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Encounter with a bad client (dealing with racism, narcissism, and superiority complex)

Community Guru
Dianne M Member Since: Jul 25, 2013
1 of 24

Hello everyone!


I got to my vacation destination safe and alright but was surprised to see a nasty email in my inbox.


Last week, a client from northern Europe (non English native) asked me to write an article for him and to copy the style in his sample article (one which he wrote). His sample article has plenty of spelling mistakes and so I felt that as writer, I should point them out (and I did). I told the client about this observation and he asked me to do a FREE edit on a 2,000 words article. Of course I declined and told him that asking for free work is prohibited but will do it as an additional service once hired. The client hired me but not before a sample edit on one paragraph. He was very happy with it and asked me to write a 2,000 words article on another subject. 


Fast forward a few days later ---> I sent the client the article and he sent me the nastiest (but outwardly polite) email saying the article is unusable and that I don't even know when to use present tense and past tense. Mind you that his email is riddled with flaws. He even said "can we end this n a satisfying manor?"


MANOR???? Did he mean manner? What is 'n'? did he mean 'in'?


Anyways, here's my gripe. We all encounter clients who 'hire' just to get vindictive (because I corrected the sample article - I didn't know he wrote it!). This client obviously did a number on me and I am reporting him to support for trying to get out of paying and using an obvious scamming scheme (he has impeccable history mind you!).


He insulted my english so many times (said it is sub-par, non-native, full of errors) when it is clear that he's not good in English at all. He talked about the use of plural and singular nouns. He wanted me to call pants as 'pant' and jeans as 'jean'  OMFG!


It also seems he did not even read the article, as he said that I did not include such and such detail. I responded to his email and pointed out his errors plus included the paragraph and sentence number where to find the details he claimed are not there.


Sorry for the rant and for any grammatical error(s) in this post. I'm very upset knowing that oDesk will side with him. I informed the client that I shall be publishing the article and will take the necessary actions if he uses them.


Anyone encountered schemers like this guy?


What is oDesk doing to protect us from such types of clients?


I'm reporting this client and hope that they will investigate him. Unfortunately, they cannot ban clients just because the client made baseless claims just to be nasty.


Lesson: Don't entertain clients like this even if they have 5 stars and spend thousands of dollars on the site. If the client is not a native English speaker but demands you have perfect English, AVOID AT ALL COST. I know this statement is not at all wise but hey, if that client will be the one assessing whether your work is good enough, how fair or how good can their assessment be if they are not excellent with the language to begin with? 


I was clearly victimized by someone who has power issues (he played it well, my bad) and who planned all this to waste my time...just because I said his sample article have some mistakes. He could be someone who has a need to be ALWAYS right. He did keep mentioning all of his achievements, NARCISSISM much?


Will this result to me being suspended/investigated? Not sure.


I posted this to let people know how some not-so-good clients exists out there and they can ruin good freelancers on a whim. Yes, Even if they have great feedback.


I want to inform people of how unrealistic some clients can be as well as how misinformed they can be. I am fully aware that bad freelancers are also out there so just please...


This client clearly kept coming back to emailing me because he cannot accept being wrong. Sadly, his examples and excuses are flawed.


I truly wish he simply emailed me something like, "hey your style is not okay with us" or "I don't like you. Period" instead of his initial email which is full of sarcasm, baseless criticisms, and veiled insults. Our conracts states that there's a provision for two revisions. In his email he simply said, "we cannot use what you wrote because the English is not understandable". Just that...and plenty more insults about me not being from UK.  Is my English truly not understandable? Anyone here having a problem understanding me?


I do not claim to be perfect. I have no problem with being wrong, but please, JEANS the pants is not the plural form of JEAN the fabric. Also, being married to a Brit or being born in the UK doesn't automatically make someone an awesome writer who rules over grammar and spelling (this is his excuse and definition of having adequate English skills).


Sheesh. The client needs some education. Real EDUCATION.


I don't care who he thinks he is but hey, you're wrong when you're wrong dude. 


My hope is to get oDesk to stop babying people like this client. Investigate this guy or at least flag him!

❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 24


I can imagine how it is possible to fall into these situations that get deeper and deeper, and you think it's about over and then it isn't.


But in hindsight, do you feel like you spent way to much time with this client? Looking back, was there a point or instance in this experience that - if it happened again - you would know it is time to cut your losses and end your participation entirely?

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

Just wondering... You may have an additional insight that is helpful to all of us...

Community Guru
Dianne M Member Since: Jul 25, 2013
4 of 24

Hello Preston,


The client spent over $20,000 on the site and has perfect 5 stars. He also seemed very polite (even in his nasty email, the insults are veiled very well). He must have really thought I don't understand English and pointed out my country here at oDesk and my looks (very funny but racist). 


It is indeed strange that he hired me despite of seeing my looks and the country I'm registered at only to bring it up later when it was time to pay up.


He said "oh sory, it looks like you'e not a native-english speaker" <----- notice the errors?




There's plenty of other freelancers from the UK and US and other anglo countries but he interviewed me. Chose me. Hired me. Isn't it obvious what this is all about?


I won't be surprised if he'd want to see my passport haha!


On hindsight, I should have run when he asked for the FREE edit prior to hiring me. I thought he simply may not be aware that doing so is prohibited and went on to convince him to hire me first. That usually works for other clients as SANE people appreciate it when someone points out errors in their content. This one obviously did not and only hired me so he can be nasty later on.


I really thought I was being savvy Preston...unfortunately, people like him do exist and it can be difficult to point them out til much later. In his last email it seems he wanted me to write more. I simply ended the contract and reported him. It is better not to get paid than be used any further.

❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
Community Guru
Dianne M Member Since: Jul 25, 2013
5 of 24



The client sent me an email saying he is shocked by my response. I'm not sure what is shocking about my email - I simply corrected the errors in his email and provided suporting evidence that his claims are not true. I'm not going to send him another response as it looks like this is a person who either has a god-like view of himself or has a closed mind. I think that his opinion of himself is something like he can do no wrong and him being wrong is blasphemy.


I truly hope none of you falls victim to him and btw, his site is a hybrid magazine and e-commerce site. I won't mention his name and site because that's against forum rules but it's not against forum rules to provide details.


Tidbits: His initials are A.O. and his name is scandinavian but country's name starts wih D. By the way, I love that region so please don't take this negatively Smiley Happy Just a heads up to other writers out there. AVOID him at all cost even if the project pays okay ($0.05 a word). His website is about making wares (HINT!). This guy is a classic narcissist who used the oDesk system to 'put me to my place' as he calls it.


Oh and chat support improved a lot. They addressed me like an individual yey!


On another note, I cannot get over the fact the wants me to call the trousers made from denim fabric as jean instead of jeans. Jean is the fabric, jeans is the pants. He simply doesn't get it. I suspect he does not want to 'get it' because he never intended to pay in the first place and has other motives for hiring.


Denim and jean = name of fabric

jeans and denims = name of pants


And he claims to have impeccable English whilst claiming mine sucked LOL.

❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
Community Guru
Natasa M Member Since: May 8, 2014
6 of 24

Dianne, poor baby!


They don't let you rest, do they?Smiley Sad


Yes-I had similar situation just yesterday.


While I don't expect oDesk to step in there and protect me, I also don't want to have consequences  because  of that .I mean this stuff that they are saying that we" won't be under review for two, three, even four cancellation or refunds.."  What bothers me here is that word- even. I mean , I don't know are they aware of it , but four  or more cancellations are actually nothing if you do a bunch of short -term jobs (like I do.)  It can happen very often (people try to change the scope, don't give a proper description, change their attitude drastically ...)  


Anyway Dianne, don't let him ruin your holidays! Take care ! Smiley HappySmiley Happy

Community Guru
Stephen B Member Since: Dec 4, 2012
7 of 24



Please try and enjoy your break and don't get too wound up about this. We all let our guard down from time to time - and it's not always easy to just pull the plug when we get initial signs of uneasiness. This one it seems you just made the wrong call on. Not much I can say given the dpth of recent discussions about the precariousness of all freelancers' accounts, but hang on in there, be professional but assertive, and don't let your anger spill over too much into your dealings with either the client or support. (Just my bit of advice, you know it's meant in the right spirit...)


I think it would be a good idea down the road on here to have a panel of arbitrators for different  genres (eg native English writing) to take disputes like this to. (Don't hold your breath though...)


NBow, take a deep breath...and hang on in there...

Community Guru
Dianne M Member Since: Jul 25, 2013
8 of 24

Thank you so much Stephen and Natasa!


I'm trying to squeeze out all the hours that I can with my beloved internet right now. Tomorrow we'll take a boat ride and trek some more to reach a remote village. I'm so excited! This is for a medical mission btw, so it's not a real vacation but anything to get away from the city is great Smiley Happy


That client really got under my skin. I detest racism and all it's minions!


I'm sure the both of you knows why...with our reputations hanging by a thread and one misstep can result to a suspension, I can't help but really react when I encounter people like this.


True, I may have let my defenses down Smiley Sad I was all caught up with the holidays plus I never encountered a bad client from that part of the world so I thought I was safe. Not to mention he has perfect 5 stars and 20K spent in the platform.


My spidey sense did tingle a bit when he asked for but I thought it was a cse of eating too many cookies haha!


Thanks for the messages guys, I really appreciate it Smiley Happy


Oh! We definitely need a panel of arbitrators. I did not ask to get paid anymore and simply ended the contract. Allowing that kind of person to leave feedback is an invitation for disaster.


I can't get over the fact that he calls pants as PANT and jeans as JEAN and had the nerve to say my English is waaaay sub-par. Crazaaay


Note: My manner of writing in the forums does not reflect the way I write for clients.

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Community Guru
Dianne M Member Since: Jul 25, 2013
9 of 24

Okay, more update:


The client sent me an email stating that he is married to a Brit (does that make him an English native speaker who rules over grammar and spelling?)




I thanked him for the laughs.


Here's my email - not really the same wording because posting that is against forum rules (please note that no important details are posted and that the client's identity remains protected)




Dear A___ O___


Google Digital Nomad and please read what I wrote. You will learn a lot from it.


I am surprised by the level of ignorance you displayed in your response; especially that you seem to have a solid career in publishing (yes, I googled you as you suggested). This certainly shows that not everything you see on the internet is real and people can claim to be all sorts of things without real proof.


You failed to give specific examples of my writing's flaws whereas I was able to give a detailed response. I call what you wrote as mere baseless accusations because that is what they are. If you provided details and dealt with this professionally, I would have been nicer.


More so, being a Brit or being married to one doesn't mean your grammar is always correct. In fact, there are plenty of English natives who have horrendous grammar and spelling (like your colleague perhaps?).


You should know that.


Please do tell your British colleague I said this as well so she might learn from it (I used your wording here, as you see).


Last advice: Have your content professionally edited. I won't buy from a site like that. Punctuation marks are misplaced, verbs are used incorrectly. You've seen me correct you a few times. I'm sure you know what I mean.


You should know that the oDesk profile doesn't reflect a person's nationality nor citizenship. It merely reflects where a person registered an account. (I said this because he keeps bringing up my asian looks and profile location as an excuse)


As for you insinuating that being married to a Brit = being an English native speaker, that is the best definition of the term I've read. REALLY! I shall post about this at the forum to spread the 'cheer'.


Thanks for the laughs!


PS: Just because you spent several thousands on oDesk doesn't make you more privileged than me nor have more say in this platform. FYI, I made more than you spent. Will you now bow down to me by your own logic? Please don't. I have no need for that.


I won't post your details (because I have a shred of professionalism).



I sent something very similar to that to the client (again, not exactly the email I sent because posting that is against forum rules). I might get reviewed for this but hey, I want people to know what sort of clients are out there and that even established freelancers like me can be victimised by these crooks. 


He denied being racist but repeatedly pointed out that my location states I'm not from an anglo country. He knew this prior to hiring me and we emailed for quite a while; again, prior to him hiring me. Surely, if I don't write well as he claims, he would have seen from my emails alone. 


This may not be a case of trying to get free work (he only asked for a free edit but I asked to be hired me to write an article). Maybe he is so mad that I called him out on it (and told him his sample article has plenty of errors) so he decided to up his game. I fell for it, my bad!


If oDesk reviews me or suspends me for this, then you guys know what to think.


Please note that the client's identity stayed protected and never disclosed in any post.


My intention for posting this is to inform people of how unrealistic some clients can be as well as how misinformed they can be. How can these people assess our work if they don't even know what they are assessing?


Btw, he did get one grammar thing correct, a deliberate bad example I gave in a previous email! Sadly his response was just copy pasted from the web Smiley Sad


Oh and he basically told me that as a client in oDesk, he is 'untouchable'. What nerve! And Ewww!


❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄
Community Guru
Corinne L Member Since: Jun 3, 2013
10 of 24

Hi Dianne, I know how you feel, the same thing happened to me one year ago !

I was proofreading a short translation from English to French and the person hiring me was a non-native English and non-native French person, and he wanted me to make a mistake in French, which I was not ready to do ! In fact he wanted me to write something which was the complete opposite of what the author meant !

We exchanged 23 messages!!! And in the end I told him that he could write what he wanted and keep his money ! It could have lasted even longer since he wanted to have the last word.

Now, if you're working for a reasonable client, you can explain to him why you used X instead of Y, but when you're working for a childish person, it's really no use, they would want to show how wrong you are and they really don't care about the work, they simply take it too personally. So, I think you should not waste your energy arguing with this person, he will never give in !