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Fixed price client disappeared. Looking for advice.

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Ace Contributor
Rikki P Member Since: Aug 23, 2016
1 of 10

Hi, everyone!

 

I was hired 15 days ago by a client needing a website. He set the due date to be on June 15 which still would not be a big deal. I could definitely get it done in that time. However I have messaged him since he hired me and have not heard anything back since being hired. I've asked him for what colors he'd like, photographs, content, everything. Haven't heard anything.

 

I've been lucky enough to not be in a situation like this before but now that I am in this situation I'm unsure of what to do. I've never turned in a milestone late and, while there's still plenty of time left, I'm worried that the client won't respond to me until after then. 

 

Have any of you ever been in a sitatuon like this? Just kind of wondering what to do here.

 

Thank you!

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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
2 of 10

What I would do is send one more message to the client and say something like, "No hurry on my end, but I wanted to touch base because your deadline is approaching and you have not yet provided the information I need to move forward. I will need about X days to complete the project once I receive your response, so if we are to meet your June 15 deadline, I will need the requested information no later than (June 15 minus X)." 

 

 

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Sergio S Member Since: Dec 19, 2017
3 of 10

Yes, I was in that situation once, when I was still quite new here. I had accepted the contract without asking for any materials. I only knew I had to make a video, that's it. My client answered me one month after and he gave me everything to complete the job and he wasn't in a hurry, so it ended up well. Lesson learned. You need to ask about those details at the beginning. Then even if the client disappears you are still able to deliver and receive the money in escrow.

 

I'd say give him time, and calm down. Maybe he is going through a family situation, maybe on a trip, etc. Do your stuff the best you can with what you have. I guess you can still use colors of your choice, placeholders for the photos, etc. in a way you can adapt to other colors/photos later when your client shows up.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 10

Rikki:

I wish you well, but there's no getting around the fact that you made a tactical mistake.

You accepted a fixed-price contract without having everything necessary in order to finish the task and get paid.

 

I never do that.

 

If I accept a fixed-price contract, then the very second that I click the Accept button, it means that if I NEVER hear from the client again, I can complete the task and submit and collect my payment.

 

You could have done this, even if you need information from the client. You could have included language in your original agreement such as this:

 

"Task Description: Will create PowerPoint file with colors, photographs, content provided by the client (or appropriate placeholders, for any non-provided components)..." [etc.]

 

That way, if the cilent disappears, you can go ahead and finish the project, and get paid.

 

If I don't have EVERYTHING I need to finish the task WITHOUT COMMUNICATING WITH THE CLIENT, then it is an hourly contract. Period. I'm very strict about this. I don't want to work on a project, and then be unable to get paid for my work because the client goes on a 10-month sailing trip, or wins the lottery and stops using Upwork completely, or dies.

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Ace Contributor
Rikki P Member Since: Aug 23, 2016
5 of 10

Tiffany and Sergio: Thank you very much! I really appreciate your responses.

 

Preston: With all due respect, Preston, I think you and I have very different approaches to how we work with our clients. I tend to give them a bit more leeway and am not as strict which has worked out very well for me so far. I did state what I needed when we had discussed the project. He seemed to be very responsive at the beginning but, once the contract was started, he disappeared. No big deal. Just wanted to see how others would deal with the current situation at hand.

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Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
6 of 10

Preston H wrote:

 

If I don't have EVERYTHING I need to finish the task WITOUT COMMUNICATING WITH THE CLIENT, then it is an hourly contract. Period. I'm very strict about this. 


If you don't have everything that you need to get started on a project, how does it make a difference if the contract is hourly? 

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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
7 of 10

Christine A wrote:

Preston H wrote:

 

If I don't have EVERYTHING I need to finish the task WITOUT COMMUNICATING WITH THE CLIENT, then it is an hourly contract. Period. I'm very strict about this. 


If you don't have everything that you need to get started on a project, how does it make a difference if the contract is hourly? 


He didn't say "get started"- he said "finish" - Because if you have something to get started, you can log time completing as much as you can, and that way it does not turn into a "nothing paid" contract and hurt your JSS.

 

If the client remains missing in action, I'd submit for payment just before the 2 month point but request only $ 2 and then close the contract after it auto-released.

 

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Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
8 of 10

Petra R wrote:

Christine A wrote:

Preston H wrote:

 

If I don't have EVERYTHING I need to finish the task WITOUT COMMUNICATING WITH THE CLIENT, then it is an hourly contract. Period. I'm very strict about this. 


If you don't have everything that you need to get started on a project, how does it make a difference if the contract is hourly? 


He didn't say "get started"- he said "finish" - Because if you have something to get started, you can log time completing as much as you can, and that way it does not turn into a "nothing paid" contract and hurt your JSS.

 

If the client remains missing in action, I'd submit for payment just before the 2 month point but request only $ 2 and then close the contract after it auto-released.

 


Okay, but the OP said that her client needed a website and SHE had nothing that she needed to get started, and Preston said that it was a tactical error and he only accepts hourly contracts in such cases. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I genuinely didn't understand his post. If there's a technique to be learned here, I'm interested.

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
9 of 10

Christine A wrote:

Petra R wrote:

Christine A wrote:

Preston H wrote:

 

If I don't have EVERYTHING I need to finish the task WITOUT COMMUNICATING WITH THE CLIENT, then it is an hourly contract. Period. I'm very strict about this. 


If you don't have everything that you need to get started on a project, how does it make a difference if the contract is hourly? 


He didn't say "get started"- he said "finish" - Because if you have something to get started, you can log time completing as much as you can, and that way it does not turn into a "nothing paid" contract and hurt your JSS.

 

If the client remains missing in action, I'd submit for payment just before the 2 month point but request only $ 2 and then close the contract after it auto-released.

 


Okay, but the OP said that her client needed a website and SHE had nothing that she needed to get started, and Preston said that it was a tactical error and he only accepts hourly contracts in such cases. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I genuinely didn't understand his post. If there's a technique to be learned here, I'm interested.


What Preston wrote is (ultimately) irrelevant and has nothing to do with this situation and doesn't help the OP in any way because the OP now has a fixed rate contract, and that could not have been changed into an hourly contract anyway.

 

 

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 10

Christine:

You are asking a legitimate question, if you're wondering exactly what I mean.

 

To elaborate:

I will work on hourly contracts for paying clients even if they're completely unprepared and really don't know what needs to be done to complete their project. I have started plenty of projects like that. As hourly contracts.

 

But I do not PERSONALLY accept fixed-price contracts until I have the instructions and materials needed to finish the whole task and submit for payment.

 

By doing this, I ensure that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS with the client, I can get paid.

 

It's not just academic or theoretical for me.

 

I have a client for whom I have done about a dozen separate contracts. EVERY time I do a fixed-project for him, he disappears. I do the work. I submit it. I get paid automatically by Upwork. I never hear from him the entire time I'm working on the project. I never hear from him when I submit the project. He's a surgeon. And a great cilent. I don't begrudge him any of this.

 

By sort of "assuming" that EVERY client for EVERY project will completely disappear and that I will not communicate with them in any way ever again, I can practice a simple strategy: I make sure that I have whatever it is I need to finish (instructions and input files) before I click the "Accept" button for the contract.

 

(Petra is correct that none of this is necessarily relevent to the original poster's CURRENT situation. But this is advice that freelancers could follow for MOST types of projects.)

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