The client invited and then hired me for a fixed price project. Then they created the 1st milestone and funded it. One later day, they decided (based on questions I asked) that I am not qualified to do the project and cancels the project. In the meantime, I have spendt time to research and started to troubleshoot their problem but have not formally submitted my work. This happens in less than 24 hours.
The client has requested their escrow back. What happens if I dispute? Who arbitrates the dispute? What happens if I don't dispute? In either case, are both client and freelancer required to write a review? I'm just going to assume that all this will have an effect on my JSS.
Here's a link where you can learn what are the factors that can affect your JSS negatively. In the article, you can also learn how to improve it. You may also want to check out this article about escrow refunds. If you file a dispute, you and your client will be assisted by one of our dispute specialists. If you don't file a dispute, the money in escrow will be refunded back to your client after 7 days. You and your client will still be able to give feedback to each other after closing the contract. Thank you!
June, there are people who will tell you to avoid disputes at all costs and those who say go ahead with it if your case is very strong. Unless it's a large sum of money and you sunk a ton of time into it I'd avoid the dispute, issue the escrow refund, and deal with the JSS impact. If you're top rated you could use your negative feedback removal perk if the client gets nasty. It's a balancing act of pros and cons, you have to do what you feel is right for you.
Additionally, you will get people who say "this is why I only work on hourly contracts" and others who say "I always work fixed-price and have never had a problem". I happen to work on both and have avoided most gripes people tend to bring up time and time again with both job types. This seems like a misunderstanding (perhaps mostly on the client's part) and you might have avoided a bigger issue down the road with this client.
re: "The client has requested their escrow back."
Let them have their escrow funds back.
re: "What happens if I dispute?"
Don't dispute. You never want to be involved in a dispute if you can avoid it.
You have hardly done any work on this project, right? There's no reason for a dispute.
re: "Who arbitrates the dispute?"
Nobody arbitrates disputes. In a dispute, Upwork encourages the freelancer and client to come to an agreement. If you can't resolve the issue during the dispute mediated by Upwork, then you may go to arbitratration, for which you pay $291 (non-refundable). In arbitration, a third-party arbitrator will arbitrate.
If THIS case went to arbitration, you would lose.
re: "What happens if I don't dispute?"
That would be good. You would save yourself the headache of going through a dispute.
re: "In either case, are both client and freelancer required to write a review?"
If no money changes hands, there is no public review. Nothing will appear on your profile page.
re: "I'm just going to assume that all this will have an effect on my JSS."
If you are difficult about it, the client could give you bad private feedback. If you work with the client and refund all the escrow as she requested, then she'll probably think of you positively if asked to give private feedback.
Preston and Melissa, Thanks for your replies. I did do fair amount for work because the client requested that I make her project a 'priority'. It irkes me that the client did not give a full picture of the extent of her problems and the milestone had little to do with the underlying problems.
I am leaning towards not disputing. Not worth the hassle.
June, I would be royally irked, in your shoes. But I definitely agree with Melissa's and Preston's comments. Cut your losses and use this to improve your client/project vetting protocol. I've been at this for 20+ years and still occasionally come up short in interviewing the client and sussing out what they really need. Sometimes it's just not possible, but it's the only way to avoid this kind of nonsense.