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Client is asking for more work than originally agreed to, and I don't want to lose my top rating

So, as a general rule, I don't work with independent authors and their own work, because they get so caught up in their "baby" that they don't realize all the technical things that need to be done (I am in SEO), Anyway, I went against my judgment, had a little extra time, and took a one-off project from a woman who wanted an SEO eBook outline. It's LONG, and the original doc has her combining 3 books into 1, but with the pay rate,  I was okay with that and quoted 20 hours (with KW research included). 


Immediately after signing, she starts throwing document after document at me. She decided a week into the contract that she totally wanted to change the vision of the book, and from her email, I thought she meant another blended book (2 into 1). 


As I'm nearing the end of the project and the SEO outline is nearly complete, she's like, Cool. Where's the other book? 


Uhh... I never agreed to outline 2 full books, and had you presented all the info to me at the top of the contract, I would have given a larger quote. Now, there's no way I can "finish" in time with 5 hours left, Those 5 hours are needed to finish the agreed-upon project.  


What do I do? I've been here since this was oDesk, and I'm top-rated. I do not want one chaotic, finicky woman to affect that. I saw that you can have feedback removed, but does it still affect your score? I think the lowest score I've had ever is 4.7, and that was back in like 2011. I've never had a client expect more work, basically for free, and I don't know what to do here. 


Since she's technically already broken the rules (right?), should I contact Upwork now, or should I draft her an email and try to set our miscommunication straight? But then I'm worried she'll cancel the contract and I won't get paid for the work I put in this week. 


Like I said, I've never had a problem in over a decade, so I have no idea how conflicts work. Thanks all! 

Community Member

Do not try to contact Upwork, it is useless. Them dont care about your feedbacks.

With full removal as Toprated it will be excluded from JSS calculation. This is only one option you have, no other ways.

Community Member

If it's an hourly contract, I would send my client a courteous (nonconfrontational) message explaining that we seem to have a miscommunication regarding the contract's job scope.


Since you value her as a client( you can throw in some complimentary adjectives here) and want to resolve this miscommunication  ( or misunderstanding) as quickly as possible, you've stopped time-tracking work on her project and will not bill her further hours until you've had a chance to resolve this misunderstanding during a Zoom call. Ask her to please advise when she would be available for a call to discuss this issue.


In my experience, the client is usually amenable to a discussion. 


If it's fixed priced it may become more difficult to resolve.


Hope this helps. 


P.S. Sometimes clients only need to be educated that under an hourly contract, any job scope expansion by the client incurs additional billable hours.

Community Member

Hi, Doreen P.,


Expanding project scope not accompanied by higher pay is the main reason I don't do fixed price projects. But there are certainly project types that are most appropriate for fixed price contracts, which is why it's an Upwork option.


But even with hourly projects I run into clients whose eventual expectations outpace their original budgets and they try to make that my problem. I think the best approach is to think about the options that make sense to you and your pocket book. Remind her what you both agreed would be the deliverables before the contract was agreed to and deliver that and only that unless she ponies up the money needed to complete her revised expectations under the options you give her. She might just agree that you should stick to the original plan.


You've been at this for a while, but I'd say to inexperienced freelancers that this is the reason it is imperative to have in writing the major elements of what will AND will not be included in the final deliverables on a project. When a client tries to change those requirements, agree to them (if you want to) with the addition of more fixed price payments or a higher hourly count to complete the new parameters of the client's requirements.


I have found that many clients in my little corner of Upwork heaven have no idea how long their projects will take or how much work a freelancer will have to do. I'd guess you are very good at estimating time and effort for the types of projects you do, which might be why you are happy with fixed price contracts. For me, hourly contracts are the only way to go considering that with an hourly contract scope creep is nearly irrelevant to me (if not to the client) and payment protection is much stronger than under fixed pricing.


I'd rather shut a project down when I've completed my agreed tasks for such a client as you now have and use my feedback removal perk to delete the client's likely negative "rating" from my JSS rating. (I also remove such a client's textual feedback for their project, but you may not want to once you see it. You can wait to use your removal perk until you've given feedback and seen their feedback, if you prefer. Just do it before the next calculation of your JSS, if you can.)


Good luck!

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