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iwan-spillebeen
Community Member

Upwork not honoring payments

I have a client that I have been working with for close to a year, they are in the process of changing credit cards, which has caused delays in payment to UpWork.

 

As such UpWork has suspended the contract, which is part of the workflow, however, now they have issued an unauthorised refund because UpWork doesn't want to honor the hours already approved by the client.  I understand that UpWork suspends a new contract in case of payment issues, but I do not agree to UpWork suspending and then removing hours at will (1,000 USD worth) for long term contracts.

 

I have notified UpWork a year ago that I do not accept arbitrary refunds, customer support is unreachable at present and has been for the last 4 hours at least, while payment is due tomorrow.

 

Rather than suspend a contract and remove hours, give us an option to sign a waver for guaranteed payments if needed, removing hours arbitrarily is now causing issues around reporting, time tracking and alignment of statements, let alone damage to the client relationship since it is presented as me issuing the refund without my consent.

 

UpWork needs to make customer support accesible to its top rated users, instead of responding to issues within 3 working days while cancelling a payment 6 hours before it is due.

48 REPLIES 48
lance98
Community Member

I have a similar issue at the moment. Upwork doesn't care. They do not honor any kind of hourly protection or payment protection. Upwork makes up its own rules as it goes in regards to this. Upwork will do whatever is easiest for them irregardless if it is against their own TOS.

It seems like as soon as you hit close to USD 1,000 in payment protection they find an excuse not to honour it.  I've had clients with payment issues before for smaller amounts where this wasn't an issue. Now I got a standard reply stating that it was removed because if is manual time &  Low Activity ... I'm literally on conference calls for this client all the time. They don't have an issue with it being "manual time &  Low Activity" when payments go through.

 

And customer service closed my first ticket as resolved and is unreachable otherwise ๐Ÿ˜„

Same thing is happening to us. Get this they are citing low activity for us too AND .... a high hourly rate... lol so apparently if Upwork feels like you aren't worth the rate you and your client agreed upon they won't honor payment protection either... so Upwork gets to decide how much our work is worth now too

A high hourly rate is an insane excuse, equal to low activity, I have contracts where all input is manual because they're outside meetings, so it is just me adding manual time with no activity.

Nothing to do with worth. Upwork already knows for sure that when you aren't paid by the client, your work is worth $0.00 to Upwork. Still, they're willing to pay you out of their own pocket for the work that has no value to them if it qualifies under the terms you agreed to when you signed up.

They are not, I'm not sure why you are here defending them to be honest?  As per their statement " If you checked your Transaction history: not all your earnings during that work week to that contract were reversed to Client. The refunded amount only equivalents to the hours that are not protected (Manual Time & Low Activity)"

Which is completely incorrect, all hours were removed, the entire week, no checks were made against manual time & low activity.

It's weird when people think saying facts is "defending" someone.

Manual time doesn't qualify for protection.

Time billed significantly above your normal rate doesn't qualify for protection.

We all know those things going in (unless we were too lazy to read the terms before we agreed to them)

You are still only reading half of what I wrote and then jumping to conclusions.  One last time: I don't have an issue with the hours not falling under payment protection since I know the client was changing credit cards, my issue with with UpWork unilaterally and arbitrarily removing the hours (if they had left them there they would have been paid already since the contract was restarted).

UpWork then claimed that they only removed hours not compliant with their policy, which is completely false, they removed all hours, including the ones well within the policy, unlike what they claimed they ran zero checks to see if hours had 6 bars or less (plenty of them did) and my price for this client has been the exact same for over a year, as per our UpWork agreed contract.

Next time read the actual response before accusing someone of being lazy.

I have just had an issue where I work on an hourly contract for 19.5 hours. After this time the client asked for a refund. Upwork checked and declared that 2 hours do not qualify for hourly payment protection and paid me the remaining amount. Then the client again filed a dispute and I gave my defence. The mediator said that the client is involving his bank which is against upwork policy and closed the dispute. Later in the day Upwork issued a complete refund from my account. Will Upwork pay me? As all the time tracked is thoroughly checked and approved by Upwork and the client is clearly cheating.


Lance U wrote:

Same thing is happening to us. Get this they are citing low activity for us too AND .... a high hourly rate... lol so apparently if Upwork feels like you aren't worth the rate you and your client agreed upon they won't honor payment protection either... so Upwork gets to decide how much our work is worth now too


There are some very clear rules that must be followed to be protected. If those rules are followed, Upwork will pay.
You're saying there's not enough activity, so it's not protected. And also a high hourly rate, I guess much higher than what a freelancer normally charges? So they won't pay you at that rate (answered in another previous post).
If you put the two together, there is no protection.

Why would Upwork pay if the rules are not being followed?

We have seen many freelancers complaining that Upwork has not covered their 300/hr contract when the client has failed. You look at the freelancer's profile and you see that, until that contract, he has been charging 8/h. Either he is an innocent who has fallen for a scam or is collaborating in it (for not doing anything to find out how this works).

Yeah ok Maria. That is not the case here with me. Thank you for jumping to conclusions though. I know exactly what the rules are. I've been a freelancer, an agency owner, and a client for several years. There is nothing in the TOS or anywhere on Upwork that defines low activity or high hourly rate. As far as I could tell everything within the work diary either had the blue bar half way or almost full. The hourly rate for this particular contract was 75/hr and we regularly work on projects at 50/hr. I'm currently advising a client right now for 90/hr. So, no.. this is not a case of typically charging 8/hr and then charging 300/hr. We did not know that this client was a scam when we agreed to work with him he had positive reviews and a verified payment method. So, again "high hourly rate" makes no sense in our case at all. I've seen reversals in the past for low activity but still  have not see anything on Upwork that defines low activity or that seperates low activity from adequate activity. I know that hourly protection is often not honored because some of the rules are very subjective, which is fine. As a business owner I know that Upwork is simply a medium for freelancers and clients.

Why would they have an issue when payments go through? The client makes those payments, and it's up to the client to dispute if they have an issue. When Upwork will be making payment out of its own pocket for work the freelancer did for someone else that in no way benefitted Upwork, the standard is different--and, the rules are clearly explained in the payment protection policy and in many other places on the site.

Out of their own pocket? UpWork charges between 5% and 20% on a contract as well as 2-3% exchange rate fees; part of that is to cover payment protection. 

 

Also read my original post before responding, I have no issues signing a waiver for the payment protection since I am aware that the client is switching credit cards, which take time for UpWork to process.  Now they've issued a Refund without my approval, literally hours before they're supposed to pay, on a contract that has been reactivated in the mean time.

So I have an upset client that thinks I want to stop the contract because I'm refunding, I have pending payments from UpWork that are not going to go through and I have customer support who just closes the ticket without clarification.

Yes, out of their own pocket. I'm not sure what you think "to cover payment protection" means, but it certainly isn't that Upwork doesn't lose money every single time it has to pay a freelancer for nothing. 

 

Upwork took an $89 million loss in 2022. They've never had a single profitable quarter in their history.

 

It doesn't sound like this "refund" was a refund (partly Upwork's fault for having the worst-worded and most misleading form emails in the history of anyone doing business in any industry. It sounds like your client did not pay. 

I'm not arguing that the client didn't pay, again please read the responses.  The client was changing credit cards, the issue is that UpWork removed the hours as a "refund" in my name, which 1. is illegal where I live, and 2. completely arbitrary to remove an entire week's worth of work with valid hours so that they woulnd't have to pay.

And yes I have proof and yes I have send the time logs to customer support, following which they stopped responding.


Iwan S wrote:

It seems like as soon as you hit close to USD 1,000 in payment protection they find an excuse not to honour it.  I've had clients with payment issues before for smaller amounts where this wasn't an issue. Now I got a standard reply stating that it was removed because if is manual time &  Low Activity ... I'm literally on conference calls for this client all the time. They don't have an issue with it being "manual time &  Low Activity" when payments go through.

 

And customer service closed my first ticket as resolved and is unreachable otherwise ๐Ÿ˜„


Well, here are some freelancers here who have been covered for over $1000 by Upwork, and more than once. But, of course, they met all the requirements and the client's payment failure was covered without a problem.

Good for you, wait till UpWork removes valid hours from your working week so they don't need to deal with payment guarantees.  I didn't invent the payment guarantess, UpWork did, they have clear rules and they claim to have only removed hours that don't comply, 60% of the hours in that week more than comply but were still removed since they took out the entire timelog.

 

I've never had a client ultimately not pay the bill so UpWork has never lost a penny on my work recorded here, this client was simply changing credit cards (which UpWork is aware off since they're the once approving it).  They could have left things alone, I even offered to sign a waiver for the payment guarantee in my communications with Support.

Hey did you ever figure this out? I seem to be in a similar situation now. I met all the parameters to the max of my ability (even high activity, memos, hourly recorded, screenshots etc) but they say the client refused to pay, which makes it fraud. So it was a completely legit contract when it started. The client was verified and had paid thousands on upwork already. Then when the invoice came at the end of the week the account was suddenly suspended. They told me the client had refused the payment, which made it fraudulent, which means it didn't meet TOS (retrospectively I guess?) even at the time the contract was started?

I dissected their TOS, highlighted sections, made actual legal arguments, and they responded with almost the exact same email as the first notification email they had sent. Only a few words were changed. No actual arguments were made. They just said "Thanks for giving us a chance to better explain our TOS" at the beginning and then at the end they said "please note we will likely not respond, blah blah blah, this ticket will be closed"

That was essentially the only change from the original notice. I guess there's an argument that 'if you're involved in fraudulent activity' they simply can't do anything? I understand the impossible loss situation of chargebacks, businesses, clients, banks, etc.  But it's my impression that's precisely what payment protection ought to MOST protect against? What other scenarios would it protect against? Cases in which the freelancer actually did unsatisfactory work? Cases in which the client is good faith, but simply having credit card issues? Cases in which the work somehow gets lost? It's difficult to imagine a scenario in which Upwork has to cover payment for any real reason. I actually asked them to please give some examples of cases in which payment protection would be applied, and they didn't.

They didn't respond to anything. I asked to speak to someone on the phone, to at least keep the ticket open, to confirm that the client was verified (and thus the bank should be contactable) and they just acknowledged he was verified but still nothing.

I know they have a massive platform to run and I'm sure I can't imagine all the ins and outs of it. Supposedly they need all the money they've been raking in. But the last 3-4 years it's just been a constant increase in things they charge for, an ever more inefficient interface, and endless growth in scams. This is the first time I've needed to ask for payment protection in 8 years and they hardly even acknowledged my ticket before closing it.

Any tips?


Iwan didn't qualify for payment protection because he had low activity levels and used manual time, so I doubt that he was able to solve this, because Upwork is pretty clear about those requirements. But here's a situation that's similar to yours: A question about Payment Protection - Upwork Community

Sounds like Upwork being fishy.  How can they prove that the client payor is fraudulant?  If they're verified then they should meet the terms of payment protection.  If they've paid thousands in the past (including large fees to upwork) then they're an active verified user.  If they suddently won't pay for no legitimate reason then it's not fraud -- it's time for Upwork to guarentee the payment.  

spectralua
Community Member

Same problem. But not manual time, all tracked within rules. Refunded with no real reason. I have posted details here.

Hi

My agency is experiencing an issue with a client. One of our clients payments did not go through. I just received a notification saying that Upwork has issue a "reversal/refund" to our client that we were not notified about and did not approve. The client seemed to be a possible scam as he had hired a very large number of freelancers at high rates all at the same time.
Our team member that worked on this contract had everything logged in her work diary with adequate levels of activity and memos. However, on the notification we received it notes that the decision was made because the hourly rate was too high. This is our freelancers hourly rate stated on her profile that her and her client agreed to before they started working together. I've tried to contact Upwork via live chat but keep getting the message that says no agents are available right now. Having been a freelancer, agency owner, and client on Upwork for almost 5 years now this isn't the fist time I've ran into a situation regarding hourly protection. In my experience it has never been honored but it has never been a big amount of money and I've always given Upwork the benefit of the doubt as there has always been some sort of legitimate reason. This time however we are looking at almost 1000 dollars and everything was logged correctly by our freelancer. I feel like Upwork has failed us in this instance. I've read the hourly protection rules and nowhere does it state that Upwork can make up whatever rules they like regarding payment protection. The freelancer did everything right and put in the work at her hourly rate listed on her profile. How can I go about appealing this as I believe this is totally wrong.

lance98
Community Member

I assume that the other 50 or so freelancers the client hired were also effected in a similar fashion. I'll be reaching out to all of those freelancers because there needs to be a real resolution here and Upwork should honor its TOS.

DEL


Jenelyn M wrote:

I am facing the same problem. The payment I was expecting was due today, but then I haven't receive it instead Upwork sent me a notice on my email that 'clients payment did not go through and I am not legible for hourly payment'. I have worked that hours and I should be paid for that. I guess I was ripped off then. This is my first time experiencing this. I was sure on my 8 years of work here on Upwork that every hourly payment rate is verified payment even when client has a problem on his/her end, now I think I was wrong. Upwork should look deeper into this, and not just sent excuses and puts the blame on freelancers like me


I'm sorry this happened to you, but did you know how hourly contracts work? What is covered and what is not?
Because if you haven't informed yourself, it's not Upwork's fault, it's your fault.

Unsure is you will succed with appealing. When you complain to the judge about the judge himself then verdict is known.

I have proved to support agent that activity was good, hourly default and all was within rules. The ticket was closed and I am completely ignored.

But you have a better chance since you can use US laws. Good luck!


Lance U wrote:

Hi

My agency is experiencing an issue with a client. One of our clients payments did not go through. I just received a notification saying that Upwork has issue a "reversal/refund" to our client that we were not notified about and did not approve. The client seemed to be a possible scam as he had hired a very large number of freelancers at high rates all at the same time.
Our team member that worked on this contract had everything logged in her work diary with adequate levels of activity and memos. However, on the notification we received it notes that the decision was made because the hourly rate was too high. This is our freelancers hourly rate stated on her profile that her and her client agreed to before they started working together. I've tried to contact Upwork via live chat but keep getting the message that says no agents are available right now. Having been a freelancer, agency owner, and client on Upwork for almost 5 years now this isn't the fist time I've ran into a situation regarding hourly protection. In my experience it has never been honored but it has never been a big amount of money and I've always given Upwork the benefit of the doubt as there has always been some sort of legitimate reason. This time however we are looking at almost 1000 dollars and everything was logged correctly by our freelancer. I feel like Upwork has failed us in this instance. I've read the hourly protection rules and nowhere does it state that Upwork can make up whatever rules they like regarding payment protection. The freelancer did everything right and put in the work at her hourly rate listed on her profile. How can I go about appealing this as I believe this is totally wrong.


The hourly rate listed on the profile is one thing and the rate Upwork will cover is another.
It says in the TOS:
The maximum rate per hour protected by Upwork to Freelancer under the Hourly Payment Protection for Freelancers is the lesser of: (i) the rate provided in the Hourly Contract terms; (ii) the usual hourly rate billed by Freelancer on the Site across all Clients; and (iii) the going rate for the same skills on the Site in Freelancer's area (such determination to be made in Upwork's sole discretion)

 

In other words, the freelancer's price per hour can be 300/h for this contract, but freelancer normally charges 10/h. It will only be covered, and if it complies with the rest of the rules for protection, at 10/h.

 

And since I'm not an English speaker, sorry if I misunderstood.

kinyuatimothy
Community Member

Got the same tratement here, they refunded hours that a client was okay with . This is really annoying, leave the hours issue to the settings on the contract 

ArjayM
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Iwan and Valued Members,

 

I'm sorry to learn about these unexpected refunds that have been processed on your accounts. Unfortunately, when the client fails to pay for hours logged by the freelancer, any hours that aren't covered by Upwork Hourly Protection may be reversed.

 

Please check out this help article for more information. When this happens, first an automatic notification is sent but the team will also be reaching out to you directly via email with more information about your specific account. Don't hesitate to coordinate with the team by responding if you have questions or need further assistance. The team will surely assist you accordingly.

 

~ Arjay
Upwork

The "team" simply closes the tickets and marks them as resolved, without providing any answers to questions.

Also, all hours were removed, the entire working week, no checks were made against which hours were manual and which ones were not.

Hi Iwan, 

I checked your tickets, and I can see that you have an open ticket for your concern, while your other tickets for the same problem were closed. You can access your open ticket here. For our team to assist you more efficiently, we'll need to close other tickets with the same concern as an open ticket. This ensures we do not duplicate and overlap efforts when addressing a user's problem. 

Also, tickets are addressed by the order they were received. So when a new reply is posted on the ticket, the ticket returns to the queue. I recommend waiting on the team's response to the ticket before posting a reply unless you have additional information to share. 

The team will respond to your ticket once they get to it in their queue. Thank you for understanding. 


~ Avery
Upwork

Pls check mine, 39164739

It is closed.

AveryO
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Mykola, 


I checked your ticket and see that the team has assisted you regarding your concern. I can confirm that they did reach out to the client. If your client needs further help, they can contact the Upwork Support team to be assisted further. If you're still in touch with them, you can request your client to issue you a bonus payment. 


~ Avery
Upwork

Thanks for checking.

I fully complied with payment protection requirements. Upwork forced "refund" with fake reason. You can see it in ticket, all required evidences provided. I proved that the reasons are wrong. And after that the ticket was closed. My question is: why while meeting all the requirements I was denied the protection that Upwork guaranteed? Is it error, will the issue be resolved? Or is it not a mistake and Upwork deliberately deprived me of what I earned?

 

Hi Mykola,

 

I understand you're not satisfied with the response from the support team but I wonโ€™t be able to assist you here further. Your ticket is assigned to the correct team. You can reopen the ticket by responding to the corresponding email sent to your email address. I would recommend adding these to the same ticket thread so that the team has the correct information to assist you further. Please donโ€™t hesitate to update the same ticket thread if you have further questions or concerns.


~ AJ
Upwork

Sorry, but I'm no longer understanding for this issue.  UpWork removed valid hours, claiming it didn't.  I'm tired of getting canned responses from support and them closing the ticket like they've actually done something rather than reading the message and providing a proper response the first time around.

 

I've send them proof that valid hours were removed, as soon as I send this to support they stopped responding. They were quick with the canned responses and closing the tickets though.

UpWork has damaged my reputation with the client by issuing an unauthorised "refund", worse since it was for valid hours, without notifying me prior.  I have worked with this company for close to a year and all of a sudden they get a "refund" from me, leading them to believe that I no longer wish to work with them just because they are changing credit cards.  UpWork should have left the hours alone, pure and simple, and if that was an issue they should have communicated with me first.  Removing the valid hours was AGAINST UpWork's own policy, I would have been happy to sign a waver for the entire week if they had just kept the hours in the system, the contract was reinstated so the payments could have been processed already, now it's a mess where I have a client thinking I no longer wish to work with them and where I need to get the client to issue a "Bonus" which they have no clue how to do.

fsafner
Community Member

Hi there.

I reccomend avoiding per hour work because it's a very tedious process and a large delay, 10 days to be paid. As an experienced freelancer you could make a fair evaluation of the cost and turnaround. A 50% deposit is a must. In my large experience inside Upwork and other freelance webs I only had few unpleasant incidents and all were related with the payments. Never related with the work quaity but the payments dealys. Some people has no idea about working in these sites ans think that payments could wait untill they when they feel like it. And they got disgusted if you are asking for the payment even one week after ending the job. I had an incident with a person who's post said "long term project, the book will be printed in June". We have been working in December. After aalmost 2 weeks I explained that's no reson to keep waiting for my rights and he got angry. I decently explained to him that his book publishing date has nothing in common with my work. I did my part and he had to pay. Here thye process is the same as buying in a store, you cannot pick up a hat, take it to your home without paying because you are thinking to use it next month. Pay and go home. No payment, no hat. No money, no funny. If the client will use your work during the next 2 months this is his problem, not yours. In fact he paid and blocked me. Gave me a 4 stars feedback as a revange for a perfect product. As I previously said, before bidding check they work history, feedback and average work amount. If you have doubts do not bit. Avoid working with toxic and idiot people It is a benefit for your mental health and pocket. The world is like a jungle, not all the creatures are the same species as Bamby. Take care with the unknown guys and take precautions. 

Hi Florin,

 

No offense intended but I'm been running my own consultancy business for 5+ years, I am top rated plus on UpWork and have clocked more than 2,000 hours; I know how the system works. I get paid within 5 working days, which is much faster than fixed price contracts.

The issue here is that UpWork removed all valid hours, under the guise that there was low activity, because they didn't want those hours to qualify for payment guarantee (they were removed 2 hours before payment was due).  All the while UpWork claims to have only removed invalid hours, which is simply not true.  Yes some of my hours have low activity because I'm on conference calls with the client quite often (which means almost no keyboard clicks or mouse movement) and I'm fine with that, I am even fine with signing a payment guarantee waiver in those cases.

 

What I'm not fine with is with UpWork issueing an unauthorised "refund" in my name (which is illegal where I live) and not talking to me first.  What I'm not fine with is with UpWork damaging my relationship with my client by doing so.  Most of my clients have been with me for close to a year or more, it freaks them out when they see a refund of my hours, thinking that I no longer wish to work with them (especially since this is done without my knowledge).

This is terrible wording. Why not write that this Upwork forced a refund? The client reads that you have refunded. In 100% he understands it this way. In the best case, you need to spend time explaining. At worst, the client thinks you're an idiot: sent a refund then again ask for money.

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