Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Happy client 'reversed' payment 2 months after releasing escrow.

Active Member
Chris W Member Since: Feb 6, 2016
1 of 54

Hi, I'm posting this here in the hopes of getting an answer - I have an open ticket in Upworks help system, but no-one seems to be responding to my questions, despite there apparently being 5 people CC'd in on it.


The situation is this:


1. I took on a job on a job on Upwork, and the client put funds into Escrow - as far as I'm aware this is to protect both parties (at their end by knowing their money is held by in neutral third party, and at my end by showing that the client actually has money)


2. I completed the job and the escrow payments are released. The client provides a 5 star rating for his job, a bonus, and a glowing review. He is very happy.


3. 2 months after the escrow payment was released, somehow the client 'reverses' his escrow payment, without giving any kind of reason that I know of. I got a message from Upwork saying they have blocked my ability to withdraw funds, and is seeking to recover money from me by taking the funds I've earnt from other clients.


So my 2 questions are:


1. Is this the expected behaviour of Upworks escrow system?


2. I'm struggling to understand how someone can 'reverse' a payment after 2 months? Are you able to explain the mechanics of that, as I don't know of any payment method that supports this?


I hope you can see why I'm concerned, as the main reason I do work through services like Upwork is the payment security provided by your escrow services. If the above is correct then the escrow system actually affords me no security whatsoever! And even more worrying is the fact that it could happen to me months after a job is complete - so any of my clients I have done work for could arbitrarily decide to take their money back?


I'm unsure of how to proceed at this point as I can't possibly run a business through upwork if they dont have a working escrow system!


kind regards,




Community Guru
Mariska P Member Since: Apr 27, 2015
2 of 54

This is alarming actually. 


I hope a moderator can explain this to you and not let this go for too long. 

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
3 of 54

Yeah, it is pretty scary. Either stolen CC or he disputed with his CC I'm guessing. It's a scary thing and one reason I prefer small jobs on here. 


Someone on Elance once complained that a client reversed payment like a year later. Pretty terrible.

Community Guru
Jean S Member Since: Oct 22, 2007
4 of 54

Sounds like a credit card reversal as the others said.


As for protection....NO you have no protection with fixed price, as you now well know.


That's one reason so many Odesk people did hourly work. With memos and keyboard activity you will be paid.


Fixed price ... not so much.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
5 of 54

Yes, unfortunately there is no payment protection for fixed price jobs, despite what Upwork agents may say. Please read the terms of service to learn more about it. Only hourly jobs are covered up to $2500.



"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
6 of 54

This is really absurd.  Also, does this not directly violate the below provision of the UW agreement?  He doesn't need payment protection because payment has been made.  This is about a refund of sorts that again would seem to be in direct opposition to the below (bolding mine):


6.6 No Return of Funds

Client acknowledges and agrees that EEC will charge Client’s designated Payment Method for the Freelancer Fees: (a) for Fixed-Price Contracts, upon Client’s acceptance of the Freelancer Services, and (b) for Hourly Contracts or Freelancer Services using Upwork Payroll, on the Monday after the week in which work was performed. Therefore, and in consideration of the Site Services provided by Upwork and the Escrow Services provided by EEC, Client agrees that once EEC charges Client’s designated Payment Method for the Freelancer Fees as provided in this Agreement, the charge is non-refundable, except as otherwise required by applicable law. Client also acknowledges and agrees that this Agreement provides a dispute resolution process as a way for Client resolve disputes. To the extent permitted by applicable law, Client therefore agrees not to ask its credit card company, bank, or other Payment Method provider to charge back any Freelancer Fees or other Fees charged pursuant to this Agreement for any reason. A chargeback in breach of the foregoing obligation is a material breach of this Agreement. If Client initiates a chargeback in violation of this Agreement, Client agrees that Upwork or EEC may dispute or appeal the chargeback and institute collection action against Client.

Active Member
Chris W Member Since: Feb 6, 2016
7 of 54

Thats what I find confusing however as Upwork clearly states that they use Escrow protection when you apply for fixed price jobs:


  1. Escrow Protection is in place for fixed-price jobs

    Before you start the project, you and the client must agree to requirements, a budget and milestones. Upwork charges the client at the beginning of the project, and the money for a milestone is deposited in escrow.

  2. Escrow funded payments are released when the client approves work

    When milestones are completed, the client can either approve work and release payment or request modifications to the work. Clients can also request that you approve the return of funds held in escrow.

  3. Upwork offers mediation services

    If you do the work and the client refuses to pay, Upwork can help mediate the dispute.

Please choose fixed-price jobs carefully. Only funds deposited for an active milestone are covered by Escrow Protection.


They quite clear say several times in that statement that fixed price jobs are covered by Escrow protection, when milestone are funded. Escrow protection by definition is a service that provides payment protection for both parties. Thats the whole point - if Upworks Escrow protection doesn't actually protect one of the 2 parties from the very thing that has just happened to me, then it isn't an Escrow service and shouldnt be advertised as such.


Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
8 of 54

Hi Chris,


I see that our representative has explained the issue to you in a ticket. The team is also communicating with the client to resolve the issue. They will update you via the same open ticket since we can't share the details here in the Community.


Thank you for your patience.

~ Valeria

View solution in original post

Community Guru
Wassim T Member Since: May 29, 2015
9 of 54



Is it rude if I said you actually do need to share details in the community, because what Chris is mentioning here is very alarming, and nobody wants to fall victim of the same thing?


I think the community deserves an explanation of what's going on, don't you agree? 


Best regards, 


Active Member
Chris W Member Since: Feb 6, 2016
10 of 54

Hi Valeria,


Thanks for getting in touch, the representative has explained the issue, as you have here, only so far as in that Upwork is contacting the client, and waiting to hear back. That is totally fine, and I understand there must be some process that needs to be gone through, and that its private information not for here.


However, thats not my point in this thread. Around 30 hours or so ago I asked the 2 questions above, which are general questions about the expected behaviour of Upworks Escrow system, when a situation like this occurs. I received no response. About 4-5 hours ago I followed up, and asked if my questions couldnt be answered to be told where they might be answered. Still no response.


I wonder then if you might be able to help me with my questions above? I'm not looking to discuss this specific issue, but would like some clarity around how the Escrow service functions that lets my specific issue be possible at all. No one should be able to reverse money out of a functional Escrow system without both parties being involved in some kind of Dispute mechanism.