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Opinion: How long do you wait for unresponsive clients before assuming something is wrong?

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Ace Contributor
Karl B Member Since: Nov 2, 2015
1 of 12

Hello everyone,

I apologize if this question has been asked before, but perhaps I can ask for everyone's different opinion on this matter rather than just one right answer, whether you are a freelancer or client. It may be something everyone deals with differently at times on Upwork. And it is something I hear is a repeated source of confusion about what effect it has on Upwork Job Sucess score...

 

What do you do when a client who you are normally in daily communication with all of a sudden stops responding for more than a week or two without warning? Is there a catastrophising part of the mind you have learned to calm down and focus on other things? How long is too long to wait for a response in your opinion? Is it a matter of weeks, or if the deadline for the project passes, or after a certain number of follow ups?

 

Usually for me, I just send the client a possible suggestion or update each week. Usually when there is a response again, the client has said to me they were just waiting for approval. Unfortunately, it can be tempting to jump to the conclusion that I must have done something wrong as a freelancer. But luckily for me this was never actually the case when I waited long enough to find out.

However, during Covid-19, perhaps it may be wise to all wait a little longer for responses to everything here as compared to before. 

 

Thank You

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Ace Contributor
Aditi J Member Since: Jul 28, 2015
2 of 12

Smiley Happy Catastrophizing part of the mind - For me, it worked overtime during first six months of freelancing. It imagined everything...right from "perhaps the client won a million dollar lottery and no longer needs to have her company itself" to "may be they had a concussion and can't remember log in information".

 

Five years later, now I am better at taming that dragon. I just focus on the next project or get some additional exercise or just go to the farmer's market...   

 

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Community Guru
Valentina D Member Since: Aug 27, 2016
3 of 12

Hi Karl,

 

I don’t have a precise answer. In my case, it depends on my relationship with each client. The last time when I got worried because of a lack of response was when I had a client located in Israel when it seemed (at least to me) dangerous to be there (it turned out he was perfectly well and safe Smiley Happy ).

 

But since you mentioned that “the client has said to me they were just waiting for approval” - I think it is not a great idea to work for (1) “farmers”, (2) people who aren’t able to assess the quality of your work themselves, (3) people who can’t afford to pay you before they’ve been paid by someone else for YOUR work (wannabe-farmers).

 

Hope this makes sense Smiley Happy

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Community Guru
Aleksandr S Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
4 of 12

If it's an hourly contract, start billing an unresponsive client and he will immediately appear on Monday.

 

This did not work for one of my past contract. The situation was different though. I accepted an hourly contract, the client gave me some insights on what I need to do and vanished for more than a week. I started working. I sent him a lot of questions, but none of them were answered. Later he showed up and asked how it was going. That was very frustrating: he addressed none of my questions, but asked what I had done so far. We parted soon.

 

I currently have an unresponsive client. Haven't talked to him for almost a year. He's an entrepreneur and likely the idea he hired me for didn't work. I wrote him a month ago, but he did not reply. I guess I just need to close the contract. But likely he won't leave a feedback and I better have a running contract rather than a closed one without feedback.

 

So much depends on a particular client, so can't advise anything (starting billing was a joke, haha). Just shared my experience.

 

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Ace Contributor
Karl B Member Since: Nov 2, 2015
5 of 12

Thank you everyone for your replies. I just wanted to confirm if people know...For Job Success Score, is it better to leave unresponsive but successfully completed contacts open? Or is it better to close them and mark the job as successfully completed?

Or should I find a new job and close the unresponsive one when I am hired again? 

I also wonder how often I should send a message so that Upwork doesn't think I just stopped connecting with the clients in the open but completed jobs. 

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Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
6 of 12

I have open but idle contracts that have sat for months and years with no activity and no communication and no discernible effect on my JSS. That said, it probably depends on a combination of factors including the proportion of them relative to total jobs, whether they were long-term projects while active, and maybe the total dollar amount. I don't know, just guessing.

 

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
7 of 12

In my mind, there is no such thing as an "unresponsive client."

 

There may be clients who "are not asking me for any new work right now."

That's it.

 

Upwork has things set up so that I always get paid for the work I do, whether a client "responds" or not.

 

So, by definition, there can not be "anything wrong" when a client is not communicating with me.

The only thing I should worry about is whether or not I have completed all of the tasks that a client has asked me to do.

 

If I have done so, then things are good. If I have not done so, then it is my responsibiilty to work on those tasks.

If a client has no new tasks, that is his right. That is a good thing. It means that I'm all caught up.

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Ace Contributor
Grace H Member Since: Jul 24, 2019
8 of 12

I have a similar situation. I have a client that hired me in early July, to help with uploading her videos to Amazon Video Direct. I worked on one video and submitted it to her mid July- she stated that she uploaded it but it takes a few days to see if it was accepted. The project originally had an end date of July 25th. I sent a message asking if she had seen any progress, which I imagine she had since it takes about 4 days for AVD to respond and this was 1.5 week after. She told me not to worry about the contract end date and then nothing. It's a small job, but still, I dont like that there are open contracts with no finalization, afterall we are all working to get good reviews and client satisfaction. In the posts I made to the community was basically ' dont stress' and 'dont harass the client' . You are not alone and at the same time have done nothing wrong.. 

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Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
9 of 12

Grace H wrote:

I have a similar situation. I have a client that hired me in early July, to help with uploading her videos to Amazon Video Direct. I worked on one video and submitted it to her mid July- she stated that she uploaded it but it takes a few days to see if it was accepted. The project originally had an end date of July 25th. I sent a message asking if she had seen any progress, which I imagine she had since it takes about 4 days for AVD to respond and this was 1.5 week after. She told me not to worry about the contract end date and then nothing. It's a small job, but still, I dont like that there are open contracts with no finalization, afterall we are all working to get good reviews and client satisfaction. In the posts I made to the community was basically ' dont stress' and 'dont harass the client' . You are not alone and at the same time have done nothing wrong.. 


You can close it, you just might not get a review.  I think the client is notified to give one and that they have 14 days to see feedback.

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Ace Contributor
Grace H Member Since: Jul 24, 2019
10 of 12

Oddly enough I had posted this in the community already and I was told NOT to close it- 

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