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jaquinodev
Community Member

Does Upwork still allow freelancers to offer some form of money back guarantee?

First of all, I know it's not recommended by most if not all the posters on this forum. I've done a lot of reading about everyone's (mostly negative) opinions on it.

 

It's just something that some notable high-end freelancers (non-Upwork freelancers who are the best in the world at their craft) do. I know I'm not at that level of course but still; it's impossible to not at least be a little curious about it.

 

But my question isn't about me or what's best for me. I just wanted to double-check if it's still allowed.

 

There is a post from 2016 from Community Manager Valeria that says it is not recommended, but it is allowed. Quoted here:

"Hi Kat and others,

 

While offering money back guarantee is not something we would recommend, it's not against Upwork ToS so a freelancer can keep that phrasing on their profile if they choose to.

~ Valeria"

 

My question: is this still the case that offering some kind of money back guarantee is still allowed? Thanks!

18 REPLIES 18
prestonhunter
Community Member

I don't think it is prohibited by Upwork.

 

I strongly recommend that you don't do that.

 

I don't believe this is something that a serious Upwork professional would do.

Also:

I believe that refund thinking hurts clients.

 

You may think this is a good idea, but ultimately I believe this is harmful to clients.

jaquinodev
Community Member

Can anyone from Upwork answer my question, please? Thanks!

 

Also, sorry for ignoring you Preston! It's just that the topic isn't about me, but about the answer to my question. Plus, I've already read a lot about your opinions on this from some google searches. If it helps, I do agree with some bits.

dsmgdesign
Community Member


John A wrote:

 

 

My question: is this still the case that offering some kind of money back guarantee is still allowed? Thanks!


The answer is: YES. offering some kind of money back is allowed. In fact, Upwork provides a way to refund money through the platform. 


David S M wrote:

John A wrote:

 

 

My question: is this still the case that offering some kind of money back guarantee is still allowed? Thanks!


The answer is: YES. offering some kind of money back is allowed. In fact, Upwork provides a way to refund money through the platform. 


I'm not sure that the 2nd sentence proves the 1st. I guess it does support it though. 'Why would Upwork even give us the ability to give a refund if money back guarantees weren't allowed?' is the thought process I'm guessing?


John A wrote:

'Why would Upwork even give us the ability to give a refund if money back guarantees weren't allowed?' is the thought process I'm guessing?

Rrrrright! Any portion (even all of it), can be refunded at any time for any reason. 

Actually, now that you mention it, every single Upwork freelancer offers a full money-back guarantee without knowing it.

 

In a fixed-price contract, if a freelancer clearly irredeemably failed to do the work per the contract they agreed to, to the point where the client received no benefit from hiring the freelancer, then arbitration would probably have the freelancer give a full refund. That's what I assume anyway. That's one form of a money-back guarantee.

 

Assuming that, then that means saying "If I irrefutably and irreedemably fail to do the work I'll give you a full refund" is actually a very safe thing to say. Because every freelancer already offers that money-back guarantee whether they say it or not.

re: "Why would Upwork even give us the ability to give a refund if money back guarantees weren't allowed?"

 

I don't think any Upwork Forum Moderator has ever said that Upwork doesn't allow freelancers to offer money-back guarantees.

 

There is a difference between something being "not recommended" versus "not allowed."

 

You already know that I believe such a thing undermines client success.

 

That is my opinion as an experienced Upwork freelancer and client. But nobody is required to adhere to my opinion. You already know that there is no rule against this. If this is something you want to be involved with, you are allowed to do so.


John A wrote:

Actually, now that you mention it, every single Upwork freelancer offers a full money-back guarantee without knowing it.

 

In a fixed-price contract, if a freelancer clearly irredeemably failed to do the work per the contract they agreed to, to the point where the client received no benefit from hiring the freelancer, then arbitration would probably have the freelancer give a full refund. That's what I assume anyway. That's one form of a money-back guarantee.

 

Assuming that, then that means saying "If I irrefutably and irreedemably fail to do the work I'll give you a full refund" is actually a very safe thing to say. Because every freelancer already offers that money-back guarantee whether they say it or not.


If you include that kind of language in your profile, you allow for the possibility to "irrefutably and irreedemably fail to do the work" in the clients mind. Now you sowed a seed. 2 things can happen: a not so honest client has happily found a way to never pay you, or an honest client is put off by you allowing for complete failure as a possible outcome. 

What it will not do is this: The client thinking, wow, he is a real professional, reliable and knows what he is doing, and I'm in good hands here. I'll hire him!

In short, professionals who know their worth stay away from language like this. It cheapens your profile.  

John A.,

 

Offering a no-questions-asked money back guaranty is a very different thing than going to arbitration.

 

Agreeing to arbitration may or may not allow a client (honest or otherwise) to get some or all of their money back. You will always have the choice to not agree to arbitration (on fixed price projects), which will result in the client winning the underlying dispute.

 

You're not selling toasters here. You are selling your time, expertise and experience. If you don't believe those all fully qualify you for the projects you submit proposals on, then discerning clients are unlikely to believe it either.

 

And, unless you are a masochist or in the running for sainthood, you really don't want to deal with many of the clients your eager willingness to not be paid will attract.

When you offer clients a money-back guarantee, you are setting them up to fail.

 

It presents the idea that the project is a "binary proposition."

In other words: It is either a "success" or a "failure."

 

I suppose for something very small or simple, that might be an acceptable way to characterize the outcome.

 

But no project of significant size and complexity can succeed when looked at in that light.

 

For example, if a client has a website that he wants freelancers to create, and he has 15 requirements, then it is NOT an effective strategy to hire a freelancer to create the website and consider the project a "success" when all of those 15 requirements have been met perfectly, and consider the project a "failure" until that is the case.

 

What exactly would a "money back guarantee" mean in such a situation?

 

It puts the wrong ideas into the client's mind.

A project of significant size and complexity needs to be managed in a modular fashion.

Is this module working? Good.
Is this other module working? Good.

What about this one? This one has problems. Rather than scrap the entire project, let's focus on fixing this one module that has problems.

 

Has the freelancer completed 11 out of 15 requirements? Good.

But now the freelancer is sick and will be in the hospital for 3 months?

Should we wait until he is better or scrap the whole project and start over?

How about this instead: Have other members of the team work on the remaining 4 requirements.

 

Is is ALWAYS GOOD DESIGN to make things modular and set up processes and systems that MULTIPLE PEOPLE CAN WORK ON rather than relying on a single person. It is always a possibility that a single individual could get sick, die, retire, adopt puppies, or otherwise become unavailable.

 

An effective client understands this.

 

An "all-or-nothing" approach implied by a money-back guarantee actually undermines the likelihood that a client will succeed in getting a complex project completed.

Hmm, everything you guys are saying brings very good points actually. I've never had a job with a guarantee myself. Regardless, it's a fun thing to think about.

Let's play devil's advocate:

What if you only did a guarantee with clients that had a long and perfect rating history? That'd be safe. They'll either not care or it'll reduce the client's risk, meaning you should raise your fixed price since you're reducing risk.

Or:
How about instead of a full refund guarantee you do this thing where, if the client is not completely satisfied, the client pays only what they felt the job was actually worth once the contract is over? And you only do this with clients you trust, that have a long and perfect rating history.

So you do a $10,000 fixed price contract, and afterwards the client isn't satisfied. They say "You did fine but because you greatly missed the deadline you promised and [insert other reasons], I feel I've been taken advantaged of. And my business suffered. This contract was only worth $7000 at best."

So, because of your guarantee, they pay $7000 and you refund the other $3000.

This would motivate the freelancer to try harder and increase customer satisfaction.

There's 1 very high-end and pricey consultant that does this. They're very picky about the clients they choose though.


John A wrote:
Or:
How about instead of a full refund guarantee you do this thing where, if the client is not completely satisfied, the client pays only what they felt the job was actually worth once the contract is over? And you only do this with clients you trust, that have a long and perfect rating history.

So you do a $10,000 fixed price contract, and afterwards the client isn't satisfied. They say "You did fine but because you greatly missed the deadline you promised and [insert other reasons], I feel I've been taken advantaged of. And my business suffered. This contract was only worth $7000 at best."

So, because of your guarantee, they pay $7000 and you refund the other $3000.

This would motivate the freelancer to try harder and increase customer satisfaction.

There's 1 very high-end and pricey consultant that does this. They're very picky about the clients they choose though.

Honestly it seems like all these options are because you aren't confident that you can sell your expertise and work, and that you don't think they are worth that much. 

 

Playing "Devil's advocate" is hardly ever useful. 


John A wrote:
Hmm, everything you guys are saying bring very good points actually. I've never had a job with a guarantee myself. Regardless, it's a fun thing to think about.

Let's play devil's advocate:

What if you only did a guarantee with clients that had a long and perfect rating history? That'd be safe. They'll either not care or it'll reduce the client's risk, meaning you should raise your fixed price since you're reducing risk.

What are you talking about? You are a freelancer, not an insurance adjuster. But if you're so heck-bend on doing this, you need to develop a system on a sliding scale. You tell your client something like this: Dear Julius, I offer the following risk packages:

1. Complete and utter failure - 100% refund

2. Terribly bad - 90% refund

3. Horrible - 80% refund

4. Awful - 70% refund

5. It sort of works - 60% refund

4. Could be better - 50% refund

3. Mehh..... 10% refund

-

-

Based on the risk level the client chooses, you then increase your price accordingly. So for example risk level 3 increases your price by 15%, and so on. Any reasonable client should understand when you say: I usually charge 100 for this, but I will charge you 115, because your risk that I fail is at level 5, so, you're good. 

 

In addition to what the others have said, I think that a money-back guarantee - along with its close cousin, "unlimited revisions until you're satisfied" - make a freelancer look desperate. Bad clients will scam you, and good clients will stay away. But there's nothing stopping you from trying it out. Sometimes people have to learn from their mistakes.

Money back guarantees are funny when you see some freelancer post here about a refund request and it's in their profile. I LOL.


Christine A wrote:
In addition to what the others have said, I think that a money-back guarantee - along with its close cousin, "unlimited revisions until you're satisfied" - make a freelancer look desperate. Bad clients will scam you, and good clients will stay away. But there's nothing stopping you from trying it out. Sometimes people have to learn from their mistakes.

I think OP does not understand the basic concept of providing services as a professional. I don't get the mindset of being so focused on failure. 

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