Need some help in dealing with a client that I am finding quite nasty.
I pitched to design a presentation for him and he came back and we had a discussion as to what he wanted. I quoted him a price of USD900 + photography to get his deck to where he wanted it and sent him a couple of pages so he could see what the design would look like. He said he could only afford 560 dollars and no budget for photography. I told him I could do a simpler design for that price but that 9 pages that were similar and would therefore have the same layout. albeit with an icon to differentiate them.
He agreed and then went and set up an hourly contract which I accepted thanking him saying I felt hourly was fairer. He then asked about milestones and I said those were on fixed contracts only. He closed the hourly contract and set up a fixed for 500 with a milestone of $50. I said to him that we had agreed 560 and that it looked like he would only pay me 50 for the job with one milestone for that.
He either amended or set up a new contract (not sure) but now I had a fixed for 560 and he placed 3 milestones, 1. $160, 2. $200 and 3. $200. He put nothing against the milestones. As he had such difficulty with the contracts and said he was unsure how it all worked, I told him not to worry as it was 22 May and deadline was 24 May so we could pay the lot on Friday 25 once everything was delivered eve of 24th.
I then designed the first few pages and sent that to him. He paid the $160 and funded the second milestone. He said he liked some of it and some not and sent a file with changes which were done bar two pages that he was sending new info to put it.
The next day I finished the presentation and sent it back to him - still waiting for his text changes. He thanked me and said "this is looking good" and that he needed time to give more in depth feedback. He suggested I added chess images to the deck which I did. He also wanted particular photos related to his company name which is tied in with a famous place and not mentioning as would identify his company. Needless to say specialist photography. He suggested I watch a movie over the weekend that explained the famous place and so I would understand more about the specialist photos. He said he could wait on the deadline until I did so. I watched the movie over the weekend and on Monday spent 4 or 5 hours looking for high res images of this new photographic theme he introduced. He asked for the ppt file so he could make direct changes on the slides which he got. I asked him to approve the second milestone and he did as well as fund the third one for $200. He fed back he thought it was looking good, that he wanted to rewrite some of the content and would review on planes during the week; we were close but not quite there yet.
I thanked him saying glad he liked and also informed him that I was going away 4-15 June so would be good to finish it before then. He replied that we could finish it over the weekend. At this point I got a bit nervous because I was going away on holiday and had things to do – this was supposed to be a quick 3 day project. I sent back a reply saying I was in and out over the weekend but did not anticipate much more work on the presentation (as we were nearly there) so should be ok.
At this point he stalled the third milestone and I got a message to that effect from Upwork. I felt intimidated by this as it suggested he was not happy about something. I thought he perhaps thought I was lying about the trip so I would not have any more time to work on his presentation - just got a real bad feeling about it all. I sent him a message asking if something was wrong, was he unhappy about anything. He came back saying no, he had a problem with his credit card and all should be ok now, He reactivated the milestone. He sent a new page to do which I did and said he still needed time to review and send changes.
I replied saying I was concerned about the timing of the project and could we make a plan as to when edits would come in as otherwise might not be able to do them due to my going away. I also told him I was taking a laptop with me and could eventually do final amends in Sweden where I was going. I also mentioned that I was going to see my parents whom I had not seen since my younger brother died of cancer last year and that we were having a get together to honour him. I said it would be an emotional time and would really rather finish before but I could offer that solution if that helped him.
He came back and said did not look like I would have the time and did not want to encroach on my family time, so how about we cancel the third milestone. He said I had added value but he felt some of the slides were still quite dry and uninspired but that he was happy to leave it there and we could look at doing another project when I got back.
At this point all manner of red flags went off in my head. This was the first I heard of this. I thought ok, just want to get rid of this now and told him OK about the third milestone, but also explained I had done 19 hours on his presentation. I explained to him that we had agreed on a simple design and that taking his deck to where he seemed to want it would have taken 35 hours plus and I was unable to deliver $3,000 design for $560 - I would go under as a freelancer. I said that I hoped he took that into consideration when leaving feedback and to please close the contract, I was now being paid a pittance for my work and felt really intimidated by what he was doing so just wanted him gone to be honest.
He did not get back to me and once in Sweden I sent him a message stating that I thought Upwork paid funded milestones after 14 days and please could he close the contract so I did not have to give him a refund as that affected my client satisfaction score, currently at 100%. I got no reply and on June 9th again asked him to please close the contract.
This is where things got nasty. He sent a very derogatory message to me criticising me and my work in a very nasty way. It was not him speaking now but him and "his team". He said they would not be using this product. They felt I had spent a ton of time finding photos and done nothing else, that the presentation looked essentially the same as what they had sent me.
I was really taken aback. I thanked him for his feedback and mentioned that I felt it odd he was coming up with this at this late hour, having been happy before. He sent some diagrams of what they felt the presentation should have contained (all graphics that would have taken 3 hours to create and in garish designs that would never be accepted by corporate departments. I told him if he had shown me these images prior to taking on the job I would not have taken it on because that sort of thing is never approved by corporate presentation design departments. I stated that we agreed on simple design and I felt he had been unresponsive and quite frankly intimidating. I told him he had had plenty of time to say something and had not, quite the contrary had said "we are nearly there ad it was looking good". I stated I would not be doing any further work on the contract as I felt I had delivered my part (I think here his intention was to get me to do a further 20+ hours so he could get his high end deck). I asked him to please close the contract and delete the 3rd milestone.
He sent back a further message going on about how we had a clear gap in expectations plus a further lot of barrage about how poor my work was and how disappointed they all were. Then he repeats "let us cancel the third milestone and I will not leave a review or rating".
So, looks like he is thinking that I am contesting and wanting his final $200 dollars. I reply asking him if that is why he is being so abusive, that he thinks I am trying to get the 3rd funded milestone which he managed to snap away due to the way he set up the milestones. (I feel he clearly knew what he was doing with the confusion over the contracts and milestones initially). I said that I had agreed to the $360 while he was still amicably speaking to me and saying he was "happy to leave it there" and that I had been asking him to close the contract ever since. I said being nasty would get him nowhere.
He has replied saying that he is not being nasty just very direct. That I spent all of my time looking for images and did nothing else. He seems to have redone the deck and attached a pdf. The presentation seems to have been rewritten and unsure as to what he wants and why he is arguing about it when I already OKd his desire to end the third mile stone and move on. I think next he is going to ask me to redesign his new deck having already said he will not be working with me again.
I don’t know what to do. I am NOT refunding him a penny on the 360 he already paid and am not prepared to spend who knows how many hours fixing his new content – how long is a piece of string when it comes to fixed term? He has not as yet asked for this but I have a real bad feeling that is what is coming next.
What do you experienced people suggest I do?
Thanking you for any input and apologies for the long rant.
Solved! Go to Solution.
Never argue with a client. Even if you win the argument, you lose.
Just end the contract, which will send the $ 200 in Escrow back to the client.
**IF** the client leaves poor feedback, use your top rated perk to remove it (if you have not used the perk in the last 3 months or 10 jobs.
Question, I closed the contract as you suggested. Does the milestone that was in escrow get refunded to the client automatically? I can see it says Milestone 3 was cancelled and there are no funds in escrow but did it get paid out to the client?
Glad this nightmare has ended, just want to make sure it does not come back!!!
Thank you again!
@Jacqueline S wrote:
Is this applicable to top rated status but only have 6 jobs on history?
Can you explain what you're wanting to know?
Yes. If you are top rated and have not used the perk in the last 3 months and 10 jobs you can use it. Top rated is top rated.
I'm sorry to hear about your experience, Mariette. I can see that the contract is still open, and there is still $200 in escrow. You may opt to close th contract and refund the remaining money in escrow, unless you feel that you deserve the last milestone. If that's the case, you can dispute the $200.
Please check out this post for more information about disputes and more information about fixed-price disputes.