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Client Asking for Refund on hourly job

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Anshul R Member Since: Mar 26, 2017
1 of 12

Dear Experts,

 

Please advise what to be done in this scenario. I'm a freelancer working on different projects on Upwork.

 

I got a "Sales" project on hourly rate on 15th July and client asked me to start work from 20th July. I did that. Now he suddenly ended the contract on Monday (3rd Aug). I diligently worked for the hours allotted to me as per the contract and put my efforts to close the deals for him. But unfortunately, no closure happened. 

Now the billing I did for 27th July till 2nd Aug is under review and this client raised a refund request for complete amount. Below is the message he mentioned while requesting refund.

 

"Since the project did not bring us any results. We want our money back for our time wasted."

 

I worked hard, diligently, put all the efforts for deals closure in his project. Am I liable to give him refund?

 

I want to know, If I don't respond to his refund request will the billing amount "In Review Status" will move to "Pending Status" and ultimately paid to me?

 

I know this client is doing wrong and if he was not happy with my performance he should have ended the contract then and there itself. What is the meaning of asking the refund for the efforts I gave on his project.

 

Experts, please advise me will I get my amount or not without responding to this unethical client.

 

Thank you

Regards

Anshul

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
BEST ANSWER
2 of 12

Anshul:

I am sorry that you are facing a situation like this.

 

You called the client "unethical."
That is 100% accurate.

But I would add that the client is also unprofessional and immoral.

 

This is definitely not how Upwork hourly contracts are intended to be used.

 

This is NOT a complicated concept:

- Client hires a freelancer

- Freelancer works for client for a certain number of hours.

- Client pays freelancer for those hours.

 

Your question is whether or not you should respond to the client's refund request.

Generally speaking, you always want to respond. But that doesn't mean you say "yes."

 

What you NEED TO UNDERSTAND is that there is a time component to refunds and disputes on Upwork.

 

Because this is an HOURLY contract, the client has 5 days after the end of the week to file an official dispute with Upwork. After that, the client's options are far more limited.

 

It will help if you review this:

https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062158-Dispute-an-Agency-or-Freelancer-s-Hours

 

If a client ever asks for a refund on an hourly contract, you should ask him for more information... find out why he is asking for a refund. Really take some time to consider his answers.

 

The client is trying to do something bad. If you take enough time, then the client's time may run out for filing a dispute.

 

Even if the client DOES file a dispute, it doesn't mean he gets your money. You were actually working on the project. If you followed the rules of Payment Protection, then Upwork won't "award" him with a refund.

 

You don't want to irritate clients. But when a client is simply trying to steal your time and money, that ship may have already sailed, and the thing to focus on is getting out of the situation while retaining as much of your money as possible.

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Anshul R Member Since: Mar 26, 2017
3 of 12

Hello Preston,

 

Thank you for your response.

 

This client ended contract on Monday 3rd Aug & then on Tuesday I got this message in the inbox that he raised a refund request for complete amount.

 

As I'm dealing for the 1st time with such incidence where client is asking for a complete refund on hourly billing, a bit of surprise to me as he's not understanding that I worked for him and that's why billed him.

 

In case he put a dispute on 5th day during the review of the funds, what next I have to do? Will I receive the funds on next Monday (10th Aug) ?

 

I actually do not want to respond back to such people, as I know he's just going to ask for refund and not going to hear my points. Things may go bad from that coversation onwards between us as he would ask for refund and I will say "No".

 

what you suggest? Should I send a reply to him asking why he wants a refund? Or no reply and wait for his action?

Thanks

 

 

 

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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 12

If the client disputes, all that will matter is whether you logged the time with the tracker, AND had meaningful work memos that clearly described what you worked on AND decent activity levels.

 

If yes, you get paid.

If not, the client wins the dispute.

 

In fairness to the client, there is no sign of them having problems with other freelancers...

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 12

re: "This client ended contract on Monday 3rd Aug"

 

Here are some things to keep in mind:

 

The fact that this client ALREADY ENDED the contract means that whatever feedback he left has already been left.

 

You STILL want to be polite and professional, but there isn't anything you can do at this point that will change your feedback from him.

 

Agreeing to issue a refund or NOT agreeing to issue a refund won't change his feedback.

 

Because the contract has already been closed, you have already had a chance to leave YOUR feedback to the client, and you have already had a chance to see what feedback he left.

 

If you refund ALL of the money, that will prevent the contract from appearing on your public profile page, and it will prevent his feedback from appearing. BUT: If you refund all of the money, then you are left with a "zero-pay" contract, which has a negative effect on JSS.

 

I don't know if the client left negative feedback. If he did not, then this is a non-issue. There would be no reason to issue a refund in order to get rid of the feedback from your job history.


If the client DID leave negative feedback, then by issuing a complete refund, you would be able to prevent that from appearing, but it would probably NOT help your JSS.

 

And obviously ANY refund you do means that you're giving up money.

 

You're here to earn money, not stars. So my general advice in situations like this, when a dishonest client is simply trying to manipulate the system in order to take money from a freelancer, is to keep the money. Don't issue a refund. But, having said that, each freelancer needs to do what works best for themselves. So I think freelancers should know what all of their options are.

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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
6 of 12

Preston H wrote:

So my general advice in situations like this, when a dishonest client is simply trying to manipulate the system in order to take money from a freelancer,


I don't think the client is dishonest as such. His history certainly does not hint at that- he has happily paid for hourly contracts and repeat contracts with other freelancers.

 

The client clearly thinks that weeks with not a single result are a waste of time, which is sort of understandable.  It's just not how hourly contracts work.

 

It ultimately doesn't matter whether the client is dishonest or simply doesn't understand how Upwork works. 

 

If it comes to a dispute, all that matters is the work diary.

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
7 of 12

Petra:
Good points about the client, and what the client's perspective may be.

 

We know that there ARE clients who know exactly how the system works but dishonestly try to manipulate the system. Such clients are in the minority, and I can't assume that is the situation here.

 

A freelancer can ALSO face clients who don't know how Upwork's hourly contracts SHOULD be used... or who do not use Upwork's hourly contracts the way I say they should be used.

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Anshul R Member Since: Mar 26, 2017
8 of 12

Hi Petra,

 

I understand that the result in terms of Sales Closure was not achieved, however, I made an effort to close the deals for him. There are other factors in the market as well to be considered while selling his products.

 

Anyways, I completely abide by upwork policy and Screenshots were taken by upwork time tracker with all green activity bars.

 

I feel that it is completely unethical to ask for 100% refund when I worked on his allowed 20 hours per week time limit. What if the deals got closed in this time? In that case also would he have asked to refund.

 

No company or agency asks to return the paid salary or amount if the employee performance is not up to the mark. They simply end the contract politely. 

I rendered my service & time at a price for his project for which I'm not liable to refund the amount if he do not liked my work and ended the contract.

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Anshul R Member Since: Mar 26, 2017
9 of 12

No Feedback given by this client. Neither I gave him feedback.

 

My JSS is 100% and followed complete Upwork guidelines while working for this client.

 

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
10 of 12

Anshul R wrote:

No Feedback given by this client. Neither I gave him feedback.


The client gave feedback. There is no way for the client to end the contract without leaving feedback. You just can't see it yet until you leave feedback for the client or 14 days have passed, whatever comes first.

 

The client has a great history of repeat contracts with freelancers who sang his praises. 

 

And again: Did you track your time using the Upwork tracker, good activity levels and meaningful work memos?

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