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Community Member

Lets protest Upwork's exploitation through chargeback/payment reversal.

Today I'm going to speak against the horrible system of Upwork's chargeback/payment reversal process. The chargeback/payment reversal process is something in that a client gets his or her work done then pay in fixed price project and finally makes a reversal request from his or her bank and upwork sends the money from your account or if you don't have enough earnings in your upwork account, then it restricts withdrawals on your account until the chargeback amount is paid. That means, for a fixed-price job, you deliver work and get paid for that and after a few days your client makes a chargeback request and Upwork sends the money (you earned on that project) to the client. You have nothing to claim your money. and Upwork has nothing to protect you from such scam activities.


Recently I worked on a fixed-price project worth $4800. I delivered the work and once the client disputed to make a refund. upwork mediator suggested both the client and me not make a refund and If we are not satisfied then go for arbitration. I paid the arbitration fee but the client did not. So I was allowed to continue my upwork journey. Later on, the client made a reversal request from his bank, and Upwork restricted withdrawals on my account. They told me they will deal with the bank on my behalf and that the bank will make a decision within 90 days. Afterward, they restored my account and returned the amount they initially reversed from my earnings. I asked in support if the chargeback process and restrictions were lifted from my account. They replied back by saying that my account was fully restored.


Recently, I received an email where Upwork is again asking me to return the $4800 and they restricted my account again.     I asked why did they restore my account fully? They replied it was a temporary restoration.

Upwork, You don't need to restore my account temporarily. If you restore my account temporarily, then why you told me that my account was restored fully and you never told me that it was a temporary restoration. 

I worked and I delivered my work and your mediator checked everything and made a decision of not to refund the client. I won the arbitration process since the client did not pay a fee.

I worked, not theft. 

If upwork is not willing to protect freelancers in fixed-price jobs, It does mean that the scammer clients are part of upwork or upwork is involved in the scam indirectly.

Thousands of freelancers are exploited by this ridiculous chargeback system.


Alone a freelancer can not be able to make upwork willing to protect freelancers against fixed-priced job or change its horrible system. But If freelancers join together and take action, upwork is bound to think about our rights.

If upwork can not protect a freelancer in fixed-price job, then why do you have such jobs? I know you TOS does not protect freelancers in fixed-price job, then why you have this fixed-price system?

Again it seems upwork is involved in such scams directly or indirectly. If you are not involved then stop fixed-price jobs or change your TOS to protect freelancers.


If upwork is not willing to protect us, We can together take action against upwork:


1) Organizing online petitions against such inconsistency.

2) contract newspapers and news organizations and explain this.

3) Influencing clients and freelancers and promoting other freelance marketplaces.

4) taking legal action to protect freelancers and change their TOS.

5) other steps based on situations.


Dear Upwork, you are the top freelance marketplace and that's why we want to work here. But you are not the one and only freelance marketplace. Clients and freelancers have options to switch those marketplaces. and We are not thieves, we sell our skills. 


We know your TOS, please don't mention here those TOS and templated answers. You can not exploit or help someone to exploit freelancers through your inconsistent system. No one is permitted to scam, and you need to safeguard our earnings from such scams. That's why we pay you 20% commission from our earnings.


We want a solution not a templated answer, and we are not thieves.


Looking forward to having a solution from you soon.


Community Member

So they put your account in the red again after 60 days? That's incredibly frustrating. You're only getting canned answers and chargebacks are indeed a risk on escrow.


Not saying "shoulda woulda coulda" on this because I can empathize with you. This is a huge amount. But if I can add some advice to people reading this in the future -- If I were to go back to escrow (never will happen tbh unless I'm desperate, but still) I would only take escrow from people who have other hires where a chargeback suspension would considerably affect them. No new clients on escrow. They have nothing to lose to file a chargeback.

Community Member

I'm not sure you know what exploitation means. 


You know that when the client issues a chargeback the client's bank takes back the money it sent to Upwork, right? Upwork gets nothing, just like you.

Um, that's why freelancers pay 20% of their outcome, upwork should take responsibility

What? No! Your service fee is not insurance! It is Upwork's revenue. The responsible parties are the client who filed a chargeback and the bank who implemented it. (And it is only 20% on the first $500 per client.)

So...you think that if a client who you happened to connect with through this platform and enter into an independent contract with issues a chargeback, Upwork should pay you out of its own pocket for work you did not do for Upwork and that they received no benefit from? Why?

Did you understand what I wrote or not you read my post at all?

If there is no protection against chargeback for fixed-price job, then there should not be fixed-price job system. 

Or upwork should file suit againt those clients who revrese payment after receiving works.

If upwork does nothing, its clear that upwork is involved in this scam. These clients are employed by upwork. 

If upwork does nothing, its clear that upwork is involved in this scam. These clients are employed by upwork. 

Let me get this straight: you claim that Upwork is paying clients to file chargebacks that most likely (but not proven) forcibly return Upwork's revenue from the contract service fee? Such that the clients make extra money on top of the stolen assets/services? Such that Upwork gets (most likely) negative revenue? All in direct violation of Upwork's ToS that explicitly forbid chargebacks by clients?


🤔🤔🤔 You're right. That makes perfect sense. 🙄

You are talking like a scholar but it's clear that you lack knowledge of what I have posted here. That's why you are not focusing on the problem I have mentioned. See how others have commented and what I wrote in my post. 

I'm really disappointed and typing with frustration. That's why there can be some mistakes in my writing. Does the misuse of "terrific" outweigh my problem? 

Is what you are saying the solution to my problem?

Have you ever studied "Logic"?

I don't claim upwork is involved in this scam, I told if upwork is not willing to protect us or take action against those scammers, then it seems upwork is indirectly or directly involved.

I said it seemed. I just tried to show the logic, it was not a claim.


If you don't have knowledge on a specific topic, you should refrain from commenting. I did not invite you to laugh at me.

If you can, explain the situation or help me to overcome the issue. 

Instead of giving a solution or valuable info, finding a mistake in word choice is really ridiculous!


There is no logic showing that Upwork is involved. Upwork is hurt by chargebacks just like the freelancer is. However, logic dictates that they not go into bankruptcy fighting chargebacks--just as it does for every other business. About 6 of every 1000 credit card transactions are charged back, and merchants lose a lot of money to them. People smarter and more educated in this arena than either you or I (or Upwork, for that matter) have been working for years to figure out how to address this problem...and last year it cost businesses about $115 billion.


Your question wasn't for me, but I've not only studied logic, but taught it for many years. I'm also an attorney with a good bit of experience in the federal consumer financial protection arena (which governs credit card chargebacks). I understand your frustration, but I can assure you that it you who is ignorant of your subject. And that's fine--it's not an insult--it's simply not your area of expertise. But, it does mean that you're not qualified to determine how Upwork should be handling an issue you don't fully understand. 

I'm not sure what you mean by "not proven." If a chargeback is successful, the bank or issuing institution pulls back the funds. 

I'm not sure what you mean by "not proven."

I specifically refer to Upwork's revenue. I haven't seen evidence one way or the other that Upwork does not keep their fees.

I have. Somebody posted an example of a chargeback and how it shows up in the freelancer's account. 

Upwork reverses their fee. They don't earn a fee in case of a chargeback. 

I have. Somebody posted an example of a chargeback and how it shows up in the freelancer's account. 

Upwork reverses their fee. They don't earn a fee in case of a chargeback. 

That's a relief. Do you happen to know which discussion that is located? I want to bookmark it.

Not how law works. 

To explain: Upwork is the facilitator. The freelancers gets money from the client via upwork. Upwork collects a fee to cover their expenses.

In the case of a chargeback, who has the money?

Not upwork. It as sent back to the client. 

Not the freelancer. He has to send it back to upwork. 

The client has it. 

Who can sue the client?

Not upwork, since they are not the intended recipient. 

Only the freelancer can sue the client. You are free to do that, if it is economically feasible. Upwork can't sue the client even if they wanted to, they are not the contractual party. You are. 

If upwork paid for every charge-back or fraud, they would be bankrupt in two weeks. 

If I were you, I would be careful with accusations of fraud, but working in your favor is that your accusations don't make any sense at all, so upwork will not take them seriously. 

Your theory is that upwork has fake client accounts, so they can take back money from freelancers? Make it make sense to me, please. 

Thank you for your explanation. Actually I'm not asking upwork to pay me $4800. Upwork restricted my withdrawals and asked me to pay $4800. But I will not pay a single dollar. Then the ultimate loss is whose? Definitely upwork is losing the money. I did not do fraud nor I theft client's money. Also I won in the upwork dispute and arbitration method. So, I'm legally in good position since upwork made decision in my favour. To its best, upwork can suspend my account. Its not a problem for me because I already have stopped working in upwork. 

I did not claim upwork is doing the scam. I showed the logic that if upwork is not willing at all to safeguard freelancers earnings or take actions against such clients, then it seems that upwork is involved in this scam. It said it seemd, not I claimed.

Thousands of freelancers are losing their hard earned income because for this fixed price job system. 

If upwork cant protect us against such scam, then why does it stop fixed price job?

Is it something to benefit the scammer clients?

As I said, if there is no solution from upwork, hundreds and thousands of freelancers can join together and make upwork to think about our rights. 

And I'm legally free to express my opinion and its mandatory whenever I get exploited by the inconsistent system of upwork.

Upwork can do anything it wants. I have strong evidence of everything.



Who scammed you? The client or upwork?

I understand that people abandon their upwork accounts when they are in the red. But you know what that means, right? It means that the client's bank has clawed the payment back, and upwork has returned the money to the client. 

Who lost money?

Not you, upwork did. 

Who is going to pay it? 

Not you, upwork. 

With which money?

The fees that other freelancers pay.

Does upwork have enough money for this trickery?

No, they have not made a profit in years. 

Thanks again for the reply. Please try to understand what is my point. I'm not asking upwork to pay me. 

Please answer my question.

You deliver work, the client pays you, and afterward, the client takes back the money through its bank.

Do you think it's fair?

Do you believe it should continue?


Every day, a number of freelancers are losing their earnings from this chargeback system.

I'm asking for protection us in this scenario, not asking to pay from upwork's pocket. 

Now upwork will find what is the best to protect us in such contexts. If upwork can not do anything why does it stop the fixed-price project?

That's my point. Please come to the point.

Now upwork will find what is the best to protect us in such contexts. If upwork can not do anything why does it stop the fixed-price project?

Because it's rare and 99,5% of freelancers have great experiences with clients that always pay and don't want to lose the ability to have another option to hourly?

Correct. There is no protection against chargebacks, whether you are selling through Upwork or taking credit card payments directly or getting a credit card payment that passes through another platform. Chargebacks are a serious problem that cost sellers billions of dollars every year...a problem that has nothing whatsoever to do with Upwork.


In principal, I agree that Upwork should file lawsuits on those chargebacks, since issuing a chargeback directly violates Upwork's terms of service. But, there's a pragmatic element, and if Upwork spends $5,000-10,000 pursuing litigation against every client who takes back a $500 payment (which Upwork would have gotten $25-100 of), they'll be out of business in no time, and that's not likely to serve anyone well. 

Community Member

The whole credit card chargeback thing is nightmare. Yes, it can hurt freelancers very badly.

But this is not an Upwork issue.

This is a credit card issue.

Community Member

The problem with chargebacks is not Upwork. Since we don't know the behind-the-scenes on the chargeback dispute between Upwork and the bank, I can't say for certain that they don't, but I suspect that the only step Upwork is not taking is filing lawsuits to dispute the chargeback - assuming that is actually an option.


What needs to change are the laws in the US regarding chargebacks. There must be a better balance of protecting the owners of stolen cards and victims of identity theft and the victim vendors.

Community Member

Chargebacks when done through a stolen card are horrible. As I have said many times before, the only solution I can see is through legislation. The banks hold all the power in the situation, because of the current U.S. laws. No business is going to go against the banks and end up in court over chargebacks. Therefore, until a class action suit is brought, or some kind of legislation that puts restrictions or qualifiers on the chargeback, nothing will change.


No business or platform will fight the banks and the law. Trying to "get" Upwork isn't going to work. Your anger and frustration is misplaced. Don't misunderstand me, I have been trying to find a solution to this and have done research. That's why I believe the solution above. I can become quite intense over injustices, but you must make sure you have the right target.

Unfortunately, the solution will not happen overnight, but it can change if the focus is on the right problem.


Surely, you realize that no online platform will cover you in case of a chargeback. That is a fact. Upwork does offer some protection with hourly tracking. Unfortunately, you can pour all your energy into your campaign and it will change nothing. The law has to be changed.  No one has the money in chargebacks. The card is stolen. Who would pay you? The card owner, the one whose card was stolen?


Also, I would caution you about posting "facts" online. Opinions are one thing, statements as facts are another.

Its not a stolen card chargeback, its done by the client after he was failed in upwork dispute and arbitrage system. And I'm not spreading any illegal facts or statement. I have proof of everything. I was chargeback twice in the same project and upwork lifted the chargeback and restored my account after first chargeback.


I know us laws permit card holders to reverese payment. But what upwork is doing to protect freelancers? 

If upwork has nothing to protect freelancers then why it terminate its fixed-price job system?

At least, upwork can file suits against the client who wrongfully make payment reversal.


And definitely I will raise my voice against this terrible system. If I can not do anything today, I will do it 5 years or 10 years later. That means, I'm not going back from my path.

And dinitely I will raise my voice against this terrific system.

Did you mean "terrible system"? One of the frustrating things about English - some words that look very similar can actually be complete antonyms.

Community Member

If you feel fixed price jobs are not safe, then don't use them. Nothing mandates you used fixed price.

I think in the same way, if fixed price jobs are not safe and client can get back the money after making a payment, then Upwork needs to stop fixed price jobs or file suits agains such clients.

Community Member

This is why I rarely accept fixed price work anymore.  Hopefully you're able to get things sorted out and move on from this.


Hi Shahriar,


Thank you for your message. I am sorry to hear about your experience with the client. This is a difficult situation and I understand your frustration. Some reversals (chargebacks) are a result of the client contacting their bank and asking them to reverse the payment.


In these cases, we look to our Terms of Service (TOS) for guidance and follow it by taking two steps:
1. We seek reimbursement from freelancers/agencies in cases where their client makes a payment, asks their bank to reverse it, and the bank does. (see more detail in sections 6.3-6.5 in our TOS).
2. We review the client’s Upwork account because reversing a payment, in most cases, is against our TOS and can result in us permanently suspending their Upwork account.
Aside from these steps, the Upwork team also helps the freelancer or agency challenge the reversal. Our team can submit a rebuttal to the client’s bank on the freelancer’s behalf if they provide a proof of the work or deliverables. They would need to move quickly, so please provide the requested proof within 48 hours of being notified of the reversal if you’d like us to proceed. Keep in mind that it can take the bank up to 90 days to review and provide their final decision. The client’s bank will have the final say regarding the rebuttal and we have no control over the outcome. Please don't hesitate to follow up with the team directly on your support ticket if you have additional questions.


Thank you,



Again temaplated reply!

Did you read my post? I dont think so. Everything is done and your upwork restricted my account twice for the same project. Rebuttal is complete and your support agent said upwork maid decision in favour of client.

Community Member

This happened to me twice last year but the one that really surprised me was on an hourly contract with proof that I actually worked on the project as well as proof of me delivering the job to the client but I still got a chargeback the most annoying of the problem was the threat from Upwork to permanently suspend my account if I get a chargeback in the future. It really disgusted me because it was impossible for me to know what was on the mind of the client regarding payment, I would have known if the client had a stolen card or if the client intended to scam me but it happened. I would like to plead with Upwork to review policies on chargeback on its platforms to better protect its freelancers.

Thank you so much for the reply. We the freelancers need to work together to make upwork willing to take actions against such scammers and protect us. If we can join together upwork is bound to bring a change.

Come on now. Millions of freelancers banding together? Upwork has too many freelancers as it is. 

You are still implying that upwork is at fault when THE CLIENT fails to pay and that freelancers can force upwork to change. How? What? 

It is not cost-effective for upwork to sue clients that fail to pay. They just suspend them. 

Please come back to my point and explain how exactly you expect upwork to know that a client will execute a chargeback and how they can avoid that. 

Community Member

I also got chargeback request and I had to return 1000$ to upwork. It looks to me that more than 95% of the time upwork is unable to recover funds of seller. Because I have not seen a single peson here who successfully got chargeback money back after upwork fought for them


Hi Shahriar,


While there are initiatives around better-educating clients and freelancers about chargeback as well as improving our internal systems to make payments on Upwork safer, chargeback happen when a client files a dispute with their financial institution outside of Upwork and that's outside of Upwork's control.


Currently, there are no intentions to discontinue the fixed-price contract model on Upwork. That said, in many cases, the Upwork team can offer specific help by submitting a rebuttal to the client’s bank on the freelancer's behalf. So it would be more productive for the parties involved to communicate with the appropriate team using those support tickets. 


Since all the arguments have been exhausted and this discussion is moving in an unproductive direction, we'll be closing this thread from further replies.

~ Arjay
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