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Re: Client requests refund for hours worked - Input needed

cac182x
Active Member
Carlos C Member Since: Jun 23, 2020
1 of 10

Hi Upwork freelancers, 

 

I want to get your input on a situation that has happened with my client and I. 

Here's the issue:
My client is requesting a refund on a week's worth of hours. His argument is "I didn't plan to continue any work, I'm not sure what that is for. I thought you paused work since no more tasks were given."

Background:
I've been working for 2 weeks with a few communication problems where client was not very explicit on how to go about the task given (Task A), nevertheless, no issues and complaints came up and I continued working since its ongoing work, where I contact people and wait for replies, and so forth.
On the start of the 3rd week (Sunday June 14th and Monday 15th) we had a conversation, where I give him an update on the current ongoing work (Task A) and he later asks me if I have done a certain job and tells me he needs someone to do that extra job (Task B). I tell him I have experience, etc and that I can do it. He doesn't explicitly say to "begin Task B" but from previous experience (unclear communication), I assume I should start and I do. Keep in mind that I have Task A going on and he doesn't mention anything about pausing/stopping Task A. 

I later update him on Thursday June 18th about the 2 tasks, Task A and the new one Task B and receive no reply. *IMPORTANT, I see client online all week* 

I continue to work - I worked all week - up until yesterday Monday, June 22nd. I hear from him only util today Tuesday, June 23rd, asking for a refund of the previous week. As mentioned, he claims he didn't plan to continue. That he doesn't have the money and that he thought I paused because no more tasks were given.

What are your thoughts?
I told client that he had time to tell me and even on last day we spoke he didn't tell me to stop working. I received a request for refund but no option to reject it. I contacted Customer Service and currrently waiting on email. 

Thanks in advance and sorry for long message!

Carlos

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

Did you use the Upwork app to track your hours?

Did you enter meaningful work memos that described the work you were doing?

Are there reasonable activity levels?

cac182x
Active Member
Carlos C Member Since: Jun 23, 2020
3 of 10

Hi Petra, 

 

Thanks for reaching out. 

 

Yes, I always used Upwork app to track my hours.

Yes, I always entered memos that described the work I was doing. Some memos were the same, as the job itself was the same for hours.

Yes, I activity levels were reasonable, I also have proof of worked done (Google Sheets, emails sent/replies, etc). 

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

Carlos C wrote:

Hi Petra, 

 

Thanks for reaching out. 

 

Yes, I always used Upwork app to track my hours.

Yes, I always entered memos that described the work I was doing. Some memos were the same, as the job itself was the same for hours.

Yes, I activity levels were reasonable, I also have proof of worked done (Google Sheets, emails sent/replies, etc). 


then you have norhing to worry about.

cac182x
Active Member
Carlos C Member Since: Jun 23, 2020
5 of 10
Ok, thank you.
By any chance, do you know what happens next, I mean, if I don’t give the refund? Do we go into a dispute or does the money go to me?

Thanks again!
niniv
Active Member
Nini V T Member Since: Jul 12, 2017
6 of 10
It's good that you used a time tracker and for there to be screenshots and click records.

However, I've even seen this exact issue happen in-person.
There are many people and clients who want to discuss ideas and tasks without intending to take immediate action for various reasons.
Some intend to take action but are slow to it.

While I understand your position, the fact is you never got clear approval to begin Task B. It's your responsibility to follow-up and ask in the UpWork chat log or via email: "... just to be clear, would you like me to start working on x? Yes or no?"

This way, it's perfectly clear that the client approved.

In your case, you made the final/official decision for the client by assuming, which can easily lead to the exact situation you're in now. I highly advise you to get clear approval moving forward.

I hope this helps!
cac182x
Active Member
Carlos C Member Since: Jun 23, 2020
7 of 10
Hi Nini,

Thank you for your feedback, I will take that advice regarding situations like these moving forward.

What are your thoughts on ongoing Task A? I wasn’t told to pause/stop work when we spoke on Sun 14th or Mon 15th. I’m just curious as in how to proceed.

Thanks!
niniv
Active Member
Nini V T Member Since: Jul 12, 2017
8 of 10
When the client becomes inactive (I've been through this A LOT btw), I'd
say weekly check-ins are a must unless it's verrryyy obvious to both
parties that the assigned task will take time and won't require much
check-in. The client usually acknowledges this ahead but I advise you to
tell your clients, if they become unresponsive/inactive after 1 week, you
will pause activity unless they want to set a date for you to pause [in
case they get too busy and forget]. (Especially when dealing with "ongoing"
types of tasks) Sure, it's not our fault when they forget us and it fills
our pockets but frankly, this isn't worth the hassle it tends to become.

If they don't respond at the end of the week, you can inform them you need
their approval/involvement before proceeding. You're never at fault for
pausing work when the client becomes unresponsive and inactive.


prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 10

Carlos: This client's behavior was extremely inappropriate and unprofessional. It is an attempt to steal your time and money.

 

Clients can pause or close a contract AT ANY TIME. For any reason. Or for no reason. It takes a few seconds to click a button.

 

Work diaries are updated in real time showing how much will be billed to the client, and they show what work is being done.

 

There is simply no excuse for the type of behavior that you described on the part of this client.

 

Of course we must be polite and professional at all times. But that does not mean we acquiesce to preposterous requests.

cac182x
Active Member
Carlos C Member Since: Jun 23, 2020
10 of 10

Thank you for your feedback! 

Upwork CS has gotten in touch with me and in other words, said the same thing. They were able to go back and look at our message conversation and see how things went down. 

 

Thanks a lot for your input, much appreacited!

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