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Re: Abusive and unprofessional Client

Active Member
Yash C Member Since: Aug 3, 2015
1 of 16

I have been a “Top Rated” freelancer happily working on Upwork for about the last 5 years. This is the 1st time that I am so upset with a client (**Edited for Community Guidelines**) that I am reporting his highly obnoxious conduct. He knows that freelancers are vulnerable on Upwork and he enjoys exploiting this.


After the 1st draft was delivered, he told me that the work was good and requested a few minor changes. When the changes were made, he started complaining that the work is of very very poor quality and that he should be given a 50% discount. When I told him that work is delivered exactly as per the request, he got angry and told me that 5-6 freelancers were working for him and it was generous of him to pay even this much. So either I should take it or leave it. All this communication is on record.


With ratings at stake and that I just wanted to get over this nightmare, I reluctantly agreed to give him discount with a request that he should not spoil my ratings. While the last milestone was for $150, I agreed at $50. I have experienced that a freelancer has to execute 10-12 high-value projects with 5-star ratings to achieve “Top Rated” status, but one low-value project with poor rating spoils months of hard work. I requested him to fund the last milestone so that I can finish a few more minor changes requested by him and submit the work. He refused. After a few milestone fund requests, he got so angry that he ended the contract with 1.3-star rating and poor feedback.


Later when I was reviewing the feedback shared by other freelancers for the client, I learned that this was his modus operandi. He has been making fool of the freelancers. He also encourages freelancers to work off Upwork. Probably this is a ploy to exploit them more. If a freelancer agrees to work directly, **Edited for Community Guidelines** can threaten them to report this matter and extract whatever work he wants at a low value or even free.


Freelancers want to create value for their clients while making a respectful living. I sincerely request Upwork to take cognizance of this complaint and prohibit this unprofessional Client from Upwork to make this platform a safe and secure place to work.


Due to the limitation on the number of attachments, I have attached only 4 files for your review.


**Edited for Community Guidelines**

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 16

Did you not look at the client's history before you accepted the contract? What did you expect would happen?


I would suggest you wait until the next update to see what impact this contract has on your JSS. There is a chance that it won't affect it because clients with a poor enough prior history are sometimes excluded from the JSS calculation automatically. If your JSS takes a dive, do you have your top rated perk available? If so, use it. I just saw that you used it 5 jobs ago, so this won't help you until you have completed a few more.


Few things: 


1. It is not forbidden to communicate outside Upwork.

2. Your attempt to trade good feedback for a discount was a policy violation. You are categorically not allowed to ask for better (or less bad) feedback in exchange for a discount.

3. Did you report the client's attempts to pay you off the site at the time? Do you have proof?


Active Member
Yash C Member Since: Aug 3, 2015
3 of 16

Dear Petra,

Thank you for your prompt response.

I made a mistake of overlooking other freelancer testimonials. This is a major learning and will remain with me forever. As the client was adamant was on seeking discount and balance 50% ($150) was yet to be put in escrow, I thought that it was better to get something than nothing without spoiling the rating. I did not intend to bargain fee with feedback. 


I reported to Upwork that the client was offering to work outside Platform. But as this was on call, I did not have proof. In one of the Chats with an Upwork support executive, I offered to act as a whistleblower by accepting a payment from this client directly. But I was advised against as it was a policy violation and it can go against myself. Later I read that another freelancer reported the same matter about this client in his review.

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
4 of 16



Keep in mind that Upwork says this about including feedback in your JSS from difficult clients:


"...we track freelancer feedback of clients and flag those clients with a history of poor collaboration. If one of your clients has been flagged (or has been suspended for Terms of Service violations), then the client's feedback will not count against your score."


So, if this behavior is typical for this particular client his feedback may have no effect on your JSS. I don't know whether Upwork also hides the unjustifiably negative comments and star ratings from such a client in the freelancer's profile.


I'd like to see Upwork publicly post some analysis of the history of feedback a client has left for their previous freelancers, so we freelancers can see what we're in for before agreeing to work with these clowns. That won't happen, but it would be helpful. There are plenty of great clients on Upwork; the consistently bad ones need to be publicly identified.

Active Member
Yash C Member Since: Aug 3, 2015
5 of 16

Dear Petra,

Finally, I got proof from the client. He sent a voice note on WhatsApp "4 min 33 seconds long" where he mentions twice about paying off-Upwork. If you advise, I can send the file here.

a. Firstly, he acknowledges that he proposed to work "off-Upwork" to save money for me.

b. Secondly, he says that if I had a good working relationship with him, he would have brought steady business to me and paid me off-Upwork so that I don't have to pay Upwork Fee.

Now that I have provided the proof to the chat support executive, I wish that Upwork sets the right example and make Upwork a safe place for Freelancers to work.

Best Regards


Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
6 of 16

Yash C wrote:


Finally, I got proof from the client. He sent a voice note on WhatsApp "4 min 33 seconds long" where he mentions twice about paying off-Upwork.

Just send it to Upwork via your existing ticket.


Aleksandar D Moderator Member Since: Mar 23, 2019
7 of 16

Hi Yash,


I'm sorry the contract with your client didn't turn out well. We want Upwork to be a professional place where people treat each other with respect. I will share your report with our team for future investigation. Please, check this help article for more information on how to use the flag option found within each message room to report any inappropriate content.


Thank you.

~ Aleksandar
Active Member
Yash C Member Since: Aug 3, 2015
8 of 16

Dear Aleksandar,

Thank you for your message. I look forward to participating in future investigation.

Best Regards


Active Member
Yash C Member Since: Aug 3, 2015
9 of 16


I received the below message from Upwork.


"Our Marketplace Quality Team have completed have their investigations, and due to privacy and security reasons, they are unable to disclose the outcome of their investigation and or any actions taken against the reported Freelancers."


When I sought details again, I was told: "I understand how important this is for you, rest assured, actions were taken per our Terms of Service."


Well, the client is very much active and still accepting proposals from the freelancers. The point to be noted in Upwork's reply is "actions taken against the reported Freelancers". So by default, the action will only be against the Freelancers, not the Clients. As Clients generate business, Upwork won't take any decisive action against them. Probably the action meant admonishing the client that henceforth don't give any proof to the freelancers.


No other option but to accept Upwork's way of life!!

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
10 of 16

Hi, Yash.


I had a client threaten me with physical harm once. It took a while for Upwork to take action, but, as far as I can tell, he's no longer active on Upwork. And I have been safe and sound the entire time.


I'd suggest you just move on and do what you can to not work with clowns like this in the future. Upwork's workings are sometime inscrutable; your best course is to get better at choosing new clients - it takes time to get the hang of that.


Good luck.