🐈 Community
» Forums » Freelancers » Re: Help with difficult first client - Urgent...
Page options
dawnt
Member

Help with difficult first client - Urgent!

I just received my first job on UpWork and the client is apparently of the opinion that I should not bill for the analysis that I have done. 

       "You did not state that you were billing me for your questions after I explained several times what I needed."

 

I am a seasoned business analyst and it never occurred to me that I should "give away" my analysis; this is work on the project!

 

At this point, given that this is my first job on UpWork, I'm willing to "take it in the shorts" to some degree to get a good rating from this client.  What I would appreciate are suggestions from the audience on a good approach to bring the client around.  I'm a couple of hours out from being able to deliver a product that I know will delight the client, but I need to turn around their attitude first.

 

Suggestions?!

 

19 REPLIES 19
lysis10
Member

you mean like questions during the interview phase? Or during the job? I woulda billed him too for anything during the actualll contract, so he's being dumb if that's what you're doing.

 

Never underestimate the number of purposely obtuse people on here.

Questions that I had after the job started!  As we all know, sometimes the client doesn't fully understand what they're asking. I suppose the client wants me to deliver what they asked for an not necessarily what they really want!

What if you were to say something like "It's the nature of the analytical process that as you work and delve deeper, new questions arise. I think it may be difficult to see the value of that in the abstract. I'm only a couple of hours from completion, and I think when you see the finished product, you will see how that time investment added value. If you still have questions or concerns at that point, I'd be happy to discuss what you think would be a fair adjustment."

well, is he refusing payment? I guess I would just tell him "questions take time so of course I bill you for that time." 

 

I am just taking it at face value, but if he said "oh I didn't know" I'd kinda have the attitude "oh well now you know."

Thanks, Jennifer and Tiffany!  While I totally agree with you that the client is mistaken, since this is my FIRST UpWorks job, I need to compromise without making it look like, "oh, heheh...caught me being dishonest;" or, "you suck but I'm giving in under protest."  My primary goal here is to do whatever it takes to get a "5" from the client, so I'm looking for suggestions on the right approach to accomplish this.


@Jennifer M wrote:

well, is he refusing payment? I guess I would just tell him "questions take time so of course I bill you for that time." 

 

I am just taking it at face value, but if he said "oh I didn't know" I'd kinda have the attitude "oh well now you know."


 I'd bill him for this conversation as well.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”
―Stephen King, The Gunslinger


@Mattia G wrote:

@Jennifer M wrote:

well, is he refusing payment? I guess I would just tell him "questions take time so of course I bill you for that time." 

 

I am just taking it at face value, but if he said "oh I didn't know" I'd kinda have the attitude "oh well now you know."


 I'd bill him for this conversation as well.


 Yeah, once I have some chops here, I'll be able to afford such an attitude.  For now, I'm at the client's mercy for my first rating.  It does occur to me though, if I bend over backwards and take a loss, and the client still trashes me, do I have any recourse?


@Dawn T wrote:

@Mattia G wrote:

@Jennifer M wrote:

well, is he refusing payment? I guess I would just tell him "questions take time so of course I bill you for that time." 

 

I am just taking it at face value, but if he said "oh I didn't know" I'd kinda have the attitude "oh well now you know."


 I'd bill him for this conversation as well.


 Yeah, once I have some chops here, I'll be able to afford such an attitude.  For now, I'm at the client's mercy for my first rating.  It does occur to me though, if I bend over backwards and take a loss, and the client still trashes me, do I have any recourse?


 No, you don't. You could make a full refund and get the public feedback removed, but the private feedback would still impact your rating.

 

I think you are making a mistake thinking so much about a five star rating. It's a common concern among new freelancers, but the people who have the most success here seem almost universally to focus on doing the job well and let the feedback fall where it may. 

 

Bending over backward can backfire, as the client may interpret it as an admission that you were charging him for something you shouldn't have been. There's nothing you can do to control the feedback he leaves, so focus your energy on delivering a great product. If you want to concede some hours to make him feel better and enhance your chances of good feedback, that's your call, but be very careful to do so in a way that makes it gently clear that it's only an accommodation and the industry norm would be to pay for that time.


@Tiffany S wrote:

@Dawn T wrote:

@Mattia G wrote:

@Jennifer M wrote:

well, is he refusing payment? I guess I would just tell him "questions take time so of course I bill you for that time." 

 

I am just taking it at face value, but if he said "oh I didn't know" I'd kinda have the attitude "oh well now you know."


 I'd bill him for this conversation as well.


 Yeah, once I have some chops here, I'll be able to afford such an attitude.  For now, I'm at the client's mercy for my first rating.  It does occur to me though, if I bend over backwards and take a loss, and the client still trashes me, do I have any recourse?


 No, you don't. You could make a full refund and get the public feedback removed, but the private feedback would still impact your rating.

 

I think you are making a mistake thinking so much about a five star rating. It's a common concern among new freelancers, but the people who have the most success here seem almost universally to focus on doing the job well and let the feedback fall where it may. 

 

Bending over backward can backfire, as the client may interpret it as an admission that you were charging him for something you shouldn't have been. There's nothing you can do to control the feedback he leaves, so focus your energy on delivering a great product. If you want to concede some hours to make him feel better and enhance your chances of good feedback, that's your call, but be very careful to do so in a way that makes it gently clear that it's only an accommodation and the industry norm would be to pay for that time.


 Wise words, thank you!  I intend to compromise on hours up to delivery of the preliminary project, but also intend to make it clear to the client that all time devoted to the project thereafter, including conversations, are billable!

be upfront  and leave the door open

e.g.

 

I am sorry if we have a misunderstanding, but I feel that gathering requirements is a ongoing process.
I believe that time spent on analysis pays off in the long run, and will provide you a much better solution.
If however, you feel I have charged too much for this process, please let me know what you would propose.
I am willing to listen.

 

Larry

 

 


@Larry M wrote:

be upfront  and leave the door open

e.g.

 

I am sorry if we have a misunderstanding, but I feel that gathering requirements is a ongoing process.
I believe that time spent on analysis pays off in the long run, and will provide you a much better solution.
If however, you feel I have charged too much for this process, please let me know what you would propose.
I am willing to listen.

 

Larry

 

 


 Nice, Larry!  That's pretty much the tack I was settled on. Messaged the client with this kind of proposal a while ago, but she's gone dark. Not a good sign!

 

Dawn

That's OK  -  others will see this, and realize you are a professional, and willing to work with a client to see that a good solution is provided, and both parties win.


@Mattia G wrote:

 I'd bill him for this conversation as well.


 heheheheehe put the time in as "manual hours added to talk about yo cheap donkey's butt."

333da465
Member

I am a person who hires freelancers, and from my perspective, always be clear in what and why you are billing.  There is skepticism on both sides as well as those trying to exploit freelancers talents.

 

I would show the client the benefit of the analysis and what the outcome would have been without it.  He may also be new to upwork and not understand how the billing, time, etc works.  The same thing happened to me.  They don't educate the people hiring freelancers what is normal and customary when it comes to hours/time billed.

 

I think establishing the guidelines up front is always best so there aren't any surprises.  Knock his socks off with great work and a 5-star review should be a no brainer.  Never give away your time, your talent and time is your paycheck and it should be respected.

 

Cheers!


@Ruth L wrote:

I am a person who hires freelancers, and from my perspective, always be clear in what and why you are billing.  There is skepticism on both sides as well as those trying to exploit freelancers talents.

 

I would show the client the benefit of the analysis and what the outcome would have been without it.  He may also be new to upwork and not understand how the billing, time, etc works.  The same thing happened to me.  They don't educate the people hiring freelancers what is normal and customary when it comes to hours/time billed.

 

I think establishing the guidelines up front is always best so there aren't any surprises.  Knock his socks off with great work and a 5-star review should be a no brainer.  Never give away your time, your talent and time is your paycheck and it should be respected.

 

Cheers!


Thanks, Ruth.  You can believe that I will be using some type of up-front canned disclosure in the future.  Is there anything in the client documentation here on UpWork that addresses any of this?  I expect that this sort of thing happens quite often.  It would be nice to cite something on the Client instructions that would back me up.

 

Analysis is an essential part of the work, and analysis entails information gathering from the client. And information gathering is incomplete without feedback from the client.

 

Tiffany has given great advice.

 

I’d be firm but polite and charge the client for the analysis.

 

As Tiffany says, “Bending over backward can backfire, as the client may interpret it as an admission that you were charging him for something you shouldn't have been.”

"Certa bonum certamen"

For what it's worth, I log time using the time tracker whenever I talk to clients on the phone or via Skype, discuss the project via Slack, email back and forth, or use the Upwork messenger tool.

 

I think nearly all genuinely busy, professional freelancers do this.

 

(But I have no way of knowing how many do or don't do this.)

 

I know that I have completed over 100 jobs on Upwork. I can't recall any client complaining about this.

If I ran into a situation where a client complained about time logged for something he didn't expect, and that time wasn't the entire contract but was a portion of a larger body of work... Then I would probably just apologize for the misunderstanding and refund the time.

 

But I would try to tactfully explain that I use the time-tracker when I'm working on a project, and I don't really have any way of categorizing the type of work into different categories, so that they know if they had another discussion with me, they're probably going to be billed.


@Preston H wrote:

If I ran into a situation where a client complained about time logged for something he didn't expect, and that time wasn't the entire contract but was a portion of a larger body of work... Then I would probably just apologize for the misunderstanding and refund the time.

 

But I would try to tactfully explain that I use the time-tracker when I'm working on a project, and I don't really have any way of categorizing the type of work into different categories, so that they know if they had another discussion with me, they're probably going to be billed.


Thanks for your comments, Preston.  I did, in fact, use the time tracker for 100% of the time.  If she disputes, it's all there, with descriptions and screenshots. I won't defend this to her directly -- better to come from UpWork staff when they assess that billing this time is appropriate based on the documentation. At this point, my focus is on salvaging the rating for my first job. If she disputes, I have no doubt that I would prevail. Kicker:  this is for 40 flippin' minutes!