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How Should I Handle A Client Who's Gone MIA

Hi there--


So overall, my interaction with clients has been positive.


However, I'm dealing with one client who's really left a bad, bad taste in my mouth.


Here's the short story:


On August 8th, I was hired to write a press release for a client's new real estate app and then distribute it.


The client decided to split up this little project into two milestones. $50 to write the press release (milestone 1) and $50 to distribute it to a few online sites (milestone 2). **YES, I KNOW, I KNOW. NEVER ACCEPT MULTIPLE MILESTONES FOR A ONE-TIME PROJECT. I'VE LEARNED THE HARD WAY.**


Anyway, on August 11th, I submitted the press release for the first milestone.


He then goes all quiet on me. So on August 15th, I decided to message him on Upwork to see if he was okay with the press release. I got only silence. You know, "cricket, cricket."


On August 19th, I messaged him once again...still nothing. 


On August 22nd, I emailed him via his personal website. (BTW, now starting to feel like a stalker.) Eleven days after completing the first half of the project, he finally responded and said the press release was fine and wanted to call me to talk about additional work. He said he would be happy to "adjust the contract accordingly."


I gave him my number, but we've yet to talk on the phone. It's now more than a month later!!!! This project should have taken less than a week to complete.


I believe communication is key to any freelancer-client working relationship. At this point, I'm tired of chasing this client. I'm so over him and not honoring the entire contract.


I want to seriously just wipe my hands of him and move on. Smiley Mad


What should I do? Can I just end this contract and cut my losses? Will my JSS be impacted?





Hi Nikki,


First off, I'm sorry that you're having to deal with this. Occasionally, we all get that one client who goes AWOL and they can really frustrate you. 


I'm not sure what you mean about not accepting several milestones for a one-time project. Unless I'm missing some context, that is what milestones are for -- breaking up projects into appropriate-sized chunks. This is the case whether it's a long-term or one-time project. Some folks may choose not to do this, but that's just personal preference. 


Also, when you said that the client approved the press release and asked about further work, were you referring to the second milestone or just additional work? If it was additional work, my advice is not to accept work from a client that has proven to be unresponsive (unless there is a circumstance that caused it, which hopefully won't interfere in the future). 


If you haven't begun any further work for the client, you can politely send a message explaining, in a nutshell, that you value communication, feel its best to end the contract and discontinue working together since there have been some hiccups in that communication. 


You can give the client a few days to respond and, if you hear nothing back, then you can choose to end the contract. 


As for your JSS score, I wouldn't worry too much. If it is currently good, there will probably be little to no impact, especially if the client doesn't rate you. If he does rate you, he likely won't give bad feedback as it sounds like you've been professional. And anyway, after a few more good clients, any dips in your score will disappear. 


Hope this helps. Sorry for the essay 😉


re: "I want to seriously just wipe my hands of him and move on."


Then do so. Today.


re: "What should I do? Can I just end this contract and cut my losses?"



I never agree to a fixed-price contract unless I have all of the information and input files necessary in order to complete the job.


If a job requires collaboration and communication back-and-forth, then it is an hourly contract project (if you want to hire me).


I never agree to any fixed-price contract unless the work is fully funded. If I expect to get paid $100, then $100 is funded in escrow. Not $50. And not one penny.


This means: IT NEVER MATTERS if a client goes MIA.


I just do the job, submit it, and I get paid automatically if the cient goes MIA.


I have one client who goes MIA every time. Whatever. I just let the time run out and I get paid. And then he comes back and hires me for a new project many weeks later.


Nikki, I assume you never actually did the work to distribute the press release for milestone 2. If all you did was the work for milestone 1, and you've been paid for that, then you can cut your losses. You could close the contract or leave it to be automatically closed, which it will be if it's idle. Either way, it's unlikely the client is going to come back and give you feedback if they don't close the contract themselves, so it's *possible* that it may affect your JSS.


Nikki -

The client decided to split up this little project into two milestones. $50 to write the press release (milestone 1) and $50 to distribute it to a few online sites (milestone 2).


For milestone 1, I'm sure you sent the press release via the submit work button. You'll get your payment of $50 in 14 days. Hopefully, you should have gotten it by now.


As for the 2nd milestone. I don't know what is involved with that. Is it just emailing it to a few online sites or is there more work involving that 2nd milestone. If it just mailing, which would only take a few minutes, then you should have included that and made it all one job for $100. If more work needs to be done for milestone 2 then you're really not out because, hopefully, you didn't do that. So if that's the case, you did get paid for the part you did.


If this client has disappeared, then you should close the contract yourself. I don't think it will affect your JSS score as you've got a lot of jobs all with excellent feedback.


If this client reappears in the future, and wants you to do more work for him, you can tell him you're too busy, or you can open up another job, making sure the entire job is funded. That would be up to you.