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I think the client is kinda arm twisting me

Ace Contributor
Tarek S Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
1 of 17

Hey guys, 


I'm facing a problem with a client right now, and I really don't know how to react right now.
I've received an invitation to fix some errors in his website, and in the first discussion, it was really a simple task that won't take more than 3 hours, and we started the contract, once I started and he gave me access to the project files, I found out there are lots of problems that this project will need more than 2 days of work, so I have explained the problem, and shown him why is he facing these issues, and he told me that a previous developer was working on this project and suddenly disappeared, and it wasn't completed, so the simple value not saved upon button click became a whole plugin that wasn't completed and not functioning at all.

I said it will take time to work on this, and he said he wants to end the hourly contract and start a fixed price one instead with the amount I say, and I agreed, and I stopped logging time and started working on the plugin, he then today (14 hours later) put the hourly contract on hold, instead of ending it, and sent me a new fixed priced contract and funded it with only $5, and not the full amount we agreed on, so I asked him why he didn't end the contract, his reply was he is worried that we can't finish the job today, so it sounded to me like arm twisting, he paused the hourly contract, didn't fund the amount we agreed on for the second contract, and is now telling me that he will keep the contract paused until the job is completed, so I read between the lines he is kinda threatening of giving a bad rate if I refused to continue, and I told him this is not a way to work, and I have already fixed on of the 3 issues he is facing and I find what he is doing very disrespectful.
and now he is saying that he doesn't see any problem in what he is doing, and he will keep the situation as it is and all he will do is fund only 50% of the agreed on.
I told him this is not a way to work and I now have doubts if he will pay me at all, or use the feedback to force me to give up money not to get bad rate for 2 contracts, and he still insists on the situation.
I'm really worried about this situation, I've been holding a 100% job success for 12 weeks now, and I'm really worried about this client, and I really can't work under the stress he is causing.

I said I can't work like this, and I'm really worried about getting paid when the job is completed, so I told him I want to end the contracts and I have no problem refunding for the billed hours, but I'm not willing to continue working on his project.

Goran V Moderator Member Since: Mar 24, 2017
2 of 17

Hi Tarek,

I`m sorry to hear this, our team will investigate the client further and take proper actions.
Keep in mind that your not eligible for our Upwork Payment Protection on promised funds. On fixed price projects, always make sure that the agreed amount is fully funded on your milestone before starting the project.
I can also advice you to check out our Fixed-Price Protection for Freelancers and Hourly Protection for Freelancers.
If you need further help or have any questions fell free to post them here.

~ Goran
Ace Contributor
Tarek S Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
3 of 17

Thank you for your reply, and as I said earlier, I have given him a full refund and asked him to end the contract but he just won't end it, and I know if I ended the contract from my side it will cause me trouble in terms of my job success score, so if he didn't end the contract, what should I do?
I do my best to follow rules of upwork, and I go a bit further respecting the clients no matter what, and as I told him, I'm not willing to continue on the project and that's why I am refunding him the full amount I billed for hours I worked, because I don't like to get paid for a project that I'm not going to continue working on.


Now all I want to ask you is if I refused to continue working with him, how badly is this going to affect me here on upwork?

Community Leader
Valerio S Member Since: Oct 13, 2017
4 of 17

If you miss just 1 week to become top rated I would suggest to buy some time, don't do any work, get the top rated status and then start discussing this issue again, if the client will leave a bad review use your newly acquired super power to get rid of the review and the private feedback.

Ace Contributor
Tarek S Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
5 of 17

Thanks Valerio, I get what you're saying, and many people do deserve to use such a technique, I mean if they play dirty, it is really hard to hold on to your morals, but, actually, I'd rather lose the job success and top rated perks than to be arm twisted by such client, and hopefully upwork can help me with the situation, and he is refusing to end the contract, so actually he is doing me a favor like that 😄
but still, he offered me to pay 50% upfront, and I still refused because I don't accept money before I finish work, and to be honest I feel like he is worried I take this up to upwork staff so he is trying to make me look like I'm asking him for money for work I didn't do which is really a hit below the belt.


But after all, I have built a long term relationship with several clients on upwork, and I get atleast one project per week from each of them to the point they all turned my contract into long term contracts working on all their projects, one of them for 7 projects per month and they are extremely happy with my work and appreciate it, and that's only because I'm very straighforward with them on every aspect, and I believe staying straight forward even if he tried to cause me to lose the top rated badge I'm supposed to get, will have some foundation for my position while upwork team investigate this matter.


And another reason to be this strict with him, is because he has to know that freelancers aren't such stupid people he can play around, we are hard workers that earn respect and confidence of their clients and it is not ok to treat any of us in a disrespectful manner 

Community Guru
Baris A Member Since: Mar 15, 2017
6 of 17

What arm twisting are you talking about? You say you already refunded which means you already gave in. You don't have an arm to twist anymore.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
7 of 17

@Baris A wrote:

What arm twisting are you talking about? You say you already refunded which means you already gave in. You don't have an arm to twist anymore.

 And by refunding he already created a "nothing paid" ccontract which will be slashing his JSS.

Private feedback can still be left even after a refund so that will do the rest.


This is a lesson in how not to handle a difficult client and how not to manage a challenging contract situation.


In a worst case scenario 2 x "Nothing paid" contracts and 2 x poor private feedback. Quadruple Whammy.


Ace Contributor
Tarek S Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
8 of 17

Baris, if he wants the project files for free, I will not give him the files I worked on.


Petra, so basically you're saying I screwed myself up? I don't have any other bad feedback or refunds, and my clients keep hiring me on more jobs, so I believe they're satisfied enough, even a while ago I had a problem with a client constantly requesting more work and changing requirements and took advice from you guys here, and I'm happy to say we are working now on our 7th project and we're both happy working together. maybe I reacted badly with the refund, there is a small amount that I didn't refund yet, around 30 mins of work that got included in the new work week so I can't refund until the work week is over, not sure how that puts me.


and I think that puts me in a very weird situation, I mean if I face a problem with a client, I can't get out of that? some clients do show you few tasks to work on in the interview and once the contract starts they tell you that each task is a whole project on its own, like this one for example, from a simple value not being saved into correcting over 70% of code in a custom plugin. and he never said that before the contract started, so basically clients like this in the future I have to kneel before them and do the work according to their terms just not to get bad rate and there is NO way out of such situation?


if that's how it is, then this makes me reconsider even being on upwork in the first place, knowing at any client can walk over me without having the right to present my case to upwork staff and get a bad rating anyway 

Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
9 of 17

Options at the outset:

Say no to a fixed price contract and only agree to work for an hourly rate. Do not do any work until the client agrees.

2. Accept the fixed price contract and close the hourly contract yourself. Do no do any work until the client funds the milestone. 

So yes, continuing to work without resolving the payment issue and ensuring that the milestone was funded was a bad plan. 


Close everything, walk away and don't get into such convoluted negotiations next time. Why not take a 50% payment up front? Why accept a fixed price offer that isn't fully funded? Yes, the client may be trying to get something for nothing, but you allowed yourself to be placed in this position by not sticking to a set of rules for accepting contracts. Don't allow yourself to be manipulated. 


Ace Contributor
Tarek S Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
10 of 17

Thanks for the advice, Tonya. but isn't closing the contract myself negatively affect my JSS? and is there a proper channel I should take this to upwork staff? one of them have replied and even message me asking for which contract I'm facing this problem, but after reading Petra's reply, I don't think it matters anyway, looks like even if the client was a fraud, upwork will take their side