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Client -Upwork -Freelancer. A Dispute that Client will always win, specially if you have no review.


Hello Upwork Community,


I am new to Upwork, And On my first job I had a terrible experience with my client.


Client hired me for a project and gave me following specifications:


**Edited for Community Guidelines**



Now I was hired on Mar 8, 2017 by client, and I started working on the project. It was all good at first, after all done I showed client the demo on my server.. Client kept asking for few changes and compalint about speed.

I told him that currently the project is on a low spec server, after we transfer it to a server with good RAM it will work out well.


After having long discussions about the speed issues, client actually started figuring out some static values that will define speed (after looking at the demo), Currently the speed was 456+- (reviews/paragraphs) fetched per hour (on my test server)... While transferring it to client's server I mentioned him that speeding or scaling the project will be a separate milestone and will not cover under the current milestone. And told him that I will be liable only if the current project got any issues while running on his server or the speed doesn't go faster on the server he purchased.


After deploying project in his server, he still kept complaining about the speed though now the speed was 2000+- (reviews/paragraphs) fetched per hour.. I mentioned him again and again that i won't continue under current milestone we have to move to next milestone. He harassed me 2 times that he will leave me a negative review if i do not give him what he wants.


The Screenshot of project looks something like:


**Edited for Community Guidelines**



At this point client came up with huge numbers of per hour, that is, 86000+ (reviews/paragraphs) fetched per hour. And says that it was the initial requirment (please look first screenshot no numbers were mentioned), where on job post it was only described should be able to handle thousand of reviews but not described the time span hourly, or daily etc. Now after he came up with those number, by having the project running on his server for few weeks and still is active on his server. (currently client also revoked my access to server)..


Now Client files a dispute on 29-March, 2017 (at the time of dispute i didn't got paid), His dispute says that "Freelancer did not meet the inital requiremnet" which is the same issue about speed and that client didn't got what he paid for (even though my account balance is null). Whereas I have delivered him project and everything else is fine, but if the speed is issue, he has to pay more and make a new milestone. He again told me that he will leave me a bad review on the dispute channel and asked me to deliver him what he wants.


I would have given him more work to avoid the situation but for 2 reasons i couldn't do it:


  • Client theratened me to leave a bad review (mentions me that it will end my career on upwork) and said i have no history and whatsoever.
  • I think I overdelievered him, he didn't ask for any User Interface, but I gave him that (after which he came up with those static figures)


I requested mediation on 31-Mar-2017 because I had delievered the project and the dispute base was not making sense. Since I was not being unresponsive to client and neitehr did i run away with money or project files. Since client already harrased me in messaging before dispute to leave bad reviews and I just wanted to have some peace of mind and resolve this dispute, I requested mediation hoping that someone will have a deeper look and help client understand that speed issue he is making is baseless. Why? Because it wasn't an initial requirement as the dispute said.


Now at 28th day of an ongoing dispute, client seems to move forward to Arbitration. I am being told by upwork staff that I have no option but to move forward if client decides to move with arbitration. 


I do not understand this part that even after I was the one requesting mediation and no one from mediation team even try botherthing contacting me except the only assignee staff member. And still I am being forced to move to arbirtation but Why?

Anyone from staff can please explain me this enforced action from freelancer even if he is reluctant to do so?


I want to know what are my options, even though the client have had time to re-think and responded:


**Edited for Community Guidelines**



But still if client decides to change his mind and moves to arbitration or leaves me a bad review (to end my not even established carrer), I have no right to claim that? Why freelancer has to be enforeced with those decision, because we are cheap labours? I want to know about limited choices freelancer has in all those disputes.

It seems that freelancer has to agree or else he gets a negative review or looses money that he worked hard for, or forcefully being moved to arbitration where many freelancer will loose because of the fees. What do we learn from this, that even in much advanced technological era do we still fail to bring justic to people.


After clients last message I though that i should agree with him, but even after I start and make those minor changes. What is the gurrantee that he will not bring forth the same old reason and disputes again and also does not leave a bad review. 


The dispute did covers all concerns of client but what about freelancers?

I am being a voice of many freelancers out there. Who finally ends up returning money?

Because there are no policies made for freelnacer (a labour) concerns?


A shout for help from community, feeling disappointed at the monent. I did work by heart since it was my first project. 



Saim Safdar


Community Guru

This freelancer needs help. It is amazing that the moderators - merely edit his post without offering any advice, explanation, or a helping hand. Are the moderators just waiting for voluntary freelancers to do this work for them?







It often takes some time for us to review the case, previous communication between the user and the team and follow up with the team that's handling the case. That's the reason we sometimes don't reply right away and not because we expect other users to address a post instead of us.


Thank you for your understanding.

~ Valeria

Valeria, possibly in those circumstances where you need more time and have entered the thread to make edits, it would be helpful to leave a short note saying that you are gathering information and will respond shortly? When a moderator makes an edit and leaves without comment, it creates the impression that the issue has been ignored--especially for a new freelancer who may not have witnessed moderators returning with information in other threads.

Hello Valeria, 

I hope you can help me. I'm a fashion designer, and I got hired to design a babyweat collection.  The client, didn't specify that much what he wanted, so I interpreted that I had some "creative freedom" to design the collection.


I delivered the collection, and then he told me that was not exactly what he wanted... matter in fact he wanted prints designs, not clothing designs, but he never asked for it in the first place. I told him in several different occasions that I don't do prints designs (that I worked specifically with fashion sketches and technical drawings), and then he ignored it, and told me to make some alterations. I did, but still wasn't what we wanted, he said again that we wanted patterns for his clothing, and I again, told him I don't work with that... and by the third or forth time I said that I don't work with that, we said we didn't knew.


Resuming, the problem is, he never asked me If I do that kind of work, he asked for a 4-piece collection, and that was what I delivered. I specifically told what I worked with (before starting the work, during and after)... and after I delivered three alterations, he is still not pleased and not responsive, even when I'm trying to make things right.


It's been 11 days since he hasn't responded to my last attempts to modify the work to his taste, and I don't know what to do... I really need to get paid. 


Thank you,


Hi Nikole,

Just to confirm, is this a fixed price contract?

Once you have submitted your work on the milestone created for you the client will have 14 days to take actions. After 14 days the funds will be transferred to your account if no actions are taken on the milestone. Keep in mind that if you resubmit the work again you will reset the 14 days period. To learn more details about fixed price protection, check out this Help Article.

If you have additional questions feel free to post them here, thank you!

~ Goran
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Saim,


I followed up with the team and it sounds like an agreement wasn't reached between you and your client during the mediation. Upwork team can't judge the quality and the amount of work and in such cases the client and the freelancer have an option to proceed to arbitration.


Please, refer to the information the team shared with you in the ticket and Upwork Escrow Instructions for more information.

~ Valeria

It is not Upwork's purpose to run speed tests on a freelancer's work and determine if it runs fast enough to meet a client's needs.

That's my point, I am here for help. The client wants to move to arbitration just to make me loose because he knows i have nothing to loose. And now client realizes that he may loose the case so he came up with sugestion or agreemnet to make minor changes.. but who vouches for him for that what he suggests.. What if I made changes and he still leave me ba review (i wasted more of my time)... or even escalates another dispute or still moves to arbitration.. Need serious help..

Saim, what would you like us to do?

Security! Can you help a freelancer in making his reputation secure?

No. If the client leaves a negative review, you can politely respond with your own account of events. Your statement will appear on your profile page. If the client leaves no public feedback, then you have nothing to respond to. Your private feedback and JSS may be adversely affected. It is likely that little can be done about that. There is no protection against bad business deals for individuals working as freelancers. 

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about the client's review anymore. It doesn't matter what you do for him now, he will give you a bad review anyway. Some clients come with sky high expectations and whatever you do will always make him feel like you underdelivered.

Just get the money and move on. Don't forget to give the rating/review he deserved either.

The good thing is that we don't always keep getting such clients. And your review will scare freelancers away from him.

Community Guru

Saim - I think no matter what you do at this point, the client is going to leave bad feedback. How you respond to it can either hurt you more then the actual bad feedback, or it can be professional and help you.


When the dispute process is started, it's best that an agreement be negociated between a client and freelancer. If that fails, then it progresses to having a moderator. The monderator will suggest an outcome which Both of you can agree on. If that fails then the last step is arbritration. That would cost $291 for a freelancer, $291 for a client and
$291 for Upwork. If it's determined that you should get paid, you will receive what's in escrow. You do NOT get the $291 back. Same for the client.


But, if the client doesn't pay, you WILL get that $291 back in addition to what's in escrow

It would be your decision whether or not you want to esclate this to arbritrion. To "bluff" the client by taking it that far and hope that the client backs out, .... or not.

It is important to understand that not every client/freelancer collaboration is a successful one.


Not for me, not for the original poster, not for anybody who uses Upwork extensively.


Sooner or later, we run into a situation that doesn't work out. Upwork understands this. Clients understand this. If a freelancer has a few less-than stellar reviews or unsuccessful experiences, it's okay.

Ace Contributor
Hi Saim,

I recently went through the same thing and sadly UpWork was of no help what so ever. The moderator was bias from the begginning and only had the clients interest at heart. At the end it sounded like almost a threat that if I did not accept an additional $5, it would move onto artbitration.

It's upsetting and unfair but the reality is clients know they have the power to control, manipulate and over work you as nothing really happens to them. They don't lose anything. We do.

So my advice is you can either take a chance with arbitration or leave a very detailed review for the client addressing the wrong that was done while still being professional. However. If you have the finds to go through arbitration and the payment the client refuses to approve is a fair amount (covers the cost of arbitration and then some) then go ahead.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience but honestly speaking there will be some negative experiences but there will also be some good on here, just hang in.

Kind Regards,

Ace Contributor
Arbitration * funds*