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Client Refusing to Pay Amount Due

jorgensons
Community Guru
Signe J Member Since: Jan 29, 2016
1 of 17

I'll begin by saying that I know I'm probably screwed, but I figured it couldn't hurt to consult the collective community wisdom in case I'm overlooking something.

Business was really slow at the start of this month, so I applied for and accepted a lot of jobs that I ordinarily wouldn't (clients with no Upwork history, lower rates than I prefer, etc). I did this even though it made me a little nervous because...you know...rent and groceries. This resulted in a flood of offers for small jobs and an unbelievable flurry of messages with clients/potential clients.

 

For one of the jobs -- this one with a client who had no Upwork history -- the client offered to set up 2 milestones, with 2/3 paid up front and the remainder to be paid upon completion. This structure was her suggestion. Because it's unusual for such a large deposit (at least in my area), I sent a message verifying that this was her intent. Indeed it was, so I accepted her offer, submitted a request for the first payment, and got to work. 

 

I forgot to check that the second milestone had been funded because I was so overwhelmed by the number of messages I was juggling on account of my application frenzy, and I was also overwhelmed by the quick turnaround times I'd promised in order to get work from clients with urgent deadlines. ("My job interview is in 2 days! Help!")

Anyway, I submitted the work and, after a few minor revisions, the client said she was satisfied with my work. I went to request payment, and...the milestone hadn't been funded. Thinking it was an honest mistake from a new client, I sent her a message. She is now refusing to pay. She claims the work (which she was initially happy with!) is "too simple" and "only took 20 minutes" and I'm "charging too much."

 

This is, of course, b.s. Time stamps on comments in the first draft of document reveal a 90+ minute time span and the comments are made at regular intervals so it's clear I was working throughout. Plus, work was done before the first comment was written/after the last comment was written. In addition, there were extensive messages back and forth that took a great deal of time to compose, plus the time spent on reviewing her materials, plus the time I spent gathering additional information when she ignored some of my initial requests for information (which is pretty common so I didn't think much of it at the time). Not to mention that there was a revision phase (although there are no comments on that document so it's not possible to prove the amount of time spent).

 

The bottom line is that she just doesn't want to pay me. She wants a quality resume so that she can get a good job, but she doesn't want to spend money to get that quality resume. She's now saying that since her career history is short (she's a student) and it was a quick job (it was actually average), she doesn't owe the full amount -- which is ludicrous. The length of her career didn't change between agreeing to pay $X and receiving the finished product. A flat fee means that you pay the agreed upon price, no matter how much time it takes the freelancer to perform the work to your satisfaction, no matter how long or short your career history is. (For the record, the amount of time it took was commensurate with my bid.)

The kicker? This client is from a Scandinavian country so paying an American is a good bargain. My full fee is -- no kidding -- the equivalent of only six Big Mac meals in her country but covers 3+ hours of my time at $45/hour. So, she has gotten a professional resume for the price of a few McDonald's meals, but she's saying I'm too greedy.

As I said...my fault for beginning work without verifying that Milestone #2 had been funded. (Although I suspect she wouldn't release it even if it was, and arbitration probably wouldn't be worth it.) I was distracted and there were no red flags to make me extra cautious. Lesson learned.

Any ideas about what I can do? I don't think there are any official processes by which Upwork can help me to recover the funds, but...are there any successful tactics that people have employed in similar situations in order to convince the client to pay?

mtngigi
Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
2 of 17

Well, you've been here long enough to know that you're out of luck. If a milestone isn't funded, there's not much you or Upwork can do to get your money. That's why it's recommended to get the first milestone fully funded.

 

Hard as it is to do, I would let it go and leave appropriate feedback for the little b___h.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 17

Work on an unfunded milestone does not constitute money "owed" to a freelancer.

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
4 of 17

@Preston H wrote:

Work on an unfunded milestone does not constitute money "owed" to a freelancer.


 Preston, that's nonsense. No matter how many times you repeat this, you cannot by sheer force of will change hundreds of years of established contract law.

 

It's money Upwork can't/won't help the freelancer collect, and that for all practical purposes the freelancer has no means of collecting. But, what is owed is what was agreed, provided the other party (in this case, the freelancer) has fully performed her end of the bargain.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 17

I wasn't talking about contract law.

 

Was talking about how the system actually works.

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
6 of 17

@Preston H wrote:

I wasn't talking about contract law.

 

Was talking about how the system actually works.


 Probably you shouldn't have used the term "owed," then. 

jorgensons
Community Guru
Signe J Member Since: Jan 29, 2016
7 of 17

 


@Preston H wrote:

I wasn't talking about contract law.

 

Was talking about how the system actually works.



We all know that's how the system works -- which I acknowledged more than once in my post. Stating the obvious when it is clearly a known fact doesn't move the discussion forward in any way.

 

As I said in my post, I'm just curious to know if there are any tactics people have used successfully in this type of situation. Just because official Upwork channels aren't available (and probably wouldn't be worth the fees even if they were), that doesn't mean no techniques exist to get the client to do the right thing. I'm just wondering if there are any other effective techniques people have used on Upwork. The answer may very well be "no, nothing works," and that's fine. But if those strategies are out there, I'd like to hear about them. 

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
8 of 17

@Preston H wrote:

Work on an unfunded milestone does not constitute money "owed" to a freelancer.


 Yes it does.

 

Whether it is enforcable or not is another question, but you need to stop pretending that mutually agreed contracts are not valid. They are. They are simply not easily enforcable in the overall scheme of things.

 

That is NOT the same.

 


@Preston H wrote:

I wasn't talking about contract law.

 

Was talking about how the system actually works.


 NO! You claimed, as you do over and over again, that the freelancer is not owed the money agreed. You deliberately mislead people by doing so.

 

She *IS* owed that money. That does not mean she'll get it, but as the project is not paid for, she OWNS that resume and the client is not entitled to use it.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 17

I have no argument with anybody here about the facts.

 

We're simply talking about different things.

 

A legal perspective is one potentially interesting way of looking at things. It is not the only way to look at things.

 

The Upwork system simply is not governed by "hundreds of years of contract law." It is a website that is controlled by source code.

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
10 of 17

@Preston H wrote:

I have no argument with anybody here about the facts.


 Good. Then maybe you could simply stop repeating this "alternative fact" and all will be fine.

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