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smwhitaker
Community Member

Dispute resolved in my favor, but no payment has been made.

For the first time since I've been using Upwork, I had a client close the contract and refuse to pay me for the milestone I completed. I refused the client's request for return of escrow funds and I filed a dispute since I completed the work (scriptwriting). 

 

I filed the dispute on June 10th. This has been an unnecessarily long process, primarily because the client wasn't responding. She responded only once (June 17th) saying that she would release the milestone because she was unhappy with the work but believed that Karma would come back to me, or some nonsense. She did not, however, release the payment.

 

On June 20th, the Upwork mediation specialist gave the client 2 business days to respond / participate in the dispute. The specialist stated that if the client did not reply in that time, the dispute would be resolved and escrow funds would be released to me. The client never responded, and the mediation specialist stopped communicating as well. 

 

I reached out to the specialist numerous times this week asking for an update, with no reply. Then, today (June 28), I received a message from the mediation specialist stating. "Due to no reply from the Client, the $125.00 in Escrow have been released to the Freelancer, and the dispute is closed.

 

However, when I checked my contract, it shows that there is $0.00 in escrow, and I have no payments pending. I messaged the mediation specialist again to inquire about the payment, and they are not responding. 

 

Could someone please help me understand what is happening? Again, the process has been unnecessarily slow because both the client and the Upwork mediation specialist fail to respond. I am not at all surprised that the client didn't respond. It was a clear cut situation where I delivered the work and should be compensated. But I'm amazed at the lack of communication on the part of the Upwork mediation specialist who is, presumably, being paid to do a job that still isn't complete. 

14 REPLIES 14
BojanS
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Stacie, 

 

I checked your ticket and saw that funds you're referring to are still in processing. I have followed up with the team about your concern. Please allow time for them to complete this process and once they do they will reach out to you with more details.

 

Thank you for patience!

~ Bojan
Upwork

Thank you for checking on the status for me. I think it would be helpful for the mediation specialists to explain the process (and timeframes) to freelancers and/or clients as they are going through it. The specialist said the dispute was resolved and the funds released. I’m perfectly content waiting for the process to complete, but it would be nice to know how long that takes — particularly because it’s already been 18 days since I filed the dispute and I’ll wait another 5 days for the payment to actually clear once it’s been processed.

In any case, I appreciate you looking into the matter. Thanks!

Bojan S wrote:

Hi Stacie, 

 

I checked your ticket and saw that funds you're referring to are still in processing. I have followed up with the team about your concern. Please allow time for them to complete this process and once they do they will reach out to you with more details.

 

Thank you for patience!




Bojan, are you able to give me a rough idea of how long the process takes? Or have someone actually reach out to me? I have still received no update or payment, and there are no funds in escrow. I'm growing very concerned that the funds were either released to the wrong party, or the client did a chargeback. Again, I have received no update, but I have received a request to rate the customer service/support that I recevied throughout the dispute. 😞 

 

It seems to me that when someone closes the dispute, marks it as resolved, and tells you that the funds "HAVE BEEN RELEASED," it means the funds have, in fact, already been released. I would really like an update on where I stand with this. 

 

Thank you!

 

 
BojanS
Community Manager
Community Manager

Thank you for following up, Stacie,

 

As per checking, funds were released to you today and are already Available to you. You can check this under your Transactions History.

 

Thank you for your patience.

 

 

~ Bojan
Upwork
lysis10
Community Member

she was unhappy with the work but believed that Karma would come back to me, or some nonsense.

 

lol it cracks me up when they do this crap.

Also, it takes a couple of days I think (or 24 hours maybe) for you to see the money. 

Thanks for the additional info, Jennifer! And yeah — the best part is that I break my contracts into milestones to ensure I’m paid for each part of the process. (I’ve been burned on this before, which is precisely why I set my contracts up the way I do). The final milestone—which we didn’t even get to— is edits/revision. If she was unhappy with the first draft, she should’ve allowed me to revise it based on her feedback.
Instead, she closed the contract, and refused to pay out the milestone for the draft.

As it was, I wrote a script that perfectly followed an outline that she enthusiastically agreed to. Frankly, I think she wanted to get a solid marketing video script (that she will use to promote herself) without having to pay for it. But apparently Karma is coming for ME! Lol

Stacie:

Thank you for returning to this thread to report the positive outcome of this situation:

You will receive the payment you are owed.

 

I agree that this client was simply trying to get work for free.

 

You mentioned that the client claimed she didn't like your work, or something sill thing.

First of all, I see no reason to believe her.

 

But more importantly, that is irrelevent. This is not a contest. She is not a judge on American Idol. She hired you to do a task. You did the task. She needs to pay you. This is not complicted.

 

I'm glad that is what finally happened, although I feel bad that you had to go through such a problematic process in order to get to that point.

 

From your posts it is clear that you were disappointed in how long it took to resolve this. My one bit of advice is: Don't expect that to change. For that reason, I always advise Upwork users to avoid disputes if at all possible. I always want to resolve things directly between freelancers and clients rather than involving Upwork. It's really not worth my time to involve Upwork, and I don't like the uncertainty of the process.

 

I think you are trying to be helpful in your comments and critique of the process. But the whole "dispute" process is inherently fraught with problems, partially because Upwork officially can NOT decide who is "right" or "wrong" in disputes. They can only advise both parties to work out their differences.


From your posts it is clear that you were disappointed in how long it took to resolve this. My one bit of advice is: Don't expect that to change. For that reason, I always advise Upwork users to avoid disputes if at all possible. I always want to resolve things directly between freelancers and clients rather than involving Upwork. It's really not worth my time to involve Upwork, and I don't like the uncertainty of the process.

 

I think you are trying to be helpful in your comments and critique of the process. But the whole "dispute" process is inherently fraught with problems, partially because Upwork officially can NOT decide who is "right" or "wrong" in disputes. They can only advise both parties to work out their differences.


 

Hi Preston, and thanks for responding. I agree that freelancers should avoid disputes whenever possible--the process is inefficient to say the least. For my part, I politely but firmly pled my case to the client before I filed a dispute. She was beyond rude, and behaved like a child. It simply was not possible to reason with her. 

 

This is the first time I've had to file a dispute, but I've been burned by numerous clients in the past, and had no real leg to stand on. I used to set up contracts with 2 milestones -- 50% due when I deliver a draft, and 50% due after edits/revision, and when they approve the script. But, I had clients receive the draft of the script, pay the first milestone, and then say they didn't want to move forward with the project any longer because of budget, change of mind, more pressing projects, whatever. I later found their videos online with my exact script. So, they got a very well-written script for half price. And I had no recourse because all I did was deliver the draft. It's as though I'm being ripped off for doing too good a job on the first try. 

 

For that very reason, I set my contracts up with 3 milestones now.

(1) Kickoff (Research, alignment, concept development, and outline) -- 1/3 due when we're in agreement on approach and concept, and before I ever begin writing the actual script.

(2) Delivery of first draft -- 1/3 due when I submit the first draft, and

(3) Revision(s) and final approval -- the final 1/3 due when the client is completely satisfed with every word of the script.

 

This way, even if a client receives the draft and tries to duck out of the contract, I at least receive 2/3 of what I'm owed. In this particular case, the client received the draft and closed the contract without paying milestone 2. 

 

I find that, as a writer, it's very easy for clients to end a contract early, then go on to use my work without any additional changes. I'm considering changing the "weight" of my milestones after this experience. Maybe percentages more like 30/50/20 ... or maybe even 40/50/10, since the editing/revising stage is the quickest and easiest part of the process, and the one that clients are most likely to back out of. 

 

This obviously isn't the case with all clients, or even the majority -- but it happens often enough that I have had to change the way I do business on Upwork. I think the whole thing is disappointing because it feels like the "Upwork Payment Protection" isn't really protection at all. It's like me telling two of my bickering children to work it out for themselves. The only reason I "won" this dispute is because the client didn't bother to respond. If she had, and maintained her argument that she shouldn't have to pay for work she was unhappy with, we would've had to go to arbitration for someone to actually make a decision. And that costs more than most of my milestones. Clearly, I wouldn't pay $291 for arbitration when the amount owed was only $125.

 

Part of the reason I'm willing to give up 20% of my earnings AND pay a monthly fee to use the platform is because I'm offered some level of protection against clients who don't want to pay. But, I'm beginning to rethink that, because it doesn't feel like there's any real protection in place. 


Stacie W wrote:

From your posts it is clear that you were disappointed in how long it took to resolve this. My one bit of advice is: Don't expect that to change. For that reason, I always advise Upwork users to avoid disputes if at all possible. I always want to resolve things directly between freelancers and clients rather than involving Upwork. It's really not worth my time to involve Upwork, and I don't like the uncertainty of the process.

 

I think you are trying to be helpful in your comments and critique of the process. But the whole "dispute" process is inherently fraught with problems, partially because Upwork officially can NOT decide who is "right" or "wrong" in disputes. They can only advise both parties to work out their differences.


 

Hi Preston, and thanks for responding. I agree that freelancers should avoid disputes whenever possible--the process is inefficient to say the least. For my part, I politely but firmly pled my case to the client before I filed a dispute. She was beyond rude, and behaved like a child. It simply was not possible to reason with her. 

 

This is the first time I've had to file a dispute, but I've been burned by numerous clients in the past, and had no real leg to stand on. I used to set up contracts with 2 milestones -- 50% due when I deliver a draft, and 50% due after edits/revision, and when they approve the script. But, I had clients receive the draft of the script, pay the first milestone, and then say they didn't want to move forward with the project any longer because of budget, change of mind, more pressing projects, whatever. I later found their videos online with my exact script. So, they got a very well-written script for half price. And I had no recourse because all I did was deliver the draft. It's as though I'm being ripped off for doing too good a job on the first try. 

 

For that very reason, I set my contracts up with 3 milestones now.

(1) Kickoff (Research, alignment, concept development, and outline) -- 1/3 due when we're in agreement on approach and concept, and before I ever begin writing the actual script.

(2) Delivery of first draft -- 1/3 due when I submit the first draft, and

(3) Revision(s) and final approval -- the final 1/3 due when the client is completely satisfed with every word of the script.

 

This way, even if a client receives the draft and tries to duck out of the contract, I at least receive 2/3 of what I'm owed. In this particular case, the client received the draft and closed the contract without paying milestone 2. 

 

I find that, as a writer, it's very easy for clients to end a contract early, then go on to use my work without any additional changes. I'm considering changing the "weight" of my milestones after this experience. Maybe percentages more like 30/50/20 ... or maybe even 40/50/10, since the editing/revising stage is the quickest and easiest part of the process, and the one that clients are most likely to back out of. 

 

This obviously isn't the case with all clients, or even the majority -- but it happens often enough that I have had to change the way I do business on Upwork. I think the whole thing is disappointing because it feels like the "Upwork Payment Protection" isn't really protection at all. It's like me telling two of my bickering children to work it out for themselves. The only reason I "won" this dispute is because the client didn't bother to respond. If she had, and maintained her argument that she shouldn't have to pay for work she was unhappy with, we would've had to go to arbitration for someone to actually make a decision. And that costs more than most of my milestones. Clearly, I wouldn't pay $291 for arbitration when the amount owed was only $125.

 

Part of the reason I'm willing to give up 20% of my earnings AND pay a monthly fee to use the platform is because I'm offered some level of protection against clients who don't want to pay. But, I'm beginning to rethink that, because it doesn't feel like there's any real protection in place. 


Since you tend to hit the bull's eye the first time, consider using only one milestone.

wendy_writes
Community Member

Stacie, I structure contacts in a similar fashion but 1/3, 85-90% of bid, and final edits are the remaining 10-15% of what is still due. I've never had any pushback -

I have exactly the same problem. The dispute has been closed already and I should have received the money, but I haven't received anything yet. Can't contact the mediator anymore because the dispute is closed.

Hi Christina,

 

It looks like it has already been released to you, and you can check it here once you log in to your account. 

~ Joanne
Upwork
35779105
Community Member

Hi, My client and me decide to devide money from escrow balance beetween us in dispute but we both are not able to get money from escrow balance ,please help us.

Hi Prathamesh,

 

Thank you for reaching out to us. I shared your concern with the team handling your case and one of our agents will follow up with you on your ticket as soon as possible to assist you further. 

 

~ Nikola
Upwork
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