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Can Someone Help Me?

I recently started working with a client who listed a clear scope - homepage and service page web copy. I spoke with him multiple times (12 out of 13 days) and worked on his project consistently. He provided positive feedback on everything I turned in and I went above and beyond to assist his graphic designer (even providing the wireframe myself for the homepage - that they used).


However, after the first milestone he said he had paid the escrow with his personal Paypal rather than company and asked to cancel the contract. He offered to continue outside of Upwork (when reissuing a contract was not an option from my end) and I declined. He initiated a new contract and paid the first milestone.


The second odd thing is an email he sent recently saying that he felt I was not giving him enough time, and that his project was not a priority. I sent him the scope and talked with him about the work I had turned in, the twelve days we'd touched base, etc. and he said he hadn't included enough in the scope. He told me he had investigated my business site, determining my rates, and felt he could re-apply my time to other out of scope items based on my bid (which factored in his rush request and Upwork fees). 


Now, he is requesting I either take on additional out of scope items or refund him the entire amount. I am trying to work it out with him but what recourse do I have? He has already cancelled one contract and since I've only recently started using Upwork, I'm concerned about any reviews/JSS that will be affected, etc. 


Any advice?


Community Member


This is a bad client, and you already know that.

Your goal should be to get yourself out of this situation as elegantly as possible, and never work for this person again. He does not understand the "fixed-price" contract model. It is not about "time." It is about specified deliverables.


You said that the client has ALREADY paid for the first milestone.


And then you said that he is compaining that you are not spending enough time on his project.

If there is no second milestone already funded, then you SHOULD NOT BE SPENDING ANY TIME on his project.


re: "I'm concerned about any reviews/JSS that will be affected, etc."

Yes, that's the problem you are facing. But you may just need to take the hit.


My suggestion would be to close the contract yourself, and send him a note:


Thank you for processing payment for the first milestone. The current contract doesn't allow for the flexibility you need, to be able to make any requests that you want. I closed the contract so that you can open a new contract that lets you ask for anything you need."


Then only accept a new contract from him if he opens it up as an hourly contract. If he tries to open a fixed-price contract, don't accept it. If he tries to open an hourly contract which is below your posted hourly rate, then don't accept it.


Before you do this, double your posted hourly rate.


Also: Report this client for asking you to get paid outside of Upwork. But don't tell him you are doing that.


I want to be very clear about a couple things:

- Asking a freelancer to get paid outside of the Upwork platform is a VERY bad thing. The client could get his account terminated for that. YOU could get suspended just for discussing it.


- Asking a freelancer to "work for free" (another term for asking for out-of-scope work) is a VERY bad thing. A client could have their account penalized or terminated for doing that. In fixed-price contracts, if something is not explicitly included in a milestone description, a client can't ask you to do it. I client MAY NOT "investigate" your business site and determine which "additional tasks" he may require you to do.

Thank you Preston - I very much appreciate your detailed response and expert advice. I wish there was a dispute process or way to protect a freelancer's reputation (and statistics) in these situations : (


Thanks again!

Meredith M wrote:

Thank you Preston - I very much appreciate your detailed response and expert advice. I wish there was a dispute process or way to protect a freelancer's reputation (and statistics) in these situations : (


Thanks again!

  • If a client is booted off the platform, then the client's reviews won't affect your JSS.
  • It would be very difficult for Upwork to review and revise every review that resulted from a freelancer and client relationship gone bad. 
  • There are many warning signs that this client was a flake. Now you know what to look for and will be much the wiser for it. 


Thank you!

Community Member



Preston is absolutely correct. I personally prefer fixed price for my own work as a freelancer, because then the client is paying for output, not input (hours), It's possible to make more money on fixed price with a stable and feasible scope of work. File that away for later, though. You're best bet is hourly using time tracker in your field.


This client agreed to the same Terms of Service to which you agreed. He is a) lazy, b) stupid or c) dishonest, and it doesn't matter which one. No more work with him.. If he didn't read the ToS he is lazy. If he didn't understand the ToS he's stupid. If he's dishonest - willing to cheat Upwork out of its fees - he will cheat you, too.

Thank you Bill - I appreciate the assessment and advice.

Hi Meredith,


Could you please click on my name and send me a PM with more information about this, please include screenshots if you're able to, and I'll share those with our team for further investigation.


Thank you.

~ Bojan
Community Member

I'm a bit confused. Did you get paid at all for the work you did up until this point? 


Is there 2 open contracts now each funded for the same amount.


If I'm not mistaken, if a client cancels a contract the funds are automaticlly returned to him unless you dispute that action. Did you dispute the request to cancel the contract and that';s the reason there's 2 of the same contracts open?


For the work you've done so far, you should get paid for it. I would definitely NOT refund anything. And IMO you should take it all the way up to arbitration if need be.


I think this client is a scammer because he's asking to pay you outside of this site. I don't know what the procedure is if you report this client for that, - would the money in escrow be automatically refunded? If so, perhaps wait until you are paid for the work you've already done before reporting him


I'm also leery about what credit card he should use. I don't know too much about business concerning petty cash and reimbursements, but if he used his credit card I'm pretty sure that if he shows proof he can get reimbursed or get paid from petty funds


If this clients wants "scope creed" then tell him to open an HOURLY contract. You'll get paid for the h ours you work so he can add anything he wants to, you'll be paid for the hours you took to do that extra stuff. 


Do NOT let your JSS be the deciding factor in what you ultimately do. Also do not let any threats of negative feedback influence your decisions. You worked, you delivered according to the scope of the job (and above and beyond that) you NEED to be paid for that. 

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