Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Libelous Review - Upwork Won't Help

Active Member
Catherine C Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
1 of 29

Hi all,


I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with a situation like this and if they resolved it. (sorry about the length - this has been going on since September)


I was approached by a previous client to carry out a new job in September. He was vague on details, but I carried out the work as best I could with the info he gave me. He said he thought the work was good, but wanted a couple of small tweaks (not unusual for copywriting) and said he'd be in touch. I spent the next 2-3 months contacting him repeatedly and heard nothing back. 


Fast-forward a few weeks and after speaking to an Upwork Rep who finally managed to contact him, I found out he was claiming my work was bad and he would offer half the amount as a curtousy. Shocking behaviour!! He was obviously trying to get out of paying, so after hearing the full story, the UW Rep recommended I request the full amount.


Fast-forward another few weeks, the Dispute Team rule that I get the full amount, but they'll also pay him half the amount that he wanted refunded. I queried this, since he was so clearly in the wrong and they said they were basically just doing it so we could all get back to work.


Meanwhile, the client, in an obvious fit of spite, left a completely untrue review on my profile, giving me 1 Star in areas like Communication, when I was the one trying to get in touch with him! He also said I had demanded all the money even though my work was terrible - something that the Upwork Rep had told me to do!


I've been back at forth with Upwork Dispute Reps about having the review removed. If it were an honest criticism, I wouldn't mind, but it's all untrue, makes me look awful and could seriously damange my future business. And unlike Yelp or AirBnB, there's no way for me to defend myself on my profile!


They're refusing to remove it, even though I've submitted screenshots of emails with the client that disprove every single thing he's said. I've spoke to a legal representative who says it's a clear case of libel and should be removed. Currently the only option I've been given is to refund all the money to the client, so the review disappears - how is that fair????


I'm wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation and what the outcome was!


All help appreciated - I'm so upset about the way this has been handled and how little Upwork seems to care about its freelancers. And we're the ones paying all the fees....

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
2 of 29

Yeah, that's the downside to a dispute. You have to fight for your money when you know that you deserve it, but the customer just gives you a bad review which is expected but kinda frustrating when you knwo there's no way you're getting anything else but 1 star.


I understand why you're upset. I was upset too even though I won. It will pass. It's a natural reaction to having a bad client. 


Shake it off, maybe take some time off or something. It will get pushed down the first page and it won't affect you anymore.

Active Member
Catherine C Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
3 of 29

I actually expected him to just refuse to review me (he didn't review me for the previous job that he was really happy with!), but if he did leave a review, I thought there would be some honesty! I can't understand how Upwork sits back and just allow a client to blatantly lie (esp when they've been sent proof of this!), damaging a freelancer's reputation.


And then tell me that I have to basically pay to have it removed!


There are a number of things people don't like about Upwork, but this has seriously made me consider leaving. 10% of earning paid in fees and no protection when we need it :'(

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 29



I read the review in question.


I read the other, very positive reviews, for projects which earned you much more money.


The bad review is for a project which earned you $50.


Other projects earned you multiple hundreds of dollars.


I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I will not tell you what to do. I will tell you exactly what I would do in this situation. I'll tell you what I would do as while thinking only of my own interests.


If I found out that this $50 client did not like my work and was claiming the things that he claims, I would simply refund the money.


Note that in no way will I justify or excuse bad behavior on the part of the client you worked for.


I would issue a full refund for $50, and that bad review goes away. The Job Success score takes a hit. But you're taking a hit anyway, and the hit you're taking is very public. And for only $50.00?


I simply wouldn't sacrifice my success and my profile in order to take the moral high ground and stand on principle. I'm too mercenary for that. What is important to me is that I know I did my best, and I don't have time to spend messing around with a client who is a liar or who doesn't appreciate my work. I'm too busy for that.

Active Member
Catherine C Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
5 of 29

You're right, it's the practical thing to do.


But I guess I feel like I need to take some kind of stand here - the majority of us work hard to give a client good work and even when we do this, we are still so vulnerable! Here was a client who tried to cheat the system and could now get all his money back just so I can save my reputation. After I spent a number of hours trying to complete a job he didn't give me enough information to carry out in the first place.


The system needs to be fixed. Upwork should be protecting us and while it may be just $50 for me, I would bet that there are plenty of other people who have been screwed out of much larger amounts while Upwork sits back and does nothing.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
6 of 29

Why didn't you comment on the feedback when you still had time?

Community Guru
Jessica S Member Since: Dec 4, 2015
7 of 29

There is no recourse for freelancers here. In this utopian make-believe world Upwork created, all clients are perfect citizens and freelancers are the trashy scammers. So, in situations like yours, you just have to take it. I don't even know why there is a dispute option when the result is CERTAIN to result in one star feedback - even if you win. You are required to do everything for the client including work not originally agreed to and you must monitor them on closing contracts as all consequences for anything that happens between a client and a freelancer is blamed 100% on the freelancer.


if I ran this place, there would be no reviews after a dispute. Some clients DO scam and treat freelancers horribly. Once investigated, case is closed and neither party reviews the other unless it's determined that there was no reason to even bring a dispute forward (that fixes the issue of either party filing a dispute for non-valid reasons). In the real world, not everyone gets along. Let's acknowledge that and handle it maturely without ruining people's profiles. 

Active Member
Catherine C Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
8 of 29

That's a really good idea and also just basic common sense!


But if they won't do that, then their disputes team should be fair about removing reviews in situations when either party is blatantly lying.


That review has been on my profile since December (yes, their response team has been THAT slow in dealing with things) and I haven't pitched for a job since because I don't want to waste credits when I know potential clients will be put off by that review. Thankfully I've had other work (mostly from outside Upwork) to keep me going, but I'll need to start sending proposals again soon.


I just never realised how powerless freelancers were on this site. We can do everything right and still get screwed over.


Also regardless of how this turns out, my job success score is going to suffer and how is that fair? In fact, I've had great relationships with my other clients and excellent reviews, and my job success score is already in the 60s without this event being taken into consideration. I asked Upwork about this and they fobbed me off with some manual jargon that didn't explain a thing! The calculation of that score should be laid out in black and white.

Community Leader
Sandeep C Member Since: Oct 24, 2013
9 of 29

@Jessica S wrote:


if I ran this place, there would be no reviews after a dispute. Some clients DO scam and treat freelancers horribly. 

 It is surprising to know that clients will leave feedback after losing a dispute. Obviously client will not give genuine feedback. It is even more surprising that Upwork will let it happen. Freelancer is always the one who suffers.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
10 of 29

Catherine, anyone would be upset with this clearly spiteful client (and with all the shenanigans you have had to put up with).


Because of  Upwork's feedback policy, you are not likely to win this one, however unfair. The only thing you can do is to indulge in a little damage limitation. If you can still respond to this feedback, you could come back with your opinion, but I think silence is sometimes better than refutation.


The problem is that this client has not actually libelled you, and even if he had, it would be very difficult to come out on top. I think you should just swallow it and move on. You have a good record. One whiny review is going to say more about the client than you. I also think you should remove the last para in your overview - it highlights the problem but in the wrong way. Too much protestation can fuel questions and doubts, even if you are the wronged party.


 Freelancing can suck sometimes.