enginverse
Member

Surprise chargeback, NO HELP yet from UpWork

I've been happy with Elance and UpWork so far and had not encountered a problem with a client who refuses to pay for work, UNTIL LAST WEEK. I'm hoping that you guys can recommend a course of action, inside and outside UpWork, to get paid.

 

Here's what happened:

1) Client was very happy with my work but then abruptly ended our contract and disputed 5 hours of my 10 hours last week. I've never used the UpWork Team App with any client and this client was ok with my hours being manual until this dispute.

 

2) At the same time while in dispute, the client initiated a chargeback for the full 10 hours via their bank/credit card/PayPal. This is in direct violation of UpWork's Terms of Service section 6.6 which states no chargebacks for any reasons whatsoever.

 

3) UpWork deducted the full amount of 10 hours (not just of the 5 disputed hours) from my account. Why would UpWork deduct the full 10 hours and not just the 5 disputed hours?

 

4) The dispute was ruled in my favor.

 

Now the client has both my work and money. The client is using my work for FREE. This is in violation of UpWork's free work policy. I gave UpWork proof that the client is indeed currently using my work and because of the chargeback they haven't paid me for my work.

 

Since I've already spent the time to complete the work, I would like to be paid as opposed to undoing the work and not getting paid. In fact, it's not possible for me to undo most of the work. For example, I researched and created a work-around for the client to a problem they were having. Now that the client has knowledge of the work-around, I'm not able to undo that knowledge.

 

It's been a week and UpWork has really only given me copy-paste answers.

 

I'd would really appreciate your comments and suggestions. Thanks!

26 REPLIES 26
petra_r
Member

If the client did a chargeback Upwork lost the money.

 

If you did not use the tracker and logged your time correctly you were not covered by the guarantee, so Upwork did not have to pay you out of their own pocket.

 

Had you tracked your time correctly and according to the terms you would have been protected and Upwork would have paid you out of their own pocket.

 

I am not sure why you expected Upwork to foot the bill for your client's actions when you willingly decided not to work according to the terms that would have afforded you protection against this happening.

 

If Upwork do not get paid, you are ONLY protected if you have used the tracker according to the terms.

 

As you decided not to take advantage of the protection it offers you, all you can do is request the client's contact details and try to get your money the legal route (which is probably futile as cost is prohibitive)

 

You DO own the work so if the client uses it you may be able to take action (again whether it is worth your while depends on the sum involved and the nature of the work you did.)

 

In future log time correctly with the tracker if you want to be protected, or take the consequences of not doing so on the chin if it goes wrong.

 

 

While the implications of logging manual time are as described by Petra (no protection), I really don't like the "had you done stuff correctly and according to the terms you would be fine" stance.

 

It sounds as if logging manual time was some shady and objectionable practice. It is not. And it is compliant with the terms as well.

But it is risky.

 


@Ela K wrote:

While the implications of logging manual time are as described by Petra (no protection), I really don't like the "had you done stuff correctly and according to the terms you would be fine" stance.

 

It sounds as if logging manual time was some shady and objectionable practice. It is not.

But it is risky.


 I understand, and NO, of course manual time with the client's permission is not shady, it just means that you have no protection should the client dispute or pull a chargeback stunt.

 

I meant "correctly" as in "in accordance to the hourly protection rules" meaning:

  • meaningful work memo
  • not manual time
  • diary showing sufficient activity
  • diary showing task related activity

Of course a chargeback is against the terms of service, and the client's account will get suspended until it is sorted out, but that does not magic the lost funds back ....

 

enginverse
Member

Thanks for your reply Ela and Petra.

 

I know there's some risk with not using the UpWork Team App, but in my line of work it's just not practical or advisable since (1) I do a good amount of work offline and (2) the app would reveal my trade secrets. If a client doesn't want to pay, I'm sure they'll find an excuse even if I use the app.

 

Petra's response makes it sound like UpWork is saying "Hey, this your problem and not ours. We do not care about your problem with the client. We do not have your back. There's really no benefit to working with clients through UpWork. We only want whatever money you can make for us." I hope this is not the case.

 

Please note that the dispute was ruled IN MY FAVOR and that the client violated UpWork's terms of service and free work policy and yet I've lost all the funds and no action to my knowledge has been taken on their account.

 

By doing the chargeback while the dispute was in progress, the client also violated UpWork's dispute resolution process and should immediately lose the dispute and not be eligible for any refunds. That's why I fully expected UpWork to fight the chargeback and not assessed my account for the chargeback.

 

Again, I would appreciate your suggestions on what to do to get my money back.

Time to start doing things the Internet way. Upwork won't help you. I don't use the app either because it's too much junk to deal with. You get people in the client section complaining about screenshots and I'm not closing my email and messages for 5-6 hours during the day so some schmoe doesn't complain about the 2 minutes it takes me to answer email.

 

Anyway, I would do things outside of Upwork since they aren't going to help.

 

Ripoffreport

Consumerreport

Social media

 

If he's a business, he's gonna hate that stuff ranking for his brand.

Even though Upwork can't help the OP with the money, I nevertheless wonder if the client, who violated policy, has gone unpunished to inflict the same sort of deal on other freelancers.

I think they suspend the client too. He would know. The contract will show as suspended. The client that tried to stiff me $50 I believe blocked the last charge to her card. Upwork suspended her account and she just basically said "I'm done. I'm not fixing it." She did eventually pay me but she wasn't interested in fixing the issue with her account since she got what she wanted.

Thanks Jennifer. I completely agree about the app not being useful for any real protection. That's pretty sad to hear that UpWork may not help. I may resort to shaming the client publicly.

 

Have you or anyone else had any success with using a collections agency or small claims court? I know it's only 10 hours of work, but to me it's a matter of principle.

I think you are missing an important point here:

 

Upwork do not have the money for this project because the client filed a chargeback. This means the only financial help would be for them to pay you what the client owes you themselves, out of their own pocket.

 

They would do this had you used the tracker according to the terms of the policy. You did not.

The End.

 

That has nothing to do with "not having your back."

You were offered the opportunity to get paid even in such cases. You chose not to.

 

The client absolutely will already be suspended, but that will not get you your money.

This is not a complicated issue. There is nothing wrong with using manual time. Just as long as you know Upwork can't guarantee payment if a client disputes or doesn't pay.

 

How would it even work otherwise?

 

How is Upwork to know you even worked the hours you claimed?

 

It doesn't make any sense. The only way that makes sense for manual time is that Upwork passes on payment to,you because the client trusts you and paid for your time. Otherwise they'd just have to take your word for it.

 

Which they can't do. Not because of quality contractors such as yourself. But because of the bad contractors who would just add in a bunch of manual time and expect to get paid even though they weren't doing anything.

Preston, I understand that manual hours aren't guaranteed. My issue is that the client violated multiple UpWork policies but UpWork has not enforced its policies and blocked the chargeback.

 

UpWork should have enough clout with its credit card processor to challenge chargebacks like this without much problem.

Wish there was a thumbs down feature in this forum. Petra, the OP is asking for suggestions on how to get his money back so you are the one missing the point. How is this freelancer not taking the opportunity to get paid? What kind of ridiculous comment is that?

 

Sounds like this client is a scammer and would do this regardless of the tracker or not. So there's no protection from Upwork when a client does a chargeback? Upwork has to fight these chargebacks to show these scammers (and future scammers) that they cannot do this kind of things. Collections?! I am almost sure if Upwork check this client's history, he/she probably scams other freelancers.

 

Best to you OP. I feel your pain.

 

 


KATRINA C wrote:. So there's no protection from Upwork when a client does a chargeback?

 


 There is. If the tracker was used according to the terms of the hourly payment protection policy Upwork will pay the freelancer out of its own pocket.

 

If the work has not been tracked according to the terms, and a chargeback can not be successfully defended, the freelancer loses out.

 

If the work has been tracked according to the terms the freelancer gets paid by Upwork whether the client ultimately pays or not.

 

Upwork do fight chargebacks, but depending on the card used this is not always successful.

 

 

Don't you think UpWork can fight the chargeback on the grounds that the client violated the terms of service?

 

In the email informing me that I won the dispute, UpWork had this language:

 

"The primary consideration in resolving disputes is evaluating the Work Diary against the Upwork Hourly Protection criteria. However, Upwork retains the right to withhold payment if a user is in violation of the Upwork User Agreement."

 

Because the client violated the user agreement/terms of service, payment/refund to the client should be withheld and chargeback blocked.

OMG! Did you not read the OP's post? He said that the dispute was ruled in HIS favor! That proves that Upwork thought his hours were legit. This has nothing to do with putting in the tracker or not. That is not even the point here.

 

Upwork needs to go after this chargeback and/or pay this freelancer.

 


@KATRINA C wrote:

OMG! Did you not read the OP's post? He said that the dispute was ruled in HIS favor! That proves that Upwork thought his hours were legit. This has nothing to do with putting in the tracker or not. That is not even the point here.

 

Upwork needs to go after this chargeback and/or pay this freelancer.

 


Obviously Petra did read the post.  Yes he won the dispute and yes Upwork probably fought the chargeback and lost, hence the reason he didn't get paid.  If they would have won, he would have gotten his money.   As Petra pointed out, if the tracker was used in accordance with the payment guarantee Upwork would have ate the charge whether they won the charge back or not.  That is why he can't get paid by Upwork.

"Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn't mean treating everyone alike-Coach John Wooden"

I'm almost certain that UpWork did not fight the chargeback. Why? From dispute to chargeback to UpWork assessing me for the chargeback, all this happened in about 24 hours. Chargebacks are not typically resolved this quickly unless there is no fight.

It's possible that he didn't do a chargeback. He just blocked the final charge. Was it for this past week?

 

I did that to 1&1 when I cancelled their service and they charged me anyway. I disputed it through PayPal and lost, so I just blocked the subsequent charge for the next round. 1&1 got screwed since they couldn't charge me and they did send a collector after me. I told him that I disputed the charge and blocked it, and they stopped calling. I basically told them I wasn't paying. 

 

If he did something like the above, there was never actually a chargeback. Upwork was just blocked from charging.

UpWork said that the client did a chargeback. It happened early this week. The client has not communicated with me since the chargeback. I'm waiting to see what UpWork will do.

Thomas,

 

Here is how I handle a new client that wants hourly. I only do manual time as well. To reduce risks, I will limit the amount of time I work on the first week. Ideally, they hit me up on Thursday or Friday, and I'll tell them I'll do an outline immediately and that I'm super busy next week and can only get a few hours in before Sunday. Then, I don't work the next week and wait to see what happens. You'll know by Saturday the following week if the card is good or the client is going to play this game with you. 

 

So basically, I split work up and charge maybe 2-3 hours on the first Sunday, wait a week to see if the charge goes through without issues, and then continue work the next week. This will minimize your risk.

 

I ondly do that with new clients with no Upwork history. Make sure you rate the client too to warn other freelancers.

That's good advice Jennifer. I'm not sure if this client targeted me or not, but they did invite me for this job. They paid the first 2 timesheets without issue so I didn't expect this dispute at all. Thanks again for your helpful comments.


@Thomas K wrote:

That's good advice Jennifer. I'm not sure if this client targeted me or not, but they did invite me for this job. They paid the first 2 timesheets without issue so I didn't expect this dispute at all. Thanks again for your helpful comments.


Ah, that's unfortunate. Same with my client although it was only $50. We worked together for 2-3 months and then on the last week she decided to stop the charges.

 

Has he communicated with you at all? I don't blame you for being pissed. I would take it to internet justice and make sure to mention his brand, fraud, didn't pay, scammer, and anything else that would bring up some nice details in google. After I was finished, I might even email it to him under an anonymous account. He deserves it. As long as it's true (that he didn't pay you), then he can QQ all day but the fact is that he scammed you out of work and fraudulently uses your work without paying. 


@Thomas K wrote:

1)  I completely agree about the app not being useful for any real protection.

2) Have you or anyone else had any success with using a collections agency or small claims court? I know it's only 10 hours of work, but to me it's a matter of principle.


 1) How so? Had you used it you would have been paid in full. How does that not offer any real protection?

 

2) Is the client in the same country as you?

enginverse
Member

I see some UpWork reps active on this forum. I would be interested to read their comments on my questions and post. As of today, I have not heard back from the chargeback team regarding my appeal.

Hi Thomas,

 

I have followed up with the chargeback team about your case. They are working on it currently.

As for the dispute, I received a confirmation from the team that it was closed when the chargeback was filed. I am sorry about the confusion around that. As others pointed out on this thread, manual time is not covered by the Hourly Protection when the client fails to pay for work or disputes.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Thank you for your response and followup Valeria. I really appreciate it.

 

I understand that manual time is not protected and I accept the risk. However, in my case, the client violated multiple UpWork policies and so their chargeback should have been blocked or reversed. Unlike my client, I entered the dispute in good faith with the intention of accepting whatever the dispute team decided. However, the dispute process was violated and broken due to the chargeback. UpWork's dispute policy states "Upwork retains the right to withhold payment if a user is in violation of the Upwork User Agreement."

 

UpWork should enforce its policy and reverse the chargeback to withhold payment from the client.

 

The client could have simply waited for the dispute team to make their decision instead of circumventing UpWork's policy and procedure.