtedly genius stuff)? If so, why does the client need to hire you? Just to move the job he could do himself from his desk to yours so you just "do it"? That's the classic "code monkey" business which is driven by cost-saving and the cheapest guy gets a lot of work. Not a very great business for you, I'd imagine, as people usually get paid peanuts for such projects.

 

Your expertise that is higher than your client's skills is your greatest asset! This is the core of all your freelance business.

 

The client is impolite because of frustration and the lack of control over things. Going unprofessional is of course not excusable and you as a solid professional will never respond in kind. Keep your cool, fix what you can, and try to make the client as happy as possible. Happy clients pay, unhappy ones bring you nothing but trouble. From now on you will manage the expectations and understand the context of the software you make much better, I'm 100% sure. And you pre-emptively avoid most of the trouble from the beginning.

 

Whatever happens now, don't get stuck chewing it if it doesn't end well despite all your efforts. Finish this project, look into the future, and keep going. Smart guys like us learn this from one little mishap.

 

You'll be fine, good luck Konstantin! ๐Ÿ‘

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