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dgsunder
Member

Client requesting a refund... for no reason

Hi guys,

So I am a little afraid that I am going to have to file a dispute claim with a client! We had spoken at length yesterday about me doing a paid test sample for his project. He suggested the test sample and the price, and told me it had to be completed within two hours. I messaged him a few times after that to confirm some of the details, which he responded. Within two hours of his putting up the offer, I uploaded the track he wanted and submitted it within oDesk.
I wake up this morning to him to see one message saying that he can't use my track due to his deadline (?) but that he liked it and hoped he can use me in the future and a seperate message that he has requested a refund!

Whaat? I'm looking back through my emails with him - I delivered the work within one hour, let alone two. If he had a different deadline than the one he told me about, that's not my fault!

I messaged him to ask why he was doing that and now I'm sitting here waiting for his response, very frustrated! And I have no idea why this is happening - it looks like he has tons of brilliant reviews from happy oDeskers. 
I'm reluctant to file a dispute here since everyone keeps talking about it getting their accounts frozen!! I really need the money from here right now. I only have 5 star reviews from other clients....
Ughh =[ Any advice from anyone?

14 REPLIES 14
suznee
Member

Did you ask for a refund through oDesk or just an email to you?

 

If you finished the project in a timely manner there is no reason you should worry about disputing it. On the other hand if you refund you don't have to worry about bad feedback, but I assume that is what he is banking on.

 

I would stand your ground if you did everything. A test project is just that. You test to see if you want someone but you don't ask for a refund after.

 

 

He asked for a refund through oDesk. His message to me didn't even mention the reason why - just this "Thank you for your work on this project. Unfortunately, I was not able to incorporate your work into the project due to my deadline.  Your work was good and I do hope to work with you in the future."

prestonhunter
Member

I'm not sure why you want to file a dispute. A dispute is something a client files when a contractor tries to rip him off.

 

As a contractor, your account is judged partially based on the number of disputes associated with your account. Not just the outcomes of the disputes, or who was right or wrong, but the number. Computers are very good with numbers. They can count numbers and add numbers. Computers are not very good at determining right from wrong.

 

If you file a dispute, how is a computer algorithm supposed to know that you were being "wronged" by a client, and not the other way around? A computer algorithm will simply see a dispute.

 

I do not see any benefit to you filing a dispute.

 

It sounds to me like the client was being honest with you. I think you will be better off overall if you try to work something out with him. Try to understand his position but also tell you want to be careful about not violating oDesk's rules against doing free work. Explain that you don't want to do anything that would get him in trouble with oDesk, so maybe there can be a compromise. Maybe you can tell him that since he wasn't able to use the audio file you sent him in the project, you will be willing to let him pay only 75% of the agreed-upon price and you will both forget about the fact that he may have inadvertently asked you for a full refund. Just so long as he understands he can't make a habit of this, because you're a professional and you don't normally do this for clients, but you're willing to make an exception because you understand his situation.

Butt he hasn't actually said why he even wants one.
I just got this message in my message box "Thank you for your work on this project. Unfortunately, I was not able to incorporate your work into the project due to my deadline.  Your work was good and I do hope to work with you in the future."
And then a seperate refund request. 
I checked the times again - I submitted the thing within 35 minutes of him even making the contract. On the contract, he specified within two hours, so I was well within that time. 

It's not that I want to file a dispute -  I just don't want to say okay to his claim for getting a refund. I did the work, so why should I?

Does he still get to leave me a bad review if the dispute is resolved in my favor?

Diana,

I'm not really seeing anything in this client's communications with you that indicates he will give you a bad review, especially if you continue to be respectful, despite your obvious (understandable) distaste at his desire to receive a full refund.

 

Some clients simply do not understand how the fixed rate contract model works. I do not personally feel it is worth trying to change such clients, because I have doubts that they can change, and it is not worth my effort to change them. Instead, if I work with those clients again, I only work using an hourly contract.

 

It is not necessary for you to file a dispute.

It is also not necessary for you to issue a refund, or a full refund.

 

If this is a fixed rate contract (which is my impression), you could just ignore his request for a refund and stop contacting him. Or you could reply simply, "I'll see what I can do." Then, if neither of you does anything, in 14 days you will receive the full amount that was originally agreed upon.

 

If this is a fixed rate contract, then according to oDesk policies, your client can pay you any amount of money that he wants to, including zero.

 

But if a client does not take the initiative to pay you SOMETHING, then oDesk automatically bills the client for the full amount of the funded, agreed-upon milestone that was in place when you used the Submit Work button.

 

If you are interested in currying favor with him and not determined to be paid the full amount of money agreed upon, here is an alternative to doing nothing and waiting for 14 days:

 

You could tell him that it is not necessary for you to issue a refund, because he has the ability to pay any amount that he feels is appropriate. Then you could ask him to pay whatever amount he feels is appropriate for the work that you did, and then use the oDesk client-side interface to officially close the contract.

 

If he pays you an amount which you feel is less than appropriate, than you may choose to no longer work with him in the future.

 

>> Does he still get to leave me a bad review if the dispute is resolved in my favor?

He can leave a review if he pays you money.

Hi guys,

Alright, I heard back from him - I guess he had told other freelancers that day that if he didn't like the sample, he wouldn't pay them (despite having put up a fixed price contract for it). He said he apparently hadn't told me that, so he would honor the contract and pay me.

Anyway, looks like all's well that ends well. I'm happy if I get paid.

But goodness, that seems like a very strange deal he was offering others - set up a paid test sample for a set amount, but a specified term of the contract is that it's not fufilled if he doesn't like it- so he doesn't have to pay? Might as well do a free sample and hope that you'll be hired afterwards! Maybe this could go in to the "things to watch out for" column... 

Diana, I am VERY glad that you were paid, and I am glad that you came back here to tell us how things worked out.

This client may not be a bad guy overall, but he is not acting appropriately as an oDesk client. He does NOT understand what it means to not ask for free work.

Thanks, Preston!
I agree, very odd... but the weirder thing is how much great feedback he has! Not a single negative review and it looks like over 50 reviews there...!
How strange. Anyway, I'm just glad he's paying me...!

Glad it worked out for you in the end, Diana! Free custom samples are against the TOS so the post could be flagged and would (at least in theory) be taken down by oDesk.

kugrin
Member

Diana, based on your quote of "Unfortunately, I was not able to incorporate your work into the project due to my deadline.  Your work was good and I do hope to work with you in the future" I don't see how a refund could be justified.  If I buy the wrong bread in the store and don't end up incorporating it into my breakfast menu, I don't try to get a refund at my local bakery either.

 

I understand that oDesk created a lot of fear with its mad robots and intransparent and often time illogical processes, but I don't believe that we, the freelancers, should second guess each of our moves, but conduct our business as we normally would. If the mad robot really is mad, there's no point in trying to avoid it. If insisting on getting paid will flag you, so be it, you're just being flagged for acting like a professional.

 

That said, if I were you, I'd ask myself if I wanted to work with this client again and if there's even a realistic chance of doing so. If I could expect a bigger contract in the future, I'd probably invest the 30 mins without pay and view it as a relationship building exercise. If I didn't see the potential for a job, I would insist on getting paid just out of principle. If we take on a job and don't deliver, the client can get us in a lot of trouble. So why should a client get away with not paying for irrelevant reasons?

 

I once had a client who wanted everything super quickly which I provided, but then wouldn't pay me for a week or longer and ignored both of the emails I sent. Instead of sending him a third one, I reached out to oDesk and reported him. They must've reached out to him because I got paid shortly after. This was before the milestone and escrow system but no system should flag you for you wanting your client to fulfil their part of the contract. If he leaves a bad rating, you can always respond to the feedback. Clients will only try to do stuff like this until they find someone who lets them.

 

The bottom line is, don't let the fear of the oDesk robots be your guide, but act like any professional business would. If your business offers refunds, do it, and if it doesn't, then don't.

kochubei_valeria
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Diana,

 

I am glad to hear that it all turned out well with your client and the misunderstanding was resolved.

 

Additionally, I would like to clarify the dispute process for fixed-price contracts. If the client ends the contract and requests for the funds to be refunded from Escrow, the freelancer has 7 days to dispute the refund. If the freelancer approves the request or does not respond to it, the money will be refunded to the client from Escrow. So if you completed  and delivered the work but the client refuses to pay and requests a refund, I would suggest filing a dispute.

 

Please see more information about Escrow protection here.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Thanks for clarification, Valeria. I have another question regarding this - is it in violation of oDesk policies for a client to tell a freelancer that they should be doing paid test samples with fixed-price, but a condition of being paid is whether or not the client *likes* the work - and they'll ask for a refund if they don't?
I understand that it's a freelancer's responsibility to protect themselves from stupid conditions like that, but I wonder if a client requesting that at all is within guidelines. Seems like just one more way to get free work - that the client will only pay for the work delivered if they decide that it *suits* them.
And just to clarify, this is a voice over job. So someone is delivering an mp3 of sound... and the client decides whether or not they *like* the way the freelancer sounds. (So there's not a lot of gray area over how *well* someone did the job - either they said the words or they didn't!)

Diana,

I do not work for oDesk and can not speak officially for oDesk, but I can tell you that what this particular client is doing is attempting to exploit a loophole in oDesk's rules.

 

It is true that fixed rate contracts stipulate that a client may choose to pay any amount they deem fit for work delivered to him. But the way this client is using this rule is unethical and it is certainly not how this policy was intended to be used.

Hi Diana,

 

According to oDesk Policies clients are not supposed to request free work in a form of contests or any other form. Also, note that if you haven't been paid for the product, it belongs to you and the client cannot use it.

I would suggest you report this client. 

~ Valeria
Upwork