klhutson1011
Member

Closing a Job as a Freelancer

Hi. I've been having an issue with a client who continuously changes the scope of our process working together. I've been as accomodating as I can be in working professionally with her and providing my opinions and feedback, but it comes down to the fact that this client really has no idea what she wants from this project and working on it with someone else. Her feedback/questions/direction swing from one polar opposite to the other, and she argues with every suggestion I make to improve this project, which is what she said she's looking for, and her defensive arguments are rather insulting to my professional capacity and the amount of time and patience I've given this client while working on this project. We've been working on this job for almost four months, and I'd thought about ending the contract before but hadn't because I just don't like giving up on something once I start it. 

 

I think this client is far too close personally to her project, and she won't take my suggestions for improving something that, without making certain changes, does not fall within my professional integrity and the quality of work I'm willing to provide. I'm proud of what I do, because I do it well. But the client's argumentative nature and one minute telling me to "just do what she says" while the next minute saying I need to "expand my creativity and come up with something that's not boring" has been jerking me around for almost four months now that I just don't have the patience to deal with it any longer. And I have a lot of other work with a lot of other clients that don't take nearly as much out of me as this one. 

 

I'll be shortly returning the final files for the first milestone, for which she's already paid me because she wanted to do it that way. So I'm fulfilling my end of that obligation first. After I return these files, I want to end the contract with her and go our separate ways. This has become an emotionally manipulative working relationship that I just don't need. 

 

So my questions are... how does closing the contract affect my Upwork profile and ratings? Will I have to leave feedback for the client first in order to fully close the job? I'm absolutley certain this client will leave me an awful review, and I'm expecting her to continue to attempt contacting me afterward, because I also don't think she's emotinally and/or mentally stable enough to walk away from this like a professional, even after I send what I plan to be a professional "thanks but no thanks, let's go our separate ways" final message (that instability is another reason I have to end this contract. Her personal-life frustrations are starting to project onto me, and we've only communicated via Upwork in a professional capacity, at least on my part). Will I be able to remove a potentially scathing review from her if she does in fact leave one? 

 

Just looking on advice for how to handle the fallout I'm anticipating after closing the contract. But submitting myself to working with this unreasonably demanding client is no longer worth the money or the hope that she'll leave me a good review at the end of it. 

 

Thanks.  

ACCEPTED SOLUTION


Kathrin H wrote:

Thanks, Petra. Is there a specific way to shoot for "no feedback"?


You could butter her up and then be very diplomatic about the reason you need to close the contract. Do *NOT* tell her you find her difficult or anything of the sort.  No excuses, you are unfortunately no longer available to continue but have loved working with her and are so excited to see her succeed with her project. Stuff like that.

 

Close the contract and play nice for 2 weeks (The client has only 2 weeks to leave feedback.)

 

If she does leave poor feedback, come back here to ask if you should comment it. Most of the time it is better not to draw any more attention to it.

 


Kathrin H wrote:

Can that be gained back in another 90 days of activity on Upwork with more clients and better reviews?


You will probably have a Job Success Score before you might be eligibe again. I have never ever seen a RT badge come back. The ideal thing to do would be to go all out to win as many little jobs you can do a perfect job on as you can as quickly as possible so you can "dilute" the effect of that one contract.

The problem is that if you get a JSS after 4 contracts and one of them counts as bad, you'll end up with a pretty low JSS.

 

It is not that you can't recover from it should it happen, but it's always better to avoid a situation you need to recover from than to repair damage later.

 

 

 

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25 REPLIES 25
petra_r
Member


Kathrin H wrote:

 

So my questions are...

1) how does closing the contract affect my Upwork profile and ratings?

2) Will I have to leave feedback for the client first in order to fully close the job?


1) Closing the contract has no effect. If she leaves poor feedback that will have an effect.

2) Yes, and you absolutely should.

 


Kathrin H wrote:

Will I be able to remove a potentially scathing review from her if she does in fact leave one? 


No, only top rated freelancers have a feedback removal perk.  To be honest the only way to remove it would be a full refund which I do NOT suggest you do as it is a big chunk of money.

 

If she leaves poor feedback you will probably lose your Rising Talent status and it will count as an unsuccessful contract when you get your JSS.

 

In an ideal world your best bet would be to try and shoot for "no feedback" from her somehow.

 

Thanks, Petra. Is there a specific way to shoot for "no feedback"? Or just hope she doesn't? Bummer about losing my rising talent status. Can that be gained back in another 90 days of activity on Upwork with more clients and better reviews? Or is it even harder to gain than the first time?

 

Thanks!


Kathrin H wrote:

Thanks, Petra. Is there a specific way to shoot for "no feedback"?


You could butter her up and then be very diplomatic about the reason you need to close the contract. Do *NOT* tell her you find her difficult or anything of the sort.  No excuses, you are unfortunately no longer available to continue but have loved working with her and are so excited to see her succeed with her project. Stuff like that.

 

Close the contract and play nice for 2 weeks (The client has only 2 weeks to leave feedback.)

 

If she does leave poor feedback, come back here to ask if you should comment it. Most of the time it is better not to draw any more attention to it.

 


Kathrin H wrote:

Can that be gained back in another 90 days of activity on Upwork with more clients and better reviews?


You will probably have a Job Success Score before you might be eligibe again. I have never ever seen a RT badge come back. The ideal thing to do would be to go all out to win as many little jobs you can do a perfect job on as you can as quickly as possible so you can "dilute" the effect of that one contract.

The problem is that if you get a JSS after 4 contracts and one of them counts as bad, you'll end up with a pretty low JSS.

 

It is not that you can't recover from it should it happen, but it's always better to avoid a situation you need to recover from than to repair damage later.

 

 

 

That is invaluable advice. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. 


Kathrin H wrote:

That is invaluable advice. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. 


Pleasure 🙂

Please will you come back and let us know how it worked out?

 

Yes, Petra, I'll definitely come back here and post an update on how things went. Working on the final steps right now 🙂 

wlyonsatl
Member

Finish your work on the milestone you've already been paid for, get the project closed (preferably by the client, otherwise by you) and move on , Kathrin.

This is one of the real imbalances between freelancer and client caused by the opaque feedback and JSS system - in pursuit of the almighty perfect feedback on every project and a 90+ JSS freelancers can feel trapped into projects with crazy/incompetent/etc. clients that are impossible to work for. (That may be why they need a freelancer to work for them - no one who knows them will do it.)

After you complete to your satisfaction (not hers!) the work on the milestone she has already paid for, send her a note explaining that you've enjoyed working with her but you think she'd be better off with a freelancer more in tune with her way of thinking, wish her the best of luck in completing the project, yada, yada, yada in the hope she won't be too negative in her feedback for you. If she then refuses to close the project, do it yourself immediately (like pulling off a Band Aid, there is no good reason to dawdle).

Either way be professional but honest in the feedback you leave for her on Upwork. And if you can also respond to the feedback she leaves for you, do it and respond succinctly and professionally to any of her complaints. No potential future client on Upwork will demand you have a JSS of 100 and it doesn't sound like you think putting up with this client is worth the trouble.

I don't know what Petra means when she says “a big chunk of money” but there is no apparent reason for you to refund any money to the client, especially if any competent freelancer can easily pick up where you leave off. Just be sure your honest feedback for this client will let her potential future freelancers know what they are in for.


Will L wrote:

Finish your work on the milestone you've already been paid for, get the project closed (preferably by the client, otherwise by you) and move on , Kathrin.


I would not encourage a possibly angry and emotionally unstable client to end the contract because that will force the client to leave feedback - which we are trying to avoid here.

 


Will L wrote:


I don't know what Petra means when she says “a big chunk of money”


I mean an $ 1800 milestone...

 


Will L wrote:

there is no apparent reason for you to refund any money to the client, especially if any competent freelancer can easily pick up where you leave off. Just be sure your honest feedback for this client will let her potential future freelancers know what they are in for.


No, there is no apparent reason to give any refund but if it was a $ 10 milestone it might be worth at least considering *IF she ends up with poor feedback*  at her stage of the game with only 3 completed contracts. It would have been amiss to not mention it in response to the question if there is any way to remove poor feedback (which may not actually happen anyway.)

 

 

At any rate, Kathrin, there is no good reason for you to continue with working with this client after you've fulfilled the paid-for milestone.

 

Don't voluntarily make any refund. (If, as Petra discovered, the milestone is for $1,800, it will be worthwhile for you to pay $291 if you have to go to arbitration. This client may know she's hard to work with (unlikely, but possible) and she may be sane enough to know she'll lose at arbitration (so she won't spend her $291 portion of the arbitration fee).

 

Follow whatever course makes the most sense to you. You'll feel a sense of relief and your JSS will recover with a few more well-executed projects on your record.


Will L wrote:

 

Don't voluntarily make any refund. (If, as Petra discovered, the milestone is for $1,800, it will be worthwhile for you to pay $291 if you have to go to arbitration.


There will be no arbitration, the money was paid over 30 days ago and can no longer be disputed. Kathrin also never mentioned any intention of issuing a refund. I just included the theoretical (!) possibility to give her all the facts I could think of.

 


Will L wrote:

At any rate, Kathrin, there is no good reason for you to continue with working with this client after you've fulfilled the paid-for milestone.


Absolutely agreed.

If arbitration is off the table, Kathrin, get out of this project as gracefully as you can, but get out ASAP.

Well, I submitted the final files (milestone she paid for was for 45,000 words, and I submitted the last of it at just over 45,100), left this client a very professional message saying I was unable to continue the project, and closed the job. 

 

Just got this response: 

 

**Edited for community guidelines**

 

The 45,000 words I wrote for her did not include an extra ~2,000 words of revisions and cuts I made to the first drafts of the first two chapters of her manuscript. 

 

I'm not going to be refunding her anything, as I was paid my rate per word and have written over that 45,000 words when it was all said and done. Any suggestions here?

That's no surprise.

 

Don't make Upwork do any more work than necessary in understanding your side of the story. I suggest you provide to Upwork (and your client) a detailed list of what you have already done for this client, including delivery dates for the first draft and each subsequent draft and a short outline of what you changed in each draft. It sounds like you'll have no problem proving you've submitted the required number of words.

 

Apparently, the client's only recourse in getting a refund, assuming you don't agree to it, is for Upwork to force you to make a refund. I don't know if they will even consider doing this, if payment was made more than 30 days ago.

 

I have never been involved in a situation identical to yours, but I'd expect Upwork will review all your written communications with this difficult client. If your communications with the client have only been via Upwork's messaging system. that will make this review easier for Upwork.

 

Good luck. Please do come back and let us know how this works out.

Thank you. 

 

So I need to then deny her refund request? And how would I submit that detailed list to Upwork? Would Upwork request it first, or would this need to go to (a hypothetical) arbitration in order for those channels to be opened? The milestone was paid for in advance over 30 days ago, and I ended the contract with a milestone of 45,000 words met with a total of 47,000+ words, revisions on three chapters, and at least 4 half-hour phone calls which I did not charge her for (but had to say if she wanted to still have weekly phone calls, I'd have to start charging her, because that was not part of our original contract and detracted quite a bit from my working time. Her project has never been the only project I've been working on for a client at any given time). 

 

I really appreciate the feedback and advice. This is completely new territory for me, and as much as I hate having to do it, it's the only option I have now that won't drive me completely nuts and affect the rest of my work. 

Absolutely deny her request for a refund and then follow whatever course of action Upwork tells you they require.

 

Respond immediately to any Upwork request for additional information. Waiting to answer even a short time might mean Upwork interprets your non-answer as agreement to whatever they are assuming or proposing.

 

Beyond that, there are others on this message board who have more experience than I do with Upwork's conflict resolution process. They will no doubt chime in to help you.

 

Good luck.

Fantastic. Again, thank you so much. I can't say how much I appreciate the help.

 

You too, Petra, if you're reading this 😉 

Facts: Client funded the first milestone and released the first payment of this contract for $1,800 over 30 days ago, which covered 45,000 words written by me. I've been sending her sections every week, as per her request. Today, I sent her the final bit I had left to write to complete the word count for that milestone, which brought the total word count in the master file I was keeping up to just over 45,100 words (this does not include the ~600 words I cut during her requested revision of the first chapter and another rewrite I performed of the second chapter, per her request, which all together would bring the word count up to somewhere around 47,000 words, which is more than that $1,800 she paid me). Then I wrote her a professional, courteous message saying I can no longer work with her on this project and wishing her the best of luck with it in the future (this client is emotionally unstable, demanding, needs constant contact and confirmation, argues and condescends to my suggestions for improvement with her project, and has been alternatingly pleased and volatile). So I never charged her for those extra 2,000+ words/revisions or for the minimum of 4 phone calls conducted via Upwork (probably a minimum of 3 hours total). Her requests for weekly phone calls only stopped when I told her I'd have to start charging her for that time. 

 

I've met my contractual obligation with this job but cannot continue the project as she wants. Nor can I continue working with her in any way. She set the milestones not for word counts but for "first third of the story" and "second part of the story", but my rate per word is reflected both in our conversations via Upwork messaging and in the funds she released to me over 30 days compared to the final words I completed and wrote for her before closing this job today (I'd wanted to end the contract sooner but also wanted to give her what she paid for). 

 

Now, she's requesting a refund of $900, half of what she's paid, because I've "wasted her time and she has to start over", though we agreed to my 4 cents per word rate and she's received all the documents and files needed to prove this. All our communication has been via Upwork, so at least I have those records to help. 

 

Is there a way for me to refuse her refund request? I can't see it when I click on the details link. Do I need to start a "dispute ticket" or whatever it's called with Upwork as a way to refuse this client's refund request? And if so, how do I do that? 

 

I'm looking for some advice on how to move forward, as this has all happened today. Any communication I have with this client after the courteous message I sent her saying I can't continue is pretty much pointless, as she's quite angry and will only (I assume) be riled up for more accusations and "threats" (she said she'd "move forward with Upwork customer service" if I didn't agree to her refund. But she has paid me for the work, and if anything, I've overdelivered for that first milestone she funded and released over 30 days ago). 

 

Is there anything I now need to do on my end to alert Upwork to a refusal of this client's refund request, or do I just wait for the 7-day period of her request to finish before this goes into an actual dispute? I think I read somewhere that that was the time period. 

 

Thanks in advance. 

If you don't respond to her request for a refund, Upwork might interpret that as your agreement with the request and you'll lose by default.

 

With any luck, an Upwork employee (moderator) or knowledgeable freelancer can advise you on the specifics of rejecting a client's request for a refund.

 

In the meantime, these pages might give you some useful information:

 

https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062088-Request-a-Refund

 

https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062058

 

 


Will L wrote:

If you don't respond to her request for a refund, Upwork might interpret that as your agreement with the request and you'll lose by default.

 


No, that is only for funds in Escrow. NOT for funds that have been already released.
There is a limitation of 30 days after payment being approved. She can no longer dispute the money already paid.

 

Send a firm and final, polite message that as your contractual obligations were fulfilled you are not willing to issue any refunds of any sort.

 

Those requests can't and don't need to be formally rejected. Just an informal and polite "Go somewhere the sun don't shine" will do.  I find it super sneaky of Upwork to not have any "reject" function on them, only an accept one that sends hard earned money back.

 

Kathrin H wrote:

 

Is there anything I now need to do on my end to alert Upwork to a refusal of this client's refund request, or do I just wait for the 7-day period of her request to finish before this goes into an actual dispute? I think I read somewhere that that was the time period. 

 

Thanks in advance. 


No, there is going to be no dispute - if anyone tries to tell you there will be, refer them to their own terms of use and the 30 day deadline.... what you read is about requests to return Escrow funds, that has a 7 day expiry limit.

 

This is different and if it was well over 30 days you can just firmly tell her "No" and wait what happens next. Do not do anything without checking in with us.

 

 

 

Oh, thank you so much. I'll reply to her message and tell her courteously that I won't be refunding anything. It is a little odd that there's no option to deny a client's refund request after those 30 days have already passed. But I'm glad there's nothing more I have to do but reply with a denial of her request. Hopefully *fingers crossed*

 

I really appreciate all the help from everybody today. And I'll definitely come right back here if there are any other issues. 

I've never disputed funds older than 30 days, but the refund request email should tell you what to do if you want to reject it. IIRC, for escrow amounts there are two big buttons that say "accept" or "reject." Something like that, so just decide if you want to refund and if the answer is "no" then just reject it. Instructions should be in the email.

Thank you, Will. Of course, I've already made my decision to end the contract, but getting some validation in that it's the right move for myself and my business to move forward in ending this project with, yes, a client with whom nobody she knows would want to work (in theory, as I'm only guessing) helps my conscience in this, at least. This is the first time I will have ever had to end any project with any client, on Upwork or outside of Upwork, before finishing it to completion. It's the best choice for me, and the work I return to her today before closing this contract will absolutely be at the same level of quality as everything else I've done for her. 

 

I'm just hoping I can somehow evade the negative feedback/backlash from an emotionally unstable client who will most likely be infuriated by this and, as far as I can tell, most likely doesn't have the capability of not taking this personally, even if my final note to her is courteous, professional, and diplomatic. 

 

I appreciate your input.

Hey Kathrin,

Sorry to hear what you have been through. But this is definitely the right move to do for you and for your business.
It happens sometimes that we meet with a client that we simply cannot work with. I am pretty sure that this will be a good learning experience for you ( that's how I personally take them ), and you will learn how to deal with them in the future, if you ever meet a similar client ( hopefully not ).

Like Petra said, there is nothing you need to do now other than saying " thank you but no thank you " to her refund request, in a professional way of course. Even though a " NO IT'S MY MONEY NOW !! " can work as well Smiley LOL JK.
Here is what you can do now, grab a cup of hot tea, relax and enjoy the weather, or maybe go out with friends and grab a coffee, or a beer, if you need one after this nightmare is finally over, because you are free now haha
Best of luck for the future!

HA! Nader, thank you! This is the other half of exactly what I needed to hear 😄 Humor and a nudge to go take a deep breath! I definitely see this as a learning experience. Thank GOODNESS there's always something more for me to learn, otherwise, I'd probably get pretty bored. I also now have a new checklist of red flags when dealing with clients for the first time or discussing writing and moving forward with contracts. AND what I'm not willing to do. So yes, there may be a beer... or something... in my immediate future. I do feel one heck of a lot better, especially knowing I've covered my bases and have gone by the book as much as I possibly could. And to have the support of the freelancer community here too! Saved my day 🙂 

Freelancing Fact of Life #274: Sometimes you have to fire a client. It's really difficult to do it in a way that doesn't make them spit at you. After all, if they were reasonable and professional, you wouldn't have to fire them. Anyhow, it's one more thing you need to know how to do even though you always hope you'll never have to do it again. You will, eventually. It's also one of the chewiest learning opportunities we run into. Happy freelancers don't let these run-ins with psycho clients define us. We use the situations to hone how we define ourselves and our work.