» Forums » Freelancers » New freelancer getting extorted
Page options
Community Member

New freelancer getting extorted


I am a fairly new freelancer who has been struggling to land contracts for some time. Eventually I landed a few contracts, with the first going very smoothly and me actually delivering a pretty good result. However, I got myself into 3 contracts in which the following happened:

1. The client disliked our collaboration although I delivered reasonbly good for the time I spent. The client just paused the contract and has left it paused ever since.
2. A client wanted a project of at least 10,000$ for 500$. I told him I can start working on it and see what I can do on an hourly basis and thus we formed a contract per hourly basis. I delivered significantly well and produced more than 5 thousand lines of code within a week and a half. The boilerplate for his product was there for just ~1000$ and it is functional with some minor bugs considering the extreme complexity involved and the thousand of lines of code involved. He started acting weird, telling me we agreed to have something ready for 500$ (when in reality we never agreed for that, I explicitly told him we should go for hourly and see if he is satisfied with the ongoing progress), and there's something actually ready there, it's just not a product he wants (we never agreed on a final product for 500$). He just paused the contract and he is roleplaying on slack he can't see anything functional when I actually have video and code evidence that there are functional things including the text-streaming he wanted. He is a "whale" on upwork with a big amount of money spent. I don't know if I could show the evidence included since I signed an NDA as well. Maybe the video I can show I don't know, I need some help.

What can I do about contracts 1) and 2)? How am I supposed to deal with this kind of insanity when I can't land a client due to having a new profile yet I have a capable skillset and I actually deliver things within good timeframes -- these are not fixed price contracts, these are hourly contracts. If the client expects a project of 10,000$ to be done for 500$, how am I supposed to deal with this? I explictly go for hourly contracts for this very reason. What is this slave labor insanity? How can I protect myself from these kind of people and make a living? What If I have started a contract with a similar client and he turns out he wants to be abusive and extorsive even though the progress that's happening with the project itself is outstanding for the amount of money I am getting paid?

Please help me and point me to the right direction.

Community Member

It's very simple - don't accept a project if the client has unreasonable expectations and/or if you're not happy with their budget. A client who wants a $10,000 project done for $500 isn't going to be easier to work with just because you're charging hourly instead of fixed price; on the contrary, they're likely to become more and more agitated as you keep adding hours and they don't know what the final price will be.


I understand that it's difficult to find work here; there's a lot of competition and many people are prepared to work for less money than you're charging. For me, 99% of the jobs listed here aren't worth applying to, so I focus on the other 1%, and do my best to convert them into long-term clients (and that means doing more than just "reasonably good" work). Once you've built up a good base of clients - and this takes time - it gets easier. But you should also look for clients outside of Upwork; very few freelancers can make a living just from the work that they get here.

You see, pretty much most people as you pointed out here on upwork have unrealistic expectations especially with the hourly rate. Contracting with 20-30$ which is 10-20$ below the minimum software engineering wage of the US is absurd. This guy tried to publicly accuse me that I didn't get any work done at all which is even more absurd. Is it not possible to have upwork do a manual investigation and save me from looking bad to potential future clients?

No, that's not possible or reasonable. It's your responsibility to vet your own clients and negotiate prices. 

It is the client's responsibility and not mine to be pleased or not be pleased with the progress that is being done within a specific amount of time. You can argue that for as minimum as 5 to 7 hours into any contract, it is for the client's decision and acknowledgement to continue or disrupt the contract, especially when proof of work and delivery is being demonstrated openly. If however, the client, for whatever reason, does not acknowledge a disatisfaction, lies about deliveries, does not stop the contract as soon as he sees he is not getting what he expects, requests a refund for no concrete reason based on his self-approved-only fixed price expectations on a hourly based contract, then it is of essence my profile image is maintained solid as the client is clearly trying to extort me.

I don't have any of those problems with my clients, but if you don't want to change your approach, that's up to you. You're the one who chooses who to work with, so you have to accept responsibility for the outcome.

Community Member

Truth is UW stopped vetting clients and freelancers as letting just about anyone in nets them more money than genuinely caring for quality. Back in the days where this platform was actually freelancing platform, not casino, people with no skill were having hard time even being noticed by clients, as clients were also real ones, knowing what they want and how much it costs and trash was weeded out quickly. These days, since everyone is eagerly welcome to UW to spend money (not earn), there is no quality control, no checking if the person is real one. The only thing you can do is trust your gut and don't ever allow anyone dictate you how much your work costs. If the client wants cheap job, wish them luck and move on. If you agree to work for cheap, that's on you.

Community Member

Exactly, that's why I do hourly based contracts not fixed ones. I come to the agreement that I will do what I can within that timeline, there's no official on-paper delivery expectation, instead, they get to observe progress as it happens and deem it worthy or not if sufficient progress is being done considering the time/money combination spent. At any point they are free to cancel out the contract and keep whatever has been done as a basis for contracting someone else more qualified/better than me in their own estimation. I did not agree to do "cheap" work. The agreement was hourly.

Community Member

 He is a "whale" on upwork

I assume the client is a broker an agency (check their history). Some clients are actually very smart in finding the "right talents" and know how to use Upwork for maximum profit.


Clients with $100k spent might be "cheaper" than new clients with unverified payment. Most likely they're not your market.



Community Member

You aren't being extorted. It doesn't even seem like anyone is asking for a refund. Clients have the right to end their agreements with us whenever they want. 

He actually did ask for a refund and even sent a refund invoice which I reported as scam. He said he would contract upwork support but I told him I already made a post about this on the community forum. My concern is also he will never suspend the contract just like the one mentioned in post 1, which makes me look bad having way too many in-progress contracts.

Four contracts in progress is not too many, but if it's bothering you, you can just close them yourself. 

I wouldn't worry too much about that. Lots of people leave contracts open just to to small amounts of work here and there. If this were me, I would just leave it open for a while and hope eventually the "client" forgets/stops using upwork. 

Latest Articles
Top Upvoted Members