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False promises of ongoing work

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Community Leader
Joanne B Member Since: May 5, 2018
11 of 23

@Charles K wrote:

You can't impose penalties on clients. If you do, they leave, and they tell other clients not to come here, and everyone loses.

 


 Interesting statement!

 

In this particular case, it's true, I mean what can you do when a client lies about possible future work?

Well, as with most things here, you have to suck it up and get on with it.

 

There has to be a line though, clients and freelancers to be fair should have 'penalties' for not fulfilling their side of contracts. If as a client you entice with future work and don't provide it for no good reason you are breaking the contract agreed on. There are very few if any  industries that see a breach of contract as something 'you should just accept.' 

 

It looks like yet again UpWork is protecting its clients and not its freelancers. The 'you are protected when you create working contracts here' spiel really isn't worth the paper it's written on!

 

And please do not tell me if I don't like it, I can go work elsewhere. I know I can and I choose not to. That doesn't mean I have to like every working practice here, however!

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Community Guru
Janean L Member Since: Apr 6, 2016
12 of 23

Just to be clear: a promise of future work is not any part of a CONTRACT. A promise of future work falls into the legal category of what is called "PUFFERY." ("This vehicle is the best used car on the lot! And such a great deal! In fact, I can't believe that my manager is letting me sell it to you for this price... But his daughter is getting married this afternoon, and I've never seen him in such a good mood! The car will probably last you another ten years with no major mechanical problems at all; I've never seen one of these models come in for any service except oil changes and new tires.")

 

"Puffery" (as opposed to a genuine written contract) is unenforceable. And should never be relied upon. As a freelancer, you would generally be wise to treat all promises of future work as being worth their cash value. (Zero...)

 

 

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Community Leader
Joanne B Member Since: May 5, 2018
13 of 23

@Janean L wrote:

Just to be clear: a promise of future work is not any part of a CONTRACT.

 

I'd beg to differ on this one. I have had many contracts where future work is part of the equation. I'll explain. The job is set up with a value of let's say $100. The first milestone is set for $10 with the understanding that further milestones will be created until you have fulfilled the $100 original. 

 

A client who then uses you for one or two milestones and then stops leaving $80 of work ungiven, is at best misleading the freelancer!

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Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
14 of 23

@Joanne B wrote:

There has to be a line though, clients and freelancers to be fair should have 'penalties' for not fulfilling their side of contracts.


Upwork has tools to enforce contracts. For fixed rates, for instance, there are escrowed milestones. However, Upwork doesn't provide any means to enforce what is not formally agreed upon. That means if there is not a milestone funded for a specific task, or an hourly contract open, there is no contract.

 

Verbal promises of possible future work are not contracts. They are verbal promises of possible future work. There is no way Upwork can force a client to give you more work if they have no more work or if they don't want to give you more work, even if they told you that they will.

 

I really wonder what's going on with people who think that Upwork has to force clients to give them more work just because they said they will. If you work with someone outside of Upwork and if they told you that they would have more work once you're done with the first task, they may never return with more work. Will you sue them in court? Unless you have a signed order, there is no more work ahead. Only promises of more work.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
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Community Guru
Charles K Member Since: Mar 6, 2017
15 of 23

The responses just above cut to the main point. It's not that we have no protection on contracts, it's just that there's future work and there's "future work" and they aren't the same.

 

Scenario A: Client wants 1,000 words on "Jabber" this week and 1,000 words on "Wocky" in two weeks from now. He creates a project with milestones for both pieces, funds both and hires a freelancer. The funds for "Wocky" are escrowed and this future work has now been made tangible. The freelancer has protection -- he can't just change his mind and walk away with the money.

 

Scenario B: Client wants 1,000 words on "Jabber" this week and says "if you do a good job I need 1,000 words on Wocky in two weeks". There's no real future work here, only "future work."

 

Here's a real life case: Guy invited me to a job in late April, hired me, I did some work, he was very happy with it. Told me he'd have another article for me to edit in a week. No reason to lie, we already had a contract active. That was now 6 weeks ago, not only has there been no further work, he has disappeared and I can't even get him to close the contract. That's part of being a freelancer. I'm sure he really intended to have that extra work, and I'm sure there's a good reason he's not communicating any more, but these things just happen and you have to roll with it.

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Joanne B Member Since: May 5, 2018
16 of 23

Rene K wrote: 

I really wonder what's going on with people who think that Upwork has to force clients to give them more work just because they said they will. If you work with someone outside of Upwork and if they told you that they would have more work once you're done with the first task, they may never return with more work. Will you sue them in court? Unless you have a signed order, there is no more work ahead. Only promises of more work.

 

I really wonder why people have to be rude and arrogant but hey ho!

 

I've explained my position in a post to someone else. 

Everyone see's things differently and that's all good. 

As for suing someone, well, I never mentioned suing anyone. I really do wonder why people drag things like that out of thin air! 


 

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Community Leader
Denise S Member Since: Oct 7, 2016
17 of 23

Hi, Samantha,

My sympathies (sincerely). I posted on this issue a couple of months ago. I had agreed to do a "sample" for $25, and from that the client said they would evaluate the samples and choose 3 freelancers. I'm a strong writer, so I took the job, figuring I'd beat out the competition and all would be well.  Instead - they sent out 8 invitations and wrote contracts with 8 freelancers for $25 and, I figure, got 8 articles, which gave them everything they wanted for a really cheap rate. No one was ever hired for Phase II - at least not on Upwork, and I suspect not at all. What was particularly demoralizing - all the other writers except me gave the client rave reviews. Probably because the freelancers were hoping to get that "additional work".

 

I won't be accepting offers like that any more, but the experience also taught me to look at the hiring history - not just the reviews of the client. It also taught me to write reviews of clients that told other freelancers what they needed to know (I feel like we're all in this together).

 

My learning curve on how to be in this business continues. It really amazes me that my ability to navigate the ins and outs of Upwork is as much or more a predictor of success as my strength as a writer. When I signed up I thought the fees I pay Upwork were in part because they would advocate for me as a freelancer, but I no longer expect that from them, in any way. Very best wishes to you - Denise

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Community Guru
Aron H Member Since: Mar 29, 2017
18 of 23

This doesn't differ on platforms or the "real world clients" by any means. Promises mean nothing, that's what contracts are made for.

If you make business decisions based on good will and promises, you will run into the same problems on a regular basis.

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Community Leader
Anna T Member Since: Jan 27, 2017
19 of 23

Hmmmm..... Maybe it's just me, but I'm somewhat put-off by clients who claim to have more work.  Not sure, it just seems a bit demeaning to me.  Like, if they have to resort to that, I could only imagine what it'd be like to work for them. There have been exceptions (like a project that seems fun), but for the most part once I see that I just roll my eyes and keep scrolling.

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Community Guru
Janean L Member Since: Apr 6, 2016
20 of 23

@ Joanne:  Quote: "I've explained my position in a post to someone else. 

Everyone see's things differently and that's all good. 

As for suing someone, well, I never mentioned suing anyone. I really do wonder why people drag things like that out of thin air! "

 

No, Joanne. We are not "dragging things like that out of thin air." We are responding to comments of your own such as:

 

Quote: "and don't provide it for no good reason you are breaking the contract agreed on. There are very few if any  industries that see a breach of contract as something 'you should just accept."

 

When you use phrases such as "breaking the contract" and "breach of contract," you are most definitely treating/describing the situation as if it is one with LEGAL implications, and not simply a matter of "misleading a freelancer."  René, Charles, Aron, and I (and others) are trying to point out to you that you are conflating a binding contract with a misleading promise or assurance.

 

Please understand that none of us think that any client who promises future work to a freelancer and who then doesn't come through (assuming that the freelancer has done a good job) is "in the right." At best, the client's needs have changed -- although even then, the client owes the freelancer the courtesy of explaining that. At worst, the client was using the promise of future work to entice a freelancer into performing work that he or she might not otherwise have done, or might not have done at the agreed-upon rate, or in the time frame agreed... and the client has never had any intention of coming through with any additional work. In other words, the client is a lousy so-and-so double-dealer, liar, and con artist. 

 

In your example of a fixed-rate project with milestones, a client who agrees to AND FUNDS $100 worth of milestones is creating a legally-binding contract. If the client discusses $100 worth of milestones but FUNDS only $10 worth of milestones, then the LEGAL CONTRACT is for only $10; the rest of what you are describing as a contract is merely puffery, empty promises, and assurances -- worth NOTHING until the milestones are funded. I agree with you that a client who promises but fails to fund is misleading a freelancer -- and it is despicable to do so!!! But it is not a "breach of contract" to do so.

 

We agree with you that shifty and unreliable clients exist. We hates them, too [sic]. But we just know that as these shifty and unreliable clients are (ALAS! ALAS!) doing what they are doing, they are managing to stay just barely within the letter of the "law."  (By "law" I refer to both contract law and Upwork's Terms of Service.) We urge you to be a step ahead of that sort of chicanery! Be smarter than such slippery clients! Recognize the difference between binding contract terms and puffery!

 

Such explanations and urgings on our part are not "rude and arrogant" -- they are realistic, and are intended to be helpful. Furthermore, the facts of contract law and of Upwork's Terms of Service are not matters of (as you put it) our seeing "things differently." Facts are not subject to differences of interpretation.

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