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bethdynamic
Community Member

Potential client offers to hire without invitation to contract, then cancels job

I've been working on Upwork for a few months now and I have a little experience on the platform so far, but I'm still surprised but some of the things potential clients do. This most recent event has my mind in a bit of a spin and my instincts are telling me something isn't right.

It started out normal, where I put in my proposal to a fixed-rate job of $1,000. The client has good ratings on Upwork and stable job listing history plus a good hiring percentage. Payment verified and over $50,000 spent on Upwork. Looking back now, it was strange when the job description talked about working $15/hour but the terms listed were for a fixed-rate job. The client contacted me saying they were interested and we exchanged messages on Upwork, then scheduled a video call to discuss the job further.

 

The other strange thing was that when we started the video call, the client said she had to make our video call very short because she had family unexpectedly arrive from out of town and they wanted to go to lunch. I just thought that was a little oversharing and sort of unprofessional, but not exactly a red flag. Our video call was brief with simple pleasantries. I outlined my experience and ask a few basic questions about the job. It was pleasantly respectful on both sides, with the client ending it by saying she would make a decision about hiring in a few days and then she would contact me on Upwork.

 

Fast forward to a few days later and I get a message on Upwork from the client. She wants me to join her team. I'm excited, until I re-read the part of her message that outlines how payments are made: she would require invoices from me before payments would be made every TWO weeks. This seems strange and different from the normal way Upwork makes payments, plus Upwork provides invoices to clients in addition to Work Diaries, etc.

 

I asked to clarify about how payments would be made, if her company was an agency and if the payments would be made by milestones. That was me still assuming it was somehow going to be a fixed-rate job according to the terms of the job posting. Now things start to get even more weird. The client replies with "As we discussed in our phone call..." when we never had a phone call, only a video call, and we never discussed invoices or how payments would be made. I'm starting to think she has mistaken me for someone else she is trying to hire, since it seemed from the job posting that they wanted to hire more than one freelancer.

 

At this point, there has been no official invitation to interview or an official invitation to work for her on Upwork, which is also a red flag. I thank the client for clarification (when she didn't really clarify anything but she has me asking more questions) and I point blank ask her if she is saying the payments will be made off of Upwork. I want to make sure this isn't going to be violating Upwork's ToS. She replies back that she isn't saying payments will be made off of Upwork and defers my information seeking, basically saying my questions will be answered when I get an invitation to Quip and have access to their paperwork/documentation. And yet, she still hasn't stated WHERE the payments will be made.

 

I don't confront the client for lack of information, because I'm thinking there have been so many red flags already that I'm considering withdrawing my proposal. I just thank her and say I look forward to the Quip invitation. Still no official invitation to interview or work for her on Upwork, which makes me doubt her word that payments will somehow magically be made on Upwork (which as far as I know is impossible without an official invitation to work for her). But I decide to give her a little more time to send an invitation.

 

Then the final last bit of strangeness: just today, minutes after telling me there would somehow be payment on Upwork, the client cancels the job. At this point, I'm done giving this client the benefit of the doubt. There is no way to get paid on Upwork without an official invitation to work, which is now impossible without an actual job. However, I'm not sure how to word a message to her which explains my withdraw (not that I need to withdraw my proposal anymore, since the job was cancelled). As many as the red flags have been, I want to be professional and courteous. She also hasn't yet violated ToS, as far as I know.

Being new to Upwork, I'm learning how to navigate the potential scams, but this client is something entirely different. I'm not sure if it's a scam, since she hasn't asked for any of my personal information besides a phone number after our video call. She also hasn't asked me for any free work.

 

I know I said I was done giving this client the beneft of the doubt, but maybe they are really very clueless about using Upwork (I know, that doesn't make sense but it's possible?). I'm seeking advice about how to handle this situation and also if I should flag our messages for review by Upwork, in case she is violating ToS and I just don't know it because it's not obvious to my newbie eyes. Should I ask her why she cancelled the job? Or simply excuse myself from the situation?


Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
robin_hyman
Community Member


I know I said I was done giving this client the beneft of the doubt, but maybe they are really very clueless about using Upwork (I know, that doesn't make sense but it's possible?). I'm seeking advice about how to handle this situation and also if I should flag our messages for review by Upwork, in case she is violating ToS and I just don't know it because it's not obvious to my newbie eyes. Should I ask her why she cancelled the job? Or simply excuse myself from the situation?


Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.


Bethany,

 

Thanks for sharing your experience.  I hope other new freelancers can learn from this.  A few things:

 

* I don't consider this a "scam".  Yes, it's sketchy and yes you should be cautious if you receive red flags along the way, but you weren't hired, your time wasn't a complete waste (interviews are always good) and no personal information was shared.  

 

* Based on the information, the client probably had a manager who was making all of the decisions.  I find when there are a few cooks in the kitchen there are mixed messages being delivered to me. 

 

* If a client wants invoices from you, that's unnecessary.  Thanks to Upwork, whether you're paid by the fixed price or hourly, she has the ability to approve all payments.  And she doesn't get to pay you every 2 weeks.  Payment on Upwork means she follows Upwork's payment schedule.  It's possible this particular client didn't know and again was doing what she was told to do (perhaps by someone else who doesn't know how Upwork works).  

 

At this point you should be thankful she cancelled the job.  It probably wouldn't have worked out anyway.  She refunded you the connects.   If you feel compelled you can flag the conversation so Upwork is alerted in case this happens again.  That's totally up to you.  

 

Be cautiously optimistic moving forward....

 

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19 REPLIES 19
robin_hyman
Community Member


I know I said I was done giving this client the beneft of the doubt, but maybe they are really very clueless about using Upwork (I know, that doesn't make sense but it's possible?). I'm seeking advice about how to handle this situation and also if I should flag our messages for review by Upwork, in case she is violating ToS and I just don't know it because it's not obvious to my newbie eyes. Should I ask her why she cancelled the job? Or simply excuse myself from the situation?


Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.


Bethany,

 

Thanks for sharing your experience.  I hope other new freelancers can learn from this.  A few things:

 

* I don't consider this a "scam".  Yes, it's sketchy and yes you should be cautious if you receive red flags along the way, but you weren't hired, your time wasn't a complete waste (interviews are always good) and no personal information was shared.  

 

* Based on the information, the client probably had a manager who was making all of the decisions.  I find when there are a few cooks in the kitchen there are mixed messages being delivered to me. 

 

* If a client wants invoices from you, that's unnecessary.  Thanks to Upwork, whether you're paid by the fixed price or hourly, she has the ability to approve all payments.  And she doesn't get to pay you every 2 weeks.  Payment on Upwork means she follows Upwork's payment schedule.  It's possible this particular client didn't know and again was doing what she was told to do (perhaps by someone else who doesn't know how Upwork works).  

 

At this point you should be thankful she cancelled the job.  It probably wouldn't have worked out anyway.  She refunded you the connects.   If you feel compelled you can flag the conversation so Upwork is alerted in case this happens again.  That's totally up to you.  

 

Be cautiously optimistic moving forward....

 

Robin, thank you for the advice. Yes, I agree with what you are saying and I appreciate the feedback. This situation was strange, so I do hope other freelancers can learn from it like I have.

 

My main concern is maybe the client still has an expectation that we will be moving forward with work, so I want to make sure communication is clear: I can no longer work for her on this job if the job has been cancelled on Upwork. I feel it would be best to send her a message to this effect, and I will also try to be as professional and courteous as possible.


Bethany S wrote:

Robin, thank you for the advice. Yes, I agree with what you are saying and I appreciate the feedback. This situation was strange, so I do hope other freelancers can learn from it like I have.

 

My main concern is maybe the client still has an expectation that we will be moving forward with work, so I want to make sure communication is clear: I can no longer work for her on this job if the job has been cancelled on Upwork. I feel it would be best to send her a message to this effect, and I will also try to be as professional and courteous as possible.


The thing about red flags is if you see them then you know you are pefectly safe.  It is when you think that things are fine that you are at risk.  

 

I would personally run this thing to ground and find out what is going on, if anything.  

 

Some of the things you consider odd, like the personal sharing is not too odd to me.  I find that clients share a lot of things with me, especially over time.  A lot of people just share things more than me.  You should have heard the lady who cut my hair(s) today.




Mark F wrote:

 

The thing about red flags is if you see them then you know you are pefectly safe.  It is when you think that things are fine that you are at risk.  

 


This is very true. In this case, I'm glad I saw the red flags.

  

 

I would personally run this thing to ground and find out what is going on, if anything.  


Since my reply to Robin, I have sent a message to the client saying I can't continue to work on a job that has been cancelled. Giving the client the benefit of the doubt, I said that if she posted a new similar job and sent me an invitation to interview which led to an invitation to hire on Upwork, I would be more than happy to continue working with her. I finished the message with a little input on invoices and making payments on Upwork (this might've been overkill), then wished her all the best on her projects.

 

I don't know if that's running it to the ground and finding out what is going on, but I felt it was best to remove myself from the sketchy situation as gracefully as possible. I think if she replies, it will be telling. If she doesn't reply, that will also say something.

 

Some of the things you consider odd, like the personal sharing is not too odd to me.  I find that clients share a lot of things with me, especially over time.

I think it wasn't so much the oversharing that concerned me, as much as it was unprofessional to not let a interviewee know BEFORE the interview that you had a sudden scheduling conflict. Hey, it happens to the best of us sometimes, so no big deal if it happens one time. However, she would've been able to send me a message on Upwork to re-schedule, since I had given her three different times I would be available that day.

 

She did offer to reschedule the interview during the video call and give me a chance to have another time to ask questions, but it didn't seem pressing to her so I declined. She said she uses the video calls to get an impression of a freelancer and if their information on their profile matches what they say on the video call.

 

So it wasn't exactly a red flag, just slightly unprofessional when taken by itself. Included in the whole of this situation, I think it was probably a good indicator of how the working relationship might've gone later if it had continued.

Bethany, on the client side more than one person can use the same account. So it's possible that the person you were dealing with was new to Upwork even though the account had been used before.


Richard W wrote:

Bethany, on the client side more than one person can use the same account. So it's possible that the person you were dealing with was new to Upwork even though the account had been used before.


Richard,

Yes I had wondered if that was the case. I didn't have confirmation until now that different clients could be using the same account, but I think that might've been what happened in my situation.

Hello I have a similar situation, but mine goes a bit further. I have been on upwork for maybe a month and this is my first project through Upworks so I have no idea how this all works and seem to be stumbling through it.

Here is my similar situation:

I have done pretty much what Bethany has done except I have had a face to face intrerview. and was hired to begin the work and have finished.

Yet no offical Upworks notice of acceptance of the proposal, the interview, or being hired has appeared on the site. The project is being engineered and to be completed this week. and I am assuming payment is to come shortly after the entire package is complete.

I have asked the client about this (see my string of emails) and the client has stated that they have givin Upworks notification that we have interviewed and that I was hired to do the work.

I have been a little stressed as to how I am to get paid. This was a fixed rate agreement.

Also the client is new to the Upworks platform as well. 

Please help

Thank you

Craig Crockett



Craig:

 

STOP!  Stop working on a project you will never get paid for.  Let me break it down for you:

 

"I have done pretty much what Bethany has done (ok I see no similarities here) except I have had a face to face intrerview. and was hired to begin the work and have finished." - You had a face-to-face interview with no written contract, correct?  Mistake #1.  Make sure you document everything on Upwork.  You never know when you'll need it later. 

 

"Yet no offical Upworks notice of acceptance of the proposal, the interview, or being hired has appeared on the site."  Mistake #2.   Because you were never hired!  There's no hire unless, as Preston wrote, you will see it listed under jobs. 

 

"The project is being engineered and to be completed this week. and I am assuming payment is to come shortly after the entire package is complete." - Mistake #3.  Did you agree to work for free because that's what is happening.  Don't assume payment is coming ever.  This client took advantage of you.  Without a contract, they are not bound to pay you - EVER.  If you deliver the project, you're just falling into their trap.  

 

Freelancers come to Upwork so we can work with clients across the globe and feel secure knowing their payment has been verified and that we'll get paid for our work.  If you take it off the platform, that security is gone (and it's against Upwork's policies).  

 

As a newbie, it's your responsibility to get the information you need before starting a project.  If you don't know what that is, come to this forum and ask the community.  There are a ton of freelancers who have been doing this for years and have a wealth of knowledge.  Take advantage of this free advice.  

 

So take a step back and make sure you have an Upwork contract before proceeding.  

 

Please ask specific questions if this isn't clear.  Clients take advantage of newbies everyday.  

Great and thank you for making me feel like an idiot. Have a good day.


Craig C wrote:
Great and thank you for making me feel like an idiot. Have a good day.

I'm sorry you feel this way and it definitely wasn't my intention.  You just need to know the facts about what it means to do work without being officially hired on Upwork.  You'll learn from this mistake and never do it again.


Is it possible the client will come through and pay you?  Yes it's possible, but I wouldn't bet on it.  

benjamin_blue
Community Member

I had one piece which may be helpful to you. I've been full-time Upworking for around 1.5 years, and I've found it helpful to ask if they've used Upwork before, or how much, that i'd be more than happy to help them with any part of the process. 

 

If their stats said they've spent a lot of money, they likely will know some but still may be unfamiliar with any number of parts. This has been most helpful when they are new or new-ish.


Ben B wrote:

If their stats said they've spent a lot of money, they likely will know some but still may be unfamiliar with any number of parts. This has been most helpful when they are new or new-ish.


 

Ben, I would normally be open to this option, but the client information says they have been on Upwork since 2012 so I don't think it's a matter of them being new.

 

Granted, while Upwork has gone through a few changes in recent years, I don't think that entirely explains a client not knowing where the invoices should come from. I can see the possibility of them having started on Upwork in 2012 and not having used the platform often in the meantime. However, their $50,000 plus spent has me doubting that they are inexperienced.

Craig:

 

You and the client can not simply arrange things however you want to.

 

You need to have an official contract showing here:

 

Upwork -> My Jobs -> My Jobs

Exactly that is why I have been contacting the client to get this
information recorded on the site. I have been trying to get any info on how
does the hiring process works. There seems to be nothing I can do as a
freelancer on that side (the clients side). I have been trying for a couple
of weeks to get info. The articles published on the help site are very
vague and not much help. I tried to ask a bot. THE bot sent me to the same
articles that were no help to begin with.
Now I am reaching out to others for help.
HELP.

##- Please type your reply above this line

Freelancers canโ€™t hire themselves up to a client.

Client needs to click the Hire button, and then you need to click Accept.

Thank you I thought it might be something simple.


Craig C wrote:
Thank you I thought it might be something simple.

There's more to it than that. Once you accept, you should make sure the client's payment method is verified, and if it's a fixed rate job, that a milestone has been funded. If you're working hourly, you track your time using Upwork's time tracking app if you want payment protection

 

I would suggest you go back to the help menus - there's nothing vague about them. If you don't know how things work, you're setting yourself up to work without getting paid. I hope you have not sent any files to the client.

Hi Craig, 


I checked your account, and reviewed the job post, and would recommend that you stop working on the project until the client has sent you an offer, which you will receive through your Messages page. Once you accept the client's offer, it should be listed as an active contract on your My Jobs page. Regardless if the project is hourly, or fixed-priced, clients will need to send an offer/hire the freelancer through the Upwork website. 

On my end, I will go ahead and share your client's information with the team so that it can be investigated further. 


~ Avery
Upwork
joywriter
Community Member

I know this is an old thread but I do want to add that invoicing clients outside of Upwork, or not following Upwork's payment schedule is completely normal when things are agreed upon in advance. I have clients that issue me payment every 45 business days. Crazy right? Well, after 5 years with them, it's something I got used to it. I also have two other clients that would require me to craft long and complicated invoices every two weeks and would get paid on the third week through Upwork. I say craft because they were extremely complicated invoices. Fastfoward 5 years and over  $400k in earnings, both clients have automated 100% of the process and everything is handle by their own systems internally. So yeah, complext invoice system is completely normal and not following Upwork's payment schedule is just as normal.

 

Wanna hear something even more crazy? Well, Enterprise clients have the right and privilage to pay you outside of Upwork from day one using their own payment processors and systems. Again, this is all agreened upon in advance, including with Upwork's approval.

 

All the best to you all!

Hugo

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