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Red Flags After Project has Started

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Community Leader
K.C. D Member Since: Dec 11, 2015
1 of 13

I've been a freelancer here and previously Elance for many years now. I can usually spot a problem client but it's a lot more difficult on Upwork than it was on Elance as there is little access to a client's actual history. I've had mostly great clients, but a couple in recent years that have been impossible to please, and after starting a project with a new one this week I'm getting some major red flags, significant scope creep (on initial and 2nd milestone) and cold, almost rude very vague answers to questions that would help me provide the best results. I'm wishing I had declined the offer now, but it's too late. We set the project up in milestones, the first one was for an hour for "brainstorming" a name for her website - but there was no brainstorming, in fact, instead of providing ideas for names, the client actually wanted names that had a matching domain available which takes a lot more time. Definitely my fault for not insisting the brainstorming be clearly defined, so I did some research to come up with the best possible names that had a matching or close domain name. I again noted how difficult this can be and that it took several hours to come up with the list, although I thought there were at least a few good options. Her reply was "these are just ok." 

 

Now, it's time to move on to the next much bigger milestone on the project that includes 20 articles, and I'm getting a very bad feeling that this is not going to go very well. I've learned through the first milestone that the client is starting up a new website for the first time and has never done anything like this, isn't familiar with the process at all and doesn't really know what she wants. I have many other great clients and I don't want to detract from them by having to spend a lot of time trying to please an impossible client. 

 

I'm not sure what the right thing to do is in this situation - am I obligated to continue and fulfill what I agreed to, or explain that after the initial milestone I've found that this may not be the right fit? 

 

 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
BEST ANSWER
2 of 13

K.C. D wrote:

I'm not sure what the right thing to do is in this situation - am I obligated to continue and fulfill what I agreed to, or explain that after the initial milestone I've found that this may not be the right fit? 

 

 


 Have you tried discussing your concerns with her?

Personally I would ask her to have a phone conversation, explain very frankly what I see as the issues, and give two choices: 1) Let's work together to make this GREAT or 2) I'll refund milestone 1 and we part ways to allow her to find someone else.

 

If it hits your JSS you can use your top  rated perk to remove the impact (if you haven't used it in the last 10 contracts / 3 months)

 

Community Leader
K.C. D Member Since: Dec 11, 2015
3 of 13

Thank you Pettra, I think a phone conversation is a really good idea since we don't seem to be getting anywhere with the messaging. I've only used that perk one time quite a while ago, thank you for the reminder as well. Appreciate your great advice!

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 13

My pleasure Smiley Happy Good luck and let us know how it pans out.

I think sometimes we have to grab a client warmly by the throat and get them to wake up and smell the coffee for the sake of their project and our own sanity!!

 

Community Leader
K.C. D Member Since: Dec 11, 2015
5 of 13

No doubt! I'm glad I've only had a few of those over the years! :-) 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
6 of 13

 


K.C. D wrote:

No doubt! I'm glad I've only had a few of those over the years! :-) 


 Same here. I used to train problem horses and dogs and frankly I often think that dealing with difficult clients is very similar Smiley Very Happy

 

Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
7 of 13

I generally agree with Petra but I would not be so quick about the refund of milestone 1. In general I am not for refunding if you performed the work asked of you and it remains valid and usable. From your description of the work it appears that the outputs you provided in milestone 1 are just as valid and useful to her with another freelancer later as if you continued this contract yourself. It's not as if that now becomes throwaway work because you aren't going to see the project through (if that turns out to be the direction you take). There are certainly valid reasons to refund work, but before doing so I'd make sure they are for the right reasons and not just because you feel bad or are taking a disproportionate share of the blame for a troubled relationship. Now if you truly believe your actions are going to cost this client time and money - through no fault of the client - then I certainly understand making what amends you reasonably can.  Otherwise, your time has value and if you provided value to the client then you should be compensated regardless of the future relationship.

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
8 of 13

Scott B wrote:

I generally agree with Petra but I would not be so quick about the refund of milestone 1. In general I am not for refunding if you performed the work asked of you and it remains valid and usable.


 My thinking was that milestone 1 was small (despite ending up too much work) and during a "Look, dear client, you hired me because I know what I'm doing and you don't, so work with me to get your sh*t done RIGHT" conversation, giving the client the choice between behaving and doing the right thing or having to start over the client would decide to get their head out of their backside and start co-operating, going for the "work with me" option.

In the less likely event of the client being too dumb to play along I'd rather do without the small amount of money for milestone one AND without the nasty "This feedback has been removed" marker on my profile.

 

Smiley Wink

 

Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
9 of 13

Petra R wrote:

Scott B wrote:

I generally agree with Petra but I would not be so quick about the refund of milestone 1. In general I am not for refunding if you performed the work asked of you and it remains valid and usable.


 My thinking was that milestone 1 was small (despite ending up too much work) and during a "Look, dear client, you hired me because I know what I'm doing and you don't, so work with me to get your sh*t done RIGHT" conversation, giving the client the choice between behaving and doing the right thing or having to start over the client would decide to get their head out of their backside and start co-operating, going for the "work with me" option.

In the less likely event of the client being too dumb to play along I'd rather do without the small amount of money for milestone one AND without the nasty "This feedback has been removed" marker on my profile.

 

Smiley Wink

 


 Absolutely valid response of course. Not really knowing the full details of the story nor the importance of the amount received in milestone 1 though and I just wanted to make the point that refunds should be used sparingly and only after thought. I think too many people devalue their time and effort and are too willing to give in because they are so afraid of reviews or confrontation. If someone goes through the cost/benefit as you laid out in your example, then that is really all I am after. I think most do not and react out of fear or a lack of self-confidence. 

Ace Contributor
Nick B Member Since: Sep 11, 2015
10 of 13

Good call from Petra. It's fortunate that you don't stand to lose much in this case. Sometimes you just get a feeling and have to take a bit of a hit. The most difficult clients are those that either don't actually know what they want or lack the ability to evaluate the freelancer's work. 

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