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Unprofessional Client. What to do?

I recently got a contract with a client for Sales Management. Even though the offer was way below my hourly rate I accepted because it was a good opportunity to gain experience. However, the client repeatedly asked to modify the conditions of the contract and even asked me to go outside of the platform, reducing the budget and changing the arrangements. I explained to him I could not work with him outside of the platform as it is a violation of the ToS.

I have a fairly high tolerance, but it all came plummeting down when I was not able to get my early payout because he did not pay on time and the platform paused the contract. It seems his card has no funds. After a while of writing back and forth, he made the late payment to Upwork, and the contract was reactivated. The problem is I do not like where the relationship is going. I asked him if he had also paid the second week as we are now in the third week and it seems he has not because he answered that his payroll is biweekly so it seems that the platform is going to pause the contract yet once again this upcoming Monday. 

I am willing to refund him for the money and end the contract because I have a strict satisfaction-only policy on the compensation I receive, however, I am worried that if I end the contract it might damage my 100% JSS temporarily and prompt him to leave a bad review. 

On the other hand, we have created a series of documents and assets for his business and I just want to make sure we can end the relationship on good terms because I am not willing to work for someone that is not professional and ethical in their treatment and appreciation towards their employees. 

Please let me know your advice as to what the best resolution would be. Thanks.

Community Member

Hey Edgardo,


Hope you are doing well & i understand the situation you are in. Down below I'm adding a few points that can help you get out of this situation professionally and safely. Have a look and let me know if it makes any value to you.


  • Communicate clearly: Reiterate your terms and conditions, including the hourly rate and the fact that you cannot work outside of Upwork's platform. Explain that you are willing to refund the client for the work completed, but you will not continue if the terms are not met.
  • Avoid further modifications: Do not agree to any changes in the contract, such as a switch to a fixed-price model or a reduction in your rate.
  • Ensure payment: If the client has not paid for the second week, remind them of their obligation to pay for the work completed. If they do not pay, consider ending the contract and seeking legal advice if necessary.
  • End the contract: If the client does not pay for the second week, inform them that you will end the contract. Be prepared to provide evidence of the work completed and the hours logged.
  • Protect your reputation: If the client attempts to leave a negative review, respond professionally and provide evidence of your work and the terms of the contract. Upwork's community guidelines state that clients are not allowed to leave negative reviews for freelancers who have completed their work to the best of their ability
  • Consider the impact on your JSS: While ending the contract may temporarily damage your JSS, it is essential to protect your reputation and maintain your professional standards. If you have completed high-quality work, you should not be overly concerned about the impact on your JSS.
  • Document the process: Keep a record of all communications and transactions with the client. This will be useful if you need to seek legal advice or if the client attempts to dispute the work completed.
  • Seek support from Upwork: If the client does not pay for the work completed, you can contact Upwork's support team for assistance. However, be aware that Upwork is not a party to the contract between you and the client, and they cannot force the client to pay
  • Learn from the experience: Reflect on the lessons learned from this experience and use them to improve your future interactions with clients.
  • Maintain professionalism: Throughout the process, maintain a professional and courteous demeanor. This will help to protect your reputation and ensure that you are seen as a reliable and trustworthy freelancer.

Hope this info helps you




Community Member

Hi Edgardo,

If your client hails from Canada and the name commences with the letter "P," there's a chance I might know him. However, if this isn't the case, rest assured there are plenty more out there. Personally, I am more towards hourly jobs, especially those offering consistent work. Regardless of the client's payroll system process, it's important to adhere to Upwork platform policies. For instance, if you've agreed upon a rate of $15 per hour with a weekly limit of 20 hours, the client would need to escrow $300 with Upwork each week. This ensures compliance and transparency for all parties involved.


I generally lean towards fixed-term projects that require quick and one-time deliverables, reserving hourly contracts for ongoing work. I would recommend adopting a similar approach in your freelancing endeavors.

Community Member

"...however, I am worried that if I end the contract it might damage my 100% JSS temporarily and prompt him to leave a bad review."


You're Top Rated so you can remove any bad feedback, both public and private.  That is, if you haven't used the Top Rated perk in the past 3 months/10 jobs.


Don't refund him the money.  It doesn't sound like he's dissatisfied with your work, but has payment issues. 


Close the contract yourself - that way, he isn't forced to leave feedback and you have better odds that he never will.

Community Member

Well I ended the contract and refunded him, and also sent him a copy of the documents and applicants profiles we had generated. He did not leave any feedback but I still refunded to stay consistent with my policy of not taking money from unhappy clients. I guess I didn't have to but I'm pretty sure I will have more opportunities in the future. Thanks everyone for your advice, it is greatly appreciated.

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