dillon-young
Member

I think I made a costly mistake!

I was hired for a job with a budget of $375. The client set an initial milestone and funded $100 for the initial review of the project. So I completed it and showed him a preview. He replied saying "That's amazing, thank you" without even approving the milestone. I haven't heard from him since then, which is close to a week now.

 

I know about the 14-day period for the automatic approval, but I'm just concerned about the remaining $275 that I'd be owed after the $100 is automatically approved. And I don't want to bombard him with inquiry messages. 

 

The good thing is that he has a good feedback score and everything seems okay on his side. What do you guys think? Should I wait until he returns to Upwork to ask about the remaining amount? Or should I be worried?

 

Thanks in advance for your time.

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
timsmith99
Member

Dillon,

 

If I were in your shoes, I would have watermarked the design preview in such a way that it was enough to be reviewed, but not enough to take without paying.

 

If the contract is still open, it is possible this client will get back to you to approve the milestone, or with revisions or changes. However, you may have accidentally given him everything he needs under the $100 milestone.

 

I recommend providing a follow-up message like this:

 

"[Client Name],

 

I'm glad you were satisfied and approved the initial design. In our initial discussions, we talked about having a $275 milestone for revisions/etc. after the initial design was approved under the $100 milestone.

 

When you're able, please go ahead and approve the initial milestone and fund the next milestone for any changes you would like to have made.

 

Thanks,

[Your Name]"

 

That's what I may try, but it sounds like you and the client should have structured this from the beginning to have both milestones funded.

 

 

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31 REPLIES 31
vladag
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Dillon,

 

Please note that only funds deposited in Escrow can be requested from your end and qualify for Upwork Payment Protection. This is why it's very important to make sure Escrow is fully funded across one or multiple Milestones before accepting a client's offer, or delivering only work agreed for the funded Milestone and continuing work after a subsequent Milestone is created and funded.

 

If you delivered the work you can use the Milestone submission button and also communicate with your client regarding issuing an additional payment for the remaining funds, in case you delivered the complete product.

Untitled

Thanks for your response, Vladimir.

timsmith99
Member

Dillon,

 

If I were in your shoes, I would have watermarked the design preview in such a way that it was enough to be reviewed, but not enough to take without paying.

 

If the contract is still open, it is possible this client will get back to you to approve the milestone, or with revisions or changes. However, you may have accidentally given him everything he needs under the $100 milestone.

 

I recommend providing a follow-up message like this:

 

"[Client Name],

 

I'm glad you were satisfied and approved the initial design. In our initial discussions, we talked about having a $275 milestone for revisions/etc. after the initial design was approved under the $100 milestone.

 

When you're able, please go ahead and approve the initial milestone and fund the next milestone for any changes you would like to have made.

 

Thanks,

[Your Name]"

 

That's what I may try, but it sounds like you and the client should have structured this from the beginning to have both milestones funded.

 

 

Timothy,

 

I totally agree with you. I should've used a watermark or something of that sort. When I first showed him a preview, he had a few minor revisions. I attended to them immediately and showed him another preview of the draft, and he said "That's amazing. Thank you."

 

I'm realizing that I may have given him everything he needed for that amount ($100), but the milestone was structure in a way that I'd actually submit the project for a review, with the possibility of requiring or not requiring revisits.

 

I agree that we should've discussed the project in finer detail and it should have been more structured.

 

I'll shoot him a message in the format you gave and let you know what happens next.

 

Thanks again,

Dillon

 

 

It sounds like the client's first milestone was for the initial draft. For future reference, what you probably should have done was inform the client after the first draft that you would be happy to submit the next draft once the next milestone was set up. 

 

It SOUNDS like he probably wants to shoot straight with you, so don't be shy about sending him a message to remind him of your contract details. 

I agree with you 100%, Randy. I foresee a steady line of valuable projects, so I wouldn't want to seem unprofessional going about things. I mean, he hasn't come online for a while now, so I wouldn't want him to come online to a barage of messages about approvals and whatever, whatever.

The client may not realize he has the option to actively approve the milestone; he may assume the default 14-day process is the only way. Also, not funding the second milestone may have been an oversight. I recently learned that if any milestones are added to a project after it is created, then they can only be funded one at a time, after approval of each previous milestone. These kinds of finer points can be kind of opaque, I think. 

 

Was it your understanding that you were hired for the whole project? Or was the plan for you to do the initial review and then the client would decide if/how/when to proceed? Either way, then I think it's time to touch base, framing it as "I'm going over my calendar for the next couple of weeks and want to be sure I allocate time for the next steps on your project. What kind of timeline do you anticipate for moving forward?" or something like that. And, "oh, by the way, if you are satisfied with the completion of milestone #1, you can approve it and payment process will go ahead." (My personal opinion is that UW is taking their cut, there's no need to let them also sit on my money for two weeks. We are all here to make a living.)

 

Thanks for reaching out Phyllis,

 

I've been on Upwork for roughly a year now, so I sort of know how things work. The client is the owner of a digital agency, so I knew that they would be the busy type. Plus, he's been active on UW for a while now, so I guess he's aware of the workings of the platform.

 

I had no problem with seeing only 1 milestone, so I took on the project as I knew that two or more milestones cannot be funded simultaneously. So, even though there was only 1 milestone, it would have to be approved before another could be funded.

 

I was hired for the entire project. In fact, after showing him my first preview, he replied, "Dillon, this was great work! I will have several others for you to create when we are done with this one."

 

I totally agree with you on those last points, Phyllis. I've been waiting for 10 days for approval of a milestone I completed within the first 2 days (which was due 3 days after assignment). It's really unfair. Then, I'll have to wait another 5 days for it to be cleared on UW, then another 2 days to reach my bank.

 

I'll definitely take your suggestion into consideration. I'm giving them until the end of the day.

 

Thanks much again!

 

husainaa
Member

What's up with that fourteen day automatic approval period? The client receives his goods two weeks ahead of the freelancer who did all the work, weird.


@husain A wrote:
What's up with that fourteen day automatic approval period? The client receives his goods two weeks ahead of the freelancer who did all the work, weird.

 The client must be given a chance to review the work. Depending on the project that ma take time.  Nothing "weird" about it.

 

The client also has the chance to approve more quickly, the 14 days is when Upwork will automatically approve the milestone.


@Petra R wrote:

 The client must be given a chance to review the work. Depending on the project that ma take time.  Nothing "weird" about it.

 

The client also has the chance to approve more quickly, the 14 days is when Upwork will automatically approve the milestone.


 I say, depending on the amount of work and money involved, it can be really weird. In any case, the client should be encouraged to inform the freelancer about what he's actually doing, and maybe prompt him to approve the milestone every now and then just in case he forgot all about it, as it appears to be the case here.


@husain A wrote:

 I say, depending on the amount of work and money involved, it can be really weird. 

In the brick & mortar world, bills are often paid 30 days after submission if not more. People who have zero experience about billing clients often don't understand that payment on Upwork is very fast even if the client forgets to approve the milestone release.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Rene,

 

What's your suggestion for the mentioned situation with my client?


@Rene K wrote: 
People who have zero experience about billing clients often don't understand that payment on Upwork is very fast even if the client forgets to approve the milestone release.

Bullseye. Exactly what I was looking for, even though I still might not be fully convinced that that is the ideal way of doing things when I do have some kind of experience about it.


@Rene K wrote:

@husain A wrote:

 I say, depending on the amount of work and money involved, it can be really weird. 

In the brick & mortar world, bills are often paid 30 days after submission if not more. People who have zero experience about billing clients often don't understand that payment on Upwork is very fast even if the client forgets to approve the milestone release.


 In the brick and mortar world, I issue invoices that are payable at 30 days or payable on receipt, depending on a bunch of variables. It's true that UW payments roll faster than that. I appreciate it, and consider it one of the things I'm paying for when UW takes its cut.

 

I've learned that on small, one-off projects, it's best to politely ask the client to approve the last milestone and close the contract. Otherwise, they can be long gone by the time 14 days rolls around, never realizing they neglected to tidy up loose ends. That's how we get left holding bags of open contracts.


@Phyllis G wrote:

I've learned that on small, one-off projects, it's best to politely ask the client to approve the last milestone and close the contract. Otherwise, they can be long gone by the time 14 days rolls around, never realizing they neglected to tidy up loose ends. That's how we get left holding bags of open contracts.


 And it works? politely reminding the client works?


@husain A wrote:

@Phyllis G wrote:

I've learned that on small, one-off projects, it's best to politely ask the client to approve the last milestone and close the contract. Otherwise, they can be long gone by the time 14 days rolls around, never realizing they neglected to tidy up loose ends. That's how we get left holding bags of open contracts.


 And it works? politely reminding the client works?


 Yes. My default position is that my client and I are on the same side, working to accomplish their goals, and ensuring that we get the best and highest use out of the tools that Upwork provides. And in my experience so far, people who've been on UW for a while know perfectly well that the system has little quirks that can be counter-intuitive to different people; and those who are new to the platform appreciate learning helpful tips. UW provides a wealth of info about how it works and how to use it, but still, certain aspects of it are (IMO) somewhat byzantine.


@husain A wrote:

@Phyllis G wrote:

I've learned that on small, one-off projects, it's best to politely ask the client to approve the last milestone and close the contract. Otherwise, they can be long gone by the time 14 days rolls around, never realizing they neglected to tidy up loose ends. That's how we get left holding bags of open contracts.


 And it works? politely reminding the client works?


 I would never remind the client to release payment. Most clients release well before the 14 days are up, the ones who make me wait 14 days go on my "Decline next time" list.

 

The most important part is to get clients to end the contract, and I encourage them to do so when I submit my work. The 14 days are neither here nor there. Getting contracts closed and feedback is.


@Petra R wrote:


 I would never remind the client to release payment. Most clients release well before the 14 days are up, the ones who make me wait 14 days go on my "Decline next time" list.

 

The most important part is to get clients to end the contract, and I encourage them to do so when I submit my work. The 14 days are neither here nor there. Getting contracts closed and feedback is.


 Here is when that can create a problem: when project scope evolves and milestones are added, and the client is unavailable for the next interval of time during which I need to be completing the project. If she doesn't approve each milestone, the next milestone can't be funded. I have two repeat clients who have each, more than once, hired me for a project that expanded in that way. It's partly the nature of the work they do (and hire me for) and partly just how they roll. Each of them also finds UW somewhat counterintuitive and mildly annoying, and they appreciate my figuring out what our protocols should be to keep things moving and relieve them of having to think about what seem to them trivial administrative matters. They'd rather just have a way of doing things and do that every time, without having to stop and think about whether this is a final milestone or there are others coming up, what the timetable is, whether I need for them to remember to click something before I can work on the next phase, etc.

 

 

dillon-young
Member

UPDATE: 

 

My messages to the client:

 

1. "Hi [client's name],

I hope that everything's fine. I'm going over my calendar for the next few weeks and want to be sure I allocate time for your upcoming projects. What kind of timeline do you anticipate going forward?

Oh, by the way, when you are able, please approve the initial milestone and fund the remaining milestone(s) for the current project, so we can move forward to even more amazing pieces of work.

Thanks,
Dillon"

 

The Result:

 

NO RESPONSE! The client came online numerous times and totally ignored my messages. I even sent him a message while they were online, saying:

"Hey,
Please remember to create and fund the milestone for the outstanding payments. Thanks."

 

Still NO RESPONSE and I just saw them online. They even posted a new job!

 

So, it seems that there will be no way to receive my outstanding payment. 

 

 


@Dillon Y wrote:

UPDATE:

So, it seems that there will be no way to receive my outstanding payment.


 correct.

 

But, I don't understand why the client can't simply reply so we can straighten things out.


@Dillon Y wrote:
But, I don't understand why the client can't simply reply so we can straighten things out.

It is entirely possible that the client was not blown away by the work and thinks the best way to get out of it is to simply walk away. You do actually own the work as it was not fully paid so the client can't use it, so if you find it online somewhere you can get it taken down.

 

Personally I'd leave him alone, let the 1st milestone auto-approve, then wait a while before ending the contract.

It is actually posted online
**Edited for Community Guidelines**.

 

That is why I am so frustrated. The client used the project submitted for the initial review as the final thing and is benefitting from it. 

 

The first milestone was for $100, which was automatically approved. The entire project is worth $375.

 

They haven't even updated the milestone for me to hand in the final thing. Because to me, what was handed in was just a draft. I still was going to do some more work on it. 

 

I'm thinking of filing a dispute in a week's time or so.

 

 

DMCA Takedown may be in order.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

How do you think I should proceed? File a dispute on UW or go straight into a DMCA?


@Dillon Y wrote:

How do you think I should proceed? File a dispute on UW or go straight into a DMCA?


Upwork can't do much since there is no money in escrow.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless


@Dillon Y wrote:

How do you think I should proceed? File a dispute on UW or go straight into a DMCA?


 You have nothing to dispute. Unless the funds are in Escrow you can not dispute anything at all.

 As the client has published the product on the Internet, give them a final polite warning that your unpaid work XYZ is published on www. wherever. com/exact_link_to _your_content and would they kindly pay for it, as you will be forced to file a DMCA otherwise.


@Dillon Y wrote:

How do you think I should proceed? File a dispute on UW or go straight into a DMCA?


A dispute only works if the money is already in escrow. Upwork can't force a client to pay anything additional if you submitted the work for the first milestone and they approved it. The client can come back and say they're happy with the work, didn't want anything further, and paid as agreed. If the milestone was clearly delineated as a first draft, then a DMCA might be the way to go.

 

Personally, I'd let it go and move on. In the grand scheme of things you'll spend more time trying to recover your $275 than you would be paid if you worked those hours for someone else. Make sure you leave them very honest feedback when you close the contract, so that another freelancer doesn't get caught in the same web.

He was indeed blown away, in a positive way. He even suggested that I work on future projects for him. That's why I'm curious as to why he wouldn't want to pay or at least give me some insight or something. 

A suggestion for future projects is not the same as an assignment and payment for future projects.