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Why do freelancers have to suffer due to unresponsive clients?

Active Member
Mihai Corneliu G Member Since: Sep 5, 2015
1 of 21

Hi there,

This is my first post on the community forum due to one (and single) experience with an unresponsive client on Upwork.

This is what happened. I applied to a job, got selected by the client and started the contract. He sent me a poor draft of what he needed and a deadline (verry reasonable, two weeks).

I completed the design the second day, sent it to the client and waited for his feedback.

After 3 days of waiting but no reply from him, i wrote him to find out if he had the chance to look at what i sent. I received a reply from him after two days, saying he`s sick and won`t be at the office for another 2-3 days. Understandable. Still one week left untill the deadline. Those 3 days passed and still no word from him. Contacted the client back, and another 3 days untill he responded. I notified him that the deadline is close and we needed to complete the project.

He told me he received it, but didn„t have time to send it to his superiors to check it.

Then, the waiting started. I wrote to him about every 3-4 days for over one month, but didn„t get any answer back.

After over one month has pased from the deadline, he ended the contract and gave poor feedback (His reason: Assigned work has not been done as per the requirement).

That dropped my Job Success rate from 92% (TOP RATED) to 84% (even if i had other 2 contracts completed successfully and with 5stars rating). Don„t know how the system works, couldn„t figure it out.

I contacted Upwork support regarding this problem and they told me they can not do anything about this, because their system cosiders a client unresponsive only when he doesn`t give feedback and rating to the freelancer . I also provided all the screenshots and evidence to support my issue.

So, what about us freelancers, what options do we have against this kind of clients (I want to point out that this wasn„t his first time on Upwork).

Isn`t there any way for us not to suffer from this kind of clients? 

Community Guru
Juvy Ann P Member Since: Oct 29, 2015
2 of 21

Hi Mihai,


I will try to answer your questions (which I found at the bottom of your letter) based on my experience:


1. What options do freelancers have against unresponsive clients?


Condition A: Contract is not in place yet:

a.  I decided to withdraw the proposal.

b.  I ticked "Unresponsive client" as the reason for withdrawing the proposal.

Condition B: Contract is already in place:

a.  I asked her or him what needs to be done to make my draft acceptable to her or his standards.

b.  I maximized the period that she or he has given to give it "all I've got."

c.  I uploaded progress reports every time possible.

Condition C: Client ends the contract and leaves a bad feedback:

a.  I gave the client an honest appraisal of my work experience with her or him. I usually give a high grade especially if I know that I have invested much in the project.  

b.  I clicked "enable the client to change feedback" option.

c.  I responded to the client's feedback using the "I" pronoun.


2. Is there a way for us not to suffer from these kinds of clients?

a.  Yes, I allowed myself to feel pain.

b.  I processed myself why I felt that way. I watched a movie. I hugged my son.

c.  I tried to move on and say hello to new experiences with great clients.

d.  I am trying to celebrate life after a fatal JSS blow.

Active Member
Mihai Corneliu G Member Since: Sep 5, 2015
3 of 21

Hi Juvy,


Thank you for the answer but this is not quite what i was looking for.

I was searching for an answer to why isn„t there any way to protect the freelancers history/rating due to this kind of clients.

There is quite a competition here on jobs and you try to build a good reputation, then one comes and ruins all when most of the clients are searching for 90+ Job Success rate.

I know that i have to go on and get more contracts ended ok to go back up, which i did, but, in on my end (30 jobs, 29 ended in 5 stars rating, 4,99 feedback history and 89% Job Success) does not seem right to be so affected by one client who didn„t have the curtosy of answering for almost two months.

Community Guru
Juvy Ann P Member Since: Oct 29, 2015
4 of 21

I answered your questions based on my experience, Mihai.  I did not allow myself to be vulnerable to satisfy the things that you are looking for.  Smiley Happy

Active Member
Mihai Corneliu G Member Since: Sep 5, 2015
5 of 21

Thank you again Juvy.


My question still stands for those who can provide an answer to this issue.

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
6 of 21

The nightmare client comes sooner or later. On Upwork, it's death, taxes and screamer clients. I like to call them screamers.


I'm not a fan of working for people who are the middle man for other people.  But I've gotten caught up with them without knowing that they are the middle man. I've got a couple contracts like that now, and I didn't know until they went back and forth with me and mentioned it. They always drag out the project.


Anyway, it looks like you've pushed the bad review down the page, so you'll be OK. Your other feedback is great, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. Looks like you're already recovering from it.

Community Guru
Maria Marilyn M Member Since: Oct 27, 2010
7 of 21

Sadly, there is no feature like this on Upwork yet but you can always post suggestions. I think there is a thread for that. We can only suggest though and there is no guarantee that the feature will indeed be added. 

Community Guru
Irene B Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
8 of 21

Why do freelancers have to suffer due to unresponsive clients?


Because at the end of the day someone has to get the blame, and who better than us?

Active Member
Mihai Corneliu G Member Since: Sep 5, 2015
9 of 21

It seems so Irene, but why doesn`t Upwork do something to protect us freelancers from ending up in this situation?

Who should we talk to, if I already notified them about what happened and the answer was: `We encourage you to visit our Community forum to express your wish for change on this situation.`

Ok, I came here, I expressed my wish (as I saw now I`m not the only one that this happened to). Why were no measures taken about this yet? How many freelancers have to write so that something will be done about this?


Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
10 of 21

I'm really sorry about your experience Mihai. 


Irene has hit the nail on the head though - there is nothing that us freelancers can do about this sort of behavior from clients and trust me when I say that Upwork isn't concerned about this at all.


So many freelancers have come to the forums with similar complaints and we hear the same responses (excuses) every time  - or get no response at all. This is not the fault of the moderators, who are the messengers; it's simply not on Upwork's agenda to address this issue, now or anytime in the future (as far as I'm concerned).


At least you've managed to get the bad feedback pushed down on your profile, and I'm sure that once a few more contracts with good feedback are closed, your JSS will go up. (On that note, it's strange that the bad contract had only $3 charged on it yet had such a weighting on your JSS. I guess it's mostly due to private feedback then.)


I'm sorry that I don't have a solution or encouraging words, but that's the reality we're all faced with here. The only advice I can give you is what many others have given me: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. (Hopefully you aren't.)