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Does this review sound professional? - Also, lesson for new freelancers.

Ace Contributor
Philip D Member Since: Feb 15, 2017
1 of 12

So, I had a run in with a dodgy client and feel like he's either going to dispute the fact I've completed the work or he's going to leave me negative feedback. In hindsight, I shouldn't have offered my services for such a small fee, but I'm eager to kickstart a business and unfortunately, that caused me to make a stupid life decision that could potentially cause more damage.

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Review: This client has taught me many lessons when it comes to running a business and has given me a new found respect for fellow freelancers.

After being on Upwork for over a year, I decided to severely undervalue my services in order to build a portfolio and get my business running. At first this client seemed like a nice guy who was having issues with a piece of software on Linux.

I quoted $20 fixed price, which wasn't ideal, but I agreed to it. I initially thought the installation would take 3 hours which the documentation seemed to suggest and that it did. When I tried to run the Trunk-Player service however, I wouldn't start and was displaying multiple issues.

After a bit of investigating, I discovered that even the developer of this particular program had problems installing. At this point, I explained the situation to the client and gave the him 2 options, we can cancel the contract or I can continue. This was a decision that wasn't easy to make, but I'm all for running an ethical/ transparent business.

We decided to continue with the installation and everything seemed fine. After 10 hours of combatting various issues with the software linking up with Nginx I finally had it install and it opened without problem.

I got the client to stop and start the Trunk-Player services a few times and everything ran smoothly. I then proceed to get him to restart the computer and then try starting the service and still, everything seemed to be great.

At that point, I was expecting the client to say “Thank you” or at the very least acknowledging the fact I'd completed the job, however neither of those things happened.

Instead the client wanted me to perform the following service for free:
• Install Supervisor
• Setup a backup Script
• Setup a startup script for Trunk-Player, Trunk-Recorder and Trunk-Build

Roughly 10 minutes after leaving the phone conversation with this client, I received a text from him that read “Fotgot its only for 1 site bot both. I will try and figure it out. I was tired and incredibly annoyed at this point, so rather than react I decided to make my way to bed. 5 minutes later though, I received the message “Huston we have a problem” followed swiftly by a screenshot of a terminal screen with loads of error messages.

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Thank you in advance for you help guys! Smiley Happy

Community Guru
Melanie H Member Since: Nov 2, 2017
2 of 12
Philip, if you haven't submitted that review yet, don't. Keep it to a few very factual sentences.
Ace Contributor
Philip D Member Since: Feb 15, 2017
3 of 12

Thank you for that! I was finding it difficult to put my emotions and frustration aside. I tried extra hard for the client, for such a small reward, but to have that thrown back in my face made me angry.

To be honest, I'm thinking about refunding him at this point and keeping it as a life lesson. I would normally stand up for myself and dispute a refund in similar circumstances, but I don't think it's worth it at this point. I've already wasted enough time on the client and I can't afford to risk my business with a negative review for a measly $20.

Community Guru
Melanie H Member Since: Nov 2, 2017
BEST ANSWER
4 of 12

Philip D wrote:

Thank you for that! I was finding it difficult to put my emotions and frustration aside. I tried extra hard for the client, for such a small reward, but to have that thrown back in my face made me angry.

To be honest, I'm thinking about refunding him at this point and keeping it as a life lesson. I would normally stand up for myself and dispute a refund in similar circumstances, but I don't think it's worth it at this point. I've already wasted enough time on the client and I can't afford to risk my business with a negative review for a measly $20.


 

Philip, I don't think you should.

 

1. Not to turn the pointed finger around, but this IS a lesson, and part of it is that you did actively pick a job you knew, or at least had a strong suspicion, wasn't going to go well, and which you did 100% know was going to be awful pay. You're saying right here that you did know the fee was too small and the job wasn't going to be the best.

 

2. Refunding won't take away the impact the feedback has on your JSS (once you get one). The private feedback is still factored in. So in this case, you'll have a tanked JSS (maybe) but also no quick note on a job-gone-wrong (politely, see below), leaving prospective clients to think, "This is weird. And it just doesn't look good. Pass."

 

3. Any client reading that wall of text (while well-written, I'll grant you) will RUN. No client wants to work with a freelancer who will be (by appearances) this much trouble, down to an essay-length blow-by-blow of possibly private details of his/her job with the freelancer. It makes you look worse than the client.

 

4. Not refunding means your feedback to the client will stay up, too. Future freelancers will see it. Don't you wish that happened more often? Why are we always so polite and think it's somehow good karma to overlook a horrible experience and just give out five stars?

 

5. You don't have a JSS yet, and you only have two jobs listed (or will have, I guess? Did you already refund? I hope not... Smiley Sad ) You still have time to take more jobs and totally SLAY them to offset low feedback on this one by the time your JSS does pop up. This will tilt things a bit more in your favor that way.

 

Now, if this were me I'd say something like, "This client was very communicative and pleasant. Unfortunately the job did not proceed per our original agreement and the client requested actions that weren't possible; hence, there were insurmountable issues. Thank you for the opportunity."

 

Or...something like that.

 

 

Ace Contributor
Philip D Member Since: Feb 15, 2017
5 of 12

1) through not fault of your own, you're half correct with this point. It's just a case of you not understanding System Admin work in the same way I don't understand Content Writing. I've written tutorials and articles before, but they were on my terms.

The definitely weren't as professionally written as yours are and they probably took me 4 times, if not longer to write.

There are certain applications such as Trunk-Player which are so obscure that unless you're best friends with the developer you'll find it difficult-impossible finding someone who can truly claim to be an expert. It's this reason why I like this type of work, because every day brings a unique challenge.


In hindsight, I should have explained that to the client during the proposal stage, asked him to change it to an hourly contract and explained that any feedback after the project should be based on work ethic and behaviour or something along those lines.

2) I thought I saw somewhere that refunding a client on Upwork means they can't leave a review unless you dispute the refund request. I just researched though and it turns out I was wrong. The JSS is my main concern right now, I wouldn't be too bothered if something like this happened later on in my Freelancing life.


JSS = Job Sucess Score: I just thought I'd leave that here for any other new freelancers who would like to learn from my mistake, as I had to research that Abbreviation.

3) You couldn't be more correct on this point, I think I too would run if I was a client and I would definitely regret it as a Freelancer. I'm normally a very calm and collected person, but when I wrote that review I was angry at the client and also myself for letting him take advantage of my services.

4) I suppose it's because in these particular circumstances there is no universally simple fix, but we'd like to think there is.

5) No, I've decided to look at everyones input with calm eyes and dispute/ refurn on Friday. I figured that rash decisions dug me into this hole, they're certainly not going to help me escape.


I'm definitely going to save that in my Upwork Clients folder, not to use as a copy/paste option, but as a reminder on how to format both good and bad review.

Thank you once again for your help! Smiley Happy

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
6 of 12

Philip D wrote:

Thank you for that! I was finding it difficult to put my emotions and frustration aside. I tried extra hard for the client, for such a small reward, but to have that thrown back in my face made me angry.

To be honest, I'm thinking about refunding him at this point and keeping it as a life lesson. I would normally stand up for myself and dispute a refund in similar circumstances, but I don't think it's worth it at this point. I've already wasted enough time on the client and I can't afford to risk my business with a negative review for a measly $20.


I agree with Melanie. You already took the risk when you accepted the contract against your better judgment. Rethinking that choice is your learning opportunity here.

 

The client's private feedback stays up regardless, so keep the $20 and you can leave your own review. Think 'tweet' length, not a wikipedia entry. (It's often worthwhile to write the blow-by-blow and get it out of your system. Then throw it away, take a deep breath and write 2-3 brief sentences that summarize what happened, using tone and language that are cool, calm and collected.

 

Getting started here involves threading a needle. Accept a lower fee to attract clients willing to take a chance on a newbie, but not so low you find yourself among bottom-feeders who cannot and will not be satisfied. Beyond accepting a bit less money than you know you're worth, be more discerning and selective now than you'll ever be again, when it comes to clients and projects. It's a challenge because you're hungry and eager to get going. But every outcome weighs too much when you don't have a history yet, and every sticky wicket sucks too much energy and attention when you don't yet have a portfolio of smooth-running work to counterbalance it.

 

Good luck!

Ace Contributor
Philip D Member Since: Feb 15, 2017
7 of 12

I would like to say, I love the quote "Think 'tweet' length, not a wikipedia entry.".

I might just print the review out, shred it and throw it on the BBQ so I know it won't come back to haunt me.

 

You're correct, the only problem is, I've never been good at threading needles. Smiley Very Happy

 

I will definitely be more selective with my quotes and clients in the future. I just wish I didn't have to make such a big mistake before learning that.

Community Guru
Martina P Member Since: Jul 11, 2018
8 of 12

Philip D wrote:

I would like to say, I love the quote "Think 'tweet' length, not a wikipedia entry.".

I might just print the review out, shred it and throw it on the BBQ so I know it won't come back to haunt me.

 

You're correct, the only problem is, I've never been good at threading needles. Smiley Very Happy

 

I will definitely be more selective with my quotes and clients in the future. I just wish I didn't have to make such a big mistake before learning that.


As this is a public forum, your client might have read your review already... Smiley Wink

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 12

Phillip:

 

How would you possibly benefit from leaving a feedback review like that?


That's a very important question to ask.

I don't see how a review like that would benefit YOU PERSONALLY.

But I can think of many ways that it could be detrimental to you.

Ace Contributor
Valerio S Member Since: Oct 13, 2017
10 of 12

Preston H wrote:

How would you possibly benefit from leaving a feedback review like that?


That's a very important question to ask.


I think this is the best advice you can get.

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