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Re: Should I dispute?

Ace Contributor
Tatyana M Member Since: Feb 10, 2019
11 of 19

Thank you Kathy! The client does not agree that I did half the work so I doubt she will agree to the dispute or anything Upwork suggests.  (I asked her for 50% and she said no.)

 

I feel that I need to advocate for myself since as a freelancer- that is all I have and while it is not a lot of money and I can file it under "lesson learned" I don't want freelancing culture to be such where clients can do whatever and freelancers just take it as "lessons learned" again and again.

 

I don't view clients as doing favors to freelancers out of the goodness of their hearts- they are paying for work or for a service and everyone is on equal footing. 

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Community Guru
Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
12 of 19

Tatyana M wrote:

Thank you Kathy! The client does not agree that I did half the work so I doubt she will agree to the dispute or anything Upwork suggests.  (I asked her for 50% and she said no.)

 

I feel that I need to advocate for myself since as a freelancer- that is all I have and while it is not a lot of money and I can file it under "lesson learned" I don't want freelancing culture to be such where clients can do whatever and freelancers just take it as "lessons learned" again and again.

 

I don't view clients as doing favors to freelancers out of the goodness of their hearts- they are paying for work or for a service and everyone is on equal footing. 


Hi Tatyana. You must decide what's best for you, But if it was me I would dispute, ask for a fair proportion of the agreed payment, and make it clear that I was prepared to pay for arbitration if necessary. Going to arbitration will probably cost your client a lot more than a fair settlement, so hopefully she will see reason and settle. Of course, if you go to arbitration it will be costly for you too, as each of you will have to pay the $291 arbitration fee. But starting a dispute doesn't commit you to arbitration, so you have nothing to lose at this stage. Personally I would go ahead with the arbitration if necessary, as I can afford to lose $291, and it's worth it to me to feel that I've put up a fight.

 

I believe you only have 7 days in which to start a dispute, so don't leave it too long.

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Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
13 of 19

Tatyana,

 

If you did the work don't agree not to be paid.

 

It sounds like you dealt with her fairly. If you think that is true, let Upwork mediation do their thing. Ask them what your options are as the matter progresses. Pay close attention to the messages you get from them and follow their instructions to the letter. If that does not result in a resolution you fully agree with, don't agree to it. Let the client decide if she wants to then take it to arbitration. I doubt she will considering it will cost her $291 and she might not get the result that's best for her pocketbook.

 

Refunding money to this person at any point will not be a guarantee that her feedback for you, especially the private feedback you will never see and that we have been told is so important to the calculation of your Job Success Score, will be better than if you make no refund.

 

Good luck.

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Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
14 of 19

Tatyana M wrote:

Thank you Kathy! The client does not agree that I did half the work so I doubt she will agree to the dispute or anything Upwork suggests.  (I asked her for 50% and she said no.)

 


It sounds like you did a lot more than half the work; you say that you gave her multiple sketches in Illustrator and all she did was colour them? It sounds like you should maybe give her a $50 discount, but that's it. In the end, she did get files that she was able to use, so I don't see how she can claim that you didn't do the job.

 

However, as a fellow graphic designer, I wonder if you might like some constructive advice. It does strike me as a little odd that you handed her the files and told her to colour them herself. I understand why you did it, but I would have handled it differently. First, in my fixed price bids, I always specify that my price includes no more than two rounds of revisions, and after that, it'll be hourly. Then if I have a client who is giving me vague instructions, I say that I'll be happy to keep trying different variations, but they'll be paying hourly at this point. That usually prompts them to be more specific; if not, then at least you're getting paid for your time. Getting frustrated and basically saying, "Here, I give up, do it yourself" isn't great customer service. (Having said that, I've sometimes cancelled projects and given a full refund when it's obvious that the client and I aren't even on the same planet, let alone the same page - but even so, I never let it get to the stage where I'm doing multiple rounds of revisions without pay.)

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Ace Contributor
Tatyana M Member Since: Feb 10, 2019
15 of 19
Thank you for the wise words! I am actually a fashion technical designer and the entire project was to give her a tech pack, which includes the sketches that I did. I did not ask her to color the sketch herself and at multiple points told her I can if she just gives me something to go off. I offered her 5 colored in options and her feedback was that she didn't like them and she wanted something different and fun. At that point I asked for Pantone color codes, a mood board, and even one image I can use for reference, as "fun" colors are subjective and I was not going to guess endlessly without any further information. She gave me nothing but said she wants to play around with the colors herself and asked how she can do it... I gave her the file and she was super happy judging by her use of emojis. I always reiterated that I can color the file myself and present her a second round of options if she gives me a hint of what colors she was thinking of.
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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
16 of 19

In addition to the excellent advice offered by Christine and others, I would suggest that what would have helped you in this case would have been following advice I often give with regards to fixed-price contracts:

 

If you are dealing with a new client (one you have not worked with before), then start small, so that the client can demonstrate she can be trusted with this contract model.

 

The first milestone or contract should be no more than an hour or two of work.

 

That's what I do. The final goal may be a significant project, which could take many hours and a lot of effort. But I only gree to a first milestone or contract which is the first small chunk of the overall project.

 

If the client pays for that work as expected, then I can agree to increasingly larger milestones or contracts.

 

If the client plays games with paying when the task is submitted, then I know that she can't be trusted with fixed-price contracts. I may still be able to work with her using an hourly contract, but not fixed-price.

 

I am always aware that a certain percentage of clients do not understand how the fixed-price contract model works, and never will undersand it.

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Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
17 of 19

Tatyana M wrote:
I offered her 5 colored in options and her feedback was that she didn't like them and she wanted something different and fun. At that point I asked for Pantone color codes, a mood board, and even one image I can use for reference, as "fun" colors are subjective and I was not going to guess endlessly without any further information. She gave me nothing but said she wants to play around with the colors herself and asked how she can do it... I gave her the file and she was super happy judging by her use of emojis. I always reiterated that I can color the file myself and present her a second round of options if she gives me a hint of what colors she was thinking of.

Oh, don't get me wrong - I'm totally on your side! Trying to read minds is definitely the most hellish part of our job. But I think that you had options other than asking her for mood boards etc., because even at that point, you're asking the client to work on her own project, when she feels that that's the reason she has hired YOU. Could you have put together 5-6 colour palettes (without recolouring all of the sketches) and asked her which one was closest to her vision? Or there are plenty of websites with "fun" colour combinations that you could have sent her to, instead of asking her to provide Pantone numbers.

 

I just know that once the client starts to think, "This designer just doesn't GET me," then you've lost them. Couldn't you try to salvage this by apologising that things didn't work out as planned (and by this I mean, take all of the blame for not understanding her needs, even if you don't think it was your fault) and ask her to reconsider what a reasonable amount would be?

 

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Ace Contributor
Tatyana M Member Since: Feb 10, 2019
18 of 19
Ha yes those would have all been good ideas to approach this with and definitely something I will do in the future! Thank you! Usually all of my clients either have a mood board (step zero in every single fashion design project) or they know exactly what they want and tell me, since I do more of the the technical work. Someone not telling me what they want took me by surprise.

I had an odd feeling in the begining and so I outlined the process for her and exactly what she can expect for me before accepting the contract - should have noted that odd feeling and insisted on an hourly contract- I can provide unlimited revisions/color options if I am getting paid for it!
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Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
19 of 19

Well, good luck - let us know how it goes. :-) 

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