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Closed contract because client wasn't responsive or paying, but now he still wants to work.

Hey guys, I'm not sure how to best handle this situation, so I wanted to see what you guys thought.


I started writing curriculum for a client in August, and from the beginning communication was a little difficult. Once we got the ball rolling, I would have to wait a couple of weeks before I'd hear from him for feedback on the lessons/unit plans I was sending him.


Around late September, I started getting notifications that the payments weren't going through and that Upwork had to cover them. I reached out to the client, and he sent me screenshots of the angry messages he had sent Upwork about this problem. After about three missed payments, he said that he would look into the problem, pause the contract, and get back to me within the next week.


I followed up each week for four weeks waiting for updates, and never heard from him. From his reviews, this doesn't seem to be anything new - another curriculum writer had ended a contract because this client also became unresponsive. Since I was transitioning to a full-time job anyway, I gave him one more week to respond and then closed out the contract.


Now, a few weeks after I've closed the contract, he casually messaged me and said that all the paperwork was sorted out and that he hadn't been able to log in the whole time period. It's been almost two monts since I've worked on his contract and I'm transitioning to a full-time job and won't be able to give him the same time commitment, nor do I want to work with him again because of the inconsistency. However, the project was unfinished, and I also don't want him to have paid money for an unfinished curriculum that would be difficult for another freelancer to pick up on. When we started the contract, based on the speed at which I was working, we had anticipated the curriculum being finished by November.


What would you guys do in this situation? I do not want to work with him again, but would it be unprofessional to not finish the project?

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re: "What would you guys do in this situation? I do not want to work with him again, but would it be unprofessional to not finish the project?"


If you don't want to work with him again, then don't.


There is no question of being "unprofessional" in this case. The client's payment method failed. You say Upwork had to pay you out of their own pocket?


You owe him absolutely nothing.


If you want to work on the project, I believe you would not be violating any rules or any ethical issues to do so, as long as he is square with Upwork, and as long as all payments go through Upwork. But if you did so, he would need to be on a short leash. There would need to be a real Upwork contract in place. His payment method would need to remain verified.


Speaking generally:


It is against Upwork ToS for a client to ask a freelancer to work for free.


If you produced work while logging time on behalf of a client, then that work belongs to the client. Period. It does not matter if the contract is still open or closed. You need to give the work that the client paid for to the client.


If the contract is closed now, then you do not owe the client any new work.

If the client wants you to do new work for him, then he needs to either:

- open a new, valid contract


- pay you up-front money using the client-side Bonus tool, so that you will work for him on the honor system.

Preston - thank you for your reply. I had already sent the client the completed work before he paused the contract. I don't think he had even realized that the contract was closed when he messaged me earlier this week. I won't be working with him in the future. 


I appreciate your help!

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