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Client Closed the Contract and Asked for Refund

Hello community!

Please help...
I ran into a client who does not have clear requirements. Having discussed and approved the work plan, it turned out that I was working in the wrong direction. I deducted the hours that were wasted (1.5 hour) and then did everything as the client likes. The client complicated the task and I could not finish in the agreed hours (would be around three hours more), provided that the requirements will not change. Explained for what to spend what time, apparently it did not suit him. He gave his demands again, but without explanation, describing very superficially. I asked for clarification (on this base I can't give 100% estimation) or to communicate, as he previously wrote that is very busy and easier to call (I always accommodate customers) He did not call and closed the contract...without paying for work.
Initially, the project was declared as 30+ hours, after discussion it put 10+. Put on a pause. And I continued to work, even though it jarred me and repeatedly wrote about this to the client (besides, the work done suited him). Then, without my knowledge, he closed this contract and opened a project with a fixed price. To which I wrote my concerns on additional requirements. I have a feeling that the client wants to use my work for free, since in fact he already has an idea. But now I worry more about my reputation. After all, he closed essentially two contracts, the first hourly (but there are only a couple of hours) and the second one fixed (without paying anything). Does it make sense to dispute the refund request, or I will spent only even more of my time, do not get paid, and receive some not very good feedback. How to be in this situation? 


This is a sad situation and I’m so sorry this happened to you, I’m not sure but I don’t think there’s  to much we can do in those situations and I recommend and do these runs by milestone payments to avoid sitting left empty handed.
I got my own reputation smashed by 2 less than troubling clients in a row myself.
I hope he didn´t leave you with a bad review on top of this?
Better luck in the future and let’s hope you won’t run in to these kind of  people again.

Thank you. No, did not leave bad review. He closed the contract with zero payment and so far without review... I am not sure whether it will be shown in the history of my profile. Do you know? Yes, I usually discuss everything with clients and we make milestones. But here he initially manipulated the contracts and I felt discomfort, because after discussing something and coming to a consensus, he did his own way. For the first time so dishonest. So in your opinion better approve returning the remaining funds in escrow to the client, forgive and forget?

Break down every fixed price project of any size into multiple milestones. This allows you to get partial payments and tell your client you only begin work on subsequent milestones as each completed milestone is submitted and payment released by the client.


Never begin work on any milestone that is not completely funded.


Don't refund money you've earned. (Chasing positive feedback by refunding money earned is not a sure thing.)


When you finish work on a milestone, formally submit it through Upwork's submission system. That starts the 14-day clock, leaving plenty of time for any further feedback from the client and revisions by you. If I understand correctly, a client can cancel a project, but that only effects the milestones you haven’t made submissions for. What’s left of the unfunded milestones is all that’s affected by cancellation; (s)he can't cancel a funded milestone that you have already submitted work on.


Leave accurate feedback for each client, warning off other freelancers who are considering working for the client. That is the purpose of feedback - it's not very useful if becomes just a cheerleading forum for the Pollyanna in each of us.





I personally just close the contract and "forgive and forget" to avoid any more problems, its the easiest way to just move on.
I don´t think there’s going to be much else to do as the guy is directly unethical in the way he is treating you.
The backside of that is that it affects your overall rating as you take a little blow in the "Job Success" rating.

Kim M wrote:

I personally just close the contract and "forgive and forget" to avoid any more problems, its the easiest way to just move on.

That's likely how you ended up with a JSS of 80%


Why on earth would you accept an escrow job after saying you can't commit to a specific hourly estimate? You need a backbone in this industry or these losers will eat you alive.


You just went from hourly payment protection to escrow that now you either give a refund or deal with mediation and possibly $291 for arbitration. Hourly projects are wayyyyyyyyyyyyy better than escrow when you can see the PITA from a mile away like this guy.

Thank you all so much! Your advices will definitely help me in the future. I will keep up to date for helping people with the same problem.


Just a little confusing to me. You stated -  after discussion it put 10+. Put on a pause. And I continued to work ==  Do you mean the contract was renegotiated for 10+ hours and right after that the client PAUSED the contract?  For the hourly job, how many hours did you put in (after deleting the 1/5 hours and before the contract was paused) and did you get paid for those hours? On hourly jobs, a freelancer is paid for the HOURS they put in not for the work they deliver. If you used Tracker, wrote annotations on the screen shots Tracker took and had normal keystroke activity you will get paid for those hours either from the client or from Upwork. A client can only dispute the hours where it shows you weren't working on their job, paying games, or reading/sending personal email etc. If the contract was paused, you won't get paid for the hours you worked after that. That was your decision and payment isn't protected. You'll need to contact customer support to open a ticket so you'll get paid for the hours you put in.


As for the 2nd fixed rate job. Did the client fund escrow? Did you do any work on that fixed rate job? If you did some work, you should get paid, Not the full amount but a percentage to the amount of work you did do. For fixed rate jobs, you're paid for the WORK you do (not the hours you put in.)  In order to get that payment it would be up to you whether or not to open a dispute which, from what I read that's going on with this job, will probably end up going to arbitration which would cost both the client and you each $291. Normally I would say go for it. because if the client doesn't pay that fee you automatically get what's in escrow AND that fee back. (neither of you get that fee back no matter what the decision of the arbitrator is.) 


What I don't understand, with the problems that went on during the hourly job, why you accepted the fixed rate job. And because you accepted the fixed rate job, I think that mistake falls on you and you should probably return the funds in escrow. 


A fixed rate job with no earnings Will affect your JSS.