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Client uploaded my work to his website & refuses to pay

acohen18
Active Member

Hi.  I just wanted to share my "dispute" experience with other freelancers.  I wrote a property description for a real estate company and sent it along. They are using it to list the property (on Zillow, Trulia, etc.) and on their website but they cancelled the contract and refuse to pay me.  As this was fixed price, Upwork's response to me has been that the client can refuse to pay for any reason.  So even in cases of clear fraud, UPWORK DOES NOTHING.  I hope you all learn from my mistake!

23 REPLIES 23
petra_r
Community Guru

Was the project funded? If yes, you have the option to dispute the return of the Escrow funds to the client. If not, there is nothing to dispute.

 

PS if they are using work they did not pay for you can issue a take-down notice to the sites that host your work. You own the copyright until you have been paid.

Hi.  Yes, it was funded.  I disputed weeks ago with Upwork.  Their response has been that, per the terms of their agreement with employers, if a client refuses to pay on a fixed price job for any reason, they can.  I sent Upwork the links to the websites using my (stolen) intellectual property but they haven't released the escrowed funds to me even though this is clearly fraud.  Amazing, but true.

vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Ariella,

 

No need to send an affidavit, please refer to Upwork ToS in order to read more about Upwork's dispute process, which our agent explained on your main ticket. Note that our team needs to follow the outlined procedure and process each case accordingly. I do have an insight into the communication our users have with our Support team but the focus of my previous message is related to the case itself. I followed up with our team and somebody will respond on your ticket with more information, and proceed with managing this case as per our guidelines. 

Untitled

@Ariella N wrote:

if a client refuses to pay on a fixed price job for any reason, they can.  


Technically this means they can initiate a dispute if they want to. This doesn't mean that they will win the dispute and that they won't pay. They just have the right to raise a dispute. Just like the freelancers have the same right.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Hi Rene,

 

In my case, the client didn't dispute anything - just cancelled the contract.  After doing that he refused to pay (even though the $ is escrowed).  Again, Upwork's response to me (during weeks of a dispute) was that the client was entitled to do that and that if fixed price clients don't want to pay, they don't have to.  Nothing I've heard on this thread contradicts that this is Upwork's policy.  My reason for writing about what happened to me is that I think other freelancers should know where they stand.

OK then I guess it's up to you to fill a dispute, which you already did I guess. Is the dispute resolved yet? If yes, how?

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Hi Rene,

 

Dispute is open; I filed it 20 days ago.  Nothing is resolved.  Per Upwork's emails, the clieint is free to cancel/not pay if he wants to.  Oh, and they said I can ask for arbitration - provided I pay them $291.00!

 

 


@Ariella N wrote:

Hi Rene,

 

Dispute is open; I filed it 20 days ago.  Nothing is resolved.  Per Upwork's emails, the clieint is free to cancel/not pay if he wants to.  Oh, and they said I can ask for arbitration - provided I pay them $291.00!

 

 


 Yes, and provided the client and Upwork also pay the same $ 291.00

 

If you KNOW you are right you pay the $ 291.00, the client will of course NOT pay the $ 291.00 - you get the $ 291  back and win the dispute by default and get all the money in Escrow.

 

Simple.

Hi Petra,

 

Actually, in a case like this that is so clear-cut, I don't see why any of that is necessary.  Freelancers shouldn't have to put up any $ in a clear case of fraud.  And I think section 6.1 of our agreement with Upwork is on point here.

 

Best,

 

Ariella

vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Ariella,

 

I'm sorry about the outcome of your contract. Our team will follow up on the evidence you recently shared on your dispute ticket but I would like to ask you not to share incorrect information regarding your interaction with our team, in order to avoid creating confusion. Please keep checking your main ticket for new updates and avoid creating additional tickets.

Untitled

Hi Vladimir.  Thank you for your response.  Everything I shared is 100% true.  I'm an attorney so if you'd like I can draft an affidavit and share my experiences that way - would that be helpful?

You can always file a DMCA against them on the sites that they are using YOUR (until its paid for) copy, so it can be taken down.

 

Just an option!!

As Gary H says, your next step would be to contact this client and let them know that since you weren't paid for the work you provided, that the copywrite still belongs to you. And if you don't get payment withing X days (give date and time) you will be contacting all the internet sites with a DMCA notice in which your work is published and have all of them taken down. And then do just that.

Sorry.

 

I just don't have time or interest in disputes.

 

If a client used my work without paying me, I would simply not work for her any longer.

 

Not saying that's the right decision for every freelancer, but that's my policy.


@Preston H wrote:

Sorry.

 

I just don't have time or interest in disputes.

 

If a client used my work without paying me, I would simply not work for her any longer.

 

Not saying that's the right decision for every freelancer, but that's my policy.


What works for you is great, but I do have to comment on that statement above. Clients who do that, probably don't care less about you (or anyone) not working for them anymore. They got their work for free and will probably profit by it in some way. You just reinforce that situation and the client will keep using it on other freelancers.  

yeah, that's a nice attitude when you don't need to pay bills.  i actually work here because I need the $ and being stolen from isn't something I just walk away from.

Hi.  I did contact the client numerous times about this but, again, in a CLEAR case of fraud, I can not fathom why Upwork won't simply release the escrowed funds.  Freelancers should not have to jump through hoops to protect their intellectual property, or pay for arbitration, when the fraud is so clear.


@Ariella N wrote:

Hi.  I did contact the client numerous times about this but, again, in a CLEAR case of fraud, I can not fathom why Upwork won't simply release the escrowed funds.  Freelancers should not have to jump through hoops to protect their intellectual property, or pay for arbitration, when the fraud is so clear.


 It is not as simple as all that. Escrow legislation is very strict, and Upwork has to abide by the legal framework of it. I would have thought that as an attorney you understand that...

lysis10
Community Guru

@Ariella N wrote:

Hi.  I just wanted to share my "dispute" experience with other freelancers.  I wrote a property description for a real estate company and sent it along. They are using it to list the property (on Zillow, Trulia, etc.) and on their website but they cancelled the contract and refuse to pay me.  As this was fixed price, Upwork's response to me has been that the client can refuse to pay for any reason.  So even in cases of clear fraud, UPWORK DOES NOTHING.  I hope you all learn from my mistake!


 Eh, I think this needs to be corrected a bit. They do tell you that with escrow the client can refuse, but then they ask you what you'll take as a payment. This is your chance to get all or a majority of money out of the situation. Or go to arbitration, which nobody wants to do but it's a necessary evil sometimes and you got to let them know that you're ready to battle and ain't about to be a doormat.

oh and yeah, I'd take this the internet justice route if you don't get your money. If he's trying to sell a property, you have the advantage there. 😄

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