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Client is forcing me to give refund


Hello all,


Hope you are doing well.


My problem is - **Edited for Community Guidelines**, my last client I am working with. He wants me to give his money back. I worked for him, I followed his requirements on what to do. But currently he is thinking that we were not on correct path. Should I give him money back? I spent times for him and worked for him, all source code he has in his hand. He is now saying that he will go to take action for me to the court. He will do it through my country. All working times has been logged through oDesk time tracker software.


I am working on oDesk for long time. But this type client is my very bad luck. Please let me know what I should do . . I worked for him and spent time for him, all coding, instruction is in his hands. So why I have to money back?

Please help me . . Please help us from this type client . . they are just decreasing our reputations. Please see my feedbacks from other clients.

I am bit very frustrated. The client is continuously forcing me to give him money back. He is saying that he runs a multimillenium company very successfully and like has many power and connections to make me banned. He said "You need to do a full refund or I promise you I will have you banned by the CEO of Upwork by the end of this month"


I have been relying on Upwork for many years . . but now I don't know where this rich and powerful clinet will put me in.


Please help me!





I just want some clarification on this:


You logged your time using the time tracker?


The client had to approve that work by looking at the work diary?


Client approved all work diary entries?


Has he initiated a dispute yet?


From what I am reading in the support files the client does not have a case.


Read the article here:


Why can't I file a dispute based on quality of work or missed deadlines?


Upwork clearly states:


If the freelancer was working on your contract, but the work just isn't good enough for you, you do have to pay for the work (but you can ask for a refund).


Disputes made based on missed deadlines or inaccurate time estimates must be handled directly between the client and freelancer (or agency's staffing manager), as Upwork does not provide these estimates, review work specifications, or guarantee deliverables. You are paying for time, not a product. You have full control and visibility of hours logged through your freelancer’s Work Diary. Managing your freelancers to ensure quality work is your responsibility.

@Jean S wrote:

I just want some clarification on this:



From what I am reading in the support files the client does not have a case.


 If he had not agreed a refund you'd be right. As he has, in writing(he shared some email screenshot earlier), and confirmed on his feedback response, all bets are off. If the client takes this far enough the OP will likely be asked to refund what he agreed to refund, especially as he tried a deal on feedback against refund.

You may be right I don't know how they handle that part. To them an hour worked is an hour paid.


At the very least I would wait and see what the dispute team does with this. They may settle it or send it to arbitration. With the Dispute Team you have nothing to lose so wait and see what they say.

Hello Petra,


I did not agree beacause I did not say  "I will refund" (rather said should be able). Ok, if you still think that means I agreed, I said that with condition that he would not give me bad feedback. Now if you think this type of word is policy violation, please read my previous message on this disscussion -


"4. After that he totally stopped the project and asked me to refund. He said that, if I do not, he whould give me very bad feedback with 1 star rating.

5. So to save me from this bad feedback, I just let him know that I should be able to refund if he hold giving the feedback. Please I did not offer him but I put a condition to save me."


So I did not say to give me good feedback first. Once he said that he will give me bad feedback, if I don't refund him. Then I asked him to keep it paused untill I refund him.



Let the Dispute Team handle this and do nothing more at this point.


Then abide by there decision.


If the client then takes it to arbitration or the Dispute Team recommends it, then you have a choice to make, but for now, let Upwork handle things and see what they recommend.

Hello Jean,


Thanks for your reply. Here are the answers -


Q: You logged your time using the time tracker?

Ans: Yes


Q: The client had to approve that work by looking at the work diary?

Ans: Yes, the clients have (1 or 2 weeks) time to review the work diary.


Q: Client approved all work diary entries?

Ans: Yes, by that time I did not hear any objection from the client. All money for the logged time was deposited to my account after the safe time period.


Q: Has he initiated a dispute yet?

Ans: Yes. He already did. Also me, as he was threatening and forcing me to give the refund which was my legal money.



Hello all,


Thanks for your valuable suggestions, some of them went against me though, I appreciate the honesty and being nutral. Thanks!


Updates are:


I contacted the customer support and live chat (two tickets). I let them know my scenario and both of them let me know that the money is absulatey legal and the client wont be able to harm me.


The client also contacted the customer support and the customer support contacted me. I replied them with all my explanations about what happened with me. Today the customer support thanked me and closed the ticket without asking me to give the client refund.


Thank you all guys!

Community Guru



You have been fortunate to get some great advice and input on this post.


I think there are still one or two pieces that are still missing - as it is usually the case with disputes.


You have a 'great' history of satisfied clients. Technically , you know what you are doing.


All of a sudden a client threatens you and you are rattled ? That means you think  you have done something wrong and hence he holds sway or leverage over you ?


Going forward , you need to take this on the chin , if the amount involved for both of you is worth going through CS and dispute , by all means go ahead.


If you think the customer is still willing to look at how you can salvage the project , try that option - although from the way it is , communication has totally broken down b/w both parties and you have to accept your fault in this regard.



Finally the take home should be this: Never negotiate/batter review for money on this platform.


Your own words: "But as the client wanted the refund and I always tried to make the client happy, I just tried that.


I did not say him that I would give him the money back, rather I said that I should be able (not surely). I gave him condition that he would hold giving Upwork feedback for the job."



You will have great clients and difficult ones. Each has the right to leave a negative/positive/no review ,just as you do.


This has clearly affected you but a good lancer knows that reviews are not the end of your career. As long as we all choose to , and do the right we will get back up again.



Md. A.:

Thank you so much for coming here and telling us "the rest of the story."


This is some difficult stuff, but I hope that all (or most) of this thread will remain in tact, as this is a story that both clients and contractors can learn a lot from.

Community Guru

It sounds like you choked and got emotional and I think it's understandable. Telling the guy he can have a refund was probably a bad knee jerk reaction, but hopefully it won't go into dispute. When you chug along doing well for so long and then that nightmare client comes around and blindsides you, it's definitely a learning experience. You work long enough on these places and it will happen sooner or later.


Only you and the client know what really happened. You worked 300 hours for the guy, so I guess my question would be if either 1 of you saw red flags after 50, 100, 200 hours? Ask yourself what lessons you can learn from it, move on, and just realize that you can't make 100% of people happy 100% of the time. Things happen. People with perfect scores often look like their rating is cooked. Most smart people realize that even good freelancers have problems sometimes with projects. It's normal.


I had 3 disputes last year, and it kills your mojo. But, I can tell you that you can recover. It's more of an emo roller coaster than anything else.

My dispute story continues.


CS wrote and asked me what amount of money I would be willing to settle if I did something wrong. They won't answer what they did other than try to broker a settlement.


The client refused my settlement offer.


The next step is arbitraton. In the arbitration notice I'm told that if the client pays the arbitration fee and I do not then my account will be subject to suspension. The same holds true for him. 


This seems royally unfair that I could end up being suspended if I don't pay. So now for the $88 owed to me I have to pay $291 for arbitration or risk getting suspended. 



Jean S wrote:In the arbitration notice I'm told that if the client pays the arbitration fee and I do not then my account will be subject to suspension. The same holds true for him. 


This seems royally unfair that I could end up being suspended if I don't pay. So now for the $88 owed to me I have to pay $291 for arbitration or risk getting suspended.



That can't be right


If you don't pay the arbitration fee and the client does you lose the dispute by default. If you pay and the client does not the client loses the dispute.


For 88 it's not worth paying 873! (291 from client, from you, and from Upwork)


I am 99.9% certain that there is no WAY it would lead to account suspension


Are you SURE it says that?


This is just about the money in Escrow, NOT money already released to you?



I think you misunderstood.


Once arbitration is FILED (once both parties have paid the fee in case this happened) if any party does not respond to the arbitration it may be subject to suspension.


It does NOT mean that if you don't pay arbitration you will be suspended

Quoting and not sure if this will be removed:   In the event an arbitration case is filed and the other party does not respond, the non-participating party’s account will be subject to suspension and any funds held in Escrow will be released to the party who filed the case.