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dentonmac
Community Member

Action to take from unresponsive client wanting a refund

I have a situation that I need help with.

 

Client initiated a hourly contract starting Feb 14, 2020 with a tight deadline. I submitted first draft next day via Upwork messenger. Worked an hour that was tracked through the time tracker. Never heard anything. I checked in the next couple days and the following week. Crickets, nothing.

 

Received an email from Upwork stating that THEY put the contract on hold because of a problem. Don't do any more work. I received another email from Upwork that the clients funding source failed, so there was no payment for my 1 hour of work. I think that the payment went through a couple weeks later. I will look into that, but that does not matter in this situation.

 

Still no contact from client. I reached out a couple more times. Straight to voice mail, or no response to my messages.

 

I closed the contract two months later (15Apr), because (as we know) an open, idol contracts hurt your success score. Messaged the client before I did, hoping for a response. 

 

Yesterday (29July) I received a message from the client requesting a refund (services not delivered). Over 5 months later...he wants a refund. I responded immediately that I can get him the files, or whatever...I am open and willing to make it right, but I followed the statement of work as precicely as I could (It was vague).

 

I have heard that Upwork always sides with the client (as they are their customers), not freelancers.

 

What kind of recourse/protection do I have? I can't find anywhere to tell my side, other than our conversation in messanger that clearly documents everything. I have been a creative professional for 20+ years, servicing hundreds (if not more) of clients and feel that I did everything as I should. Actually, I propably over communicated, but If I did something wrong, or not what you are needing....let me know, I can fix it.

 

I have quite a bit of work going right now. I just don't want Upwork pulling it from the pay from other clients, because I didn't do anything wrong. And it is just unethical.

 

Thank you.

 

4 REPLIES 4
prestonhunter
Community Member

re: "Over 5 months later...he wants a refund."

 

That is simply preposterous.

 

I can't imagine that you (or anybody else reading this) would even think of doing something like this to another human being.

 

If it makes you feel any better, the time has long passed when the client has any leverage or can force a dispute. The only thing a client can do at this point is "ask. Of course you should be polite. But you shouldn't give the client money.

 

Be sure to read this:

 

https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062088-Request-a-Refund

 

"Houly Contracts... You must file any dispute by Friday after a billing week closes...
Dispute assistance is available from Upwork Customer Support if the last payment on a contract was within the previous 30 days, or as long as funds are held in escrow on a fixed-price contract."

For 180 days after a payment has been made, it is POSSIBLE for a client to click a button that sends a refund request to a freelancer.

 

https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062088-Request-a-Refund

 

This does NOT mean that it is ethical to do so. It is not.

There are very few circumstances in which it is ethical for a client to request a refund, and certainly it is not acceptable to do so 5 or 6 months later.

 

The time to deal with issues is while a contract is open.

If a client doesn't like something after a contract has been closed (for example, a client wants to change the central character in an illustration from a dog to a cat), then the client needs to (a) hire the original freelancer to make changes, (b) hire somebody else to make changes, (c) do the work himself, or (d) accept the work as it is and not change anything.

 

It is not okay to ask for a refund.

If the client simply finds the button for requesting a refund, and clicks that button because she thinks it is a way to get free money, then that is not okay. Such a client is essentially treating the freelancer as if they are not a human being.

 

If I were in your situation - a client asked me for a refund for work completed 5 months ago (!) - then I would not ignore the client completely. I would probably ask a very specific question relating to why the client is asking for a refund. I think that 9 times out of 10 when an Upwork freelancer receives such a button-triggered request, it is just because an unethical client is clicking the button to see if she can get free money. I believe that most of the time, if the freelancer is polite and asks a legitimate question about why... the client will be too embarrassed to even respond.

gilbert-phyllis
Community Member

A single idle contract has absolutely no impact on your JSS. 

 

On an hourly contract where your time is automatically logged by the desktop tracker, your payment for work completed to date is protected if the client's payment method fails (provided you didn't begin work before the payment method was verified in the first place). So, contrary to the feedback you left, you payment didn't vanish with the client. You got paid for the hour, right?

 

The client can request a refund but you're not obliged to grant it, especially after so long. And he can't leave feedback for you at this point, either (for which you should be grateful, after what you said about him). There's really no problem here that I can see. In any event, UW doesn't side with anybody. It enforces the ToS. In the case of a dispute, if the FL and client can't find their way to a mutually agreeable resolution, they are free to pursue arbitration which costs everybody money and results in a binding decision by a third party. 

 

petra_r
Community Member


Denton L wrote:

because (as we know) an open, idol contracts hurt your success score. .

 


It doesn't if money was paid and you don't have a huge number of such contracts.

 


Denton L wrote:

Yesterday (29July) I received a message from the client requesting a refund (services not delivered). Over 5 months later...he wants a refund. I responded immediately that I can get him the files, or whatever..


Why didn't you send the files back when you closed the contract?

 


Denton L wrote:

I have heard that Upwork always sides with the client (as they are their customers), not freelancers.


That simply isn't true and in this case, the client is well outside any dispute deadlines anyway, so just send him the files and tell him that you did the work so no refund will be forthcoming. Do NOT argue with the client or "ask specific questions" - that is silly and pointless. Just be polite, but form, and don't agree to a refund. The client doesn't have a leg to stand on.

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