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271f2001
Community Member

Difficult client is using the dispute comments to continue his personal insults

This is a very strange situation for me and I really don't know what to do next.  I will try to explain it as clearly as I can without making it a huge wall of text.

 

I was contacted by a client and asked to work on a project.  They created a new company account and hired me on that new account instead of the one that made contact.

 

We agreed on a milestone and started the contract.  The client was difficult to work with because they didn't have any idea what they wanted for the design and couldn't give me direction or feedback on the work I submitted.  After I had achieved the work required for the first milestone, the client tried to move the goalposts.  After the strained working relationship and now the moving goalposts, I felt uncomfortable and offered to accept a 25% payment of the milestone and step away from the project.  Leaving me with a very minimal payment for my time and the client free to find another freelancer to continue the work.

 

At this point, the client said that he would only pay me if I gave him all the designs I worked on up to that point and if we would promise to give each other positive reviews.  He even typed the review that I had to post on his new company profile.

 

I think he didn't trust that I would copy and paste the review he gave me, so instead, he wanted to cancel the contract with no payment.  This is because he found out that I wouldn't be able to leave a review on his profile if he didn't pay me.  I said I wanted to speak to Upwork customer Service about this situation and asked him to wait before doing anything.  While I was speaking to customer service he ended the contract.

 

I was now in a situation where I would have worked for many hours, given my designs to the client and now receive no money while still having a negative effect on the JSS of my account.  Obviously, this is not fair at all.  So rather than accepting the full refund that he had requested, I raised a dispute and requested the 25% payment of the milestone.

 

Since then, the client has been writing comments on the dispute case, which I then receive via email.  In these messages he is talking up his account, saying that even though it is new, they are planning to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Upwork.  While he also keeps referring to me as an unqualified child and saying that I should lose my account.  He is also saying that they will not accept to pay me anything at all if it means that I am able to leave a review on their account.

 

It is very upsetting to be in such a situation and I have never had a client act like this before.  What should I do?

12 REPLIES 12
abu_ansarul-mush
Community Member

I'm sorry to hear about your difficult experience with this client. It's never acceptable for a client to use dispute comments to continue personal insults and unprofessional behavior.

Here are some steps you can take to address the situation:

Report the client's behavior: You can report the client's unprofessional behavior to Upwork's customer support team. Provide evidence of the client's behavior, such as screenshots of their comments on the dispute case, and explain how their behavior has made you feel. Upwork takes these issues seriously and will investigate and take appropriate action against the client if necessary.

Respond professionally: While it can be difficult to remain calm and professional in the face of personal insults, it's important to respond professionally and avoid engaging in a back-and-forth argument. Stick to the facts of the dispute and keep your communication respectful and focused on resolving the issue.

Let Upwork handle the dispute: It's important to let Upwork's dispute resolution process handle the situation. Do not communicate with the client outside of the dispute case, and do not give in to their demands for a positive review in exchange for payment. Stick to your original terms and let Upwork's dispute resolution team determine a fair outcome.

Take care of yourself: Dealing with difficult clients can be emotionally draining, so it's important to take care of yourself during this time. Reach out to friends or family for support, take breaks when needed, and focus on other positive aspects of your work.

Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and professionalism, and don't hesitate to escalate the situation to Upwork's customer support team if necessary.

 

 

Thank you so much for your reply.  It was so thourough and helpful.


I followed your advice and contacted Custormes Services but they said because the Dispute is open, the Mediation Specialist will take care of any of violations that are reported. But, the client released the payment this morning, so the dispute is going to close soon.  The Mediation Specialist only seems to answer with template messages. He didn't really check and respond to the details I reported. 

 

Now that the client has released the payment, he is still contacting me via Upwork and asking me to give him a positive review. Previously, via Skype, he was specific about it and even wrote the review himself for me to copy-paste.  But now on Upwork he is just saying 'as we discussed before on Skype'.  So I don't really feel like I can report that specific message even though I have screenshots of the Skype conversation.

 

Would you recommend that I go back to Customer Services again, now that the dispute is resolved?

You're welcome! I'm glad to have been helpful.

In regards to your follow-up question, if the dispute has been resolved and the payment has been released, then it's possible that Customer Services may not be able to do much more about the situation. However, if the client is still contacting you and pressuring you to leave a positive review, even after you've completed the work and been paid, this could be considered a violation of Upwork's terms of service.

You can try contacting Customer Services again and explaining the situation in detail, including any screenshots or other evidence you have. Be sure to include the fact that the dispute has been resolved and the payment has been released, as this may affect how they handle your case.

If you don't feel comfortable contacting Customer Services again or if they are unable to assist you, you can also consider blocking the client from contacting you on Upwork. To do this, go to the client's profile, click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner, and select "Block this client." This will prevent them from sending you any further messages or job invitations.

In any case, remember that you are not obligated to leave a positive review, and you should only do so if you genuinely feel that the client deserves it based on the quality of their work and your overall experience working with them.

 

bobafett999
Community Member

Report the buyer. 

re: "The client was difficult to work with because they didn't have any idea what they wanted for the design and couldn't give me direction or feedback on the work I submitted."

 

This was a huge mistake on the part of the freelancer.

 

The freelancer should have only accepted an hourly contract with this client.

This is NOT a fixed-price client.


If the freelancer truly didn't know that about the client, and accepted a fixed-price contract, the freelancer should have stopped working as soon as she realized this about the freelancer.

 

The very moment that the client asked for any changes or anything out of scope, the freelancer should have used that opportunity to stop working and require the client to release all escrow money, close the contract, and create a new hourly contract.

Really Preston, you have a way of writing that is cumbersome to say the least.
It becomes difficult to understand what you are answering.

In this case, it seems that all the fault lies with the freelancer for accepting the job of a problematic client.
How "bleep" do you want us to guess that a customer will be troublesome? I already know the whole thing about doing my research, but that doesn't save you.

I know you're very familiar with Upwork, but it would be nice if you could put some effort into it so that your answers aren't a mess of hypothetical self-questions with self-answers, mixed in with a wall of text.
A little specificity would be nice 😊

prestonhunter
Community Member

You need to decide what your top priority is:

 

Maximize the money you receive?
Punish the client?

Avoid seeing criticism of yourself?
Something else?

 

Make a choice, and then base your actions on pursuing that singular goal.

m_terrazas
Community Member


Huong N wrote:

This is a very strange situation for me and I really don't know what to do next.  I will try to explain it as clearly as I can without making it a huge wall of text.

 

I was contacted by a client and asked to work on a project.  They created a new company account and hired me on that new account instead of the one that made contact.

 

We agreed on a milestone and started the contract.  The client was difficult to work with because they didn't have any idea what they wanted for the design and couldn't give me direction or feedback on the work I submitted.  After I had achieved the work required for the first milestone, the client tried to move the goalposts.  After the strained working relationship and now the moving goalposts, I felt uncomfortable and offered to accept a 25% payment of the milestone and step away from the project.  Leaving me with a very minimal payment for my time and the client free to find another freelancer to continue the work.

 

At this point, the client said that he would only pay me if I gave him all the designs I worked on up to that point and if we would promise to give each other positive reviews.  He even typed the review that I had to post on his new company profile.

 

I think he didn't trust that I would copy and paste the review he gave me, so instead, he wanted to cancel the contract with no payment.  This is because he found out that I wouldn't be able to leave a review on his profile if he didn't pay me.  I said I wanted to speak to Upwork customer Service about this situation and asked him to wait before doing anything.  While I was speaking to customer service he ended the contract.

 

I was now in a situation where I would have worked for many hours, given my designs to the client and now receive no money while still having a negative effect on the JSS of my account.  Obviously, this is not fair at all.  So rather than accepting the full refund that he had requested, I raised a dispute and requested the 25% payment of the milestone.

 

Since then, the client has been writing comments on the dispute case, which I then receive via email.  In these messages he is talking up his account, saying that even though it is new, they are planning to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Upwork.  While he also keeps referring to me as an unqualified child and saying that I should lose my account.  He is also saying that they will not accept to pay me anything at all if it means that I am able to leave a review on their account.

 

It is very upsetting to be in such a situation and I have never had a client act like this before.  What should I do?


That comment about paying you if you write a good review and the wording of it, did it happen in Upwork messages?
If so, you should report him for blackmailing you as well as comment manipulation.

On the other hand, if the client has not paid anything, the work you have done does not belong to them, so you can use it for your portfolio or for another client. And you should tell the client that they can't use it unless they pay you for it. That they pay you "all" what is stipulated, not 25%.

tlsanders
Community Member

Remain calm and stick to the facts. There is nothing that helps your case more than your "opponent" showing his true colors.

271f2001
Community Member

Thank you for all your advice! 

I contacted Custormes Services but they said because the Dispute is open, the Mediation Specialist will take care of any of violations that are reported. But, the client released the payment this morning, so the dispute is going to close soon.  The Mediation Specialist only seems to answer with template messages. He didn't really check and respond to the details I reported. 

 

Now that the client has released the payment, he is still contacting me via Upwork and asking me to give him a positive review. Previously, via Skype, he was specific about it and even wrote the review himself for me to copy-paste.  But now on Upwork he is just saying 'as we discussed before on Skype'.  So I don't really feel like I can report that specific message even though I have screenshots of the Skype conversation.

 

Would you recommend that I go back to Customer Services again, now that the dispute is resolved?

 

For sure you must report him and leave true feedback. This client blackmailed you but without success. It's not his good will, he's just exhausted his options to hurt you. He will do the same with others. Warn them with your feedback. Be honest.

Hi Huong,

I'm so sorry you had a lousy experience with a difficult client.

If you have documentation of the Skype conversation (and any other exchanges you had where he's trying to get you to leave a positive review) and you have the time (and energy) to go through the reporting process, it can't hurt to report it.

Stop focussing on what the client is doing. Focus on what you want and need to do. Since the client released payment, you no longer need to worry about that end of it. Try to ease back on it a bit if you can. Leave some honest feedback, then go for a walk, hug your dog, or do whatever works for you when you need to decompress. 

Ideally, the feedback mechanism Upwork has should help future freelancers and clients to get a sense of who they'll be working with. So when you leave feedback, write a succinct, honest, professional-sounding assessment.


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