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Unscrupulous or incompetent?

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
1 of 6

In mid-September I was invited to apply for a job writing website content. I responded, noting my hourly rate and typical turnaround time depending on certain variables. The client responded that it was actually a re-write/refresh of the copy and sent me the link to the site. It was fairly well organized but seemed to have been written by someone not fluent in English, and I could see what they needed. Then they asked for a sample. I told them providing a free sample would violate ToS but if they wanted to set up a small contract for one page or one article, we could do that. then they wanted to know my hourly rate (again). Then asked how long it would take to re-write the whole site. When I had time later that day, I reviewed the site, estimated the word count, and gave them an estimate of the hours required. Then they wanted to know how much I would charge for certain sections only. I estimated that portion (about half a day's work--worthwhile for me, if they wanted to proceed) and told them. They thanked me and disappeared. All of that had transpired via UW messaging center, over the course of a couple of days (over an hour of my time altogether). I resolved not to spend that much time on something like that again.

Fast forward to last week: same client invited me to apply for what I initially thought was the same project. I responded cordially and reminded them we had communicated previously. They sent me the link for a different website (same industry as the first one), that needs copy rewritten; and asked me to review it and send a sample. I said no sample page, if they wanted to set up a contract and assign a specific page, I would be happy to do it. At that point, I also flagged the job post and sent a message to Uw CS. The client immediately responded OK, then could I please provide the "samples done previously." I hadn't sent any before, but I sent a couple of one-page excerpts that I use as writing samples. Then they wanted to know if I had reviewed their site yet. I said no, the last time we talked I spent a lot of time reviewing the prospective work and I can't afford to do that. Told them if they'd like to send me pages/word count of what needs to be done, I could provide a quote. And repeated my hourly rate. Then they wanted to "give a demo" and asked when I could be available for a call. I said I was too busy, but if they would like to provide an estimated word count and outline of the work (number of modules/sections/articles, etc.), I could give them a quote. 


A day or two later, they sent me a .rar file and asked me to review it and give them a quote so they could set up a milestone. And again, asked for a sample page. I responded that (1) I can't open that type of file and they need to send a format I can open, and (2) I am not going to provide any sample work ahead of a contract. They sent back a Word doc and said "Actually we are expecting a sample doc, So that we are going to show that sample to my manager for approval of the hiring/contracting." To which I replied, "It is a violation of the Upwork Terms of Service for a client to request a free sample of work, or for a freelancer to provide it. If I provide a free sample, even one page, without being paid for it, I could lose my Upwork account. I have called this to your attention multiple times now. I am going to withdraw my proposal because I do not think that I am a good fit for your project." And I withdrew my proposal and flagged the job.

 

On the second go-round, I didn't spend any time, to speak of. But it was one more thing to engage with during the day. If that re-write were a viable project, it would be 1-2 days' worth of work which is well worth my time, including some measure of annoyance. But it just seems like an utter waste of time and pixels. Thought I would share and see if this kind of thing goes on all the time, or is this one particularly comical, and/or was I a particularly easy mark (in the beginning)?

 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 6

The client sounds incompetent. I would walk away.

 

By the way, it is NOT against the TOS to offer or to do any free samples or test work and you categorically would not lose your account for doing so. It is just (in most, but not all cases) bad practice and a waste of valuable time.

 

It *IS* against the TOS for a client to ask for it.

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
3 of 6

@Petra R wrote:

 

By the way, it is NOT against the TOS to offer or to do any free samples or test work and you categorically would not lose your account for doing so. It is just (in most, but not all cases) bad practice and a waste of valuable time.

 

It *IS* against the TOS for a client to ask for it.




Thanks, that's an important clarification. 

 

 

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
4 of 6

Sounds like your typical ESL trying to get you to do things because he's farming out the work and doesn't want to admit it to you. Ignore->move on.

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
5 of 6

I withdrew the proposal and blocked the client.

 

Happily, will be too busy in the next few weeks to be tempted into being patient with nonsense.

Community Guru
Heath S Member Since: Mar 16, 2016
6 of 6

Yeah, what Petra and Jenn said. The client is either trying to get free work out of you or is simply incompetent. Either way, you probably don't want to work with them.

 

There are many, many legitimate clients on Upwork. Keep that in mind. Because when your gut tells you something is off, it's not like you're missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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