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Refund for hourly work that client doesn't like?

Active Member
Mallory R Member Since: Jul 13, 2020
1 of 6

Hi! I just started Upwork about a month ago. I am a graphic designer. An issue came up where the client is not happy with the most recent edits I made. I offered to redo them, but now she wants to go in a different direction with a different freelancer. She agreed to not continue to use my design (I guess I only have her word on this) and I refunded the hours that I made those changes as a courtesy. But now she also wants previous edits to be refunded, even though at the time she explicitly stated that she was happy with them. I told her I was uncomfortable  refunding those hours, and furthermore, I can't just erase hours that I worked. I worked to the best of my ability, following her specifications. I tried to explain this in nicest way possibe- I don't want her to dispute it because I entered all my hours manually (I didn't realize that manual hours were not protected- in the future I will definitely use the time tracker).


I want to know your opinions about refunding hourly work in general. Even if the client doesn't like the outcome, as long as the work was complete in good faith and to the best of my ability, isn't it wrong to refund hours? That's not how freelancing works, right? They're not really paying for the final product, they're paying for my time. Or maybe I'm wrong about this. What is your policy?

Bojan S Moderator Member Since: Mar 9, 2018
2 of 6

Hi Mallory,


The client requested a refund of the money they'd already released to you. You'll see the request in Messages. Please communicate with the client directly to try and resolve any issues amicably. If you agree to refund the money, you can issue the refund directly from the request in Messages. If you decide not to refund, the client may seek mediation assistance from Upwork. If that happens, Upwork team will reach out to you directly,


Thank you!

~ Bojan
Active Member
Mallory R Member Since: Jul 13, 2020
3 of 6

I understand al of this. I am trying to resolve it amicably, but we are just going back and forth. I don't want the client to leave a bad review but I don't know what else to do except just don't refund and wait for mediation. If it goes to mediation she'll probably leave a bad review. What protections for freelancers can Upwork offer? 


The only issue is that she doesn't like the work, but I did exactly what she requested. 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 6


I am very sorry that you are going through this.


What this client did - in asking for ANY refund - was unprofessional, unethical and immoral.

Active Member
Mallory R Member Since: Jul 13, 2020
5 of 6

Thanks for your support. Glad to know I'm not in the wrong. Do you think it was a mistake to refund the initial ask? Of course there's nothing I can do about it now.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 6

re: "Do you think it was a mistake to refund the initial ask?"




re: "The only issue is that she doesn't like the work..."


You don't know that.


You have absolutely no way of knowing whether she liked your work or not. You only know that she SAID she doesn't like your work. She may have only said that in order to try to manipulate you and try to get money from you.


She may be planning to to use your work. She may be using it right now.


But all of that is irrelevant.


She hired you with an hourly contract.

If you worked for ten hours, you should be paid for ten hours. If you worked for twenty hours, then you should be paid for twenty hours.


If she decides not to use your work, that is her choice. But it is not her choice to NOT pay you for your time. That is theft.


If she decided - at any time - that she did not like your work... all she had to do was to close the contract. Then you would stop working and she would stop paying.


At this point, it I strongly recommend that you continue to be polite and professional in all of your communications with her.


But do not do any more work for her. Do not refund any more money to her. At least not until you understand her request better.


I think you should ask her why she is asking for a refund. Tell her you want to help her out, but in order to do so, you need to understand her question or concern. So ask her if she can answer that question, so that you can handle her refund request properly. Wait for her to respond. Then thank her for her reply and tell her that you are going to reply to her in no more than two days. And then come here and tell us what she said when you asked her that question.


The more time you can take to really thoughtfully consider her position, the better. If you can ask her a number of questions, and then reply with some more questions, then you will better understand her position. Do NOT rush this process. It should take a couple of weeks to really be thoughtful about this and come to a decision about what to do.


Do not argue with her. Do not try to refute anything that she says. Ask her questions. Starting a bit general, and then asking more specific questions.


Sometimes it isn't about the money. Sometimes clients just want to be heard.