gina-herrera
Member

Client Ended Contract Before Submission of Files

Been attempting to get more information about disputes and arbitration but am not having much luck with responses... Trying one last time.

I am in the middle of a dispute with a client, for a fixed price contract. She found it "rude" and "bad service" that I asked her to please cease complaining to me about the pricing she agreed to, and when I reacted strongly when she asked me to backtrack and redo the entire project because she suddenly was unapproving all the files. I unfortunately had no choice but to agree - I tried to ask her to compensate me and she refused (95% of work was already complete) and so I said I would proceed with the edits. After this, she suddenly ended the contract on the day it was due.

Her argument is that she "never approved" the designs, and "never received" any final files. I have screenshotted evidence of her saying they were approved (she keeps saying this was not a FINAL approval, whatever that means), but she is correct in saying I never sent any files - the contract was set up with one milestone (definitely my oversight), final delivery of the files. I have approvals of screencaps of the files, but she does not technically have any true usable files... because she ended the contract before I could submit.

Will this hurt my chances of winning in arbitration? There is no chance of us working anything out, she has flat out refused to compensate me ever, so it will definitely enter that stage. Can they use the fact that she never received final files against me, even though I worked on this for four days and she ended the contract before I could even submit to avoid paying me?

15 REPLIES 15
prestonhunter
Member

Gina: A client may end a contract at any time if she wants to.

 

If a client releases any remaining escrow money to a freelancer and closes a contract, then the client has done nothing wrong and there is nothing to dispute.


The only thing that you can dispute is money in escrow. Did the client close the contract while requesting that escrow money be refunded back to her? If so, how much money is in escrow?

 

To answer your question... if the contract stated that you were supposed to provide certain files... and you didn't provide those files, then yes, of course that fact would be important if this goes to arbitration. An arbitrator would be highly unlikely to decide you should receive the money if you didn't provide the client with the files that you were supposed to provide.

Hi Preston, I completely understand your point, BUT... the only reason I was unable to provide the files was because she cancelled the contract on the day it was due, while we were still discussing changes to the files. She had also told me (via upwork messenging, so I do have screenshots) that she was extending the due date by 3 days, but instead of adjusting the contract to reflect this change, she ended it, claiming my so-called "rudeness" when I asked her to please stop trying to haggle with me as the reason.

There is currently $450 in escrow that she has requested a refund for (the price of the ENTIRE contract because she had not set any milestones other than completion of the project). The reason I am debating arbitration is because I do not believe she is willing to spend the money required go into this process, and therefore I would win automatically... but, if that's not the case and she does shell out the $291, I would like to feel a little more confident that they will understand that the only reason the final files didn't make it to her, is because she requested I change literally everything but ended the contract instead after I already completed about 15 hours of work. To me, it would not have made sense to submit files I knew would be rejected. The biggest frustration I have is that she keeps speaking of manners in the dispute area - as far as I know, upwork and arbitrators are not here to determine if I was polite enough to be paid, only if I did the work, and I did submit proof of work regardless of the fact it was never "officially" submitted to her due to the early end of the contract. From my understanding, you submit files one time when ALL of the files for that particular milestone are ready to go - then the client can either approve or request changes. The files were not all complete because she had not sent me assets for the remaining parts of the project, so I was waiting to submit til it was all finished.

Just the reason why I dislike fixed price contracts.๐Ÿ˜”



I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhรคuser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

Filip - Agreed in regards to that specific downside, but in general I make much more this way... I've only been on upwork for a month and a half, and all of my other 17 or so fixed price contracts have gone without a hitch.

In this case I just feel like an idiot, I ignored many red flags and I should have known better. When someone starts negotiating over a matter of a $25 difference and extends a contract that doesn't match your proposal without telling you of the changes... it's time to flee.

Gina, you are right: if mediation fails and you put up the money for arbitration, and the client fails to do so, you do get your arbitration fee back and all the money in escrow.

 

Of course we only have one side of the story, but from the cases we hear about here in the community, most cases have gone in favour of the freelancer. The one thing you should have done / do was / is to send the final deliverables to the client, so the client actually does have what she is supposed to pay for. No point hanging on to those or holding them back.

 

 

Sorry for your experience.

Can't offer much help, as majority of my work is hourly price, and when it's a fixed price, I will only bid when I'm sure I can complete the project. On the other side, my job is technical, so its easier to estimate  wheather you can do it or not, and it's hard for them not to pay me as I completed their request. I naver had a dispute.

Rescently I had a guy who hired me to configure a VPN for him. He didt mention he has two separate Internet connections, which in fact make it two VPNs. I did one VPN, as per original deal. He than told me he has another internet connection and that we need to configure that as well.  

I told him this was not a part of the original contract and that he needs to fund an additional milestone.

He was not overly happy, but he payed the original milestone. I immidiately closed the contract.

He didn't leave a feedback. But probably I avoided a bad feedback by skin of my teeth.

If a client is **Edited for Community Guidelines**, he can really destroy you with a fixed price contract.

 




I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhรคuser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

Gina,

 

I doubt an arbitrator will pay any attention to the concept of "milestones," as that is an Upwork construct and can actually have very little to do with whether you did work for the client and whether the client is reasonable in refusing to pay you at all.

 

In regards to arbitration, you never know if a client is smart enough to cut their losses, but if she loses it will cost her the total value of the project (or a portion thereof) plus $291, but you will lose only $291, so I think the odds are she will not throw away so much in hopes of prevailing. But you never know...

 

For future fixed price projects of this size I recommend you set up more than one milestone. With only one milestone, a client can essentially get the entire project nearly completed and cancel the project before the freelancer formally submits the work for payment, which may or may not be what happened here. And the client's approach to paying the first milestone will sometimes tell you something about their approach to paying future milestones. (I have no doubt there are clients who use this approach to get free work from freelancers, but I expect Upwork will eventually notice a pattern of this type of fraud and put a stop to it.)

 

Also, on the very few fixed price projects I have done I have formally submitted milestones when they were 80% - 90% complete, providing the client with details on what remains to be done to complete that milestone and telling them I won't start work on the next milestone until the current milestone meets their approval. (This approach also has the advantage of starting the 14-day escrow release timer.)

 

Good luck!

Hi Will, definitely all great advice. The lack of significant milestones is absolutely my fault, my proposal had 3 and she changed it to one single one without telling me when she extended the contract, I definitely should have read more closely instead of assuming she had left it the way I submitted. At that point I felt I was setting myself up for problems, but I hadn't wanted to cancel the contract and risk bad feedback - ironic, as now the situation is worse than ever.

Guess I just have to hope an arbitrator recognizes that I completed a LOT of work even if I never got the chance to officially submit, fingers crossed. Still hoping she will not want to shell out the $291, but at the same time she would likely rather pay them than me out of spite, she really seems that bitter towards me and has assured in the group dispute discussion "the money will never hit Gina's account".. hah

Good luck with all of that, Gina.

 

A lot of what I do before and in the early stages of a new client relationship is defensive, including setting the client's expectations upfront (clearly explaining what my work will and will not include), being able to test the client's willingness to pay in full and on-time long before the project is going to be finished and using the TimeTracker app correctly (almost never using manual time) - none of which I knew how to do when I first started using Elance (Upwork's predecessor site).

 

Please come back to this thread to let us know how this all worked out for you.

Thanks Will! As of right now, the tides have turned in my favor - upon viewing the copius evidence of work and screenshots of her approvals, suddenly she changed her tune and was willing to pay $375 for the files as is.

I have provided her with a link to the final files in the dispute group chat, so hopefully she releases the payment. It's completely to her benefit to do so at this point as I have fulfilled what she asked for and received a written confirmation from her that she will pay me as long as the files are all there, fingers crossed ๐Ÿ™‚ 

That sounds like progress...

Final question - anyone know how she actually can pay me?! She said she tried but can't figure it out, neither of us can see anything from our end that allows a partial payment to be released. Asked the dispute mediator but it's been two days and she has not responded to a word so I'm not sure when that will be resolved, and it seems unlikely that the solution is for her to cancel the dispute and I refund her the part we agreed on...

 

Either way, thrilled with the outcome! It got much less stressful once I stopped worrying about feedback, I feel that any truly skilled professional worth their salt can recover quickly from the worst of reviews so it's not worth the worry.


Gina H wrote:

Final question - anyone know how she actually can pay me?! She said she tried but can't figure it out, neither of us can see anything from our end that allows a partial payment to be released. Asked the dispute mediator but it's been two days and she has not responded to a word so I'm not sure when that will be resolved, and it seems unlikely that the solution is for her to cancel the dispute and I refund her the part we agreed on...


The mediator may have the weekend off (some people do that ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) so I wouldn't worry. If the client and you have agreed, then Upwork will release the funds to you as agreed between the two of you.

In this case I just feel like an idiot, I ignored many red flags and I should have known better.

 

LoL - not an idiot, just on a learning curve ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Do take careful note of the many red flags though seeing you're still new on UW. I got slayed in the early days because I trusted everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Thanks Bev, Iโ€™m usually pretty good at trusting my gut but I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I had another potential client that started talking down to me in a similar fashion about a potential contract because she tried to hire me before giving full details about the project, and so I asked for more information. As soon as I caught the slightest whiff of an attitude I said it was best she find someone else and blocked her ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Iโ€™m no longer playing, the learning curve is over and Iโ€™m not desperate for work so Iโ€™m trusting my instincts from now on.

Thanks everyone who provided advice and help, and thank you Petra for clearing up how funds get released!