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vghilien
Community Member

Abusive client awareness!

Hi, Upwork community!

 

First of all, I've been working at Upwork since 2009 (when it was Odesk) and have had mostly positive experience with my clients. However, I ran across an issue lately and I wasn't expecting to ever have such experience in this platform - abusive client behavior.

 

A client named **Edited for Community Guidelines** (wasn't sure I should name him, but decided to do it, so other freelancers, who run across him would be prepared) hired me to research, construct and develop content for his product page. We've discussed it over Skype in voice for over 40 minutes. We agreed that this task was going to take 5-8 hours. And I am a rather expensive writer, charging $25/hr, including Upwork fees, so he knew what he was about to pay. When the work has been completed, he started spitting complains that the grammar wasn't good (over 5k hours worked and 91% job success score) and saying that he wanted a partial refund for the work. I refused, and he said that if I wasn't going to give him a partial refund, he would file a dispute. I refused, we bantered for a bit, he threatened me with the dispute a few more times and that was it. On Monday he filed a dispute (for 7 out of 8 hours) and it was eventually resolved in my favor.

 

I also found an old contract with the same client (from 2014), when he got a chunk of work from me and didn't pay a penny, just stopped responding (it was a fixed-price contract). I took a look at his contract history and it turned out that most of his workers are representatives of the Third world countries, who can be easily intimidated into giving up their work almost for free, because no one wants a negative feedback in their profile.

 

So, my question is, can we, as a freelancer community, do something about it? Maybe we can influence Upwork authorities and have them come up with a decision that would prevent clients from such behavior and protect freelancers' time and nerves? I believe this to be a serious issue that many freelancers have found themselves in at some point. And this has to be taken care of.

 

Thank you, Upwork Community, for your time. I really hope that we can make change, but it definitely requires more than one man army ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Kudos, everyone!

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

 

18 REPLIES 18
petra_r
Community Member


@Vladimir G wrote:

 ..............When the work has been completed, he started spitting complaints that the grammar wasn't good

 

 I wonder what gave him that idea.... ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Anyway, Upwork can't get involved in nitpicking over details of an argument between a client and a freelancer. It's part of your job to manage the contract and the client competently throughout the process.

vghilien
Community Member


@Petra R wrote:

@Vladimir G wrote:

 ..............When the work has been completed, he started spitting complaints that the grammar wasn't good

 

 I wonder what gave him that idea.... ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Anyway, Upwork can't get involved in nitpicking over details of an argument between a client and a freelancer. It's part of your job to manage the contract and the client competently throughout the process.


 LOL, thanks. Corrected. Having two kids running around like insane takes its toll ๐Ÿ˜„

 

I know all about that. And I've been through several disputes throughout my Upwork experience. However, this case is different. The guy just blackmailed me. And I'm honestly shocked at such attitude. I've had disagreements with clients, but this was just something completely unacceptable.

petra_r
Community Member


@Vladimir G wrote:

And I've been through several disputes throughout my Upwork experience.


 See, that should tell you that you're doing something wrong. If you are sure it is not the quality of your work, then it is your project management skills.

I've never had a dispute and would be most surprised if I would end up with one any time soon (and I've had a lot more contracts.)

 

A dispute means something went wrong before, during or after the work has been done.

 

Only you can know for certain if it is your product or if you don't manage your contracts and / or clients effectively enough, or a combination.

 

To be honest I can see how your tagline starting with "Superstar Writer" will set expectations that would be hard to live up to even for an accomplished native English writer. For someone whose English is evidently not native, it will invariably lead to client disappointment.

 

The key to client satisfaction is  "Underpromise and Overdeliver"

Doing it the other way round can only lead to nightmare contracts.

 

tlbp
Community Member

The best thing you can do is leave an honest review, warning other freelancers that the client will try to avoid payment and file a dispute. I have noticed several freelancers reporting that clients are attempting to use the dispute and feedback system as leverage to obtain free work. I tend to believe the freelancers. I think there are a few bad actors who have learned to use the system to their favor. Since you can't name the client on the forums, your options are to name them elsewhere and leave a review here. 

g_vasilevski
Retired Team Member
Retired Team Member

Hi Vladimir,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, I will have our team review this client.

~ Goran
Upwork
tgano
Community Member

I recently had the "I do not want to pay for your time" client open a dispute. I won the dispute because I was right! The only recourse we have unfortunately is to rate them accordingly and I did.

Upworks needs to address this real and growing problem with clients who are just flat unprofessional. It is wrong to always assume 100% of a jobs outcome should fall 100% on the freelancers shoulders.

The client should bare as much of the responsibilty for acting in a professional manner as the freelancer is expected to do. 

I think for the most part 98% of clients are professional and appreciate a professional freelancer, but when you do run into one of the 2% who is anything but professional it is a disaster for the freelancer most of the time.

You know I love you Petra, I am your flaming haired friend ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL but I have to disagree with you on the it is always the freelancers fault the project went south....there are those occasions when you screw up and take on the wrong client and 99% of the time we pay the price for thier unprofessional behavior. I do agree with this "The key to client satisfaction is  "Underpromise and Overdeliver".  There are clients though who not even that is enough.



FYI to freelancers - to minimize running into bad clients (not always possible) check their ratings paying very close attention to how they rate freelancers; there is usually a pattern. 

New clients are tougher as there is no track record.

versailles
Community Member


@Vladimir G wrote:

And I am a rather expensive writer, charging $25/hr, (...)


You're not. At all. Not saying that you should charge more, or less, just saying that you're not an expensive writer. You're probably at the higher end of the lower tier. Which is totally fine.

 

However, this kind of rates, and the, ahem..., "superstar writer" thing is usually very appealing to this kind of cheapos. You said that you had other disputes, this is very unusual but not unexpected while working with bozos like your client.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   โ€”William Ashbless

I actually never thought about this from this angle. Perhaps, it's a matter of perspective. I mean, for the country I come from and live in, this rate is really high. Maybe, if I was located somewhere in the US or UK, I would think of this like you said. But, no matter how good I am at writing, when a client sees "Moldova" and my rate is like $50/hr, no way am I going to get that job. You know what I'm saying?

 

However, thank you for outlining how the combination of my hourly rate and the "superstar writer" tag can draw unwanted clients to my profile. I'll think of something not as screaming, but that would outline my expertise level.

Vladimir, often the cheapest clients love to use words Ninja, Superstar and what have you in their job posts ๐Ÿ™‚

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   โ€”William Ashbless

Maybe you are right. There was a period, when I couldn't get new contracts. So, I've been trying everything - from different cover letter patterns to tags. Maybe it was a coincidence, but when I put the "superstar writer" tag under my name, I started getting contracts ๐Ÿ™‚

OK, then leave it as it is. If it ain't broken, don't fix it ๐Ÿ™‚

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   โ€”William Ashbless


@Vladimir G wrote:

But, no matter how good I am at writing, when a client sees "Moldova" and my rate is like $50/hr, no way am I going to get that job. 


 Not necessarily. 

____________
Don't correct my grammar!


@Vesna M wrote:

@Vladimir G wrote:

But, no matter how good I am at writing, when a client sees "Moldova" and my rate is like $50/hr, no way am I going to get that job. 


 Not necessarily. 


 Agreeing with Vesna.

The issue is not where you live, the issue is that unless you an expert in a specific niche, for which the clients can't easily find native English speaking writers, your rate will likely be limited by the fact that the better paying clients tend to want to pay for native level English.

 

sivavranagaro
Community Member


@Vladimir G wrote:

And I am a rather expensive writer, charging $25/hr, including Upwork fees, so he knew what he was about to pay. 


 That's not expensive.

 


@Vladimir G wrote:

Maybe we can influence Upwork authorities and have them come up with a decision that would prevent clients from such behavior and protect freelancers' time and nerves? 


 This is what disputes serve for.

____________
Don't correct my grammar!
gerrys
Community Member

Folks "accept" clients too easily; I "interview" them (also).

 

If I don't like what I hear, I pass.

 

Say yes, when you don't mean it, and it eventually turns to tar. (You're stuck with the client and your own submissive attitude).

murtazahussain
Community Member

I agree with you. The same happened with me, i am from Pakistan and a client came and alured and assured me many things to be done in future, he even gave and sent me a share in a project for my dedication but what happened, as soon as the project was done, he vanished and disappeard from the screen. When i made contact with him, he started bullying at me, started giving me threats and many more. 

I was left in a lurch with no money and i had to pay from my pocket to the developers who were working with me. 

Now a day or so, he again came back by claiming that i am to provide a source code while i had already given that to him.

 

 

 

lucasheiser
Community Member

I just went through a similar event,   I have only been on Upwork for a few months but I have over 18 years of expertise in consulting fields.    I have had multiple happy clients that communicated well and I have a lot of 5 star reviews ,   but then this week,   BOOM,  a BAD client.     I won a job for Branding a cannabis education institute startup in the USA,  I have a lot of knowledge in the cannabis industry helping similar businesses in Colorado,   but this women takes the cake.   I was given 15 hours at $40 an hour to complete the project with no deadline.   I started working on it the first day,  I sent over a few more questions about the exacts of the business on day 2 for clarification and end of day got answers to them,  day three I tried to start the work diary on the project and it had been paused, thats weird, just talked to the client the day before,  I reached out to her,  no response,  end of day I asked Upwork to reach out to her,  they got a response of , I am busy all day,  I will communicate tomorrow, I wait.  The next day I get a message threatening she will close the contract if I do not remove 4 hours of my work on her project, (wanted me to work for free?) well the job was paused which means I cant do anything on the project,  so I explained to her how much work goes into Branding and keyword testing etc, and how I was makeing sure her Branding was highly marketable etc,  and that I would as a courtesy refund 2 hours of work after the pause was lifted and that I would have the project completed within 4 hours of that time.     She then stated she was going to cancel the contract and stopped all communication.    I sent 2 more messages and tried to call her,  no response.   So I canceled the contract and left her the appropriate feedback.   I also reported the mistreatment to Upwork who took no action yet, and found out today I lost my rising talent badge even though a bad reveiw is not showing on my profile.    Now that Upwork is an IPO,  there has to be more we can do as freelancers when we are mistreated by clients, What are the options,  and maybe we need to think outside the box.

 

Thanks

Hi Lucas,

I`m sorry to hear about the bad experience you had with your client. I just checked your ticket and I can see that it was escalated to our team to review your client. Please keep in mind that we can't share details about the actions taken towards your client if any.
If you have more details you would like to share feel free to send me a PM(click on my name) and I will include them in your report.  You can also check out this guide to learn more how you`re protected on hourly contracts. Thank you.

~ Goran
Upwork
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