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Community Member

How to deal with a client who is verbally abusive

Hi. I'm still a few months old here in Upwork, and getting jobs are really challenging. Whenever one presents an opportunity, the most obvious action would be to grab the job offer right away.


I accepted an offer for a Virtual Assistant (no experience required) and during the interview, I can already sense that this client have an attitude problem. However I was still willing to get this job, as getting interviews are somewhat scarce.


The contract was fixed price, with a 3-day probation agreement. On my first day, we started off on the wrong foot right away, but I managed to do the tasks that were given. The client was a bully, and very condescending. On the second day, the client was asking for a task to which I gave a suggestion that was not accepted very well and told me to  **Edited for Community Guidelines**. I kept on thinking this is not the type of work environment that I wanted despite agreeing to be open for constructive criticism (to which it was not constructive at all, rather very demeaning). I have not reached an hour's worth of work and was told that I would have to be let go. "Alright, thank you for the training" I said. And I got off my computer right away. A few hours and I got a message saying that I would be given a second chance. I did not reply because, first, I felt that it was traumatizing and second, I don't want to communicate with the client anymore. It was clear I was let go, to which I gladly accepted.


Now, the contract has not yet been deleted until now (it has been 3 days since I'd been let go). Do I wait for the client to end the contract or do I initiate it? Will this affect my JSS? 


PS. The client's review is around 4.6 but it was mostly for article writing jobs. There has been no review yet for a Virtual Assistant position. I want to report the client, to prevent the same traumatizing experience (in my case) to happen to others. But I also fear the client will know it was me who filed the report.


Appreciate your feedbacks on this. More power to all freelancers!

Community Member

Well it is a tough call.  Only you can decide if it is worth while for you to continue working or just end the contract.  

Community Member


Re:"during the interview, I can already sense that this client have an attitude problem."


You should not have accepted the offer from him. As you could early identify that he did not belong to you during the interview. It is better to have no clients than having bad clients. I learned it by my mistake like you and now I don't pick every clients. 


Re:"On the second day, the client was asking for a task to which I gave a suggestion that was not accepted very well and told me to   **Edited for Community Guidelines**


You may report against him to the Upwork support. Abuse words are not allowed on Upwork. 

Community Member

@Kristine T

Report the client, whose behaviour was unacceptable,  and end the contract, no matter what feedback you get. Give the client the feedback he deserves - and you can also make a comment on his feedback after you receive the client's feedback ( and if it's bad, don't rant, just say you don't work for people who swear at you). 


A horrible experience for you. But I am sure you will be able to put it behind you when you find someone else who knows how to behave professionally.  Remember that freelancing is not the same as working in the bricks and mortar world.  In freelancing you are your own boss, so you meet a client on equal footing.  The client is hiring you to do a specific job that you know how to do. They do not own you and you do not owe them any particular loyalty, unless it works out well and the job becomes an ongoing gig, but even then, it is best to bear in mind that it might not last forever. 


ETA: It doesn't matter if the client knows it was you who reported him. He should be reported and he can't do anything to you anyway. 

Community Member

I understand wanting/needing work and not wanting to refuse a job. However, safety first is not only the rule in emergency medicine; it is the most important aspect of freelancing online. The clients are random strangers who may lie to you about everything, including their name and location, not to mention their intent. Trust your intuition - if you feel something isn't right - it likely isn't.


As Nichola said, stop communicating with the client and report them. And remember, you do not have to put up with abuse or nastiness from the client. We have all been there, and I can tell from experience that the abusive client will never bring you decent projects.


Virtual assistants and data entry are flooded categories, with many people charging meager fees. It also attracts a lot of new freelancers, and the scammers follow right along, looking for new people to scam.


Don't worry about feedback from the client. Who knows if they will give you feedback or what they might write? You do not have a good relationship now. If the client gives you a poor score, they have already made that decision. You can't let that stop you from giving the client the score they deserve. It's also imperative to warn other freelancers. You can be truthful without breaking the rules or sinking to their level.


Community Member

Not saying this is what you should or should not do... Just reminding you that a freelancer may end a contract at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

Community Member

First of all, close the contract yourself. That means the client doesn't have to leave feedback (only the person who closes the contract must leave feedback). There's a good chance they won't bother to do so. Anyway, there is only a small fee involved, so even a bad review from this person can only have a minimal impact on your job success score.


You can report the client to Upwork. But, to be honest, I don't see that it will do much good. This person may have been rude or obnoxious. But if there's no specific violation of the site terms of service, Upwork won't do anything. 



Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Kristine, 

I'm sorry to learn about your experience with this client. I looked into your account but could not find the conversations related to your concern. It seems like the messages were exchanged off Upwork. I do see you have ended the contract with this client. Whenever I'm approached by talent about certain situations, I recommend assessing whether the relationship is worth keeping or advantageous to your freelance business. You decide whom you work with and what type of relationships you want to keep. Also, I would recommend posting salient points of your discussion off Upwork in your Messages Room so that you, your client, and the team can refer to it when a disagreement arises.

You may report the client, so the team can review their actions against the Upwork Terms of Service. If you would like to proceed, please file a support ticket with screen grabs of your conversation, plus the contract ID/name of the client so that the team can quickly review the client's account.

~ Avery
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