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tomzilla1
Member

Clients that change there minds in a fixed price contract

What would you do if a client constantly changes their minds about what report they want to see in a fixed price contract? They've held payment hostage for a month now. Requesting multiple revisions (though they may not even realize). It was $2,100 - I've already poured in time more than that and they are asking for freebies to go with it, like landing page and campaign creations etc. The $2,100 was for an audit. I've already delivered that. Just sent them the revision they asked. Should I just cancel the project? A bit concerned on the impact on JSS... Please share your thoughts.

19 REPLIES 19
wlyonsatl
Member

Do not cancel the project if you've done the work and earned the money.

 

If you cancel the project, you will have no chance to ever get paid.

 

Others here know more than I do about the process, so I will leave it to them to advise you on exactly how to proceed to get payment released by a client who never stops making new demands for free work from you.

 

Ultimately, taking the client to arbitration could cost you $291. From your description of the problem, I doubt the client will agree to arbitration because they'd have to pay $291 for that too. If they don't agree, you will automatically get paid in full without having to pay the $291 fee.

 

And don't let worries about the client's feedback and the effect on your Job Success Score deter you from getting paid. Pandering to the flawed JSS system shouldn't stand in the way of doing what's right for you and what's fair in your dealings with the client.

petra_r
Member


Tom Z wrote:

What would you do if a client constantly changes their minds about what report they want to see in a fixed price contract? They've held payment hostage for a month now. Requesting multiple revisions (though they may not even realize). It was $2,100 -


Before even thinking about  disputes and arbitration - how much is actually in Escrow? Is the contract fully funded?

 

Have you tried the "Saying No by saying Yes" approach?

 

When a client asks for something that is (significantly) out of scope, I act all enthusiastic and say something along the lines of

 

"Hi Jack, I think that's an excellent idea and yes, of course I could do X,Y,Z in addition to A,B,C (whatever was agreed originally) - The cost for X,Y,Z is $ XXX.XX and it will take X days.  Why don't you release the current milestone for A,B,C, set up another for X,Y,Z and I'll get right to it."

 

That invariably (for me, so far) results in one of two outcomes: 1. The client pays up and funds the X,Y,Z milestone or 2. The client suddenly realized they don't need X,Y,Z anymore after all.

 

I've not yet had a client have the gall to come right out and say "Actually, I wanted it for free..."

 

By pretending that I assume that they will be wanting to pay for it, I shame the client into backing off their quest for freebies.

 

I agree with Will, do NOT cancel the contract after wasting a month on it. 

 

If communication has been a bit wishy washy so far, it may be time to take a stand and tell the client that what was agreed is done, and that any further work will require additional milestones.

 

If the client abuses the "request changes" function (after you use the "submit for payment" function) you can contact support to initiate dispute proceedings but I would try to manage the client and their expectations politely but firmly first.

 

 

 

lysis10
Member

These are the reasons I'm moving away from flat rate. I just let another offer expire because I told him hourly and he did escrow, so goodbye offer.

 

I have pulled the "out of scope, pal" on people. 6 weeks of revisions. You can scream and female dog all day, but your only options are to keep doing revisions just to avoid dispute, or finally go into battle stance and issue the dispute. 

 

I've never been the one to pull the plug. I usually keep doing revisions until the client asks for a refund and then I dispute. For $2100, I start throwing some shots like "ok, we've run out of time on this." If it goes into arbitration, make sure you've done what you can to finish and point out things that are out of scope, because all of this gets seen by an arbitrator. For $2100, there is a good chance you're going to arbitration.

If the freelancer is clearly in the right, (s)he should agree to/insist on arbitration in every case like this. I would spend little time working with Upwork mediation before I told them I wanted to go to arbitration.

 

Unless the client is truly stupid, which may or may not be the case, they know they'll likely lose not just the original cost of the project but an additional $291.

 

I have at least once taken this approach with such a client, and he quickly backed down. I don't remember how much was at stake, but I remember not caring. I knew I'd win arbitration because his case was so obviously weak (he changed his mind and wanted to pay me at the end of the project rather than according to the milestones we had already agreed to in the Upwork system); he knew he'd lose.

 

Sometimes the only way to deal with a bothersome bug is step on him.


Will L wrote:

If the freelancer is clearly in the right, (s)he should agree to/insist on arbitration in every case like this. I would spend little time working with Upwork mediation before I told them I wanted to go to arbitration.

 

Unless the client is truly stupid, which may or may not be the case, they know they'll likely lose not just the original cost of the project but an additional $291.

 

I have at least once taken this approach with such a client, and he quickly backed down. I don't remember how much was at stake, but I remember not caring. I knew I'd win arbitration because his case was so obviously weak (he changed his mind and wanted to pay me at the end of the project rather than according to the milestones we had already agreed to in the Upwork system); he knew he'd lose.

 

Sometimes the only way to deal with a bothersome bug is step on him.


Well, what is "clearly in the right" emotionally might not be legally. Arbitration is a whole different ballgame. It's like online court, so you really need to make sure from the very beginning that you set up the conversation and agreement to something that will hold up in arbitration. Most freelancers are too desperate, weak and naive to do this.

 

I will tell you now that if he didn't specify EXACTLY what he would do including revisions, the arbitrator is gonna ask why. If he did not specify, then I would say the best thing to do is do several rounds of revisions and point out what was not agreed to during the initial scope chat. This way he can go back to the arbitrator and say "yeah, I didn't specify but look at all the things he's added to scope and I tried to accommodate him and ensure the contract was finished."

 

I think arbitration favors freelancers mostly, because the onus is on the client to prove that what you did is wrong/bad, and "don't like it" won't hold up. But there are so many factors and most freelancers are just desperados that have some stupid "just trust my clients" mindset and say anything to make a buck. That's their undoing when they step into arbitration. Look at all the idiot writers that agree to "perfect grammar and spelling." lol one typo and it's the freelancer in breach of contract. lol so stupid

prestonhunter
Member

re: "Clients that change there minds in a fixed price contract"

 

A client can't "change their mind" in a fixed-price contract.


That is a violation of the whole concept of fixed-price contracts.


The only VALID way for a client to change their mind is to RELEASE all escrow funds in the contract, and then CLOSE the contract, and then propose a new contract.

The money is still in escrow. I screened them extensively but I guess it feel through the cracks. They are also micro managers even though they said they weren't in the interview. They have no idea how everything works yet wants to pitch in and review on everything. If I had known this, I would've never took them or charge way higher. They require messaging 3 times a day and 2 calls a week. They're not available when I need them. It's dragging.

Did you submit your work via the "Submit" button on the project page?

 

If not, I recommend you do so immediately. Get the 14-day clock started for release of escrow and avoid the possibility of the client canceling the project without paying you at all.

I did, 14 days ago, but the client clicked the revision requested button right on the last hour of 14 days... And specification was very vague. Their history isn't all that good (hired bunch of $8/hr overseas), I guess I was too busy that week when I screened them and overlooked a few things. And now I don't hear back from them as much after I re-delivered the revision.


Tom Z wrote:
The money is still in escrow. I screened them extensively but I guess it feel through the cracks. They are also micro managers even though they said they weren't in the interview. They have no idea how everything works yet wants to pitch in and review on everything. If I had known this, I would've never took them or charge way higher. They require messaging 3 times a day and 2 calls a week. They're not available when I need them. It's dragging.

ok, well, the only thing that really matters is what was agreed and then what was delivered. You can always start pushing back and declining phone calls. Up to you. Sooner or later, they'll request a refund and then the fun begins.

I rarely take calls from clients - only for interviews. But man I wish they had a snooze button on Upwork... I have 2 or 3 that are just... pain. Any tips on setting messaging communication expectations?


Tom Z wrote:

I rarely take calls from clients - only for interviews. But man I wish they had a snooze button on Upwork... I have 2 or 3 that are just... pain. Any tips on setting messaging communication expectations?


I've moved away from escrow and do hourly with larger projects. I just refused an escrow job a couple weeks ago because I could tell this would be something like your client, so I made him go hourly.

 

If there is not a verrrry veryyyyy clear scope or the project is too large that I can't estimate well, I tell them that they have to go hourly.

They wanted to add in free stuff now. Oh boy. Should I reach out to UW?


Tom Z wrote:

They wanted to add in free stuff now. Oh boy. Should I reach out to UW?


Have you actually CLEARLY said "This is beyond scope, please note that what was agreed is done. I'll happily do this for you, at a cost of $ XXX, but I need you to approve the completed work and set up a new milestone."

 

There is no point of reaching out to Upwork until the situation has reached breaking point and the battle-lines are drawn.

 

For that you need to communicate clearly with the client, which I suspect you are avoiding out of politeness.

 


Tom Z wrote:

They wanted to add in free stuff now. Oh boy. Should I reach out to UW?


lol Upwork isn't anything but a payment processor and some place to find leads. It's your client. You need to grow a pair and do whatever it is you need to do. Maybe you're being unreasonable. Maybe they are. We don't know. Figure out whatever makes sense. That might be doing what is asked or laying the dispute hammer down on them. Only you can decide what's best because this is your project.

re: "They wanted to add in free stuff now. Oh boy. Should I reach out to UW?"

 

Generally speaking: No.

 

Upwork is not going to be your "fixed-price project referee" or your "out-of-scope monitor."

 

Wouldn't that be awesome if they did that? I would love it. But that is simply not a service that they offer.

 

So you, as a freelancer, need to learn how to handle scope creep yourself.

You need to manage your business (freelancing.) The only time you would reach out to Upwork for this sort of problem is when both the client and you can not come to a mutual understanding and agreement on the scope of work which was defined at the beginning of this project. At that time, after trying to reach an agreement and none can be accepted, only then would you reach out to Upwork and that would be to start a dispute. When you do that, there's 2 phases. The 1st will be an Upwork moderator telling you what I just mentioned above. Try and come to an agreement with the client. Then there's arbitration.

 

You need to take control of this situation. As Petra said, have you communicated with the client and Clearly stated that you have fulfilled the requirements of the contract, and that you have even gone above and beyond on what was mentioned on the contract. But you would be glad to do any other reports, edits or revisions but the client will need to close this contract first and then open a new HOURLY contract and as soon as he does that, you'll get right to work?

Just say 
"Sir, we have agreed that a bowl of fried rice cost $1" I have cooked that for you and you have eaten it. 

I even already gave you a bonus of condiment and 2 dumplings when you requested. I gave that for FREE as a bonus for you. 
So , now if you want to order a bowl of noodles, I will be more than happy to cook that for you, but first please pay the Fried Rice and set up a new milestone for the noodles in escrow".

FYI they backed out of arbitration like some of you mentioned. I guess when you're "guilty" you know not to gamble another $290. Sad thing is I can't recover additional costs that I incurred on good faith - tool fees, free hours on phone, etc... Lesson learned. Also they were able to leave a feedback, even though they "lost". I feel like a better feedback system should be designed in situations like this because their feedback would now be 1 star because they are mad/emotional as a result of the decision. But yes, Upwork arbitration does work if you follow the rules.

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