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Billing for "brainstorming" with a client's team

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Active Member
Michael C Member Since: Feb 17, 2020
1 of 19

Hello,

 

I started a new contract with a client and met with a team to discuss ideas for memes and song parodies to promote their business. 

 

I thought it was an hourly position, and that the time I spent developing ideas would be billable.

 

But after submitting the bill, the client said that any ideas the team comes up with will be paid when they approve the ideas. 

 

Is this standard practice, and is the time I spend coming up with ideas basically for free unless they decide they like the ideas?

 

They've already used some of my ideas to create memes, but they object to paying for development time. 

 

Thanks for your help figuring this out so I can be more clear about my billing process in the future.

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Michael C Member Since: Feb 17, 2020
2 of 19

Oh, and I really need them to be happy with this contract because it's my first one and I want to get more clients in the future, of course. 

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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
BEST ANSWER
3 of 19

Michael C wrote:

 

I started a new contract with a client and met with a team to discuss ideas for memes and song parodies to promote their business. 

 

I thought it was an hourly position, and that the time I spent developing ideas would be billable.

 

But after submitting the bill, the client said that any ideas the team comes up with will be paid when they approve the ideas. 

 

Is this standard practice, and is the time I spend coming up with ideas basically for free unless they decide they like the ideas?

 

They've already used some of my ideas to create memes, but they object to paying for development time. 


What do you mean you "submitted the bill?"

 

If it is an Upwork contract and on an hourly basis, you simply track the time you spend working, and the client is charged automatically every week. No "invoices" or anything of the sort.

 

In general, any time spent working on an hourly contract should be tracked (!) an paid. Did you track your time using the tracker? 

 

Or did you eventually find out that the hourly contract wasn't hourly? What does your contract say?

View solution in original post

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Active Member
Michael C Member Since: Feb 17, 2020
4 of 19

I manually entered the hours on the work diary. 

 

The contract was for $75/hour. 

 

I entered the hours for the time I spent developing ideas. This included writing original lyrics and recording a demo of the song, creating a parody of another song, and creating captions for memes. The clients had expressed that they wanted a song in the style that I wrote.  

 

This was as a member a client's ad hoc marketing team. 

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Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
5 of 19

Hi Michael. I take it this is the job on your profile that shows 10 hours worked already.

 

If these hours were recorded last week, the client will be automatically billed for them this Friday, unless they dispute them. Since you didn't use the time-tracker, any dispute will automatically be decided in the client's favour, and you won't be paid. You are entitled to be paid for the hours you've worked, but you'll be out of luck if the client disputes.


It sounds like the client may be new to Upwork, and didn't really understand that they were entering into an hourly paid contract. I think you need to discuss this with them, and sort something out. Even if they don't dispute, they may be unhappy and leave poor feedback. (If you want to, you could refund some of the money after it's been paid.)

 

I always try to make sure that my clients have some idea of what I'll be billing, so they won't get an unpleasant surprise. But it's unfortunate for you that this happened on your first contract, when apparently neither you nor the client understood what you were getting into.

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Michael C Member Since: Feb 17, 2020
6 of 19

Thanks, Richard. Yes, it was poor communication both ways.

 

I am going to refund most of the hours worked, but i can't afford to put in time with no compensation. I'm hoping the client and I will be able to come to an understanding. In the future, I am considering working on projects that are fixed rate at completion rather than hourly. 

 

 

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Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
7 of 19

Michael C wrote:

Thanks, Richard. Yes, it was poor communication both ways.

 

I am going to refund most of the hours worked, but i can't afford to put in time with no compensation. I'm hoping the client and I will be able to come to an understanding. In the future, I am considering working on projects that are fixed rate at completion rather than hourly. 

 

 


Don't refund until you know the charge went through. Wait until next week to refund. If you refund now,  it'll come out of your available balance.

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
8 of 19

Jennifer M wrote:

Michael C wrote:

Thanks, Richard. Yes, it was poor communication both ways.

 

I am going to refund most of the hours worked, but i can't afford to put in time with no compensation. I'm hoping the client and I will be able to come to an understanding. In the future, I am considering working on projects that are fixed rate at completion rather than hourly. 

 

 


Don't refund until you know the charge went through. Wait until next week to refund. If you refund now,  it'll come out of your available balance.


He doesn't have an available balance, this is his first contract.

 

 

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Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
9 of 19

Petra R wrote:


He doesn't have an available balance, this is his first contract.

 

 


oh, safety measure for him. Smiley Very Happy

 

I'm waiting for when clients figure out this trick. So I feel like I gotta keep nagging people not to refund without knowing the charge has gone through.

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Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
10 of 19

Richard W wrote:

Hi Michael. I take it this is the job on your profile that shows 10 hours worked already.

 

If these hours were recorded last week, the client will be automatically billed for them this Friday, unless they dispute them. Since you didn't use the time-tracker, any dispute will automatically be decided in the client's favour, and you won't be paid. You are entitled to be paid for the hours you've worked, but you'll be out of luck if the client disputes.


It sounds like the client may be new to Upwork, and didn't really understand that they were entering into an hourly paid contract. I think you need to discuss this with them, and sort something out. Even if they don't dispute, they may be unhappy and leave poor feedback. (If you want to, you could refund some of the money after it's been paid.)

 

I always try to make sure that my clients have some idea of what I'll be billing, so they won't get an unpleasant surprise. But it's unfortunate for you that this happened on your first contract, when apparently neither you nor the client understood what you were getting into.


FYI, the client gets billed today. Smiley Happy  Monday mornings (US) are when everyone gets billed. If the charge fails, Upwork will keep trying. I believe they try three times throughout the week. I think there is some law that restricts the number of times a vendor can attempt to charge a card. I seem to remember something like that back in my programming days. It's to protect people with financial issues who are behind and suddenly they pay their CC bill and booom a charge hits it from 6 months ago.

 

If the charge fails, you can see that the payment method flips to unverified in your contracts. That's how you know it fails and it might be a good time to ping the client and tell them to look into it if you are on manual time. If you use the tracker, I guess you can leave it. I don't say anything if I've tracked time, but thankfully every time this has happened the client fixed the issue.

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