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How to refuse future work without risking a bad review?

Active Member
Mark S Member Since: Nov 17, 2017
1 of 3

So I agreed to a contract I probably shouldn't have.

Designs looked great, and as a web developer I felt it would be a great project for my portfolio. The budget was low though. I decided it was worth it.


It's taken me a lot longer than I expected. The client is pretty demanding. There's constantly small little changes that on their own are too small to be worth mentioning but combined together add up to a lot of time. It almost certainly wasn't worth it.

And now I'm nearly at the end, the client has offerred me more work, at a similar kind of rate.


Obviously I want to run a mile. If it wasn't on Upwork this wouldn't be an issue. But it is Upwork, and I haven't been paid for this job yet, and more importantly I haven't got a review yet.

So basically, does anyone have advice on how to say no without antagonising the client and risking a bad review? Or should I stall until after the contract is finished? Or just...lie?

Thanks in advance, Mark.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 3


You are really unhappy with this particular client.

That is your right. You do NOT need to continue working for the client.


What you are worried about is the current contract.

You should try to get the current contract closed as soon as possible. You can do this gracefully.

You are welcome to discuss future work with the client.

You do NOT need to decide right now that you will not accept a new contract with the client.


If the pay is right, you WILL accept a future contract.


Finish the current contract out. Leave things on a good note.


If the client wants you to do new work, then briefly discuss it with the client and specify the rate that you are available to do the work at. It will be the client's choice whether or not that rate is acceptable.


Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
3 of 3

It's so easy to find yourself in this situation when you're starting out on UW and intent on building a strong portfolio and getting a JSS going. Freelancing rule #42: the cheaper the client, the more demanding. What's called for now is finesse. 


Get clear in your mind about what you want: a successfully closed contract with great feedback, and not to work for too little money any more. Also, decide whether you'd be comfortable working with the client some more if he's willing to ante up a reasonable fee, or if he's become such a PITA that you'd rather move on with your life. 


You need to have a conversation that includes:

- you're very glad he's happy with your work, you feel like this has been a good project and you appreciate the opportunity

- in all honesty, this one took substantially more time than you had anticipated, so the two of you will need to scope carefully on future work and as a heads-up the next project may well be more expensive

- perhaps best to wrap this one completely, then you'll be in a better position to scope accurately for the next one


Once the work is completed, make sure he closes the contract, not you. (In case you aren't aware: whoever closes the contract is required to leave fb, the other party is merely invited to do so. Too often, clients can't be bothered to go back and leave fb, even when they were pleased with the work.) If necessary, prompt him (after everything's done and you've been paid) by letting him know that as a FL new to the platform, only closed contracts help you toward a JSS, which is important to your continued success on UW. (Don't mention feedback, it's poor form.)

ETA: After closing this contract, he can re-hire you later with one click. If he wants to keep this contract open and add to it, THAT is a good time to remind him that only closed contracts help you obtain a JSS.


As soon as you're notified that he's closed the contract and you can leave fb, do so. Then, after all that, it'll be time to discuss the next project. If he's willing to meet a reasonable price and you want to work with him some more, great. If you don't, price him out.


Good luck!