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Dispute to Arbitration: What recourse do Freelancers Have?

TLDR: Got into dispute with client after performing work. Contract went into mediation where I pushed for arbitration. Mediator (Upwork agent) set arbitration deadline for Both parties to complete payment for arbitration. Client missed deadline and now upwork mediator is giving client 5 extra days to process payment.

Background: How is this even fair or legal? 
I've been in a dispute for a few weeks regarding a client and I've been communicating with my mediator regularly throughout the process.

Once BOTH parties agreed for payment for arbitration, the client missed the deadline and is now given 5 additional business days to complete payment for arbitration. 

This link provides legal guidelines that the upwork client is clearly violating. 

I've addressed this case to the support team via chat and their answer was they would look into it, but I should address this with the mediating agent. 


Quote from agent: 

**Edited for Community Guidelines**


I send payment before the JULY 5th deadline and just received a message that the client would be given 5 additional days to complete the payment.

Beyond the obvious slant against talent, I see that there is some history with this unfair practice? How do clients get aditional concessions when they are the ones demanding refunds for proven work? 

Any advice on how to move forward logically and fairly and legally? 

Community Member

I agree it is unfair, but you will probably have to sit it out. As you have already paid, and have been prepared to take the case to arbitration, you are likely to win in any case. 

They shouldn't have to sit it out. The mediator told both parties that they had to respond by July 5 or they would close the case and release the escrow funds to the non-responding party. It's supposed to be a straight-forward process: the OP complied and the client didn't - case closed, release the funds.

Community Member

I would certainly be outraged if I were in your place, and yes, this is the third time that I've personally read about extensions being offered to clients. If both you and the client were told that you had a certain deadline to respond, and you responded but the client didn't, then yes, it does sound like the mediator is favouring the client, which isn't supposed to happen. I would open an additional support ticket to complain about the mediator, and also make a stink on Upwork's Twitter and Facebook accounts if I were you.

Community Member

"Client missed deadline and now upwork mediator is giving client 5 extra days to process payment."

This is not the first time I've heard similar, and I would be LIVID if this happened to me.

Not cool, Upwork. Not cool at all.

Community Member

Thanks Mark for letting the community know about this.  The mediation is over, you won.  

Community Member

Mark, out of curiosity, how much money are you owed?

Community Member

Hi Mark and others,


I checked with the team and it appears there was an error on the part of the mediator. The correct deadline has already been communicated to the client, which is the same deadline as the freelancer's. Mark, the mediator will be updating your conversation with them today to clarify the situation and finalize the dispute. 
Apologies for any inconvenience or stress caused by this error. 

Additionally, I'd like to note that a few comments have been removed from this thread because interpersonal disputes are not allowed in this Community.

Thank you.

~ Valeria

To err is human.


I have made mistakes in the various brick-and-mortar jobs I have had. And I have made mistakes in the Upwork jobs I have had.


Upwork mediators are human. So, by definition, it is possible for them to make mistakes.

It is impossible to program software to run on Upwork's servers which will take the place of human mediators in all circumstances. And even if an attempt were made to do so, that software would not be perfect because the programmers who create it are not perfect, and they would not be able to foresee or program for every possible eventuality.


I commend Upwork and the Forum Moderator for helping to correct an error.

Yes, it is human to err, but this should not have happened. It's not the first time it's happened, as Christine said.
And it may be a human error, but if they answer giving you the details of the mistake you made and you don't rectify it immediately....


Once is a mistake..but two or more times becomes systemic. And through these forums, we see more and more examples of these types of "errors" 

You have your opinion, Preston, but this was not an error. 

This is another subtle attempt of Upwork corporate sympathasizing with the client at the expense of their freelancers.

-The way this was handled was completely unacceptable.
I had addressed this issue with three other agents via chat and the reply from all of them was, 'we will look into it' but their hands were tied as the mediating agent has the power here. 

-My feeling is that Upwork views talent as expendable means to an end.
They view their clients as assets to their balance sheet.  This is a short term view and not sustainable if more and more of these "errors" are allowed to happen. 

Some quick searching will yield more "errors" in similar circumstances

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