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Sketchy Client

lindaland
Ace Contributor

So I am pretty sure this one client is just going to keep requesting changes for eternity.

 

As I am new here and this was my second job, live and learn.

 

But what I want to know is what the best course of action is.

 

Do I just keep making the changes for weeks and weeks?

 

Obviously I am at the client's mercy as bad feedback, regardless of if it is merited, stays with me forever. 

 

Any advice on how to deal with a client that does not communicate until the last minute and keeps requesting contradictory changes would be appreciated. 

 

Thanks in advance.

18 REPLIES 18
turbocro
Community Leader

We all has been there..

Here is what I did to get rid of my client who think that he own you for few $ and bad feedback.

 

 

I had client like that on beggining of my career here who keep adding task to single fixed payment job, I was afraid to tell him anything beacuse of fear that bad feedback will ruin my start on this site.

 

So here is what I do and you should to when you had enought. I waited for him to send another task and then asked client to help me to increase my stats here on site by closing current job and opening another one with this new task. Insist on closing that one and that he leave you good feedback.

 

If in meantime he sent you offer for second job do not accept it until he close first job and leave feedback, the moment he does that you are free to decline second job offer and you are free from that client...

 

My client has keep sending me offer for few day after that until he realized that I'm not going to play his game anymore...

 

battershall-ramo
Community Guru

The other poster is spot on. Tell them you're happy to do extra work for them, but only after they've ended the contract and left good feedback. After they've done what you asked, ignore them completely. Most scammers on Upwork, aren't the smartest nails in the toolbox, yet think they're very clever indeed: trick them into ending the contract, or give up and ignore them completely until they give up on you. Either way, do not play their game anymore.

The problem with doing that is the money in Escrow... If the client is requesting changes they clearly don't want to release it.

 

To end the contract they have to either release it, or ask for it back - they won't want to do the former,and doing the latter will cause it's own problems.....

 

To direcly tell a client you're only going to do something if they leave good feedback is a serious policy violation, and if reported could cause all manner of issues

 

 

First things first - Have you spoken to the client?

 

Have you said the following - "The price that we negotiated was based on my estimation that the job would take x number of hours With all the changes you are asking for, it is going to take (this much) much more time. If you would like me to continue, you are going to have to pay me for the work I have already done and create a new milestone."

It's possible that the client doesn't realize how much time it takes to make all of the changes. When you are good at what you do, you can make your job look easier than it is.

If the client starts being argumentative, then you can deal with that afterwards, but don't assume that every client is trying to cheat you.

If you have finished the task you originally were assigned to do.... Based on YOUR understanding of the original agreement... Then you should use the official Submit Milestone button.

 

The client can not prevent you from doing that.

 

Unless the client does something to intervene in the process, your submission starts a 14 day countdown. 14 days after submission, you will receive the full amount funded in escrow.

 

During that time, if the client asks for additional work, you tell the client:

 

"John, thank you for your note. You are right, this would be a great addition to the project. If you go ahead and process the release of the payment and close the contract, I'll do that and send you the changes at no additional cost."

 

Wait for the client to pay and close the contract. If he does so, paying you the full amount, with honest positive feedback, then you go ahead and make the changes, as long as it is no more than ten minutes of work.

 

If he has more changes, then he will need to open up a new, hourly contract for you to continue making additional changes.

 

If the client does NOT release payment, then you will be paid automatically 14 days after you submitted the work using the button. After you receive payment, you can go ahead and close the contract yourself. This is not ideal, but it is better than dealing with a client who makes unending demands.

 

You should never ask for any kind of feedback. You should ask him to close the contract, which then requires the client to leave feedback. Leaving freeform textual feedback is irrelevant. Don't worry about that. You want him to leave honest positive star average feedback. If he does so, even if it is not perfect, then you are fine, and you may enter into a new hourly contract with this client.

 

But you must never agree to a new fixed-price milestone or contract with this client, because he has already demonstrated that he does not know how to use the fixed-price contract model properly.


@Preston H wrote:

If you have finished the task you originally were assigned to do.... Based on YOUR understanding of the original agreement... Then you should use the official Submit Milestone button.

 

The client can not prevent you from doing that.

 

Unless the client does something to intervene in the process,


 That "Something" is the "Request Changes" button on the client side, which it sounds like the client may have been pressing after each change.... ?

 

I agree with Marcia, communication may go a long way here.

What Marcia said is excellent, and is absolutely something the contractor should do.

 

Part of communicating with the client should include getting the client to close the contract as a prerequisite for the contractor doing additional work.

 

It is inappropriate for a client to use the request changes button to request additional work outside of what was explicitly agreed upon in the original agreement.

 

As Marcia said.... The contractor needs to be paid for her time and effort.


@Preston H wrote:

It is inappropriate for a client to use the request changes button to request additional work outside of what was explicitly agreed upon in the original agreement.


 Where does it say the client is requesting "additional work outside what was explicitely agreed upon?" How do you know what was agreed upon, andhow explicit this was?

 

I think asking a client who is not happy with the work produced so far(whether he has a point or not) to close the contract and stating that nothing further will be done unless they do is a very dangerous undertaking as without much effective communication first the client will end the contract and ask for his money back. This will have a negative effect.

 

She'll either have lost the money and the contract will have ended badly (think JSS, it's only her second contract....) or it will create a dispute (depending on whether she approves or rejects the request to get the funds returned)

 

We don't know what the contract was, we don't know what was specifically agreed, and what was delivered.

 

Once a contract is closed it's too late. Whatever damage was done will be permanent. Pushing the client to do so, especially with what could be classed as coercion ("Close the contract or I will not finish the work") is dangerous and should be the very last resort, especially with anew account

lindaland
Ace Contributor
Thanks for the helpful advice. What is happening is that I submit the final milestone and hear nothing. Then when the client gets their notice "in seven days the funds will be released" they request changes. So next time I will try the suggestion to ask to close the contract and I will do the changes at no additional cost. That is a professional answer and I appreciate the feedback. Going forward I have knowledge on how to do things differently. There are some great posts here on how to avoid this situation so thanks again everyone.

Let me be very clear and blunt about what works for me, personally. This is not necessarily something every contractor can do yet. Think of this as an alternative perspective, or a goal:

 

It is not up to the client to decide when the agreed-upon work is finished.

 

It is up to me, as the contractor.

 

When I work a fixed-price contract, I do everything that was agreed upon. I submit the work. The client pays me.

 

That's it.

 

This is not "harsh" or "impolite." I do this in a way that is professional and polite and leads to repeat contracts with these clients.

 

This works because the clients want more work done. They want to set up a next contract with me, and they know I won't do it if they play games.

 

It took time and practice for me to be able to be work this way with clients. I had my own share of seemingly "never-ending" contracts.

 

I am NOT saying that EVERY Upwork contractor is in a position to be this cut-and-dry with clients. But this should be your goal:

 

You do work that is of such value to the client that they will immediately pay you for your work because they hope you will be willing to do more work for them in the future. They client knows you are a professional and they know that when you say a project is done, it's done.


@Preston H wrote:

Let me be very clear and blunt about what works for me, personally. This is not necessarily something every contractor can do yet.

 

It took time and practice for me to be able to be work this way with clients. I had my own share of seemingly "never-ending" contracts.

 

I am NOT saying that EVERY Upwork contractor is in a position to be this cut-and-dry with clients.


 Exactly......

 

 


Linda B wrote: I am new here and this was my second job

 And this is why what would work for you, or I, would be seriously risky for her.

 

If you or I end up with something that didn't quite go to plan or we decide to cut out a client who is being a total pain, it will not have a catastrophic impact on our future chances of working on this platform.

 

Linda is not in that position yet.

Petra:
Excellent points about the necessity for Linda to consider her position, as a new contractor.

 

You're right, that what you or I might be able to do is not always appropriate for a new contractor

 

Let me add a note about CLIENTS in general:

 

Clients: Regardless of whether or not you are working with a new contractor or a veteran, you, as a client, have a responsibility to use the fixed-price contract model responsibly and in a professional manner. Using the fixed-price contract model does make it all right for you to make unending demands on a contractor, even if they allow it.

 

If a contractor fulfills the original agreement, the professional thing to do is to pay them for their work.

 

If you want more work done, pay the contractor more. Use a new milestone or a new contract or bonus pay.

 

If you want to tweak things and modify things and get everything just right in ways that were not explicitly spelled out in the original agreement, and if this involves a certain amount of back-and-forth between client and contractor, and you're going to keep on making the project better and better until you get it just right...

 

That's called an hourly contract.


Preston H wrote:If you want to tweak things and modify things and get everything just right in ways that were not explicitly spelled out in the original agreement, and if this involves a certain amount of back-and-forth between client and contractor, and you're going to keep on making the project better and better until you get it just right...

 

That's called an hourly contract.


 Indeed.

 

The biggest mistake freelancers, and I include myself, make, is not to spell out explicitely right from the word get-go what a contract does and does not include.

 

Especially new freelancers (who are so glad to land a contract, and haven't learned the hard way yet) and people who have become complacent because they had a run of lovely, easy clients with great contracts, leave the door open for clients to stretch the boundaries.

 

I still think that Marcia's approach is the best first step. The client may have absolutely no idea what they are doing, and if they do, they may wake up when they figure out that they've been found out.

 

There is still time for taking a harder line further down the line. A neutral, non confrontational approach to start with may be all it needs.

 

lindaland
Ace Contributor
Thank you all again your expertise is invaluable. Up until now I have been making changes as requested but it is becoming bizarre. The last request clearly contradicted itself saying "please do not do it this way" and then one sentence later "I really want you to do it this way". When I messaged asking for clarity on what exactly needs to be changed to complete the project the response was "let me know when it is done". So I resbmitted the final milestone a week ago with no response. Expecting to have changes requested again I came here to see what my options are.

I've been there!

 

People here know about my hardline stance with fixed-price contracts.

 

But early in my time on Upwork (then oDesk), I had a few of these, too!

 

What a nightmare they can be! You keep getting note after note from the client and you see the time you're spending go up and up, and eventually you realize you've worked for some ridiculous rate like 50 cent per hour.

 

I've been through it, and so I try to advocate for better ways of handling fixed-price contracts, in the hopes of minimizing this kind of thing for other people.

 

It is NOT the intent of MOST clients to put contractors through this kind of experience. Clear communication early on will usually resolve things. Many clients just don't understand the fixed-price contract model, and you can explain it to them and they're okay with it.

 

But a SMALL MINORITY of clients are simply bad actors who willfully abuse fixed-price contracts.

Linda, so how many times, exactly, has this happened now?

 

Can you, if it's not private, tell us what area of work it is? How specific was the initial agreement? What size project is it?

 

The client: What is his history like? What kind of feedback does he leave? How many contracts have been done?

 

You can avoid a lot of problems by being super selective as to whose jobs you apply for.

 

I like new clients, but with established clients I look at things like their hiring ratio, the amount of contracts they have running and how active (or not) they are, what fedback they leave (constant low feedback or no feedback left for freelancers and I walk away,) how enthusiastic previous freelancers are about them, average hourly rate paid, total spent etc etc.

 

If there is anythng suspicious about "the picture" I get from looking at all the above I don't apply, or turn down the invitation. If they ask why I did (and they sometimes do) I tell them.

zaidimariam
Ace Contributor

I had one client who kept thinking of new things to add after I had written what he wanted. When I'd had enough of it, I was scared to say it but I very respectfully told him that since I had done so and so extra work above and beyond what was agreed, I think it should be compensated for. He immediately obliged and said yes you deserve a bonus, and actually paid me DOUBLE the original agreed amount.

 

Most of the time it depends on how 'human' the client is, but you should never be afraid to ask for what you deserve. Another way to avoid this is to state in the interview process how many free revisions you are willing to offer. 

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