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Client refusing to pay

Community Leader
Ailish D Member Since: Jun 19, 2016
1 of 9

Hello everyone, and sorry to come back here with another question, but I'm not sure what to do about this one.


A client approached me about writing a short article for him about a product. He sent me 3 examples of the style he wanted, and favoured one of the styles more and said he would like it similar in tone to that one.


So I wrote the article, as he requested, conversational tone, '5 reasons you should use this product'...he gave me the 5 reasons, I just had to write them up.


I did all of this.


I submitted the work, and it took him a week to get back to me, and now he says it is not what he wanted, said it wasn't in the tone needed (it was exactly the tone he asked for) and that he wanted to end the contract without payment and I wasn't to put right what he said was wrong.


Now...I don't have a problem with a client not liking my work - we can't please all the people all the time, and my ego is not that fragile. BUT...when I went to review the brief he gave me, to see where I went wrong, he has withdrawn permission for me to view it! (Google docs).


It is not a huge amount of money - it's not about that although of course that matters, it's more that he won't allow me to edit and rewrite the piece, or even look at the brief.


Before I go back to him, what do you guys think?





Active Member
Nuriya M Member Since: Sep 16, 2015
2 of 9

Hey Ailish, Having such clients definitely annoying. But as a freelancer, we always try to be professional. So, I thought maybe you could call once again to offer the appropriate correction he wants. But if he does not respond, I think you do not need to contact him again. I think he is not a good client. One proof is that even he does not allow you to access files that are in google docs.

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
3 of 9

Stay away from cheap clients where $1/100 words is their life savings. 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 9

Focus on the money. And keep in mind that your time has value as well. Don't try to make things right with the universe when you realize you have a flakey client like this.


If you have a client that does not want to pay you and is not interested in letting you fix the work to bring it in line with his expectations, then just get out of there. Don't try to satisfy him, because that is not going to happen.

Ace Contributor
Sadik B Member Since: Jul 29, 2015
5 of 9

Hi Ailish

I know you said it's not a lot of money and I agree with others that just forgetting about it is the right thing to do instead of wasting more time.

However, if you have the time and the willingness, sometimes it's worthwhile to fight the good fight... 🙂 IF you have your communication recorded in Upwork messages, you can try arbitration. I haven't tried arbitration on Upwork, but in Elance it was very professional. 


Whatever you do, it's important that you keep a calm mind and understand what you are doing. As a tip, while doing any work for any client, make sure you have specific messages recorded in the Upwork messaging system. Like when you are doing something, make sure you write to the client through the Upwork messaging system that "Hi ABC, I am working on this..." and when you are done, similarly say, "This is done, please review so I can move on to XYZ..". I call this "crafting a work history" in Upwork. I do this with any new client I take on. This is so that IF things ever get bad, I have something to show. If you are working with Google Docs, it might be worthwhile to also attach your work in the messaging system.

And all the best in the future,


- Sadik

Community Guru
Lisa W Member Since: Nov 14, 2015
6 of 9

You did the work, and he never paid for it, which means the work is yours. If the client truly didn't like the work and is just scrapping the project, then it's probably not worth the fight. However, if this was his way of getting a free article, make sure he knows that he has no permission to publish it anywhere since he hasn't paid you for it. Add it to your portfolio or publish it somewhere of your choosing. Unless he pays, it still belongs to you.

Community Leader
Ailish D Member Since: Jun 19, 2016
7 of 9

Hi everyone, and thanks for your help once again.


I contacted the client, and asked him to clarify - he had said 'the tone was wrong among other things' - so I asked him to explain what the other things were, as I couldn't go back and check on the brief as he had withdrawn me access to it.


He replied that he would not critique my work for me (????) and that he would pay if needed but that other upworkers had been happy to not be paid in the same situation. There was my answer...he does this all the time.


So I said no, that was absolutley fine (it's not but must be professional) and that I now had a ready written piece to sell on, and ended the contract.



Active Member
Victor C Member Since: Oct 18, 2015
8 of 9

Hi Ailish!


I almost have the same issue with a client, but I do not know if it is the same. His name is **Edited for Community Guidelines**?


Is it wrong if I ask this?

Active Member
James L Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
9 of 9

Hi Ailish, sorry to hear about that.  Definitely a flake, that person.


I had a similar experience which I just posted about above...someone wanted to pay me outside Upwork and I declined, then he indicated on my profile that my proposal was inappropriate!  I've attached here a screenshot of the skype chat we had.  Some people...


I think you took the high road.  In cases like this, my guess is this might be a person who gets other people to write things, cheats them out of payment, then publishes the work.  I'm sure there must be a way to find out if your work has been stolen...does Copyscape do that?  


I'm beginning to realize sites like this attract all kinds of people...including creeps who have little integrity.


Good that you're moving on, good luck.




**Attachment Removed for Community Guidelines**