re: "Now I want to consult with the community about what should I do?"
First of all... This IS THE RIGHT thing to do.
Talk to us. There is a lot of experience here.
Don't do or say anything rash.
And I'm sorry about your situation. But let's talk this through so we can come up with a solution that works well for you, and the client as well.
Let's get something out of the way, and be transparent about what is happening here.
The original poster has a closed contract with 85 hours logged, at a rate of $3.99/hour. The total is almost exactly $300.
So, yes, that is a chunk of change. But we need to be clear that this is 85 hours billed at under four dollars an hour, not 85 hours billed at $100/hour or something. Need to keep this in perspective.
Salman - so this client send you a contract, you accept it and then he ghosted?
How can you have worked for 85 hours without any direction, confirmation, clarifying and approval of the work if your client ghosted? What type of work did you provide for him and did he get that final work?
I guess I am stuck on how you can put that many hours on a project without communicating with him at all. Did you assume to continue working even though he was no longer replying? Also, did you have a weekly limit or unlimited hours? Did you use the tracker or submitted manual hours? Please give us more info so we can advise. From what you have said and the client feedback it just doesn't add up.
Melanie is quite right:
A freelancer can't simply start logging time and billing hours to a client's account on his own.
The client must set up a contract and allow the freelancer to log time.
I agree with Petra: 85 hours for this project seems like a LOT.
I think there are two sides to this story.
It would be good if the client himself would join us in this Forum discussion. We are not going to fully understand his perspective if he does not do so.
But let's point out some obvious things:
The freelancer has ALREADY been paid.
The client is apparently REQUESTING a full refund.
But the client has LOST A LOT OF LEVERAGE by closing the contract and leaving a 1-star review with accusations of fraudulent behavior.
If it was ME PERSONALLY who was the client, I probably would have messaged the freelancer and said something like this:
"Hello, Salman. Thank you for all the work you did on this project. I'm sorry I was so difficult to reach for a while, but I am here now. I think there may have been some misunderstanding about my expectations regarding this project. $300 is a lot of money for me right now. But I know you did a lot of work on this. Can we discuss a compromise that might be acceptable to both of us?"
re: "Can I upload my conversations screenshots?"
How about you summarize what we would learn if we read those screenshots.
If you upload the actual screenshots, they are just going to be removed by Forum Moderators as a violation of community guidelines.
The time to discuss refunds is BEFORE closing a contract. And BEFORE giving a freelancer a one-star review.
IT IS POSSIBLE that the client may simply be done with all this and walk away angry.
But it is also possible that the client could still cause problems for the freelancer by going to Upwork Customer Support directly and trying to get a refund.
The client is not here, so I will focus my advice on the freelancer.
Salman: That's a lot of hours for a project for which there was no communication. If you can think of ANY WAY in which your work on this project may have been... questionable. If you can put yourself into the client's mindset and think of things from his perspective and come up with some rational for compromise here... Maybe the right thing to do is to offer a refund. If you think that the client has a point, and if maybe you didn't work as hard on this project as would justify that number of hours... then you should keep in mind that a complete refund would completely remove that job listing and feedback from your public work history. (Private feedback would remain in the background.)
Or if a complete refund is unjustified, but if a partial refund would be the honorable thing to do based on the work that was actually done, that is something you could do without needing to ask anybody's permission.
But if the billing is genuinely justified, then I'm not suggesting you refund anything. If the client is acting dishonorably here, then that should not be accepted. And could even be reported.
There might be more than meets the eye here. I reviewed the client's reviews, and the client was addressed by various freelancers as Kyle, Monica, and Jorge. So perhaps one of these personas hired Salman without notifying the others. In fact, one freelancer received 5 star reviews from both Monica and Jorge, but then on the last job she did for the client, she received a 4 star review with a comment about a language barrier, which somehow wasn't a problem during the previous 12 jobs.
Yes, his behaviour was like I stole his money. Or some kind of cheating I have done with him. That is not acceptable.
Of course if he asks me politely or in a kind way that he does not need the work he needs a refund. In a way like that everyone can do a negotiation!
We are working here, not cheating with anyone!
Those aggressive words with full of lies!
Is should not be the behavior of human beings!
If you correctly understood the work you agreed to, completed it and logged your hours properly using the Time Tracker app, it is the client's fault for not checking with you and not paying attention to the hours you were booking in real time via the easy access (s)he had to Upwork's ongong recording of your activity.
(S)he could have called halt at any time to keep you from billing hours; (s)he didn't, and you continued on. There is no apparent reason for you to even consider refunding any money.