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Clients leveraging feedback to get extra work

I am pretty careful outlining to clients what they are going to get. I do a lot of developmental editing, and I can't promise a contract with a publisher. That would be a lie. I also do not promise 'flawless' copy -- as if there is such a thing. I help people make creative choices and help them develop their work in a way that fits market needs. I do research, and I read and edit as per the level of service.

Clients know they are in a position to leverage their feedback. Even if they get more than they paid for...they can continue to ask for more to be satisfied.

What does a freelancer do to combat the negatives and the demand for extra work?

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This is a violation of Upwork ToS.

I client who is caught doing this could be suspended from using Upwork.


All freelancers who work on fixed-price tasks need to be thoughtful about how we handle these situations. Ideally, we need to think about strategies beforehand.


For me, I try to deliver excellent work, the type of work that clients value. And I try to be very firm about fixed-price agreements


Basically what works for me is that clients value my work sufficiently that I can be strict with them, so that I can say when the work is done and needs to be paid for. They know that I am willing to move everything to hourly contracts if they don't use fixed-price contracts the way that I tell them to.


I try to be nice, but firm. If the work for this fixed-price contract is done, then it is done. And for new work, they will need to use a new fixed-price contract.


I am NOT saying this is easy. It takes practice.

I agree with Preston. Same for me, I try to be respectful and a professional but firm. I am never afraid to make it clear that any beyond what we discussed its an additional cost. If I ever came across someone who would try to leverage such thing as 'feedback' (thankfully till this day I haven't had such experience) I would try to have an open conversation with the client and try to reason. If not, then I wouldn't take the bait of free work for good feedback. I would let them write whatever feedback they felt its right, write my own response to the feedback in the meantime and use the top rate perk if what they left was unreasonable. Again never had to do this from my own experience but my 2 cents if I was in this situation.


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if you're top rated, just LOL at the threats. You can just yank the review anyway.

Community Member

Clients can leverage feedback to get free work only to the extent that we allow it. Given a clearly defined scope of work, I would perform additional, i.e. beyond that scope, work on a case-by-case basis. Limited, specific, clearly defined edit for a client I want to continue working with = probably. Endless "tweaks" = no. Client threatens poor feedback = he11 no. In the latter instance, I would also note that transgression--in the briefest, most clinical terms possible--in the feedback I left for the client. It's both unethical and a ToS violation.

Community Member

Sorry, I replied to no one on this thread for your thoughtful input. The situation was as follows:

I agreed to do a development edit on a non-fiction book, and clearly spelled it out (development of organization, line editing as I believe is helpful to the client) as not a line edit (where the client might expect something relatively error free — "error free" would be proofreading which I do not provide). The client received the materials, and a few weeks later claimed I'd left errors in the text. I repeated the description of the service, but agreed to look it over and correct issues gratis.

When he sent back the manuscript, I went through my normal process which includes a word count. The manuscript was 25% longer, and the errors were added AFTER the version I'd worked on. I put it aside, contacted him and told him what I found. I told him that if he wanted me to do the work, I had to charge for the additional materials that I'd never seen. I asked for only 15% more, which I thought was a pretty generous compromise, and I was trying to be nice because -- to that point -- the working relationship was quite good. 

He refused to pay the additional amount (seriously, it was $50, and the guy obviously made 5 times that an hour owning a high-end neuroscience company that evaluated traffic and visitor experience on web sites for large companies). I refused to do the additional work. Within a few days, my success score slipped under 90% and I was left with the worst star rating I'd ever received (though the review was relatively kind).  It was impossible at that point to get rid of the feedback. I did describe the entire event so it was on the record.

The threat was not overt I that it was not typed out or recorded. However, the result is obvious. I lost preferred status, have a bad review I don't deserve, and tried to service the customer with a generous offer of my time.

If you have read this far, I have found that raising my service prices keeps me further from harm's way -- rather than the other way around. I have enough current, steady work that I'll be raising my rates again (to cover the new contacts cost...that is a sort of joke, but it's another issue that I'm not happy with).

In any case, thank you all for the fine responses. I appreciate your time and effort.

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