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Re: Client disputes payment

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Ace Contributor
Dena S Member Since: Aug 25, 2019
1 of 28
Client was unhappy with the first 1/2 of project and requested a refund. She stated there were “many typos” and that I only did half the job. She said she was pleased with the content, but did not want to complete the rest of the contract. Now, she is disputing wanting to pay anything. I clearly stated I could not even START the job until the 16th of Sept. and we agreed to do it in 15 page increments. There were two typos and 3 punctuation mistakes in 15 pages, which I immediately apologized for and revised immediately. (This was a content edit). She later said that my edits made her story more relatable and engaging, but she preferred her own “fancy writing.” What do I do? She opened the dispute. Right now, it simply says closed and “no feedback given.” If I dispute her allegations, can she then leave feedback? Can she leave feedback if I just agree to the refund? Which is the biggest hit to JSS, a negative review or refunded job? I am also frustrated because this represented a lot of hard work, and on content editing you expect to do a revision or two. She didn’t want any revisions. As the person before, I took a chance on a new employer and I don’t think she intended to pay regardless of the work. Frustrating that sometimes no matter how carefully you screen clients or the quality of work you provide, freelancers always risk either not getting paid or negative reviews (or both) even when work was done well and submitted early. I have the screenshots from Upwork messenger where we agreed that I would submit the work 1/2 at a time. For her to use in the dispute that I only did “1/2 the job” frustrates me. So, continue the dispute (which given that I can prove most of her allegations as false. What wasn’t fault, I fixed immediately and said I would continue to revise until she was happy). Best suggestion to protect reputation and JSS?
Thanks.
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Community Guru
Abinadab A Member Since: Sep 26, 2016
2 of 28

Before a client can close a contract, they must leave feedback.

So, feedback has already been left for you on that contract, and it's most likely negative.

Your JSS has already taken quite a beating (you'll see it in the next update).

 

So your choice is between,

- the other JSS hit that will arise from a zero-earnings contract, and 

- the other JSS hit that will arise from a dispute.

 

You must choose one of the two Devils, good sis.

The two Devils are both terrible.

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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
3 of 28

The dispute process isn't about proving anything. No one will be looking at your evidence. Someone from Upwork will try to help the two of you come to an agreement. If you can't come to an agreement, they will NOT make a ruling. Your options at that point will be to pay for arbitration or to let the money be returned to the client. No pay contracts are bad for JSS. 

 

Depending on your priority, you may want to either negotiate for partial payment or stand firm and go to arbitration (where someone WILL look at your evidence and make a ruling). It will cost you $291, though. You don't get that back even if you win, but you do get it back if you pay and the client backs down and doesn't pay her portion.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 28

re: "Frustrating that sometimes no matter how carefully you screen clients or the quality of work you provide, freelancers always risk either not getting paid or negative reviews (or both) even when work was done well and submitted early."

 

I agree.

 

I'm seeing too much of this reported in the Community Forum.

 

And I have seen some bad behavior among some of my own clients.

 

I don't know if this is a trend? If there was some change in marketing? If I'm just imagining this getting worse?

 

But whatever it is...

 

I'm not going to be surprised if clients - as a whole - "jump the shark" on this issue and push Upwork too far... If too many clients ask for refunds, maybe Upwork will say "enough already" and place tight restrictions on the practice.

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Ace Contributor
Dena S Member Since: Aug 25, 2019
5 of 28
So there really is no way to help yourself in this situation? That’s extremely disappointing as I have been working very hard to maintain a decent reputation on this site and hoped for top-rated. I have been overall very happy with the platform, but you guys are saying someone can just decide to not pay and leave negative private feedback, regardless of the job you have done for them?
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Ace Contributor
Dena S Member Since: Aug 25, 2019
6 of 28
Any suggestions for keeping this from happening again? As a new freelancer, I have to occasionally take chances with new clients (and some of my favorite clients were the first time I accepted a job from them). I had everything in writing, and somehow thought that offered some protection. So, $291 to have Upwork look at it, for a job that was worth less than that? No way to dispute private feedback? So the client wins by default every time and they know this? IF that is how it works, I am surprised we get paid as frequently as we do.
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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
7 of 28

Dena S wrote:
Any suggestions for keeping this from happening again? As a new freelancer, I have to occasionally take chances with new clients (and some of my favorite clients were the first time I accepted a job from them). I had everything in writing, and somehow thought that offered some protection. So, $291 to have Upwork look at it, for a job that was worth less than that?

No. $291 to have an outside arbitrator look at it. Upwork, as an escrow agent, can't make a ruling. If you go to arbitration, you pay 1/3 of the arbitrator's fee, the client pays 1/3, and Upwork pays 1/3.

No way to dispute private feedback?

There's no way to dispute any feedback, from either side, unless it violates one of a few very narrowly defined rules. Anything else would be an unmanageable nightmare, as hundreds of people every day demanded a review of feedback they didn't like. And, of course, you can't SEE your private feedback, so it would be tough to claim it was inaccurate with any credibility.

So the client wins by default every time and they know this?

That's not remotely true. A lot of freelancers go to arbitration and win. In fact, I've only ever seen one freelancer say she went to arbitration and lost, and she made some obviously fatal mistakes in the arbitration process. 
Other times, the freelancer puts up the $291 and the client backs down rather than paying, and then the freelancer gets the money in escrow and the $291 back.
It is a problem, though, for freelancers who do a lot of small jobs, since it's usually not cost-effective to arbitrate. That's what bad clients bank on.
IF that is how it works, I am surprised we get paid as frequently as we do.

 

Most clients (like most freelancers, as your issue here illustrates) don't take the time to truly understand the system before contracting. So, many are unaware that they can often steal small jobs because the freelancer won't arbitrate. And, of course, a client who wants to continue to use Upwork can't make a practice of this. Finally, and most importantly, most clients pay the people who provide them services--the Upwork system isn't remotely necessary for that. Clients outside the platform regularly pay their bills without escrow and mediation.


 

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Ace Contributor
Dena S Member Since: Aug 25, 2019
8 of 28
I do understand your point, and I feel client would not pay to arbitrate, but that’s a large risk as even winning would not put me at break even. Please understand, I love Upwork, and I do believe most people are honest. I am just frustrated as my JSS will suffer regardless of what I do. I offered every concession and apology possible, will not get paid and will suffer serious hit to a JSS. I know it’s a lesson learned, but I am not sure I could have avoided this situation. Thanks for the helpful and honest information.
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
9 of 28

Wait, was this an hourly job? Did you use the time tracker?

 

I assumed fixed price when you mentioned the dispute, but I looked at your profile and the job that seems to match this story was hourly.

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
10 of 28

Tiffany S wrote:

Wait, was this an hourly job? Did you use the time tracker?

 

I assumed fixed price when you mentioned the dispute, but I looked at your profile and the job that seems to match this story was hourly.


It's the hourly contract with the 2.75 feedback, so the dispute process is very simple:

 

Upwork looks at the work diary (ONLY) and the freelancer wins if

  • the time was tracked with the time tracker (not as manual time)

AND

  • there were adequate activity levels

AND

  • there were meaningful work memos describing the work done

AND

  • all screenshots show only work related activity

Any hours where any (!) one or more of the above do not apply, the client wins the dispute for.

There is no arbitration and no looking at who said / promised / demanded / wanted what.

All that matters is the work diary.

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