I accepted a project from a client, and after accepting the project and receiving the documents and instructions from the client, what they're asking me to do is highly unethical, and I don't want to be associated with this project or this client, however I'm afraid that if I end this project, that this client will retaliate with a bad review. It's almost a guarantee that she will leave a bad review considering that part of the project that she wants done is retaliation against someone for a smear campaign that someone launched against her, and I don't want to assist in this. I tried to reach out to customer support, but it only consisted of chatting with a bot. Is there a legitamate phone number for Upwork to reach a live person, or is there something that I can do to ensure that the client does not retaliate?
You are correct. I have 'closed' out a couple of contracts in the past without receiving payment that turned out not to be a 'fit' after hire due to clients misrespresenting the type of work, line of work, or scope/effort of the work. In all cases, the job simply 'vanished' and never showed up in my work history. The client couldn't leave a review because no money had been exchanged.
First: Let me COMMEND you for having Ethics and enough backbone to say "No". We need more people like that in this world.
If you haven't been paid anything yet by the client, then cancelling the contract actually makes it vanish from your Upwork job history and the client will not have an opportunity to leave a public review. $0 paid is treated as a job that never happened, basically. The Job won't even appear in your job history.
I did something similar a couple years ago when I accepted a job with a client who misrepresented the nature of his line of business during the interview process. Upon hire I learned, his line of business, though not illegal, was politically controversial and was not a line of business with which I wished to have my LLC affliated in any way. The line of business conflicted with my own ethics and the 'branding' of my LLC. I was not willing to provide the client any services in support of that line of business, informed him as such, and simply closed the contract without starting any work, billing any hours or accepting any payment. The job simply never 'appeared' on my Job History, like it never happened.
You should also check here to see if the job the client is requesting you to do violates Upwork's rules.
For instance, if the client is asking you to diseminated misinformation / fake news/ about another person, etc, that might be a Terms of Service violation. If so, report the job
Client able to leave private feedback and drop your JSS. But not must. Public feedbacks for 0 cotracts not allowed, as described before.
Just close contract and forgot. You cannot avoid all negative feedbacks, dont worry about it.
Upwork won't help you here, don't waste time.