My sympathies, William. Since you have many jobs still in progress, this dishonest feedback will eventually get buried. In any case, as others mentioned, your response and feedback remarks by other clients make clear that the client isn't to be taken at face value.
But this does highlight a couple of points:
1) the double-blind system here on oDesk doesn't make sense. Unless the freelancer thinks the experience was very bad and a future working relationship is definitely ruled out, they will always err on the side of leaving good feedback for the client. This isn't a transaction of equals - for freelancers, their reputation is more critical to them than a client's reputation is for the client. The dishonest clients have picked up on this and use feedback as a tool to induce refunds. This biases the current system in favor of abuse by clients.
2) there is no effective way to alert future freelancers of the client's behavior. The rejoinder by the freelancer appears on the worker's page, not the client's. Anyone browsing the client's feedback history will only see a positive remark.
Note that Elance-oDesk hasn't implemented a double-blind system on Elance. If a double-blind system is required for honest feedback, why hasn't it been adopted there in the first place or since the merger?
I think he / she was the only of his kind. Client must keep freelancer history in mind. It was good for you that its was just for $18. I think you must refund him.
Allow me to disagree.
A refund would help to educate this type of client to find out how he can have his work done for free. Take the work, give 1 Star-feedback, get your money back. Do we need this additional loophole for bad clients?
I might consider refunding a client if I feel he has a point with his feedback. But not like this.
On the other hand, a freelancer with this first class reputation should be able to just shrug his shoulders. Any client worth working for would have a look at this poor statement and take it what it is: some poor guy trying to get his 18$ back.
As a very nice collegue here always writes: you do not pay your bills with stars. Stand up for yourself.
Thanks for the kind replies. Yes, I left my normal feedback for the client because, a part from him taking an inordinate amount of time to get back to me (and pay me), everything seemed fine, as I replied quickly and professionally to his 1 request for corrections. Except for one client mid-last year, I have never had a bad experience that would drive me to leave bad feedback.
As for reimbursing the monies - 1. Is it worth it visibility wise? 18$ is (luckily for me) a pittance, so I wouldn't really care either way, and having a 1 star rating does suck, though 2., I doubt this will have an impact on both my stars (when you have a $1500 5 star rating just below a $18 1 star rating, I'm thinking the averages are working in my favour), and JS score (though since we're not certain how the measure works, who knows, but the point is moot as JS will still calculate the job even if I reimburse.)
But as noted by a couple of you, its also the principle that matters, and I don't really want to reimburse work that I considered to be top quality...so there you go...what to do...
William, I feel for you and I think you acted very professionally. That said, based on André U.'s post from a day or two ago, I do not believe that the JS is dollar weighted, which means that if he gave you a low recommended score, you should expect to see your JS take a dive. Star ratings no longer show up in the client view, so if someone visits your profile they can see your stars, but if they decide to stay in the hiring interface, all they can see is your JS. If oDesk recommends you, they'll also receive an email that you arrived as a recommended candidate (We found a good fit for you email), and they can see your last 5 or so feedbacks.
I would probably report this client, and try to work with support to see if there's anything that can be done. I would most likely request for my ticket to get escalated to a manager instantly. There's a decent chance this client keeps doing this to get refunds, which support is able to see. I do agree that we need to stand up for ourselves and not let clients take advantage, but at the same time, it's also important to pick our battles carefully and wisely. I don't know what I would do in your situation, but I do know that I'd really push oDesk to jump in and help.
Just got a bad rating from a terrible client I tried really hard to help for a rubbish amount of money. Serves me right for being kind. If she doesn't change the feedback, she's going to find out what I really think of her terrible story in the response!
I wouldn't refund this. The feedback is obviously ridiculous, and the clinet comes over as unhinged. I'd let it stand.
I had a not dissimilar thing the other day, and I think the guy was angling for a refund. Which I could afford to give, again, it was only a small amount for work for a small amount of money. But I won't have my chain pulled like that.