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dannyriendeau
Community Member

Long-time client wants all money back

I have a long-time client that I have been billing an average of 10-20 hours per week over the last 13 months. The time was logged manually to create 50 podcasts and corresponding blog posts. The amount was agreed to at the start ( I have the screenshots from UpWork chat confirming this.). Nevertheless, the client now want all $20k returned. I have recommend we use Upwork's dispute resolution. He has refused. The client has threatened to file criminal charges with me, a lawsuit and has called me a bunch of names. I don't know what to do. Any advice?
27 REPLIES 27
tinker_bell3
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Daniel,

 

I'm sorry to hear that your long-term contract with this client isn't going well. I checked and it looks like our team has already assisted you directly regarding this issue and have advised you regarding the dispute process. Please let us know if you have other questions. 

~ Joanne
Upwork
prestonhunter
Community Member

re: "the client now wants all $20k returned"

 

I want to be able to eat any kind of ice cream without it making my blood sugar go crazy.

 

And I want the fourth Indiana Jones move to not stink.

 

We don't always get what we want.

 

re: "The client has threatened to file criminal charges with me, a lawsuit and has called me a bunch of names."

 

Is this client eight years old?

petra_r
Community Member


Daniel R wrote:
 Nevertheless, the client now want all $20k returned. 

Why and on what basis?

wlyonsatl
Community Member

Daniel R.,

 

I thought I'd seen it all on this board, but it's a whole new level of ridiculous that this client thinks this is proper treatment of anyone who's worked for them - through Upwork or any other channel.

 

Of course, no matter what Upwork decides, the courts can be your or the client's next stop - assuming you and the client are in the same state, province or country. 

 

$20,000 is a lot of mone. If it were I, I'd get my lawyer up to speed and adding him/her to the Upwork project message board (and other Upwork communication channels) and CC him/her on every email to anyone regarding this issue.

 

Please come back after the dust settles to let us know how it worked out for you.

 

Good luck!

 

 

oh you haven't seen it all until the chargeback happens lol

 

But the client has a lot of open jobs and it looks like ones as recent as Aug were open and he's still being billed. It's weird that he's targeting OP because he should have been getting an email that several of his contracts have activity.

We've seen plenty of freelancer complaints on this board about client chargebacks, so there's nothing new about that concept. 

 

But there is no good reason Upwork's protocols should allow for an unlimited period of client chargebacks on active fixed price projects. There is a reason there is a statute of limitations even for many crimes in many legal systems and Upwork should implement one, too. 

 

Yet another reason to only do hourly projects on Upwork.


Will wrote:

But there is no good reason Upwork's protocols should allow for an unlimited period of client chargebacks on active fixed price projects. 


Upwork does not "allow" chargebacks at all. They are a violation of Upwork's terms of service. But the nature of chargebacks is that the bank / card issuer takes back the money and the arguing happens afterwards. It's not as if Upwork could could physically prevent a chargeback. They can't. Nobody can. By the time they find out about it, the money has already been reversed to the payment method it came from.

 

The client could not chargeback the full amount though. There are time limits imposed by the card issuers.

 


Yet another reason to only do hourly projects on Upwork.


That only protects you up to $ 2500 or 50 hours maximum (per client), whichever is less.

You're right, Petra, and too literal.

 

More specifically I should have said "demand for refund," which is not, as you astutely observed, the same as a "chargeback."

 

Sorry for any confusion I caused you.

What I think is wrong with Upwork's approach to no time limit on refund requests was clearly described by you in this post...

 

https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Worried-about-100-Job-rating/m-p/640480#M387376

 

"If fixed rate, the client can dispute everything that was ever paid, provided the last time a milestone was funded was in the last 30 days. This is super dangerous with large fixed rate contracts that come to a standstill periodically or have gone dormant. If the client decides a year after the last milestone to fund a $ 5 milestone, which you have no way to turn down, they can potentially dispute everything paid over years."


Will L wrote:

What I think is wrong with Upwork's approach to no time limit on refund requests was clearly described by you in this post...

https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Worried-about-100-Job-rating/m-p/640480#M387376


That's for fixed price contracts but yes, I agree it's wrong. For hourly contracts, it's very different. The maximum that can be disputed is the last 30 days, and usually only the previous work week (although there is the 30 day loophole at Upwork's discretion.)


The contract in question is an hourly one.

 

Will L wrote:

Sorry for any confusion I caused you.


I'm not confused, don't worry.

 

Will L wrote:

We've seen plenty of freelancer complaints on this board about client chargebacks, so there's nothing new about that concept. 

 

But there is no good reason Upwork's protocols should allow for an unlimited period of client chargebacks


OK, so you posted, specifically mentioning chargebacks (twice) in response to a post about a chargeback, yet you say you didn't mean a chargeback, just said chargeback, and now you think I'm confused?

 

You keep mentioning chargebacks, Petra, so, yes, it looks like you are still confused about what I said despite my correction to ease your mind.

 

And it would have been helpful to the original poster if you had replied to the original post with useful information, which you do sometimes have, rather than just asking, "Why and on what basis?"

 

But that would take the fun out of it, eh?

 

Now,I know you need to have the last word, so the floor is all yours.


Will L wrote:

 

And it would have been helpful to the original poster if you had replied to the original post with useful information, which you do sometimes have, rather than just asking, "Why and on what basis?"

 

But that would take the fun out of it, eh?

 


The client didn't just ask for a refund; he's threatening a lawsuit and criminal charges, and the OP hasn't actually said anything in his own defense. How can anyone provide useful information if we don't know what happened?


Will L wrote:

We've seen plenty of freelancer complaints on this board about client chargebacks, so there's nothing new about that concept. 

 

But there is no good reason Upwork's protocols should allow for an unlimited period of client chargebacks on active fixed price projects. There is a reason there is a statute of limitations even for many crimes in many legal systems and Upwork should implement one, too. 

 

Yet another reason to only do hourly projects on Upwork.


We've seen a few hundred dollars here and there mainly for escrow jobs, but this one is a huge curb stomp to the freelancer if the files a chargeback and he used manual hours. The contract is for $35/hour and he said he was charging the guy 10-20 hours a week. If we just go in the middle with 15 hours/week that's $525/week. We don't know what payment method he used, but lets just say it's PayPal. PayPal gives you 180 days to file a dispute. That's about half a year or 26 weeks. That's ~$13.5k for a chargeback and guess who gets to eat that.

 

To add salt to the wound, the client looks to be a lawyer or he's larping as one. All his jobs are law related. The only thing the OP has going for him is that he's in Canada and the client is in the US.

lysis10
Community Member

OP you are famous on internets. We all want to hear more of the story. Please come back and give more details.

Only development since the first post is that I again offered to submit to arbitration or mediation to decide the matter. Stated that I would be happy to offer a refund if any errors are discovered. Client responded that he now wants more than $20k refunded. I have retained legal counsel on both sides of the border. Waiting to see what happens now.


Daniel R wrote:
Only development since the first post is that I again offered to submit to arbitration or mediation to decide the matter. Stated that I would be happy to offer a refund if any errors are discovered. Client responded that he now wants more than $20k refunded. I have retained legal counsel on both sides of the border. Waiting to see what happens now.

But why does he want a refund? He must have given a reason.

He seems to indicate that he was unaware of my invoices. Despite being sent weekly emails clealry detailing charges. It was one of his employees who opened the contract with me on UpWork, not the person threatening me now. He keeps saying that the work I did should have taken 50 hours. Which is 1/10th my total billings.


Daniel R wrote:
He seems to indicate that he was unaware of my invoices. Despite being sent weekly emails clealry detailing charges. It was one of his employees who opened the contract with me on UpWork, not the person threatening me now. He keeps saying that the work I did should have taken 50 hours. Which is 1/10th my total billings.

aaah, ok. The internet had a lot of theories. Seems weird since he has so many other open contracts he's paying on.

re: "He seems to indicate that he was unaware of my invoices. Despite being sent weekly emails clealry detailing charges. It was one of his employees who opened the contract with me on UpWork, not the person threatening me now. He keeps saying that the work I did should have taken 50 hours. Which is 1/10th my total billings."

 

If this client has a problem with one of his employees, then he needs to deal directly with that employee. It is unconscionable to threaten a freelancer who was hired to do some work, and did that work as instructed.

Daniel, I am sorry to hear that you are facing such an unfortunate situation because another a Upwork user chose to behave in such an immoral manner.

Just close the contract and leave appropriate one star feedback with a comment clearly describing the situation. Then stop communicating with the guy - let him dispute if he decides to. You have nothing to gain by replying to any of his email or messages.

 

Should you worry about legal action? Consider this: if he had the funds and time for that kind of silliness would he make that much of a fuss over 20k? (overcharge or not, it doesn't matter)

Such a person would not want anyone to know how disorganized his business is. Who wants to hire a lawyer unable to handle his own expenses? I wouldn't trust him to handle any kind of documents.


Andrei T wrote:

Just close the contract and leave appropriate one star feedback with a comment clearly describing the situation. Then stop communicating with the guy - let him dispute if he decides to. You have nothing to gain by replying to any of his email or messages.

 

Should you worry about legal action? Consider this: if he had the funds and time for that kind of silliness would he make that much of a fuss over 20k? (overcharge or not, it doesn't matter)

Such a person would not want anyone to know how disorganized his business is. Who wants to hire a lawyer unable to handle his own expenses? I wouldn't trust him to handle any kind of documents.


$20,000 is a lot of money and if the client is a lawyer, then he probably knows whether or not he has a case that's worth pursuing. This isn't something that the OP can simply ignore.

Screenshot_2020-10-04 Upwork Legal Center.png

Daniel, how is this situation developing?

 

Has Upwork refunded any of your fees to the client for any reason?

No, nothing ever happened.  He never disputed anything with UpWork nor did he attempt any chargebacks.  It all seems to have been a bluff. 

Fantastic, Daniel!

 

He must have skipped the "How to Bluff Successfully" class in law school

 

 

I think it is awesome that the client who threatened Daniel in various ways never ended up following through. I really do appreciate the fact that the freelancer returned to this thread to tell us what happened.

 

All joking about "bluffing" aside... I think it is useful and perhaps important to point that this wasn't a "game" or anything. This ultimately was about a client who didn't see the freelancer he hired as another human being. He saw a button that he could push to request a refund. Or he thought up a threat that he could make (credit card chargeback, or lawsuit, etc.), which he thought might result in him getting some money.

 

This had nothing to do with the quality of the work that the freelancer had done. There was no reason for this client's desire to get money back other than a desire for money. By acting in this way, this client demonstrated complete disregard for a freelancer as a fellow human being.


Fortunately the overwhelming majority of Upwork clients would never even think about doing such a thing.

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