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Issuing a refund

Community Guru
Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
1 of 14

Lately I'm seeing more and more freelancers posting about refunding payment and negative refiews.

So I say to all freelancers;

If you issued  a refund because you knew your work was not up to par (shoddy, unprofessional etc) or if you thought you could complete the job but found out it was way above your skillset, then I can totally understand your reason and action to issue that refund so that the client could find a better outcome with another freelancer,

BUT

If you issued that refund JUST so you didn't have a negative feedback on your profile then you did a disservice to this site AND TO YOURSELF. By doing that you actually rewarded this client for their bad, unprofessional behavior. You added just another conquest for this client. Each time a freelancer returns their payment it reinforces this behavior and this client will continue to use negative feedback or threats of negative feedback to get free work from other freelancers. 

 

So, if your work looks like a kindergartner created it, or if it's just so full of errors that it's basically worthless then go ahead and refund any payments, otherwise DON'T.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 14

Completely agree with Kathy.
I appreciate her post.

 

It is important for freelancers to understand that when clients ask for a refund when the freelancer has actually done the work, the client is doing something wrong.

 

If I go to Home Depot, buy three gaskets for a plumbing job, and end up only needing 2 of them... I can return the unopened third gasket to Home Depot and ask for a refund. That's FINE! There is nothing wrong with that.

 

Home Depot can put the gasket back on the shelf and sell it.

 

When a client asks a freelancer to write an article about how parents can encourage their students to do homework, and then the client decides to discontinue the parenting section of their website, IT IS WRONG for the client to ask the freelancer for a refund for the article she wrote.

 

It does not matter if the client doesn't need or want the article any more. It doesn't matter if the client doesn't like the article.

 

The freelancer can't get her time back if she issues a refund.

 

The client is committing an immoral act when she asks for a refund. This is unprofessional and unethical.

 

THIS DOESN'T MEAN that a freelancer should never issue a refund. Sometimes issuing a refund is a good business decision for the freelancer.

 

But generally speaking, how clients use Upwork should be very simple:

- hire a freelancer to do something

- pay the freelancer for doing the work

- the end

 

If a client doesn't like a freelancer's work, the client should work with other freelancers.

Community Leader
Anna T Member Since: Jan 27, 2017
3 of 14

Perhaps if Upwork would do something about the ever present JSS noose, less refunds would be given. Sorry, but with all due respect and at the risk of sounding like a “JSS whiner” (as was so eloquently put in another thread) as long as Upwork continues with this type inequitable leverage there will continue to be refunds as it is the only option Upwork provides in some situations.

Not all freelancers are lucky enough, or in my case, even want long term clients. So, the chances of coming across self-serving clients are significantly higher for some of us.  It’s not always the freelancer’s fault, and not all of us have a crystal ball in our back pocket to foresee these unfortunate situations. For some freelancers, issuing a refund now may mean the difference between eating or not eating next month. Sorry, but the problem originates with Upwork and if I were in some of the horrible situations I've read about here, I’d be refunding too.

Community Guru
John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
4 of 14

Anna, while I empathize with your grievance against JSS, you're somewhat missing the point, because even with a full refund, a client can still leave low private feedback, which has negative effect on JSS, and could also give job not completed as a reason for closing the contract, which might further lower JSS. So potentially all that's gained by giving a refund is there won't be a low star rating or critical written comments.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Community Leader
Anna T Member Since: Jan 27, 2017
5 of 14

John K wrote:

Anna, while I empathize with your grievance against JSS, you're somewhat missing the point

 

Hi John, I do understand the point, and you are correct.

But I do believe that the refund issue originates with Upwork, not the freelancers. At least with a refund not all is lost, and that may mean much more to some freelancers than others. To date, I haven’t seen any alternatives other than the top-rated perk, which is not always a possibility for some.

Community Guru
Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
6 of 14

Anna T wrote:

John K wrote:

Anna, while I empathize with your grievance against JSS, you're somewhat missing the point

 

Hi John, I do understand the point, and you are correct.

But I do believe that the refund issue originates with Upwork, not the freelancers. At least with a refund not all is lost, and that may mean much more to some freelancers than others. To date, I haven't seen any alternatives other than the top-rated perk, which is not always a possibility for some.


------------------

No, the refund issue does NOT originate with Upwork, it most certainly originates with the freelancer. It's Not Upwork who refunds payment, it's the freelancer that refunds payment. It's totally their decision and their action that rewards the client. What freelancers may not realize is that even though Public feedback no longer shows on their profile, the Private feedback remains. And THAT is what affects a freelancer's JSS much more then negative feedback. Even if a client threatens negative feedback they can still leave Private feedback. 

 

So, a freelancer refunds payment, and Public feedback no longer shows. BUT Private feedback affects their JSS and now their JSS is down 10 points, they don't get paid and all the time, effort and hard work is for nothing. BUT, the client now has their work and they didn't have to pay a penny for it. The client has been rewarded and will continue to employ this tactic. So what does refunding actually accomplish, positively for the freelancer. 

Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
7 of 14

Anna T wrote:

Perhaps if Upwork would do something about the ever present JSS noose, less refunds would be given. Sorry, but with all due respect and at the risk of sounding like a “JSS whiner” (as was so eloquently put in another thread) as long as Upwork continues with this type inequitable leverage there will continue to be refunds as it is the only option Upwork provides in some situations.

Not all freelancers are lucky enough, or in my case, even want long term clients. So, the chances of coming across self-serving clients are significantly higher for some of us.  It’s not always the freelancer’s fault, and not all of us have a crystal ball in our back pocket to foresee these unfortunate situations. For some freelancers, issuing a refund now may mean the difference between eating or not eating next month. Sorry, but the problem originates with Upwork and if I were in some of the horrible situations I've read about here, I’d be refunding too.


But, issuing a refund is more damaging to your JSS than allowing a review from a client to stand. If you (or anyone else) is issuing refunds hoping that it will save their JSS, then you (or they) are harming yourself!

 

 

Community Guru
Kholleras I Member Since: Nov 24, 2015
8 of 14

Anna T wrote:

For some freelancers, issuing a refund now may mean the difference between eating or not eating next month. Sorry, but the problem originates with Upwork and if I were in some of the horrible situations I've read about here, I’d be refunding too.


Freelancers having to make such dire choices is not Upwork's responsibility though. Upwork is not the place for people who are desperate for money. Freelancers who cannot afford to turn down shady clients and unsuitable projects (potentially for weeks at a time) will sooner or later find that those projects drag down their JSS'.

Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
9 of 14

Heaven H wrote:

Anna T wrote:

For some freelancers, issuing a refund now may mean the difference between eating or not eating next month. Sorry, but the problem originates with Upwork and if I were in some of the horrible situations I've read about here, I’d be refunding too.


Freelancers having to make such dire choices is not Upwork's responsibility though. Upwork is not the place for people who are desperate for money. Freelancers who cannot afford to turn down shady clients and unsuitable projects (potentially for weeks at a time) will sooner or later find that those projects drag down their JSS'.


I think this points to a business reality. Operating your own business--of any kind--is not the proper role for someone who sees themselves as a victim. If everything that goes wrong in your business is someone else's fault--you will fail every time. People who succeed identify the challenges, face them and either overcome those challenges or pivot. Capitalism ain't pretty but it is a choice to participate. 

 

 

 

 

Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
10 of 14

I sympathise with new freelancers on Upwork. It's hard to get established, and new-comers are particularly vulnerable to bad feedback. I consider myself fortunate to have survived my "baptism of fire" almost unscathed. So I don't blame new-comers for doing what it takes, even if that includes an action (giving a refund) that is detrimental to the collective interests of freelancers. 

 

Of course, they should be told that a refund may not be in their OWN interest, as it doesn't save their JSS. I believe Upwork could do more to communicate important facts like that to new-comers. And it's good that there are plenty of experienced freelancers communicating such important information through this forum. But I feel it could sometimes be done in a less judgemental way.

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