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Client became unresponsive during hourly contract

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Ace Contributor
Vasja S Member Since: Dec 23, 2016
1 of 10

Greetings to everyone!

 

I've been a part of Upwork community for almost three years now, and after 25 fixed price contracts I decided to accept an hourly contract for the first time. I have to admit that I didn't notice that the client's payment method is unverifed at first, but I did notice that he has spent more than $10K on Upwork although he has just one freelancer review. He also has a lot of active jobs (more than 10) and it didn't seem that anything's wrong with his profile. The project seemed interesting and our communication was decent. 

 

So I accepted his offer for an hourly contract and wrote the script review in less than 8 hours as promised. The client was very happy with my work and even offered me to write another review, which I gladly accepted. And then the client just dissapeared. It's been 12 days since we last communicated and he didn't answer my questions about the future of the project, as well as when can I expect the payment. I've seen that he's been online a few times in the past few days, judging by the yellow "away" notification on his profile picture, but still no reply...

 

Obviously, all of this has led me to believe that the client is avoiding me. I'm aware that Upwork offers no protection when working with clients whose payment method is unverified, but I'd like to know is there any way I can get my hard-earned money? What are my options and what should I do now? 

 

Thanks in advance to anyone who has any kind of advice or useful information!

 

Vasja

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 10

re: "Client became unresponsive during hourly contract"

 

Clients are not obligated to respond to freelancers.

 

I have had clients who will respond to every little update note I send them.

And I have had clients who have gone months without responding to me with messages.


But that's fine.

The most sincere form of "response" that a freelancer can receive is money going into their bank account.


If a client has asked me to work on her behalf, and I log time doing so, and I continue receiving payments - because those payments are processed automatically with or without messages from a client - then that's fine.

 

re: "It's been 12 days since we last communicated and he didn't answer my questions about the future of the project"

 

12 days isn't a very long time.

 

Be patient.

 

If you have finished doing everything that the client has asked you to do, and you have messages to the client to tell him so, then just wait. Work on other projects.

 

If you have not finished everything, then continue sending updates, and continue doing the work that the client asked you to.

 

...But... as Will points out (below), if the client is UN-VERIFIED, I would wait until he becomes verified before I do anything at all... Getting payment-verified is very simple for clients to do, and I wait until they do that before I start working for them, to make sure my payment is guaranteed.

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
3 of 10

If the client's payment method is marked as unverified by Upwork, don't do any more work for him until it is verified. 

 

And even if his payment method is verified, don't do any more work if you need feedback from him to be sure of what work he now wants done.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 10

@Vasja S wrote:

Obviously, all of this has led me to believe that the client is avoiding me. I'm aware that Upwork offers no protection when working with clients whose payment method is unverified, but I'd like to know is there any way I can get my hard-earned money? What are my options and what should I do now?


  1.  Did you use the tracker and track your time?
  2. When you go to your Reports Overview Page, can you see the money (if you DID track your time) in "Pending?"
  3. Did you get an email from Upwork that the contract is suspended?

The client's payment method showing as unverified is indeed a worry, but unless the CONTRACT was suspended it does not necessarily mean you won't get paid, provided you properly tracked your time. (with the tracker, with meaningful work memos and activity)

 

Chances are the client WAS verified when you started the work. There would have been warnings all over if not.

 

The client spent a lot of money in a space of a few weeks...

 

OK, looking into it a bit more I suspect (I do not know, this is a guess) the client is suspended because his jobs may involve Amazon review writing which is a violation of Amazon#s terms of service and therefor Upwork's terms of Service. Did you do any Amazon review stuff for the client?

 

If that is the case there is not necessarily a problem (as such) with the payment method.

 

Ace Contributor
Vasja S Member Since: Dec 23, 2016
5 of 10

Hello Petra,

 

Thank you very much for your response. I feel that your message may shed some light on the situation.

 

1. Yes, I used the tracker and everything is absolutely clear and transparent about my work, although I have to admit that I didn't make any memos because this was my first hourly job and me being a screenwriter didn't think that I need to explain my work (there are basically just screenshots of me writing the review using MS Word).

2. I've just checked the Reports Overview and the agreed amount for this job is indeed pending.

3. No, I haven't received any e-mails from Upwork regarding the client.

 

"Chances are the client WAS verified when you started the work. There would have been warnings all over if not."

Thank you for saying this, because although I honestly didn't pay attention to his payment method (my mistake, of course), I was wondering how come I wasn't warned about it before I accepted the offer... I would expect from Upwork to notify me about it at least once.

 

"OK, looking into it a bit more I suspect (I do not know, this is a guess) the client is suspended because his jobs may involve Amazon review writing which is a violation of Amazon#s terms of service and therefor Upwork's terms of Service. Did you do any Amazon review stuff for the client?" 

I have no idea. I've reviewed the script just like any other and I usually don't ask the clients what is it for, but now that you've mentioned Amazon I'm almost 100% sure that's the case. The script did indeed have some strange logo embeded on every page, with company name, address and other information that is very rare in film scripts. I still can't say for sure, but I believe you've got it right. 

 

Since you're obviously familiar with Upwork community guidelines and you seem well-experienced, can I ask you what do you suggest? What should I do? I've sent another message to the client yesterday, but again no reply. The contract is visible in My Contracts with a Client's method payment unverified warning beneath it. 

 

Once again, thank you very much for your response!

 

Best, 

Vasja

Ace Contributor
Vasja S Member Since: Dec 23, 2016
6 of 10

2. I've just checked the Reports Overview and the agreed amount for this job is indeed pending.

 

Sorry, I meant to say the money for my tracked time is pending. "The agreed amount" just shows how much I'm used to fixed price contracts. 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
7 of 10

@Vasja S wrote:

2. I've just checked the Reports Overview and the agreed amount for this job is indeed pending.

 

Sorry, I meant to say the money for my tracked time is pending. "The agreed amount" just shows how much I'm used to fixed price contracts. 


 Then just wait until Wednesday. I don't think the client's situation has anything to do with his payment method (it shows as unverified when a client is suspended, not just when the payment method is not verified) - and even if it was now not verified, as long as it was when the hours were actually charged (Monday last week) and the money was received by Upwork (which it likely was or the contract would have been put on hold by now) the funds should move from Pending to Available on Wednesday.

To take advantage of payment protection you should, however, always track time with a meaningful work memo.

Ace Contributor
Vasja S Member Since: Dec 23, 2016
8 of 10

I've just received an e-mail from Upwork notifying me that the contract is on hold, just like you said it would be. It's most likely the issue with Amazon, which is something I never heard of before and will definitely keep an eye out for it next time. Same goes for writing memos if I ever accept an hourly contract again.

 

I'll wait until Wednesday and then hopefully my earned money will be available. 

 

Thank you very much for your support!

 

Best,

Vasja

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
BEST ANSWER
9 of 10

@Vasja S wrote:

I've just received an e-mail from Upwork notifying me that the contract is on hold, just like you said it would be. It's most likely the issue with Amazon, which is something I never heard of before and will definitely keep an eye out for it next time


 Well, the fact that the client is currently / was recently hiring for someone to figure out the Amazon review rules for them, it's clearly something that is on their mind.

 

IF, however, it is due to the client not paying the last invoice then you will not see your money as you won't be protected due to the lack of work memos. (To clarify: If the client failed to pay for your hours last Monday, then Upwork won't pay you out of their own pocked which they would have done had the hours been logged stictly in line with their payment protection guidelines.)

Ace Contributor
Vasja S Member Since: Dec 23, 2016
10 of 10

" Well, the fact that the client is currently / was recently hiring for someone to figure out the Amazon review rules for them, it's clearly something that is on their mind."

 

At least that clears it up. Thanks for the info. 

 

"IF, however, it is due to the client not paying the last invoice then you will not see your money as you won't be protected due to the lack of work memos. (To clarify: If the client failed to pay for your hours last Monday, then Upwork won't pay you out of their own pocked which they would have done had the hours been logged stictly in line with their payment protection guidelines.)"

 

That's unfortunate... I still hope Wednesday will bring me some good news, since this contract was obviously a mistake from the start. Lessons learned. 

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