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skioub
Community Member

Problem with client

Hello Upwork community !

 

I need some advices because I have a problem with a client and I don't know how to manage it.

 

I've been working with him since a long time, since Upwork was Elance. But he was always paying too little for too much work and it got even worse in our last collaboration.

 

Over the last year, I had to work too much for too little, I did free work a lot of times because he was telling me “You know me, I will give you more jobs when my business get better / I will award you 3 – 4 different jobs when my business succeed”..... He always find excuses to give me free work and I had to accept to keep our collaboration.

 

At some point I was helping him to manage his freelancers, he was absent most of the times, and I spent all day to manage and answer their questions, he was hiring like 2 freelancers every 2 – 3 days and they all had too many questions and the contracts changed too many times and I had to explain to each one the changes and everything. All of this, for like 30$ per month, and later for FREE. I was spending most of my time answering and asking the freelancers for their progress, correcting their mistakes and suggesting him who to keep and who doesn't do the job well, I sometimes found some freelancers cheating and copy-pasting things.

 

For countless hours I worked for free for him and I helped him. And we had many contracts after that, all was good even if managing his freelancers was stressfull and I didn't had the time to look for more jobs. But the more time passed, the more freelancers he hired, the less the price he was suggesting. I was working for 10$ per article of 1000 Words in French; and over the time, he reduced to price for everyone to keep hiring more people, until he asked me to write articles of 1600 words, full SEO Optimized, with 9 images, each image must be edited with alt and description for 5$.

 

I was never going to accept this offer, but he told me that it will be a contract of 200 articles for 1000$ and we will renew it for another 200 articles for 1000$. And I accepted. While I was working on this contract he told me to stop, because he was hiring too many freelancers he ended up losing too much money and he can't keep doing so, his business was failing because the quality of many freelancers was low and he was only focusing on articles writing with 0 marketing.

 

When he told me to stop I was at around 90 articles written, as a rough draft, he agreed to pay me 500$ for 100 articles but I was very disapointed and the last 10 articles I had to write were a nightmare, because the motivation was coming from the 2000$ total even if I had to write 400 articles.

 

When I lost the motivation I just wrote the 10 remaining articles and kept them as a draft. Later I edited them to be prepared for posting on wordpress, but as I was losing motivation It took me some time, there was no deadline in the first place in the contract anyway.

 

The client paid me 500$ total, last payement is like 35 days ago. He paid me for a work that is done, but not yet posted in wordpress. I told him that I will try to post them on wordpress before 10 january, then 20 but I failed to meet this deadlines, because I had 0 motivation and there is a lot of work to put to add 9 images on 100 articles, post them on wordpress, edit each one with alt and desc. Sometimes I have to photoshop the images so it takes even more time. Which is not even worth the initial price.

 

Now the client is asking me to refund him the 500$. He's telling me that otherwise he will report me to Upwork.

 

He told me to give him 500$ back, then post the articles on wordpress, and then he can pay me 500$ again.

 

I can give him the articles in .doc format but he want them on wordpress.

 

Now, he threatens me to refund him otherwise he will make a complain to Upwork.

 

What should I do ?

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
petra_r
Community Member


Sahar B wrote:

 

The client paid me 500$ total, last payement is like 35 days ago.

Now the client is asking me to refund him the 500$. He's telling me that otherwise he will report me to Upwork.


Nothing the client can do. He paid more than 30 days ago, he can not dispute.

Go and do whatever you are supposed to do (post the articles on Wordpress or whatever) and then walk away from that client forever.

View solution in original post

29 REPLIES 29
wlyonsatl
Community Member

Sorry to say, Sahar, but you have dug yourself into quite a hole with this client. I know it's hard to turn down work, but, as you say, this client isn't paying you and is keeping you so busy you can't pursue other projects.

 

Nothing you describe in your relationship with this client has been to your advantage; it's a very negative relationship from your point of view.

 

Others here will no doubt have advice for you, but I would say your first priority is to keep any payments you have earned. If he has paid you for work you haven't provided to him, you might consider a refund. But DO NOT refund money he says he'll pay back to you. His business is failing and he needs the cash - you will never see it again.

 

But the first thing you should do is notify Upwork Support of this client's abusive treatment and threats of negative feedback to manipulate you into doing free work for him - both of which violate Upwork's terms of service. If he has communicated these abusive threats via Upwork's messaging system, Upwork Support can easily verify your cliams of abuse behavior.

 

If he has been too careful to put these threats on Upwork's messaging system, I don't know whether Upwork Support will help you in any way. But there is no harm in asking them to.

g_vasilevski
Retired Team Member
Retired Team Member

Hi Sahar,

I`m sorry to hear about the bad experience you had with your client.

Asking for free work is not allowed and it is a violation of our TOS, our team will investigate this further and proper actions will be taken. 


In additiona to Will advice:

I would also strongly advice you not refund any funds without contract and a funded milestone in place. Our Fixed Price Protection does not cover unfunded milestones or promised funds

If there's any additional evidence you would like to share with me feel free to send them via PM(click on my name). Thank you.

~ Goran
Upwork
lysis10
Community Member

This story gave me a hearty LOL. This was a funny read.

 

If you did the work, then dispute the refund request. I'm going with a wild guess that neither of you have any money for arbitration. If I were you, I'd beg borrow and steal for $300 cuz I would bet he'd fold in a dispute.

There is nothing funny about freelancers being abused by dishonest clients. Or anybody being abused, bullied, taken advantage of, etc. by anybody else.

 

Yes, some freelancers - for whatever reasons - become victims because they don't **bleep** this behavior in the bud and stand up to such clients.

 

But, regardless the cause, it's not a humorous situation.

I guess I should have used the word "snip" instead of a rhyming word that has no "s"?

 

Now THAT's funny!!!!!

It may or may not be humorous but I am giving kudos to the idea of fronting the money for arbitration if it comes to that!


Will L wrote:

There is nothing funny about freelancers being abused by dishonest clients. Or anybody being abused, bullied, taken advantage of, etc. by anybody else.

 

Yes, some freelancers - for whatever reasons - become victims because they don't **bleep** this behavior in the bud and stand up to such clients.

 

But, regardless the cause, it's not a humorous situation.


I find it hilarious. To each his own I suppose. The great thing about freelancing is we pave our own paths and make our own rules. If freelancers tolerate free work and being abused, that's their problem not mine.

 

Ten bucks says OP folds and gives this dude a refund or does free work.That's her choice. Her other option is to dispute, and I'll put everything on the client ranting hilariously in the dispute room. But OP will get all emo and fold when she could take her $500 pretty easily. 

petra_r
Community Member

She's already been paid the $ 500 - unless I am totally misreading things? Nothing in Escrow, nothing to dispute, no arbitration. Last payment was made 35 days ago.

Game over for the client.

 

Oh -- I missed the part where it has been more than 30 days.

 

Yeah -- if you have done even two articles for the client, you deserve your $500. Review time is OVER. No backsies.

petra_r
Community Member


Sahar B wrote:

 

The client paid me 500$ total, last payement is like 35 days ago.

Now the client is asking me to refund him the 500$. He's telling me that otherwise he will report me to Upwork.


Nothing the client can do. He paid more than 30 days ago, he can not dispute.

Go and do whatever you are supposed to do (post the articles on Wordpress or whatever) and then walk away from that client forever.

prestonhunter
Community Member

This client's behavior is unprofessional, unethical, and immoral.

 

It is important to understand that. It helps to know that you are in the right, and that Upwork's rules in this situation protect you.

 

Be ABSOLUTELY and CONSISTENTLY POLITE when communicating with the client. Show him respect. Ask him about his concerns. Take time to consider his requests and answers. If he asks a question about refunding money, it may take a few days, or weeks, to respond. But don't refund any money, and do what you can to close any open contract and end things permanently.

Thanks for messages and suggestions so far.

Actually there is no open contract, he paid me 500$ total for 100 articles written. He agreed to pay me before I post them on wordpres and add 9 images on each one.

Contract was closed like 35 days ago with positive feedback.

I don't want to take the money and disappear without posting them on wordpress, but the fact that he's stressing me with messages and asking for refund doesn't help.

But I will post them on wordpress progressively as I go.

 

Anyone can tell me what I'm supposed to do with the refund request ? No button to reject or decline the refund request, should I just ignore it ?

re: "Contract was closed like 35 days ago with positive feedback."

 

If the CONTRACT IS CLOSED, and you even received positive feedback, then you really are done.

 

re: "I don't want to take the money and disapear without posting them on wordpress, but the fact that he's stressing me with messages and asking for refund doesn't help. But I will post them on wordpress progressively as I go."

 

It is incredibly charitable of you to post these articles on Wordpress. That was NOT part of the original contract.

 

You COULD just block him in the Upwork messenging tool.

 

If you are going to upload articles to Wordpress, then at least get something out if it. Tell him:

 

"Jericho: I understand that you want me to to upload the articles to Wordpress. I understand that if I do this, then you will no longer be asking for a refund? Is that correct? Because you have to decide between (a) asking for a refund; and (b) asking me to upload articles to Wordpress."

 

[Note that you never actually promise to PROVIDE a refund. You're just letting him know that if he is ASKING for a refund, it means you are NOT uploading anything to Wordpress.]

 

re: "Anyone can tell me what I'm supposed to do with the refund request ? No button to reject or decline the refund request, should I just ignore it"

 

You don't need to do anything. He clicked a button that sent you a request. It has no enforceability with Upwork. Upwork won't act on the request. Only YOU can decide to act on the request.


Preston H wrote:

 

It is incredibly charitable of you to post these articles on Wordpress. That was NOT part of the original contract.

 

You COULD just block him in the Upwork messenging tool.


Nonsense. She agreed to do it, so she needs to do it.  If she blocks him and the client can show that she agreed to do something she then did not do, she hands the client something to report her for.

 

lysis10
Community Member


Sahar B wrote:

Thanks for messages and suggestions so far.

Actually there is no open contract, he paid me 500$ total for 100 articles written. He agreed to pay me before I post them on wordpres and add 9 images on each one.

Contract was closed like 35 days ago with positive feedback.

I don't want to take the money and disappear without posting them on wordpress, but the fact that he's stressing me with messages and asking for refund doesn't help.

But I will post them on wordpress progressively as I go.

 

Anyone can tell me what I'm supposed to do with the refund request ? No button to reject or decline the refund request, should I just ignore it ?


Well, did you agree to post them to WordPress as part of the escrow amount? Cuz if you did then you need to get your poop together and get over the "stress" and just do it. If you said you would, just do it. Since you've already been paid and the contract is over 30 days, then you don't need to worry about the money provided you do what you promised. I wouldn't put too much stock on being in the clear if you agreed to do something and didn't do it.

skioub
Community Member

The client just edited my permissions on wordpress and limited my access when I tried to talk to him about the refund and told him that I can't refund him but I will post the articles on wordpress.

I can't access articles anymore to edit or add them.

Sahar, if he blocked you ability to upload the articles to WordPress, then it means he doesn't want you to upload the articles to WordPress.


This client is acting unprofessionally and irrationally.

 

You need to remove yourself from this whole thing as elegantly as possible.

 

If he sends you any messages or requests at this point, then your responses should be along these lines:

 

"Gary, thank you for your note. I really want to take this seriously. I'm going to take this directly to my business consultants and get back to you. We'll figure out something that helps you and your project as much as possible. I'll get back to you within one week."

 

Then mark the calendar and reply one week later. Feel free to come to the Forum to ask for advice. We are your business consultants.

wlyonsatl
Community Member

If the client has blocked you from doing what he claims he wants you to do, then just move on.

 

You're wasting your time and effort now. He had his chance to get the work done and whatever is driving his recent actions, don't let it be your problem.

 

He will never be satisfied with anything you can reasonable offer him.

 

But do cooperate with Upwork Support in their dealing with the client's previous threats and demands for free work. I hope you left honest feedback for him (though I suspect you didn't).

ehhh she's not really in the clear though. She admits that she promised to do it by the 10th of January. She's 20 days late. She's not answering my direct question, so I mean we can take that as an answer. At what point as a client do you say "this person has had enough time and isn't going to do what she said she would do because she's 'stressed'" and then just give up and ask for your money back. She's in the territory of fraud, so I don't think she'll keep the money unless the client gives up.

Petra commented on whether or not the freelancer should upload the articles to WordPress, and what Petra said is CORRECT - if doing so was part of the original contract.

 

Jennifer poses the key question, though: Was uploading the articles to WordPress part of the original agreement that the fixed-price escrow payment was based on.

 

This matters a great deal. Because if uploading to WordPress was part of that agreement, then from a moral, professional perspective, the freelancer SHOULD upload them like that.

 

But if that was NOT part of the original, written agreement, then by asking the freelancer to do so, the cient was asking for free work. The freelancer was thus violating Upwork ToS, as well as acting unprofessionally and unethically.

 

Moreover, if the client is asking for a refund, AND asking for the freelancer to upload files to WordPress, then clearly the client is asking for free work. And acting irrationally. Why should a freelancer do work on behalf of a client who is saying he wants to take back all the money he paid her?

 

If uploading the files to WordPress WAS actually part of the original agreement, and the client CLOSED THE CONTRACT before this was done, then the client made a tactical mistake with regards to how he was using the Upwork user interface. Nevertheless, the freelancer was willing to overlook that mistake and still upload the files to WordPress. So, yes, the freelancer was going the extra mile to try to help this unprofessional client out.


But there's a limit to how much any freelancer can or should tolerate - no matter how charitable and no matter how professional she is.

Yes uploading articles to Wordpress was part of the contract and I'm willing to do it. As is the 9 images to add on each article.

As the client blocked my access to Wordpress, I'm still going to send him the articles through Upwork platform as .docx with 9 images added on them.

I just asked the client once if he's going to be available in day X for payement in case I post some articles and he instantly released the milestone.

Later we were talking after having a small conflict and he released the second milestone. This is when he gave me deadlines.

There was no deadline in the contract.

 

Still, all articles are written, but I made a mistake too, I could have avoided all this if I posted articles on wordpress earlier.

lysis10
Community Member


Sahar B wrote:

Yes uploading articles to Wordpress was part of the contract and I'm willing to do it. As is the 9 images to add on each article.

As the client blocked my access to Wordpress, I'm still going to send him the articles through Upwork platform as .docx with 9 images added on them.

I just asked the client once if he's going to be available in day X for payement in case I post some articles and he instantly released the milestone.

Later we were talking after having a small conflict and he released the second milestone. This is when he gave me deadlines.

There was no deadline in the contract.

 

Still, all articles are written, but I made a mistake too, I could have avoided all this if I posted articles on wordpress earlier.


You client is a feminine product working out of his mom's basement. If I go on feels, I hope you get the money. I just dunno if it's gonna work out that way.

petra_r
Community Member


Jennifer M wrote:

I hope you get the money. I just dunno if it's gonna work out that way.

She

has

already

been

paid

 

5 weeks ago.

tlbp
Community Member

I'm confused. OP was agreeable to doing the work because she thought she would be assigned 200 articles to write. Then, when she found out that she would only be assigned 100 articles--after completing 90--she decided to do poor work on the last 10 because she was demotivated? 

 

Okay, the whole set up was a mess. OP should never have agreed to do free work in hopes of making more money later and the client is cheap as cheap can be. But doing bad work just because you're demotivated? That's not right. 

 

Set boundaries. If you agree to do something, do it. DON'T agree to do something if you aren't going to be able to stay motivated for the price that was agreed for THAT work. Promises of future work should not be the basis for your decision to agree to a contract or for how well you will perform it. 

 

It looks like the client has manipulated OP throughout this process and is still trying to do so. The client, of course, should be booted right off the platform. But OP, you can choose how well you'll perform your work based on how you feel from day to day. 

skioub
Community Member

Tonya P

"Then, when she found out that she would only be assigned 100 articles--after completing 90--she decided to do poor work on the last 10 because she was demotivated?"

 

I never said that I did poor work on the last 10. I just lost the motivation to keep the same rythme and deliver quickly.

tlbp
Community Member


Sahar B wrote:

Tonya P

"Then, when she found out that she would only be assigned 100 articles--after completing 90--she decided to do poor work on the last 10 because she was demotivated?"

 

I never said that I did poor work on the last 10. I just lost the motivation to keep the same rythme and deliver quickly.


I interpreted this as a description of the quality of the work, not (as you must have meant) the experience of writing them. 

"and the last 10 articles I had to write were a nightmare"

skioub
Community Member

Oh no lol, I meant it was a nightmare for me to write them because it took me too much time, I was discouraged every time I try to write them so I had to force myself, but the quality is the same.

tlbp
Community Member


Sahar B wrote:

Oh no lol, I meant it was a nightmare for me to write them because it took me too much time, I was discouraged every time I try to write them so I had to force myself, but the quality is the same.


When I first began freelancing on Upwork, I had a client who asked me to completely redo a project because he decided that he liked a different style. I quit. It was not my finest moment and I could have handled the process much more diplomatically but at some point, you have to recognize that you will remain trapped in a bad situation if you don't get yourself out. My profile took a hit and I lost a little money, but it was worth it to regain my freedom. 

 

If you are working for a client whose demands are so unreasonable that they are costing you the opportunity to do better work for better clients, it is time to consider getting yourself out. 😉

 

 

kat303
Community Member

This is the way I see it, and maybe something that may (or may not) become a problem. 

 

Part of the contract was to post all 100 articles on Wordpress. That is part of your work and part of what you were paid to do. 

You posted all but 10. Even though there was no deadline, you did promise to post them by Jan 10. You didn't. Then you promised to post them by Jan 20. You didn't 

 

So, because they were a part of the contract and you did receive payment for them, and because of the 2 promises you made, and didn't fulfill, IMO, you didn't fulfill the requirements of the contract. And that is where your problem lays. 

 

You did try to post them, but by this time, the client has blocked you from doing that. And IMO he has every right to, I would suggest that you try and work out an agreement that is favorable to both of you. Whether that means him accepting and unblocking Wordpress so you can do that, or you refunding a portion of your payment that would be equal to the posting part. Present an offer to him. Hopefully he will accept it, But whether he does or doesn't then you did all you can up to this point. Let him do whatever he's going to do but let HIM do it, don't have anymore contact or responses to him. 

 

 

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