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Client wants to pay 50% for about 95% of the work?

Community Leader
Michael Z Member Since: Jul 19, 2015
1 of 62


Before you all start posting: "don't do it" - read this please.



I'm pretty new to Upwork but not to "freelancing" as a whole. Most of the time, when not working through Upwork. I ask for full payment beforehand to avoid things like this.  Unfortunately, Upwork (understandably) holds everything until things have been completed.

This issue is regarding  a client who wanted a website for their company. The usual "We will be  the most prominent company in... and we want long term this and this".  I didn't mind that at first, because it was my "job" to create ther website, not more not less. So that's where I started. Over the past weeks of creating this, the client has refused to respond through upwork even once. Insisting that we use Skype only because they didn't like the email spam(warning flag#1). Besides them constantly asking for something different, I finally got to the point where content was the only thing I was supposed to add which I made the mistake  of offering to do outside. 

About 1 page of content was provided which I added. I waited a week for their opinion and today I was told that they dind't like it and were cancelling the contract because they did not like that it didn't look like their competitor's site.

Now I'm left with 2 options:
I created their website for them, for a fixed price. And did everything they asked - which means I did the job I was hired for and am supposed to be receiving 100% of the pay.


1.) I can accept their offer of 50% and let it be, they promised good rating on upwork if I accepted. 
2.) I can try to dispute through upwork, besides the message logs on upwork. I have screencaps, webarchives and more proof of the website having been completed according to their wishes. 

I'm new to Upwork as I mentioned, I don't know how they handle these kind of things. What are my chances? I don't want to go for a dispute, lose and receive  negative feedback and rating for things out of my control. 
But I also feel like being paid 50% for work done isn't "fair". So is upwork reasonable for these things?  The milestone is created and has listed what I'm supposed to do which is "create the website"

Anyone give their opinion on this? And please give me advice on how to avoid this in the future.

Community Guru
Sandra T Member Since: Nov 26, 2014
2 of 62

Hi Michael,


sorry to hear about your situation, it sounds unnerving and I bet quite a few freelancers can relate.


This is just my personal view, so not really "advise":


I am rather "cold-blooded" when it comes to this stuff. When I did work, I want the money, and if the client decides to give bad feedback, so be it. Therefore if I were you, I would activate the milestone (maybe change the amount from 100% to whatever percentage I think I did). This way, it's the client's turn, and you can sit back a little bit and see what happens.


Along with the submission, I'd write a friendly message explaining what explained in your posting, that the original job was X, then they started asking for Y, and even though Y didn't work out, you delivered X and that's what you would like to get paid for, and that I didn't mind a dispute since everything is solid and well documented.


I would do it this way, because there is absolutely no guarantee that this client will give you good feedback if you let them off the hook. Personally, I'd bet a fiver that they won't, they will mark the job as unsucessful and give you a lower recommendation score.


It would however as always be nice, if a moderator comments on your issue and offers some advice, as correct (or best possible) dealing with situations like these is interesting and educating for all of us.

Community Guru
Nikhil D Member Since: May 28, 2015
3 of 62

Hi Michael,


Sandra has an absolutely valid point. You have already played your part and must be compensated for the same. So go ahead with your milestone submission for whatever percent work is complete.


Even if you agree to 50% payment, it doesn't gaurantee that the client will keep his word and provide a favorable feedback. They have gone back on their word once already and they won't think twice to do it again.


Again, these are my personal opinions (I am really riled up after reading your post), so you may want to sit back and think it through. It would be awesome if Valeria K, our living Messiah on the forum, could offer her thoughts.


Best of luck, Buddy!!



Community Leader
Michael Z Member Since: Jul 19, 2015
4 of 62


I have also contacted Upwork support. Right now, I want to see what my best approach is to this situation. As it's the first time I've encountered it.  And what has been said above is true, there is no guarantee that they will keep their word. They haven't done so once, so they could do the same thing again.

Community Guru
Jean S Member Since: Oct 22, 2007
5 of 62

I hope the project was 100% funded. Whatever was funded is what you are likely to get in payment.


Once you submit the work through the milestone button the funds start the automatic release process.


At this point the client will likely dispute the contract. That's fine.


Contact customer service today and explain what is happening so you beat him to it and they are already aware he's been trying to blackmail you.


They will want to see screen shots of all your Skype conversations and Upwork messages. Have them ready to submit immediately upon being asked and ask for this to be escalated to a supervisor. Highlight areas where he said he was satisfied.


With all this information you will be far ahead of the client who is blackmailing you and customer service is not going to look favourable upon what he has done. It's against all their policies what he is doing.


Then sit back and wait. It may take a few weeks. Do not contact the client at all unless customer service requests it and then word your replies very carefully.


Good luck and please keep us all updated on what is happening.




Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 62

I can not help Michael in this situation. But other contractors can learn from his mistakes:


- if you get into a situation where you need to file a dispute, it means you are you using Upwork incorrectly.

- if you need to talk to customer support about a contract with a client, it means you are using Upwork incorrectly

- never file a dispute for any reason

- never get customer support involved with your contracts

- use small test jobs with new clients to determine if they can be trusted with fixed-price contracts... No more than an hour or two of work, or no more than $150 worth of work 

- if the client is one that can not handle a fixed-price contract properly, you can walk away with little loss, rather than needing to file a dispute or going to customer support

- not every client is capable of understanding the fixed-price contract model; but they may still be splendid HOURLY contract clients

Community Guru
Mario C Member Since: Aug 15, 2012
7 of 62

Whatisthe pointof customer support then?

Community Guru
Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
8 of 62

Preston H,


I can not keep my mouth shut concerning your responses. Upwork support is here for support. To help both clients and contractors. With all your bulleted remarks, if you need to contact support or if you are having trouble with a client, that it's your fault and you're not using Upwork correctly is totally misleading and incorrect. Those remarks are not only a disservice to any contractor reading them but to the support staff themselves.


We are working with people worldwide. And when you do that, you WILL encounter people (clients) that are difficult, expect you to do extra work for free, are impossible to please as well as scammers.


If us contractors, as professionals, do the work as agreed on, and find ourselves in the above positions and can not come to an agreement, then it's time to contact support, and/or file a dispute.

Community Leader
Patrick P Member Since: Jun 17, 2015
9 of 62

- If someone breaks into your house and robs you, you are using your house incorrectly.

- If you get your car keyed when you leave it in a parking lot, you are using your car incorrectly.

- If you post on a forum that someone is trying to blatantly exploit you and you receive callous blame-the-victim advice, you are using the forum incorrectly.

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
10 of 62

How much time are you out? How much money are we talking about here? I'm on the side of "I did the work, time to pay." Nobody wants to pay. Is it worth arbitration costs? Elance was $200 for each party, so obviously it's not worth it for a small sum.


So, you did the site and then they stopped liking it with the content. Did you outsource the writing to a cheap writer? Maybe delete the content and tell them you hired the wrong writer? If writing was an addition milestone, you should get paid for the website piece. If there is any outsourcing and poor writing and it's tied to the original milestone, this could be a problem.


If you go into arbitration, you musssst follow what they tell you to do. The first step to arbitration is trying to resolve it without going into arbitration. That's a little stickler that got me on one dispute. You can't just say "screw you arbitration." You have to try to resolve it.  Say somethng like "I'm sorry the content milestone didn't work out, but the website is finished. I won't charge you for the content,  but the website programming/first milestone is complete" Do some back and forth to show that you tried to resolve it.


If it does go into arbitration, you should make sure that you don't have any wording that says "You don't have to pay me if you're not satisfied" or anything like that.  Read the arbitration sections on Upwork too so you understand how it works.


The customer can't just disappear and not work with you either. He must put forth a good faith effort to complete the project. He can't tell you "screw you I'm not telling you what's wrong." This is one reason I won a dispute. The guy just kept saying "I'm not doing your job for you."  He also lied to the arbitrator, so that basically nailed him.  Make sure you formulate responses carefully and be honest if you did the work. 


Whoever flips the dispute button kinda holds the power. If you flip it, the onus is on him to answer each email sent asking to set up a day to talk. I don't know if Upwork has the free arbitration trial. My customer is the one who flipped the dispute... 10 days after the project finished. lol  So, he could run the clock and not answer until the project fell into arbitration. Had I stopped answering, I would automatically lose. There were about 3 attempts from Elance to resolve the problem before arbitration. You must answer the emails within the time that they give you. My customer just didn't answer at all, so I think he was trying to bank on me disappearing.


One final thing, make sure it's what you want to do and follow through. Read the verbiage in Upworks docs. There are parts of it where if you chicken out, it says they can suspend your account. Once you start the process, you must follow through. If the customer flakes out, you're saved and win automatically yay!


Good luck, man. Not a good position to be in. Personally, I would skip the CS part and try to resolve it. You know in your heart if you deserve the money, and I always go for the money if I know I did the work.