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Client Refusing to pay me for the API I built for him (Software Development)

A little backstory. I am new to Upwork and this was just my second job (my first fixed-price job). The job was to develop an API that would use another API to output some response. It was a straightforward job so I completed and submitted the work within 24 hours after the client provided me with the secondary API's access key. I submitted all work with proper technical documentation so that anyone using that API wouldn't have to waste time understanding the code.


Upon the client's request, I even implemented a simple frontend so he can try with different inputs if the API is working. After all this, the client refuses to pay until he has the API working on his website. This was not discussed before. The contract had no mention of any website. All that was discussed was that I will develop an API that would return some data.


If you are even a little educated with Software terms, you would know that "frontend" and "backend" are two completely separate concepts in Web Development. The whole point of developing an API is to separate these two concerns. So, the client refusing to pay on this basis is just bizarre for two reasons:

1. He does not have a developer who can integrate my API with the website. So there's no time-frame on how long that wait could be till my API is integrated with the website and I receive the payment.

2. As a backend developer, my job was to create an API that would give a certain response to a certain request. How that API is used is not my concern. I do not care if the client wishes to use the API directly or uses it via any website. From my end, I already implemented what was asked for and proved it.


My question to all of you is: what can I do in this situation? I am new to Upwork so a good review matters to me. I also want to be paid because I have already completed my job. I personally feel this is very unprofessional and unfair that my payment is being held due to the unavailability of the website developer. 


Any suggestions are appreciated. Thank you.

Community Member

How long ago did you submit? The client has 14 days to check your work. Unless the client proactively hits the "request changes" button, you get paid automatically after 14 days.

Wow. I did not know that. It's been three days only. 


I talked to him and his only concern is to make it work on the website. I think he was expecting some miracle to happen that the website will update automatically when I develop the API. He asked if I can take care of the integration for additional charges but I declined after thinking about it. I just want to be done with this as soon as possible.


Thank you so much for your reply.


It sounds like the client failed when it came to understanding what it was he was paying for when he hired you to create the API.

And you failed when it came to realizing that the client didn't understand this.


We call this "managing expectations."


There was a communication problem on both sides.


What you need to understand is that Upwork is not an API website. Upwork provides a way for clients to find, hire and pay freelancers. So things that may seem obvious to you, may not be obvious to the client or to other Upwork users or staff.

Hello Preston, thank you for replying.


I understand what you mean. It could have been an oversight on my part too, yes. I am new to the platform so I just didn't know how to deal with this situation. I said to him too that I don't see any other option than to wait until he is satisfied so I guess I will keep doing that. 


I hope it goes smoothly. Thank you again!

Dawood Muzammil M wrote:

He asked if I can take care of the integration for additional charges

So the client is being perfectly reasonable here and is happy to pay for the integration, even offering the work to you. You can't blame him for not knowing the techie stuff, that's what he hired you for.


Dawood Muzammil M wrote:

I just want to be done with this as soon as possible.ly.

The quickest way to be done with it would be to integrate it yourself for extra money if that is part of your skill-set. Otherwise you'll be waiting until the client has found someone else and they've done it.



I would have happily taken up his offer for additional work if it was part of my skill-set. Unfortunately, it was not and I informed him. I just felt it was unfair that my work will not be acknowledged unless he has the next steps figured out.


But I completely understand what you mean. I am new on the platform and still getting used to how things work here. I don't mind waiting for the payment; I was just nervous that what if the client just refuses to pay when the time comes. But I got to know that there are policies to place to deal with those situations too.


Again, thank you so much for taking out the time to respond. It helped a lot. 

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