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Dealing with Clients who change job specifications repeatedly no the same payment

Active Member
Alice Catrinel C Member Since: Oct 3, 2010
1 of 14

Hi there, fellow freelancers.


I have noticed that lately, on fixed-price contracts especially, I tend to have the "luck" of getting clients who change job specifications repeadedly, want me to start various parts of the projects from scratch several times over (despite approving them days or hours before andseemingly being very happy with them).


And all this while wanting me to do so for the same payment and getting aggressive and offended when I say something like 'this is the 3rd time you make me start this from scratch despite approving it several times over, I have done everything for the best interest of the project so far and not charged you anything extra for changes, however I will need to start doing so now".


Now bear with me - I have ben freelancing for 5 years and have been in the top 5% of oDesk's freelance designers for 3 of those 5 years. I have hundreds of jobs completed, thousands of hours logged and would like to think I'm not a newbie and can choose my clients right. I have seldom had any serious revisions for my work in most of my projects in the past 4.5 years, always got along great with people and we all worked together with consideration and common sense.


Please tell me - have you noticed anything similar? Am just I the unlucky one maybe?

And how would you propose I'd deal with these jer..err..clients? Since if I refuse to do the revisions, the client can and most likely will give me a poor feedback score -  they don't care, they can easily make another account and post jobs but not I.

Upwork doesn't seem to want to do something about this either, no rule says the employer can't change specs 10 times and want you to get paid the same.


Any counsel, maybe? Thank you <3

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
2 of 14

I think the only people who can feel your pain is other freelancers. lol I get these occasionally, and I always feel like they just want their pound of flesh from you. People say that the cheapos are bad, but sometimes people feel like they are overpaying you so they want their money's worth.


I haven't had the issue in a long time, but the nightmare clients rear their ugly heads every once in a while. 

View solution in original post

Active Member
Alice Catrinel C Member Since: Oct 3, 2010
3 of 14

I guess the same people who feel they are overpaying don't think of the fact you spent 10 years studying a subject (say, design in my case) to be able to make something AAA-quality and effective time-wise.


I still believe there should be a paragraph somewhere visible on "Client Etiquette" on any freelancing site - including Upwork/oDesk. That goes for freelancer etiquette too, there are some horrible freelancers out there as well not just horrible employers.


I wish you all the best in not coming across them, Jennifer <3


Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
4 of 14

Totally agree with you, and I know them feels. Smiley Happy


One great thing about freelancing is that I can walk away from the monitor, take a breather, and respond when I'm less annoyed. lol That's my best advice. When you feel that eyebrow twitching and you want to go off on someone, ignore the message and walk away even if it's for 24 hours and come back when you're not as upset. Your message should be much calmer by then!

Active Member
Alice Catrinel C Member Since: Oct 3, 2010
5 of 14

I'm trying, Jennifer Smiley Happy Thank you ever so kindly for your advice <3


@Oreofe: Haha, thanks - that means a lot Smiley Happy

Unfortunately, with the decline in clients quality that happened since a year ago it is almost impossible for me as a freelancer to do that. To be honest, even if I spend approx. 15 minutes writing each and every application in a personalized matter, I barely get one or two small jobs a month. For the rest I get usually told I'm too expensive (at $10/h) or just declined.

Imagine telling these they need to pay extra for tweaks which are not my fault Smiley Wink



Community Leader
Gary C Member Since: Oct 7, 2015
6 of 14

Alice / Oreofe


I have a note above my desk which reads:


Your value does not decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth ... 

Community Leader
Gary C Member Since: Oct 7, 2015
7 of 14

Couldn't agree more on "Client Etiquette".


My own bugbear is them simply not telling you they have filled the job - just a notification; I have just spent 20 mins putting a proposal together for you and you don't even have the decency to spend 60 seconds ticking a box and just letting me know ... crass and thoughtless ...

Community Guru
Oreofe J Member Since: May 8, 2015
8 of 14

Alice ,  Quality and Top notch.


Just two words that comes to mind when I saw some of your past briefs.


Back to the original post , I know design can be very subjective especially if your client wants to be difficult or over bearing. With your experience and portfolio , you might want to include a caveat that says you will accept reviews/changes made to the project scope based on a mutually agreed fee.


This caveat can kick in after doing one or two free reviews but you should warn the client before hand,


This might scare some clients but it will keep the diffucult ones at bay or discourage them from wasting your time endlessly.


On the overall for long term gigs, getting to know your clients is very important in the initial stages of the interview/project. This will determine if you should take the nearest exit or not.




Community Leader
Peter G Member Since: Aug 1, 2015
9 of 14

The best remedy for scope creep is prevention.  In the future, I suggest you:


1.  Work with engagement letters or service agreements (at least for larger projects) that contain language like this: "The Service Provider shall complete/cease to provide the Services on _______, 20__, or upon delivery of up to two sets of revisions, a “revision” consisting of all necessary corrections, as well as minor changes in style, tone or content. More substantial changes, including, but not limited, to re-imaginings and changes in literary format, are considered rewrites, and may incur additional charges, depending on the extent of the work requested."


2.  At a minimum, post this language in your profile, so you can reference it when clients try to add to the scope.


Feel free to adapt the provision for your own field.  (Currently, it's tailored to writing projects.)


At one time or another, everyone encounters clients who want more services for the same fee.  In my experience, the only way to overcome the problem is ensuring that everybody understands the terms and milestones from the get-go.  It's also important to enforce those terms.


Best of luck!



Community Guru
Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
10 of 14

It's Pete G, you don't see him every day! I concur though... never say "I'll do your job for $X", tell them "I'll do X for $Y". Then if they request anything more than X... it's a lot clearer what happens now. 


Like if the job is to 'buy, deliver and install a brand new 48" Samsung TV to my home address'. Sounds pretty clear cut, but if you just say "I can do that" then you're leaving yourself open to the following...


What do you mean you don't dispose of the packaging?

What do you mean you don't get rid of my old TV?

What do you mean you don't give me a tutorial on the new TV?

What do you mean you don't provide or fit wall brackets?




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