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Cancelled job after submitting work.

Getting frustrated just need to vent a little I guess.

 

I've definately come a long way in the past few years, and I'm only getting bettter but once in a while one slips through the cracks.

 

Had a fixed price contract and milestone funded for 50% of the work (first draft). Like I normally do.

 

I did the first half of the project and submitted the work, ofcourse giving my usual "let me know how it looks, I can fix whatever you like."

 

Suddenly after not hearing from the cient for a few days she up and closes the contract. "We decided to go in a different direction" was her excuse and requested a refund. I refund the milestone and informed her that I own all rights to the illustrations.

 

All the while holding my tongue about how unethical/unprofessional her actions are. (Probably the type to eat half her dinner at a restaurant then refuse to pay- but whose to say)

 

The milestone was only $50 and not worth disputing, as I heard that it costs money and this doesn't happen to me often, so I really don't know the process.

 

It sucks because refunding it enforces bad, unethical unprofessional client behavior. Yet I'm not financially well off enough yet to dispute these things when they happen. Also a $50 milestone is not worth a bad review imo. (This is also why I no longer do small paid test images, you either like what I have in my portfolio or you don't. Period.)

 

I wish there was more protection for fixed price contracts, since you still have to technically do the work first with no guarantee of getting paid. Money held in escrow is no guarantee when they can just request a refund- and you can't afford to dispute. It's also becomming a more common occurance, as I see around the forums.

 

I suppose I need to continue to tweak either my screening process some more or my milestones.

While also getting my own clients - I charge a non refundable fee or 50% upfront when I work for myself- no fear of a jss either.

 

End of rant...sigh...

13 REPLIES 13
prestonhunter
Member

It is totally fine for a client to cancel a project at any time. There is nothing wrong with that.

 

It is NOT okay for a client to hire a freelancer to do work, and not pay the freelancer for the work that she did.

 

If you did "Milestone 1", which had a payment of $50, and you actually completed that milestone and sent it to the client, then it is NOT OKAY for the client to seek a refund for that work.

 

If the rest of the project is cancelled, the client still needs to pay you for that initial milestone.

If the client has decided to go a different direction, the client still needs to pay you for that initial milestone.

If the client hires somebody else to complete the project, then the client still needs to pay you for that initial milestone.

 

If the client hates what you did, but you completed the agreed-upon task, the client still needs to pay you for that initial milestone.

 

If the client hired you to work on a $10,000 project, and the first milestone was for $50, and you did the first milestone, and the client pays you for it, then the client has done nothing wrong.

This is true, I certainly need to start putting my foot down more when it comes to these people.

 

And I've had contracts close before, and that's fine. But you're right in this was certainly NOT ok. I guess I just expect people to be decent human beings, rofl.

Ugh, what a pill of a client. FWIW, I think you jumped the gun in issuing the refund. While I understand (and share) your reluctance to pitch battle over $50, giving in just trains clients to engage in that nonsense. You could have stood your ground and gone to mediation, wherein an UW mediator would encourage the two of you to negotiate a mutually acceptable outcome. If that failed, then she could seek arbitration and that is what costs cash. She would have to put up $291 and so would you and so would UW, none of it refundable. Nobody in their right mind is going to arbitration over $50. If you'd refused the refund, she might have dinged you on feedback but you probably wouldn't feel it -- you've got about 50 closed contracts in your 24-mo window and 100% JSS. You're close to being bulletproof. 

Thanks Phyllis,

 

Yes, I work hard to make sure everyone is happy and have worked to keep my jss score high, I take being top rated seriously. And with that I suppose I let my JSS have more influence on my decisions than I should. There's nothing wrong with dipping down on the score here and there. And i've never used my one feedback wipe.

 

I didn't know about the arbitration though, I thought one automatically has to pay, which is what scared me into refunding, so thanks for clearing that up!

 

kat303
Member

Stacy, If you did the work, whether it was only 50%, 30% or just 10%, why would you not want to get paid for it? Just because a client suddenly decides to go in a different direction, they contracted you for a service and you've done the service. You fulfilled your end of the contract, they did not, and that is on them, not you. Why is $50 not worth disputing? You did the work, didn't you? If you saw $50 lying on the ground would you not want to pick it up?

 

I quote what you typed "It sucks because refunding it enforces bad, unethical unprofessional client behavior."  Yet, by your own actions you did exactly that. And if you didn't know the dispute process you could have researched it on the Help and Support area or came on here and just asked.

 

Money held in escrow is no guarantee when they can just request a refund.  You are correct in that assumption, but if you readily cave in you will see (as it is happening right now) that more and more clients are doing that because they see it works, and they see freelancers who don't value themselves and are afraid to stand up to what's right. 

 

In the future, - if you start a dispute, the first phase is mediation. An upwork mediator will basically say to you to try and work out a compromise. It may even sound like they are telling you to give that refund. But that is only a suggestion. That is NOT a binding decision. If no compromise can be reached between the client and freelancer then the next step is arbitration.

 

Arbitration costs you $291 and the client $291. If both pay that fee neither will get that fee back no matter what ruling the arbitrator makes. BUT, if the client doesn't pay, (and you do) you not only get whatever is in escrow, but you get that fee back. Yes, it's a gamble, but do you think that a client will fork out $291 knowing they will only get back $50. And do you think they will "win" a decision based on the statement, they decided to go in a different direction? 

 

Just in case you didn't know.

1. If you got a negative feedback, you could remove that feedback (public and private) by using your top rated perk?

2. A job with no money earned will affect your JSS. So either that, or negative feedback is your option (besides #1) So why not get paid for the work you did. 

 

With permission I paste this quote (and I will paste this in every post where a freelancer gladly gives a refund because of some lame excuse from a client.

 

Janean L wrote:

Here is a tough-truth reality:

 

You ask: "Should i really work for him for free to avoid a bad review if I ended the job?"

 

The answer is : YES. "Yes... if..."

 

That is, If you are prepared to allow your freelancing endeavors to be controlled by a perpetual fear of an unpredictable and often dyspeptic client leaving you a bad review, then, by all means, YES, do allow such a client (and the many like-minded clients who will follow) to tyrannize your life. Give in to their unreasonable demands.

 

You will be miserable. You will be a worm-like supplicant. You will live in constant fear and uncertainty. Your talents will be at the mercy of those who neither appreciate them nor remunerate you properly for their application.

 

You won't make as much money as you could do if you worked with a better class of clients and if you valued your skills appropriately.

 

However, if you are ruled by your fear of the possibility -- even of the near-certainty -- of a bad review from a bilious and perhaps vindictive client... Well, then, by all means do the work for free.

 

ETA:  This is not meant to be a slam to you. It is truly meant as helpful advice -- as a way of looking at this situation that will make you re-think this client and your freelancer/client relationship. Give yourself some power and control!

 

Don’t let your JSS dictate what you do. nor let your JSS be used as a hostage or bargaining piece.

 

 

Any client who asks for a refund for work that a freelancer has already done should feel like a complete nitwit.

Thanks Kathy,

I do try to look up things when I have questions, unfortunately I see more horror stories about arbitration than success stories.


I also read that if you take it to arbitration, and the client pays but you don’t, then your account will/could be suspended.


I don’t have the extra $291. Period. So, I know I can’t pay if they call my bluff for whatever reason. I can’t afford to gamble my entire livelihood for $50.


Basically, everything is a gamble on here no matter how you look at it.


Just found this too, even in Upwork’s own words, fixed price contracts aren’t REALLY protected.

 
Quote: “We collect this escrow deposit to confirm your client's ability to pay, but payment is dependent on your client's satisfaction with your work.


But in the future, I will start disputing clients who pull things like this. And making milestones clearer.
Maybe I’ll start working on setting aside a small arbitration fund just for instances like this. lol

tlsanders
Member

Stacy, you are working for yourself through Upwork, too, and you're free to charge that non-refundable up-front fee here, as well. As you noted, it could be disputed, but there's no reason you have to change the way you do business because you're working through Upwork.

 

You may also want to include dispensing with the "first draft" phase. Upwork is set up for you to submit a draft and the client to have time to request changes if necessary--the system contemplates you submitting for full payment and the client requesting revisions as needed before releasing that payment. Just mentioning this because I've seen many freelancers say that they did a 50% (or less) milestone for the first draft and the client just paid the first milestone and closed the contract when no revisions were required.

Thanks Tiffany,

I get what you mean.

 

Actually, I started implementing the “first draft/rough draft phase” because the type of clients I get tend to take forever and a day to actually get back to me on project revisions. It got to the point where I wouldn’t actually get paid for a month or two because everything was riding on finishing the project as a whole.

 

Lump a few projects like that together and that really screws with you financially.

 

At least this way I get a little compensation in a timely manner, with the added bonus of both getting to know what the clients wants/needs exactly. I also explain that the first draft is just that- the first draft and not finished, I’ll also include watermarks if I have suspicions, but the general practice - when is comes to working with children’s books - is to draft a storyboard first- which is what this is.

 

If I get ahead on my finances more, I most likely will start doing whole projects instead of drafts.

 

I haven't though about instituting a "deposit" on Upwork. Mostly because they always favor the clients- and as you mentioned they can always dispute that anyway.

re: "Just mentioning this because I've seen many freelancers say that they did a 50% (or less) milestone for the first draft and the client just paid the first milestone and closed the contract when no revisions were required."

 

That's the kind of thing that often confuses me. When I see freelancers complain about a client closing a contract after only one milestone was completed, or before they were all completed.

 

I'm sorry if some of this seems ignorant because I don't work as a writer and I don't fully understand what might seem like "standard procedures."


But for me, each milestone is independent. I may discuss a project with a client, and we could decide there are 5 steps to the project. But for me, each is a separate task, and I tell the client how much that task will cost. If the client "buys" one task, that's cool. If he buys all 5, that's cool too.

 

But I'm being paid for each completed task, so it doesn't matter at all to me if the client proceeds through all of them. As long as he pays me for the work I actually did.


Preston H wrote:

re: "Just mentioning this because I've seen many freelancers say that they did a 50% (or less) milestone for the first draft and the client just paid the first milestone and closed the contract when no revisions were required."

 

That's the kind of thing that often confuses me. When I see freelancers complain about a client closing a contract after only one milestone was completed, or before they were all completed.

 

I'm sorry if some of this seems ignorant because I don't work as a writer and I don't fully understand what might seem like "standard procedures."


But for me, each milestone is independent. I may discuss a project with a client, and we could decide there are 5 steps to the project. But for me, each is a separate task, and I tell the client how much that task will cost. If the client "buys" one task, that's cool. If he buys all 5, that's cool too.

 

But I'm being paid for each completed task, so it doesn't matter at all to me if the client proceeds through all of them. As long as he pays me for the work I actually did.


For me, it has a lot to do with managing my capacity. If I accept a project with a 4-week timeline, I allocate time on my calendar for the whole thing. If the client decides, after I've completed part of it, to close the project and move along, then I'm left holding vacant capacity that I may or may not be able to fill on short notice. And I may well have passed up opportunities in the meantime because my time was spoken for. So this scenario is to be avoided.

Treating each milestone is a great way to navigate a contract, really this is the only thing has has kept my income a little steady.

 

I usually do this a lot with my process, especially since my clients go MIA all the time (children's books are usually personal projects that clients have been sitting on for months or years even, so they usually don't care about time.)

 

I complete a milestone and get paid, I move onto the next person, and rotate through my contracts. When they get back to me on revisions I then schedule them in, and repeat. 

 

But for some reason this lady slipped right on through- I could chalk it up to getting too comfortable as nothing has gone amiss in a long time. I'm sure there was something else I could have done to prevent it, maybe a red flag I missed along the way.

 


Stacy h wrote:

Mostly because they always favor the clients- 


I see freelancers say this a lot, but I really don't know what they mean. At the dispute stage, Upwork doesn't make any determinations. On hourly contracts, if the freelancer jumped through all the hoops then Upwork pays the freelancer out of its own pocket if the client refuses. And in all the time I've spent in these forums, I've only ever seen one freelancer report losing at arbitration (and every indication was that she cut her own throat by lecturing the arbitrator on points of contract that she had completely wrong).

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