Ok so, I have finished a project for a client and I have to pay him money!
Yes I get punished for finishing a project, thanks for upwork, fixed prices, milestones and Dispute system.
I accepted the project based on requirements and agreed on the price, my only mistake I did was providing milestone for feature delivery (which I delivered on time), while the client used this to try to take the source code of the finished project, with 50% payment, without approving any of the work, claiming that:
"No, I dont want this last milestone it was your decision to finish it"
I went to Dispute and AAA with confidence that I have delivered a project on time.
The AAA (so called neutral) does not allow you to submit more than one file (unless you pay more)
does not provide any sensible reason for the Award, for me seemed like the arbitrator does not understand or read the case, he/she just decide to take one side and adopt all his claims (probably based on names?) , I now realized why other people consider it a "lottery process" instead of arbitration.
The arbitrator was very generous with the client so he did not just give him the escrow, he also made a decision that I should pay the client (money back).
Man who are you to decide about my money?
This is totally non sense, and now I dont know if my top-rated upwork profile worth this small amount of money I have to pay, I can take paying money but I do not take this amount of non sense.
My case is clear:
- When I deliver a project client should either approve it or request changes not asking for parts of it because this is software and everything is linked together.
- Imagine I did not deliver the whole project the client would say "this is late delivery" and if it was delivered he can say "no I don't want this delivered", this is so good platform for non serious client.
- Upwork agent agreed that a milestone does not change the contract to sub contracts for client to choose which part to take.
I believe, If you have talent you should success anywhere, so my advice is to invest on more than one platform, may be they all like each others in terms of disputing in favor of clients, but having multiple platforms will give you more freedom to switch. When the platform becomes a platform for losing money/time.
Some clients can and do take advantage of Upwork's rules - that is obvious from the many posts we see on this message board.
My advice to reducing your risk of loss on a fixed price project is this:
1) Never start work on a project until all milestones have been agreed with the client and clearly defined within the project page on Upwork.
2) Don't start work on any milestone until it has been fully funded and the client has released payment for all previous milestones. (I would like to see Upwork disallow funding on a milestone if all previous milestones have not been funded and payments on all prior milestones have not been released to the freelancer.)
3) Frontload as much of the cost of a project in the earliest milestones for a project. (Leave a relativvely small amount of the project's total value in the last milestone or two, to show your commitment to completing the project.)
4) Make the last milestone or two include work the client can't do without, so they can't get the bulk of your work in the earliet milestones and then close the project and finish the work themselves without paying you in full.
5) For each milestone, submit your work via the "Submit" button when the work for that milestone is substantially (90%?) finished, making it clear to the client that there are a couple of elements of the miletone you would like feedback on and (s)he can then release payment for the milestone. Never submit substantially finished work to the client via email or other channels.
It is difficult to make hard rules that work perfectly in every situation, so some of what I have listed above might not work for everyone. But it pays to think about how a dishonest client can misuse Upwork's necessary rules and protocols, so you can prevent at least some of their attempts to get your work for free.
I am very sorry that this happened to you.
But I appreciate the fact that you took your time to provide this first-hand account of your experience. This is an excellent example of some of the weaknesses within the Upwork system, particularly as they apply to fixed-price contracts.
This is an excellent example of some of the weaknesses within the Upwork system, particularly as they apply to fixed-price contracts.
It is an excellent example of being presented with one of three sides... (some of the second side, as well as the client's history) can easily be found.
I completely agree with you that the original post in this thread is only presenting one side of the story.
For me, the fact these types of misunderstandings and disappointments can arise represents a weakness in the overall system. I'm not saying I have a solution. And I'm definitely not saying that one side or the other in this situation was completely "at fault" or "completely innocent."
The way I look at the current fixed-price contract model within Upwork is that it can be a very effective way to hire, and a very effective way to work as a freelancer. But it requires a degree of professionalism and trust from both sides.
That makes it a "more complicated" contract model than the hourly contract model.
Preston H wrote:
For me, the fact these types of misunderstandings and disappointments can arise represents a weakness in the overall system. I'm not saying I have a solution.
Frankly, sometimes I wonder if it wasn't all much easier back in "the good old days" where there was no Escrow and no funding and no arbitration and people just used common sense and communication and basic conflict resolution skills.
I don't doubt that you were frustrated by what happened.
Without referring to your case specifically, below is how I view fixed-price contracts on Upwork. This is how I approach and use Upwork fixed-price contracts, based on my understanding about how the system actually works. This is NOT how I think things "should work," and this is NOT how I think things are described in documentation or any legalese anywhere. This is how I think things actually are handled:
- A freelancer and client agree to a milestone.
- The milestone is funded in escrow.
- The freelancer does the task.
- The client releases payment for that task.
I regard the "budget" is irrelevent. I regard an initial description of the project as a whole as something that is informative, but not binding. I regard unfunded milestones as potentially interesting, but not binding.
If there are 10 milestones planned, and client wants to fund only one of them, then that is completely allowable. The freelancer should only work on funded milestones.
If there are 10 milestones planned, and the freelancer only wants to do one of them, then that is completely allowable. The client will only pay for the milestone tasks that the freelancer actually finishes, and may hire other people to work on the other milestones.
If I am reading things correctly, the freelancer in this situation considered the "original plan", with a whole set of milestones and payments, as something that constituted a "contract." His disappointment stems from not being paid the full amount that was discussed originally, because the client wanted to end things part-way through the process. Upwork ended up agreeing with the client.
(If my understanding of this is incorrect, then please feel free to correct me.)
So it appears that the original poster (the freelancer) had an expectation about how fixed-price contracts work that was different from how the client and Upwork itself view things.
This doesn't make any sense because it destroys the Upwork contract itself , a Fixed price is not an estimation, It is a fixed value because based on it, the freelancer decide if the amount of work is worth it or not.
Attached is what the Upwork Contract says, it is self-explanatory.
I am not going to another dispute I just leave this here for real freelancers to learn from my experience if you guys don't mind.
**Edited for Community Guidelines**
Mostafa A wrote:
Ok here is the story from all sides, the complete dispute message
Please read it and give your unbiased opinion,
Having read through all of it I am not at all surprised with the outcome.
Well, I actually quite see the client's side of this. The source code should be delivered and reviewed and then payment released. It didn't seem like he had issues releasing the amount s in escrow previously so it doesn't seem to me like he was trying to scam you.
Maybe the lesson here is to stipulate in the scope of work precisely when you release source code for each milestone and how much they get of the source code and when. If you agree on that prior to accepting the contract, then there should not be any issue of this nature.