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Client asking for a refund for weekly retainer contract

Hello everyone,

I'm facing an issue with a client. I've worked with my team on a retainer contract for 3 months. (The duration is mentioned in the contract here).
This client tried to use us by all means. We have specific deliverables in Upwork contract and he forced us to do many other tasks and deliver more of jobs for free. 
Because I've a kind of a new profile on Upwork and didn't want to get a negative review, we've provided many services out of the scope of our contract hoping to finish this contract after the 3rd month and get rid of this unfair deal.

But what happened the last 2 weeks, the owner of this client's company terminated the CEO we used to work with, and he took over everything and kept asking for more and more services like asking for developers to fix his website issues, I had to pay for outsourcing developers to help him but he never appreciates it or paid for it, he asked me to come to his office every week and asked to send 2 of my team members (among them the account manager) for 2 times weekly as he believes this is his right to have my team in his office to liaise with his employees to get the media required for our work. Which is out of the scope of the contract, he was treating my team like his own employees.

I clarified to him this is a freelance job, we are working remotely, and that was so clear from the beginning, I have been asked myself to go to his office 2 days the last 2 weeks for 6 hours a day and he wasted my time on endless useless discussions to teach him and his employees how we are doing advertising and all digital techniques, teaching was out of our scope as well but I wanted so badly to finish this deal and hassle. So I thought it's ok as we are about to finish the contract duration in 2 weeks and I don't want to work with him again.
He created the first day group on WhatsApp, wasting 2 of our team's time on a daily basis in useless discussions and to answer his questions that reflect lack of professionalism and responsibility. This deal was a big mess and we were counting the days to reach the end of this contract.
After we completed the 3 months and informed him any more services he needs from us out of our contract he needs to pay for it, we won't be able to provide any free services anymore, and we won't be able to come or send a team member to his office unless he pays for this service.

Now he paused our contract and abused my team members and offended their races and nationalities (this happened many times during the last month), and he's asking now on Upwork for a refund of the last month which was released, USD 2000.
I definitely don't want to refund anything, this deal cost me a lot of money to cover my team's expenses while he was wasting their time on a daily basis, which affect other accounts' performance.
His previous CEO just last week gave us a reference for a big deal and recommended us to this new client just because he knows very well how we did a great job here and has an extensive experience with global and local brands.

But niw this business owner is sending false accusations and claim a lot of lies, he's repeating lies everyday and he's now on Upwork complaining of everything just to get back the money he spent and get all our efforts and work for free.

Please from your experience, what should I do to solve this issue without returning any refund for work done by 6 team members, and cost us a lot of time and money, what will happen if we proceed with the dispute for weekly retainer?

Thanks in advance.


Hi Dalia,


Sorry to hear one of your contracts hasn't been going well recently. In general, it's best practice to discuss and agree upon the terms and scope of work with the client prior to setting up a contract. That way, whenever any issues arise or additional work is requested you can reference those initial terms and discuss further work separately.


In general, the client can request a refund for any payment that's been made within the last 180 days and it's up to the freelancer or agency to issue a refund or not. The client can also file a dispute for the hours the freelancer logged during the previous work week. For more information about what happens in that situation, I recommend checking out this guide.


If there were any instances of abuse or inappropriate language, please report those messages using the flag option available within Messages so that the team could investigate.

~ AJ
Community Member

I am sorry that this happened to you, but to me, when looking at the extra work, the fault lies with you, as well as Upwork. It lies with you simply because you allowed it to happen on multiple occassions. Remember, you are acting like a business owner when offering your services, so it is up to you to "put your foot down" when someone is taking advantage of you and the contract in place.


It is Upworks fault because too many people like yourself focus more on the fact that they might get a bad review or a hit on their JSS that they lose focus on trying to give quaulity service, or in many cases similar to yours protect themselves from scope creeps and similar things. (Hence, why the JSS and private feedback, with no option to defend  oneself is an issue)


If there was only a few dollars involved I would say give the money back, but with the money involved I would not return the money. He may or may not give you a bad review, but don't worry about that until (and if) it happens. I have had JSS scores ranging from 40% to 100%. If you get a bad review or low JSS don't focus on that, instead just concentrate on your cover letters and proposals. 

Community Member

I'm very sorry that you are experiencing this.


For what it's worth:
It is not appropriate for a client to pay a freelancer, and then ask for money back from the freelancer.


This client's behavior is unprofessional, unethical, and immoral.

Community Member

Hi Dalia,


First of all there's no right or wrong in this sittuation, all depends on how you feel and what you'd like to do so i'll share my personal view


Upwork is an endless pool of opportunities. If i told you i had a crystall ball and saw that you'd be making 500K in a year, would you still care about that 2K problematic business? While we have no proof that you will grow in such pace, it still puts you into that growth mindset.


The most important thing is taking this experience and learning to see early signs of a job that has potential to become problematic in the future. There are unlimited amount of clients here. Don't be trapped by bad clients, keep your schedule and mind open for good clients. 


I personally think that there 2 types of money. Happy client money and unhappy client money. I really don't want the unhappy client money. I'd return your money faster than the speed of light if you prove to be a problematic client. Thats what i would personally do. I'd also try to cut the losses early.


You might be a different person than i am. You may feel its extremely unfair that this client is requesting a refund. If it will make you feel better fighting back, go for it!


I'd just rather keep my mind fresh for the remaining 498K to be made on this platform. And remember to post back here when you make it

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