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Client Disputes

I'm not sure if I'm the only one experiencing this, but so many clients these days cancel contracts immediately you submit your work via messages.

I know I should submit my work through the my jobs section, but I quite often find it rude how it appears on the messages.

So I choose to be a little patient with my clients and submit my work via messages so they can review and approve by themselves.

However, it seems like most clients are now taking advantage of this and using it against the freelancer.

I feel Upwork is giving to much priority on clients and so they become untouchable. A client can decide and cancel a contract, goes with you in dispute and still has nothing to lose.

They will still post jobs and people will still apply for the same jobs. Recently, a client just ended the contract abruptly and requested for a refund when I was about to deliver the work.

Even worse, this client gave me a 2-star review bringing my JSS to 89. A week later, a client sends me an invite, pressures me to complete the task asap, which I did, only for him to cancel the contract five minutes after submitting the work via messages.

It's becoming too much for me - not for the money, but my health. These weird client behaviours makes me feel like I'm not offering top quality when I have been serving clients here since 2019.

I can't even figure out what is wrong with me. Thinking of quitting Upwork and looking for a job elsewhere or going back to the drawing board and finding a full-time job.

I feel that all my messes are resulting from Upwork being too soft on bad clients.
Community Member

Hey Denzil, just felt to respond as these platforms can feel grim when we invest so much and receive a radio silence.

I am  new to Upwork and haven't experienced this, but I have had hurdles to leap over with managing peoples expectations, and my own. It's all a big game this online arena, and full of lessons for us isn't it.

Regardless of who's 'fault' it is - the only realm we can control is our own, and the only person who has control over your wellbeing is you. I can only speak from my own experience - but when these internal questions arise, it's time to listen. Times like this, I would be stepping back from Upwork and the computor, even if it's for a few hours. To get out and change the scene, listen to your higher purpose, why are you here in the first place - what is it that drives you? Upwork is just one of many tools we can use to create our realities. It looks like you are a warrior for getting back up again and again, and to eloquently share your feedback here, which could well make a difference. So keep on keepin on, everything passes.


Wishing you all the best


Thanks, Clare for the encouragement.
Community Member

Denzil O.,


It's nice to be nice, but you should use Upwork's procedures to your advantage.


Use the green "Submit" button to send your work to the client when a) escrow for that milestone is fully funded and b) the work is 80% - 90% complete, not demanding payment from the client but making it clear what remains to be done to complete the current milestone (preferably within the 14-day automatic payment period).


The client can still cancel the project after that first submission, but the client will only have a portion of the project completed (so disappearing with your work without paying for it will be less useful), can't argue in mediation that you have done no useful work (you've given them a chance to ensure the final 10% - 20% of the work is completed) and return of escrow to the client will be less certain.


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Good luck!

Will L wrote:

Use the green "Submit" button to send your work to the client when a) escrow for that milestone is fully funded and b) the work is 80% - 90% complete,

The milestone system is designed for the submission of the completed work. Not for work with 10 to 20 % missing.


Denzil is a writer. Is he meant to submit 400 words of a 500 word article? What is the client supposed to do with that? It can't even be sent to a proofreader or editor in that state?


Will L wrote:

...not demanding payment from the client.

By it's very nature, clicking on the button requests payment. That is the purpose of a button called "Submit for payment". Submitting incomplete work literally begs the client to hit the "Request changes" button and leaves the client bewildered why any professional would submit incomplete work and ask for payment on incomplete work. 


Will L wrote:

and return of escrow to the client will be less certain.

It won't be.

I have never had a client who was "bewildered" by my submission of work because I clearly outline for them what needs to be done to complete a milestone to their satisfaction. Good communication with clients is key to avoiding misunderstandings, don't you think, Petra?


I once had a client who closed a project and went AWOL after I submitted their completed project by means other than using the "Submit" button.


At the time, Upwork told me there was nothing they could do to enforce payment by the client because the project was closed before I formally submitted the work to the client. If Upwork's approach to this problem has improved in the meantime, that's good news.

Thanks, Will. I should do more screening and use the submit button. It's a lesson learned the hard way.

Denzil O.,


No matter what anyone here may claim, every freelancer on Upwork has gone through a steep learning curve in understanding the ins and outs of Upwork's procedures, avoiding problematic clients, etc.


You'll make some mistakes along the way. Just try not to make the same mistake twice.


Good luck!



Community Member

Denzil O wrote:

I feel that all my messes are resulting from Upwork being too soft on bad clients.

Denzil, I think that your messes result from you not vetting your clients well enough and maybe a lack of project management. 


How carefully do you evaluate your prospective clients? How much research into their history on the platform do you do?


If you choose your clients carefully, project manage your contracts effectively and use the workflow correctly (which means submitting your work through the contract), you should likely find that such "messes" happen rarely, if ever. 

The key to contracts running smoothly from before they start to until after they end is project management, which includes turning down projects and clients if there are red flags.


The best way to handle difficult clients is to not work with them in the first place.



Hi Petra, it's true that I need to step up and do more when it comes to vetting my clients. Is there a strategy you could suggest?
Community Member

I've been here before Upwork was even called Upwork and not once this has happened to me.

Some have wanted to pay more than my quotation was, in fact.

My experiences are completely opposite.

I suggest you reconsider your client screening process. There must have been red flags that you missed. What criteria are you mostly using?

I have also had a couple if clients who pay more. The problem is this that had to cancel the project about five minutes after I sent him a message with the content.
Community Member

Hi Denzil O,

Something similar happened with me just a few minutes back.
I've been wokring with the clients, without the Upwork since years, and last month I've joined Upwork. 
This was my first assignment on Upwork, and a hourly contract with the client. 

I sent him the 3d images (work), through the upwork messenger,  and my client was very little responsive through out. Though he gave me assignment and  required information, but in delayed manner. 
I kept sending him the images for the feedback and then finally I've sent the final images through the messenger itself. 
And then I got no response from him since last Saturday.  Now today I've sent him another 2 options (mentioning that I am not going to add the time for these). So he can get the best. 

But instead of getting some feedback, he abruptly closed the contract.  This is kind of weird.
I asked him, about what went wrong, and waiting for his response before giving any feedback etc. 

I don't know if we can submit the final work, through some other means instead of Upwork messenger. 
If any other advice you can give for this. Please let me know. 
What are the other option to submit the final work? 


_Prashant Sahai


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