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Finally had a really bad client

Community Leader
Marina R Member Since: Sep 30, 2016
1 of 14

Hi guys, I thought you'd appreciate the story. 

 

Obligatory, been on Upwork for 3 years, Top rated, 100% JSS, etc. 

 

Then in April comes this client. He seems tough to work with, but I like the subject matter of the work, so I decide to go for it. 

 

And then all the signs come in: he's late for all of the meetings, or just doesn't show up, never apologizes. He never wants to talk real work, only high level overview. He gets me to watch this ridiculous training (later says I should have done that for free). I set up some processes, connect with the team, but he doesn't actually tell me what he wants, and I don't feel comfortable logging time if my instructions are unclear. 

 

Months pass. I ask if he wants to part ways. He gets insulted. 

 

I then do 30 minutes of work organizing things so we can be ready, he flips out. 

 

I shouldn't be charging him for work done, cause he spent so much money on me ($400 dollars over 4 months, mostly me being in meetings and watching those training videos), how dare I spend 30 minutes working when I could have done it in five minutes and not charged him. 

 

He pauses the contract. We talk. Among other things, he tells me I'm "making things up in my head". I close the contract. We talk more. He continues to insult me, telling me I'm imagining things and that I'm living in a bubble, it's all in my head. Meaning his disrecpect of my time mostly, but maybe other things too. 

 

He left a really great one star review which I promtply requested to have removed. 

 

What I learned: trust your gut. If you think someone's a potentially bad fit, but you'd like the work, move on. There is no reason to associate with people who will end up insulting you for trying to charge for the work you do. 

 

I didn't need the work. I was mostly just trying to get back into doing something productive. This was definitely not it. 

Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
2 of 14

You're not allowed to hang 'em high, so you might as well cut 'em loose.

 

And the sooner the better.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 14

This is a great story... about a bad client.

 

There is an important point you made: You didn't need that client.

 

The client's bad behavior led to a bad outcome for him. The worst thing of all was that the client no longer has access to your services.

 

As freelancers, we can not control what clients do. We can only control what we do.

 

The entire platform - all freelancers and all clients alike - benefit when genuine professionals such as the original poster exhibit professional, polite behavior no matter what, while also NOT continuing to put up with bad behavior on the part of the client.

 

I think the main bad behavior in this story was that the client was trying to avoid paying for the freelancer's time, even though this was an hourly contract. This is a violation of Upwork ToS, and it undermined the project.

Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
4 of 14

Marina R wrote:

 

He pauses the contract. We talk. Among other things, he tells me I'm "making things up in my head". I close the contract. We talk more. He continues to insult me, telling me I'm imagining things and that I'm living in a bubble, it's all in my head. Meaning his disrecpect of my time mostly, but maybe other things too. 

 

He left a really great one star review which I promtply requested to have removed. 


I'm sorry for your bad experience - he sounds like a sociopath. I hope that you left him a bad review as well?

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
5 of 14

Marina,

 

You are top rated. Use your perk and get the feedback public and private removed. The client is so bad he is not even worth a reply on his bad feedback. 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
6 of 14

Marina R wrote:

 

He left a really great one star review which I promtly requested to have removed. 

 

What I learned: trust your gut. If you think someone's a potentially bad fit, but you'd like the work, move on.


Good for you. Love how you kept it together, fired him, and moved on

 

Nichola L wrote:

Marina,

 

You are top rated. Use your perk and get the feedback public and private removed. The client is so bad he is not even worth a reply on his bad feedback. 


As she said, she already did just that.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
7 of 14

Petra R wrote:

Marina R wrote:

 

He left a really great one star review which I promtly requested to have removed. 

 

What I learned: trust your gut. If you think someone's a potentially bad fit, but you'd like the work, move on.


Good for you. Love how you kept it together, fired him, and moved on

 

Nichola L wrote:

Marina,

 

You are top rated. Use your perk and get the feedback public and private removed. The client is so bad he is not even worth a reply on his bad feedback. 


As she said, she already did just that.


____________________

She said she immediately asked to have the feedback removed. Not quite the same thing as saying "I used my perk". Which would have saved me a search. However, the feedback is still showing. Does it take that long to remove? 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
8 of 14

Nichola L wrote:


However, the feedback is still showing. Does it take that long to remove? 


Officially it says up to 7 days.

In reality, it seems it happens much quicker, like a couple of days or less.


Nichola L wrote:


____________________

She said she immediately asked to have the feedback removed. Not quite the same thing as saying "I used my perk".


Good point. Not thought of it that way.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 14

re: "I then do 30 minutes of work organizing things so we can be ready, he flips out. [The client said:] I shouldn't be charging him for work done, cause he spent so much money on me ($400 dollars over 4 months...), how dare I spend 30 minutes working when I could have done it in five minutes and not charged him."

 

This is a key sign in the story... a sign that things were going south and heading for a bad outcome.

 

This reminds me of two recent contracts I had, in which the client started complaining about the time and did not want to pay for the the latest time that was logged, or wanted to not continue paying for time being logged.

 

Paying people for their time - whether they are freelancers or employees - is NOT a new concept. It is very simple, very basic, and is the basis for the hourly contract model.

 

But in the original poster's situation, the client started to get it into his head that he should be paying a certain amount for the work, despite the fact that this was an hourly contract and the freelancer was billing correctly.

 

What to do when this happens is something worth thinking about, and discussing in the Forum. In my own two recent situations, I wish I had reacted in a better way... immediately nipping things in the bud rather than letting contracts continue when a client started exhibiting this behavior.

 

I need to think of effective ways to communicate the fact that it is not acceptable for the client to ask an hourly contract freelancer to not bill for his or her time.

 

Clients have exquisite, detailed control over hourly contracts. They can see the screenshots, read the memos, and ask freelancers questions about the work they are doing. Once time has been logged, and work has been done, then that's it. The time needs to be paid for.

 

If costs exceed initial expectations (which can certainly happen because a client asks for more things or goes into more detail about her needs than was originally was discussed), then that doesn't mean that the freelancer should continue working without billing for her time. It may mean that a client needs to take a temporary break from a project, pause a freelancer's work until funds are available, or hire a different freelancer whose rates are more in keeping with the client's budget.

Community Leader
Marina R Member Since: Sep 30, 2016
10 of 14

Preston H wrote:

What to do when this happens is something worth thinking about, and discussing in the Forum. In my own two recent situations, I wish I had reacted in a better way... immediately nipping things in the bud rather than letting contracts continue when a client started exhibiting this behavior.

 

I need to think of effective ways to communicate the fact that it is not acceptable for the client to ask an hourly contract freelancer to not bill for his or her time.

 


Preston, I cannot agree more. What is difficult for us, the freelancers here, is that we think that we must put up with bad behavior, because they also control our reputation on the site. And while we can leave a bad review (and oh, boy, did I ever, in a moment of anger, right after the "you're imagining this in your head"), our bad reviews don't affect them. 

 

Yes, I was lucky to have the perk, and it can take a week to remove, but in the meantime, I left a comment. Also, I'm not looking for new clients right now, so I don't really care who sees it. 

 

But to be treated with such disrespect, not just the insults at the end, but also the not showing up to meetings and thinking that because I went through a (more like endured a few hours of a bad) training, he has somehow improved my life and now I owe him ALL of my time. 

 

And thinking through this whole last conversation that we are fixing our relationship when I was clearly breaking up with him, too. Yes please, insult me more, why don't you, I'll then switch to a fixed price contract so you can be unhappy with my free work - forever. 

 

Oh, the audacity. 

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