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Rude Clients

Community Guru
Renata S Member Since: Jun 10, 2014
31 of 37

@Bobby B wrote:


I agree 100% with this...however this not the reality here on Upwork.  Your status/rating is directly impacted by those stars which inadvertently impacts your ability to get work.


 I agree 100%. I don't think people recognize the current reality of the merged Elance/ODesk ecosystem and the amount of competition this created. I'm not new to the board, but I know how hard it is to get jobs now that I'm below 90%.  I ended a couple of contracts with good ratings and closed some of the "open contracts" last week and I'm still there for some reason. Must be all that nasty "hidden feedback."  I know this means another two weeks at 89%, which is like kiss of death for my line of work. 

When I have to get work, sometimes I'm faced with doing tougher more complicated contracts that pay okay but don't really compensate for the amount of work I have to put into them (academic papers for non-native English speakers in STEMS subjects -- these are really tough and time consuming). I know supposedly I should be charging more but I don't want to risk not having anything. The one good aspect of this is that the clients I work with are usually really appreciative of the level of care I take with their research papers. 

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
32 of 37

@Bobby B wrote:

"Basing business decisions on how many gold stars someone might award you is no way for an adult professional to behave"


I agree 100% with this...however this not the reality here on Upwork.  Your status/rating is directly impacted by those stars which inadvertently impacts your ability to get work.


I think we would do new freelancers a disservice not to tell them upfront the value of having a high rating here on Upwork....unless I'm missing something?



 I haven't had this experience personally, but a number of long-time, successful Upworkers have reported having JSS drop into the mid (or even low) 80s with no discernable impact on their ability to land jobs or the rate they command, so I'm not sure that number is as important as many freelancers believe it is.


That said, reviews are obviously a factor in the effectiveness of any business's marketing. I'm not suggesting that they should be ignored, simply that attempting to appease unreasonable clients is a trap that can wipe out a freelancer's profit margins, and often to no avail--the clients who keep asking for changes and demanding more work for the same small amount of money tend not to suddenly decide you've gone above and beyond and provide great ratings (even if they leave 5-star feedback publicly, you can't trust what they've said in private). 


I believe that in most cases, the freelancer is better off to cut his/her losses when that trend emerges, and that the more valuable information for new freelancers regards avoiding that type of client to begin with.


You've had success by starting out with low-end clients, probably because you have high-level skills. But, if what others have reported in the forums is a valid indicator, you are in the minority. Far more often we see new Upworkers--especially those who are relatively inexperienced as freelancers--get stuck in a rut by taking those jobs. In many fields, there are tiers, and the fact, for example, that a writer has a string of $5 articles tends to (rightly or wrongly) cluster that writer in the potential client's mind with low-quality writers who make their careers charging those rates. Even if better clients do consider that freelancer, they will often insist on lower rates than they would otherwise have paid because it's hard for them to see why they should pay $50 for an article of the same approximate length and other characteristics as the one she wrote last month for $5. 


Some freelancers who start in the shallow end are never able to break out of that pattern, and others find that it takes several months of small incremental increases to get to a respectable rate of pay and better clientele.

Ace Contributor
Bobby B Member Since: May 21, 2017
33 of 37

Good information...very helpful perspective.  I soon as I had enough jobs under my belt and felt my service/skill level had advanced I moved on to the next "tier."  When the earlier ($5) client's contacted me and inadequate wages I declined....there were a couple of exceptions for clients I really liked or/and the project they had taken on.


I believe and have witnessed the value of charging for what you are worth.   Charge less and people can make the quick assumption your work is "less valuable."  Charge too much and not deliver and your reputation could be hurt.


I appreciate the discussion hear today I have learned quite a bit... Smiley Wink 

Active Member
Jennifer P W Member Since: Sep 7, 2016
34 of 37

I think freelancers should have all the facts at hand regarding their JSS, as it will help them make better decisions. Out of newbie enthusiasm, I took a bad client right out of the gate--I was even told by UpW forum members and my husband that this guy was all red flags. As a longtime professional, though, and Upwork newbie, I wanted to forge ahead and thought my own professionalism would get me through. Needless to say, it went south, taking my JSS score with it. Client, however, has learned how to game the Upwork system and has the same three people submit glowing 5-star reviews over and over again (no joke) to bury the few that actually tell the truth. I am fortunate that Upwork is not my primary income source, but someone else who made the same mistakes that I did and really needed this could find themselves in a difficult situation if their JSS score meant that otherwise strong proposals and skills were not considered.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
35 of 37

Jennifer, that information is readily available. Unfortunately, most new freelancers don't take the trouble to read Upwork's materials and learn how the platform works before jumping in. For the same reason, quite a few don't get paid for their first jobs because they fail to use the system as it was intended.

Community Leader
Kristo H Member Since: May 6, 2017
36 of 37

One thing that has not been mentioned (or excuse me if it has), but which carries a lot of importance to it is: protocol. With this I mean that while cyberspace widens the potential customer-base remarkably, it does it with the cost of less protocol. Let me have it wrong, but most of the disagreements between individuals, or even companies, in trade orginate from the lack of protocol, that is increase of free-form agreement. I would disagree what was stated here before, that, it as somehow to do with "class", that is, that customers with bigger wallet somehow were likely to behave better. I have had rude ones on both ends of the scale.


I think UpWork has been doing actually quite good, in providing that kind of "protocol" between completely unknown and untrusted entitites to trade on work almost without exchanging a word. That boils down well done job posting and short and lucrative proposal. The less you need to actually talk, the better. I know there is at least one other profession where that skill might have been apprecitated.


Looking my history of nearly 70 customer projects, I think the best ones, both financially and "socially" have been those where customer wont feel the need to talk too much and just are satisfied to get the job done. Those who request for a Skipe call during their first contact, I tend to just reply, not using these words, that this aint no peep-show. This remainds me also of a cab driver, who told me how he dislikes customers who try to be chatty with the driver during the trip. He might have had his point. At least they have very strict and simple protocol, the meter. Similary we have the Time Tracker.


In some mind, all of this may be somewhat in contrast to the current policy advice here, to talk with customers as much as possible. I fear, that this policy might actually promote arguments and disputes. Instead UpWork should develop more tools to establish "protocol" between the parties. The ability for a freelancer to define milestones in their proposal is, in my mind, a good step towards that direction. It lowers the probability of either party to feel that the other was "rude".


Have a good day all!

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
37 of 37

With most of my clients, I do schedule a short 15-minute call before the project starts. But, my projects are longer and rarely ever "one and done's." Everyone's FL'ing niche and communication styles are different. If you know how to handle the call correctly, there's no "free" anything involved in the conversation. And, in my experience, a quick phone chat actually does the opposite: it heads off the likelihood of miscommunication. This method also humanizes the interaction between myself and the client. It has not increased the likelihood of disputes, etc.  


I think what some are saying about higher paying clients is that they tend to be better, not that they are absolutely so. Over the 18 months I've used Upwork, I've tested this by steadily raising my hourly rate. So far, what others have stated is true: my higher paying clients are easier to work with, etc. It does not mean such is 100% true, but that's where FL discernment makes a huge impact.