What can I do if I do not agree with the support from Upwork Dispute Team? I am not waiting a magical solution, but at least I can send a warning at another freelancers about the escrow system non-protection.
I have some troubles with a bad client who does not want to release a milestone and even closed the contract. I was hired for a demo (a basketball related game) and the value of the contract was 555$. The first milestone is called "1. bball project start" and the value is 250$.
I delivered the first version to the client. This version have almost 80% from the entire project implemented. Because the demo is 80% finished, I requested the release of the first milestone and funding of the second milestone. I asked three times for a feedback from a client and after two days, the client closed the contract and don't want to pay for the work done. .The client wanted to see the full demo (100%) and after that to release the first milestone (less than 50%).
I didn't accepted to return the money and we are in a dispute now. After a while, after I presented the situation of the contract, the Dispute Team come up with a solution: "Unfortunately, as the parties are unable to find a mutual agreement, Upwork recommends that you take the matter to binding arbitration."
If I want to receive the money, I should choose arbitration and I need to pay 291$. Comme on! Are you serious? How can anyone spend 291$ to receive 250$? Is this a solution from Upwork Team Dispute?
Is there any manager on this forum? I am a five star freelancer and I am not protected by the escrow system. I have a very good reputation here, at Upwork. I am a honest person, always available and I deliver very fast solutions. But, in this case, I didn't had any chance.
It is not about the money (in this case it is a small amount), it is about the protection of the freelancers. This bad client can hire 100 freelancers and apply the same abusive behavior.
I would be pretty pissed myself, so I'm (for once) not trying to be a jerk. Here is where you went wrong.
Clients try to play the same game with writers too where they want to fund 50% of the project for just the draft and then the other 50% is for the revisions. Never ever work like this without the full amount being funded. Always do milestones that match the work that needs to be done. A draft is 95% of the work, and revisions are minor (usually). With projects where customers want to split milestones like that ALWAYS make them fund the full project.
If the milestones had been funded and you did the work, you'd have at least some money in your pocket if you won the dispute, if it has to go that route. Right now, you're stuck with no money in the second milestone, so it's lost. And you now have to pay $291 for the original milestone, so it's not worth it.
This case can repeat very often and Upwork should have a history with this type of clients. The client will receive the money back and I can't even write a review on his profile. This is wrong. Each client should have a visible history of disputes. My client even threaten me with his past winning disputes. For me, this is the first dispute(I hope the last one too).
Let's imagine something: the client funds the entire project and I send him the project. In 2 minutes, the client close the contract without warning and keep complaining about the quality. How can I repair something? If I worked one week for that project, should I receive any money? NO. Because Upwork Dispute Team is pushing the dispute to Arbitration (at least in my case). So, I don't think that funding the entire project is a solution. In my case, I am happy to have only two days of work unpaid.
From the words of my arbiter who decided my case after the guy claimed quality issues:
"This case fits a stereotypical pattern where the Client is looking for an excuse to get out of the contract for undisclosed reasons beyond just the work quality issues. It may truly be that the work isn't any good, and if that's the case then the evidence will speak for itself."
I was awarded the full amount, btw.
Nice. At least, your amount was bigger than 291$ (maybe 292$).
I am confident that I could win, but I can't advance to arbitration, due to financial management. My problem is with Upwork Dispute Team solution. They should send disputes to arbitration if the amount is bigger than the fees paid there. Otherwise, this is a stupid decision.
Don't you think so? I am not talking about the quality of the client, I am talking about the rules from Upwork.
That's why I'm telling you that you should alwayyyys have them fund the entire project when clients want to do a setup of 50% for draft and 50% for revisions. If you force the entire amount in escrow, and let's say its $500. You'd be out $300 of that, but if you won, you'd have $200 at least for your efforts. Now, you're out all money and get zip.
It kinda makes logical sense to send to arbitration. If neither of you can agree, then the next step is arbitration. If it didn't go into arbitration, who wins the escrow? We don't know, so the next logical step is arbitration unless one party gives in. Arbitration is the only last restort to figure out who gets escrow.
In your case, you're giving in and refunding, which does make logical sense. But, I'm a little firecracker and would probably pay the fee just to force the guy trying to scam me out of money to pony up some dough. Ain't my first rodeo, and I'm willing to throw in some cash to see if the guy folds first.
In this case, we have another problem, due to different countries. I am from Eastern Europe and the client is from USA. In my country 291$ represent a lot of money, while in USA this money are not a fortune. And the client have a lot of money, that's why he has such an abusive behavior with freelancers.
Thank you for the advices about milestones. I will take care for the next contracts. I thought that all the clients are nice :-), but I was wrong.
Yes, for a 50% split between revision and draft, I go ahead and let them do something like that but only if they fund the whole thing. If you don't, you set yourself up to get scammed because we all know that someone could take a draft and just use that. Most of us proof and send a pretty good draft. Only minor revisions are needed. So, the 50% split isn't representative of the work being done. So, always make them fund the whole thing in these examples.
My dispute was an example of this too. Guy wanted to do a 50% split and I made him fund the whole thing. He didn't fight it, but then he complained about it in the dispute. I honestly think he was trying to get free work, and even the arbiter agreed.
@Ionut Ovidiu O wrote:
I delivered the first version to the client. This version have almost 80% from the entire project implemented.
Then in future contract discussions, that is the basis for the first milestone, if you use milestones. It's non-negotiable. Anyone who doesn't recognize your own assessment of the value of the milestones needs to take a hike.
Upwork can't really be expected to resolve based on the cost of arbitration, which is a fixed external (hard-dollar) cost for them. That said, you are right to complain; I hope a @mod intervenes. By your account, your client is holding payment of a delivered milestone hostage contingent on factors external to delivery of that milestone, or its quality. That should be a no-brainer for the dispute team. To this external observer, it seems simply timid, or lazy, to kick your case to arbitration.
p.s. Echoing what others have said, and of course in a different field, I offer a single corrective (not substantial) revision after delivery of my final draft and receipt of payment. I can think of only one or two instances where my offer has been invoked.