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A Stubborn Client Is Driving Me Crazy

Hi Upwork Community,


I'm a Project Manager, started as a VA. Yesterday I accomplished 1 year as a Top Rated (100%) freelancer. I am so proud to be part of this community, I can't even begin to describe it.


About 3 months ago I found a client for a long-term / 40 hours per week job. She was looking for a Bilingual VA to help her with upcoming personal tasks, and to develop systems for her to have better control of her company. This is a printing company that makes over 1M a year, and it's been active since 17 years ago.  Around 30 clients and orders a week. She runs the company only with a Production's Manager and a Designer. With an office in FL.


Things started to get messy when the Operations Manager quitted. Since we started she told me his performance wasn't good, that she wanted to fire him but she didn't have options. She was quite stubborn from the start, quite perfectionist, but really, really disorganized. When she tried to delegate a responsability to me she gambled around 100 things without getting to the point. Almost every call I had to led, but those took up to 4 hours each.


Since the company was a mess and there was simply not a single system that worked, I offered help developing a Business Management system. We used Pipedrive, and I managed to set everything as automatic as I could. I did this in a weekend, never had the time to really review it, because the big problem with this client is that she throws tons of ideas she has at you, and you HAVE to catch them all up and deliver them on time. This is totally ok for me, as long as i'm paid what I deserve, and specially if the environment is professional. Both weren't quite true.


After he quitted she started delegating more and more operations responsabilities to me, and I hop over them because my culture is not to deny myself to opportunities. To the point where she raised my rate from 8$/h to 10$/h, and had a call with me where she offered me the position. Told me that she will pay me 20$/h (what she would pay to an operations manager there) after the end of Octuber. I told her I wasn't sure I was ready for that, but that I will try to help her as much as I could.  That I needed instruction to learn about the position.


This task i'm engaging nowadays it's truly complex. The company itself is really complex and does not have procedure manuals. Actually, i'm developing them while doing the operations, while managing the system to know where the orders are, while being active with everything. She wants me to be "Impecable with my word", and verbally I agreed to things I wasn't sure I could do. Some I completed excellently, some are still a pain I can't get rid off. 


We never changed the contract for this, I didn't see the need to at the moment, but then I was in charge of all incoming and outcoming emails, in charge to make orders to vendors, in charge of having everything on time. Basically I was doing her job. Communications can get awful, I created a Slack channel with an organization I explained, but she doesn't even uses it. I tried to apply systems that should help organize, but she doesn't even uses them. She justs comes by and asks you for deliveries, for deadlines, for updates. She's been behaving like this since I had two months in the company. How is that even logical? How would you pretend that a 2 month-old contractor will drive your company as is?


She constantly complains about my performance, and asks me "how can we solve that problem", to which I answer that I need more direction and support. Then she fades again and travels a lot. You just don't want to imagine what happens when she goes out for a trip (which she does too often). The company just can't run itself without her, but she goes away anyways.


She was complaining about an email that we sent to a client, that accidentally had the color that shows up when you quote an email in Gmail. I don't know why that happens, and I told her that. She yelled at me in a whatsapp voice note saying that "SHE DOESN'T CARE, I don't care how, but SOLVE IT". Truly disrespectful and unethical behavior.  This behavior has happened before.


I have more details but I don't wanna bombard you with information. In a nutshell: I have this client that's overwhelming me with complex tasks and multitasking that wasn't agreed upon our contract, that I think is underpaying for a job that is critical, that makes my life miserable. 


Please, let me know where I could be mistaken, I really wanna know what to do here. I can't just leave that job and jeopardize my good rates.


Thank you for reading this!

Alex M.

Community Member

Either manage your client or bring the contract to as amicable an end as you can.


As a top rated freelancer you can remove the impact of one contract from your JSS calculation (if you haven't used it in the last 3 months and contracts) or even remove the feedback if need be.


Managing clients is the most important business-skill a freelancer can have.

Firing clients gracefully is the second-most important 😉



Community Member

I've only skimmed your post - but your title says it all. Follow Petra's advice and extricate yourself from the client/job asap (especially if it's the same client you posted about in 2018). It's not worth your sanity.

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