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The strange client

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Active Member
Amine A Member Since: Feb 28, 2018
1 of 12
I'm Amine and I'm a top rated PowerPoint expert working here for 8 years now. Let me tell you this experience that I have faced for the first time in Upwork.
I'm currently working with a client that I have worked with him for two time and they were totally successful ( despite some many negative feedback on this profile that discouraged me at the beginning)
 
This client is working on a web app that automatically generates a video from a PowerPoint template and my mission for this third contract is to create this template. By the way, my second contract was almost the same thing which helped me to accomplish the third task in a fast way using same elements from the 2nd task.
 
I showed him what I have done with screensharing in Skype and he was amazed by my work as usual and he told me to do extra slides for extra fees. He suggested to pay my outside Upwork and I refused that telling him that he should do a contract in Upwork with milestones. He did this and created 3 milestones : the first one is for the extra slides, second is to send the work for review and the third is to pay the rest after reviews and changes.
He funded the first milestone only telling me that he hasn't money to fund the rest of milestones and then he disappeared...
 
After many attempts to contact him, he came back and released the first milestone and the second milestone without even getting the work to review it!! Then he started to strangely behave asking me to send him the PowerPoint file without any protection of my proper work . I asked him gently to fund the 3rd milestone and put the money in escrow so I guarantee that I can get paid for my efforts even he disappears again but with the whole work this time or suddenly end the contract without paying the last milestone of it. I refused to deliver him the file as he was showing that he is the one who decided to pay me or not when he said that "ever controls the cash calls the shots", he even said that he was wrong to trust a freelancer from African roots which is me and I consider this as racism. He told me that he has filled a dispute against me because I didn't respect the second milestone requirements.
 
I decided to end this conflict as he still refuses to fund the third milestone and put the funds in escrow, so I sent him the PowerPoint files that he asked for but with a non-removable watermark and told him so, he can test the PowerPoint file in his web app and come back with the changes if required. He contacted me today telling me that the web app can't support a PowerPoint file with watermark and tells me to send him the original files.
 
What should I do in this case? I'm afraid of losing my Top rated badge or losing my Upwork account after he starts a dispute against me and afraid of sending him a work that I spent a lot of efforts to finish it in quickly and help him gain a lot of time without getting my fair money.
 
Thank you for reading this.
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Community Guru
Kholleras I Member Since: Nov 24, 2015
2 of 12

Amine A wrote:
 
He did this and created 3 milestones : the first one is for the extra slides, second is to send the work for review and the third is to pay the rest after reviews and changes.
 
 

Give him the work you did for the first two milestones because he has paid for that work. If the client never reviewed the work or asked for any changes, then you couldn't have done any work for the third milestone, so you shouldn't be paid the third milestone.

 

It sounds like you didn't use the milestone system properly.  "Send the work for review" shouldn't be a separate milestone.

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Amine A Member Since: Feb 28, 2018
3 of 12

Yes I was wrong to trust him and not to request a change for the milestones requirements. By the way that's my only milestone-structured project in Upwork so I don't have a big knowledge. I sent him what he required in milestone 1 + 2 but with a watermark. I think that's the minimum thing I can do to protect my work. He still ask to get the non-watermarked file. I think he was wrong too when he validated the second milestone without getting the work for review, no?

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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 12

Amine A wrote:

 I sent him what he required in milestone 1 + 2 but with a watermark.


No.

If milestone 1 and 2 have been released to you, then you need to send what was paid for, WITHOUT a watermark, otherwise milestone one and two are not completed.

At the moment the client has paid (if I am right about the contract in question) $ 1600 and has absolutely nothing.

 

That would look seriously bad for you in a dispute.

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Amine A Member Since: Feb 28, 2018
5 of 12
@petra
Does having a copyright or a watermark in your proper job can make your delivered work considered as incomplete?
 
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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
6 of 12

Amine A wrote:
@petra
Does having a copyright or a watermark in your proper job can make your delivered work considered as incomplete?
 

I don't understand what you mean. If the deliverables for milestone 1 and 2 are paid for - you don't own the copyright to them, the client does. If you put a watermark on something you do not own, or claim the copyright for something you do not own, you are violating Upwork's terms of service.

The second something is paid for it is the client's and putting a watermark on it is plain wrong. It is no longer yours to mess with.

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
7 of 12

What should you do?

I don't know.

I'm tired of reading about clients who act like jerks. (Which may or may not be something that applies to the original poster's situation. I am speaking generally.)

 

Fixed-price contracts are a privilege, not a right.

If a client doesn't understand how to use fixed-price contracts properly, they need to use hourly contracts only.

 

Here's how it works:

You ask a freelancer to do something.

He does it.

You pay him.

 

It's not complicated.

 

If he does what you asked, and you hate it or your have a headache or your dog died or your project got cancelled... you still pay him.

 

Amine:

Of course Heaven is correct in his advice: Anything that he PAID for, you need to make sure you have sent to him. If he set up a fixed-price milestone for you to provide File X, and he PAID you for that milestone, then you need to send him the agreed-upon file(s), no matter how annoying he has been.

 

If you ALREADY ended the contract, and you ALREADY accepted the fact that you won't get any money from him, and if the client ALREADY filed a dispute, then I guess you're just going to have to wait until the dispute moderator starts talking to you.

 

If this happened to me, I would be honest with the cient when he messaged me:

"Gerry: I don't know very much about disputes. I think I'm supposed to wait until Upwork contacts me and follow their directions. I guess if you can figure out a way to drop the dispute and send me the final payment, I could send you the non-watermarked files. Maybe customer support can help you to do that. Otherwise, I should probably wait until they contact me."

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Amine A Member Since: Feb 28, 2018
8 of 12
Thank you for replying Preston.
 
I contacted customer support and asked them if he has filled any dispute, they said no. He is bluffing just to make me give him the work and go away.
I even sent him a link of an Upwork article about Escrow money and fixed-price protection for client and freelancer and he said: I don’t care to read what you have found.
The most annoying thing in this is the fact that he did everything wrong, the structure of the milestones, their requirements, paying the 2nd milestone without getting the work, abusing me, refusing to find a very simple solution that can lead to resolve this conflict which using Upwork as a guarantee and he still sees himself as right and considering our case as a challenge that he must win.
By the way the contract is still open.
 
I have a question and I need your answers please: Is the fact that a freelancer sends a work with a watermark or copyrights before ending the contract and sending the raw files to the clients (and that's my case) is something wrong to do in Upwork? In other words, when a client wants to get the work for a review should he receives it with no trace of copyrights?
 
(By the way I have many friends who do video productions and they always watermark their videos for the review)
 
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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 12

Watermarks are really not part of Upwork's intentions for the fixed-price/escrow system.

 

Upwork's intended use of the system:

 

- Freelancer and client agree to a milestone task.

- Client funds the task in escrow.

- Freelancer does the work and sends the files to the client.

- Client reviews the files to confirm he received what was agreed to

- Client releases payment [or] requests changes [or] does nothing

- If client does nothing, Upwork releases the money to the freelancer automatically after 14 days.

 

That's how the system is supposed to work. Watermarking or otherwise providing something other than what was agreed upon are NOT part of Upwork's intended use for the fixed-price system.

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 12

I will tell you what I personally do.

I am NOT telling you what to do.

I am NOT saying everybody else needs to do this.

 

When I have a fixed-price contract, as soon as the contract starts, I create a shared server account.

I send the client the full credentials for the account. The same credentials that I have.

 

I do ALL OF MY WORK on that shared space. I don't do any work on a local machine/desktop computer.

 

[I realize this won't work for all types of work.]

 

As I do work, the client has complete, real-time access to everything I do.

The client can copy the work to his own computer or server or anywhere else, at any time.

 

When I actually use the "Submit Work / Request Payment" button, I might send files, but often I just write a note. Because the client ALREADY has all of the work I have done on the project.

 

This is pretty much the opposite of watermarking files sent for review.

 

Now let me be clear about something:

Upwork does not require that freelancers doing fixed-price contracts use my methods.

I mention these things to provide some contrast to what the original poster was doing.

 

Could a client simply take my work and then not pay me?

Well, they have funded escrow. I don't work on non-funded milestones.

 

So if they were to try to take my work without paying me, it would mean they would need to file a dispute. Because Upwork's system doesn't allow a client to close out a contract or milestone without releasing the payment, unless they either get the freelancer to agree to the refund (or partial refund), or they file a dispute.

 

So there is indeed some safety there regarding getting paid.

 

But importantly for me, the work I do is somewhat technical and complex. Clients value my continued advice and participation on their projects. That makes it unlikely that they would simply try to take my work and leave me unpaid. So in that regard, the dynamic is different than in a situation where a client could take a file (such as Photoshop graphic or a Word document), and use it without the freelancer's help.

 

So although there are some differences in the dynamic, the escrow system remains the same.

 

The escrow system - in which clients' payments have already been charged to their credit card and are intended for use in paying the freelancer - really is a solid, sensible system that benefits freelancers.

 

But they need to use it correctly.

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