Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

i've had a client with 5 stars rating, that blackmailed me.

Active Member
Stanislav K Member Since: Jun 18, 2015
1 of 8

I've had pretty negative experience on oDesk, to a point i think about stop doing any work on oDesk.

But I decided to ask around for a similar experiences and find any ways to avoid that.


I found a client who had almost 5 star feedback and he seemed to be pretty cool during first talk with him on skype. But he ended up blackmailing me, refusing to hear any argumentation, dissapearing from sight, not answering any mail/skype messages. 


First of all, I should note, that i've seen some clues of that could happen on early stage. He had this mellow attitude towards everything, he was never happy or sad...  his voice never changed, like he was on some sort of medicine that helped him stayed in one mood all the time. But sometimes he flipped and started acting agressively towards me. After calm letters to him and couple of days, he always come back to me with excuses.


He gave me a list of things he wanted to be fixed in his website. Two point, which looked pretty easy at first, there really hard to fix:
- the way it was written it's almost impossible to debug locally
- amount of metprogramming, without any tests, avoiding standard  Rails functionality made those issue really expensive to fix. I estimate that it's easier to start from scratch, then actually using this implementation.

I've noticed according to git log that i was not a first developer trying to finish up those. I've also tried to contact developer who wrote this and he answered me a first, but then i've mentioned project i've worked on -> he stopped responding. Later on client told me that 'original developer is hard to reach'.


So, this client dissapeared for a long time and poped in then i had a full time gig. He was demanding that i've fixed those two issues or he will leave negative feedback and open a case against me on oDesk. I was trying to explain, that this would take a lot of money to actually finish and he was not happy about that. He put on ridiculus deadline, even if i didn't had a full time gig, that deadline looked as impossible to reach.


So, i've tried doing really risky thing and debug/develop on almost live website. And obviously broke it (but i've shared that this could happen). He knowing all that didn't took any precousion, didn't had a back-up or nothing that could help. And was totally unresponsive during that problem, didn't help at all to solve it.

I look after my rating, and my full time gig started to suffer because of that. Speaking with some oDesk freelancer, people told me that there are a lot of 'blackmail guys' who hunt for people with perfect feedback score and that the only option is to return money as soon as possible and not deal with them anyome.


I did just that, but it felt pretty **bleep**ty. I've lost so much money and time, and especially nerves. My girlfriend went away to parents because i was so stressed about that. It's an experience i would never like to repeat again.

So I have couple of question regarding my situation:
- How does oDesk handle those 'balckmailing' clients? Since i returned all money, i didn't had to write a feedback on him and warn other freelancers. And it looks like i'm not the first one.

- if i would have an agreement from begining, stating that i'll fix only issues i think are reasonable to fix? Would that help out later? If client 'suddenly' forgets about those agreements, will oDesk cover me up on those?

- Any other options I have to deal with this situation?

thanks for any response

Community Manager
Valeria K Community Manager Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
2 of 8

Hi Stanislav,


I am really sorry you had such a difficult experience with the client. Although you refunded the client, I still suggest you submit a request to the Customer Support and attach screenshots of the conversation with the client where he said that he would leave negative feedback. It is against Upwork policies to "coerce another user by threatening negative feedback." Also, since you refunded all the money, note that you own the work you produced on this contract, so the client cannot use it legally.


Additionally, when the contract is ended both the client and the freelancer are able to leave private feedback even if no money was paid on the contract. I encourage you to leave honest feedback according to your experience with the client. We do review clients' accounts and take both private and publilc feedback into consideration.


I hope it helps.

~ Valeria
Active Member
Stanislav K Member Since: Jun 18, 2015
3 of 8

As a said before, i was very stressed by situation. I don't even remember that i wrote as a feedback, probably skipped most of it. I just wanted to end this as fast as possible.

Active Member
Stanislav K Member Since: Jun 18, 2015
4 of 8

Thanks, I've sent screenshot to support. Let's see how this will end. Thank you for advice.

Community Guru
Sandra T Member Since: Nov 26, 2014
5 of 8

Hi Stanislav,


I hope you don't mind me replying with my own experiences because reading your post really reminded me of a couple of experiences I had on Odesk myself. They didn't go as far as blackmailing, but it was the type of situation where a client first defines work, so you estimate this to be your "100%", then suddenly the amount triples, you keep quiet and do your best, und suddenly you are in a situation where the client asks for 7x the original work and still has the nerve to mention that this shouldn't take much effort on top of that. Even though in those situations for me it was on hourly contracts, but still I ended up feeling like some personal slave, I pulled all-nighters, my relationship suffered, let alone any social life, I couldn't fall asleep, and so on. And I really started to hate the work that I usually enjoy, even when it gets tricky or stressful.


At a certain point, I just walked away, meaning I just did not react to their messages, didn't log onto the website, didn't read the messages forwarded to my email account. I understand that this is not exactly best practice, but I just didn't want to deal with it for another minute. I guess I was kind of lucky that these clients didn't file a dispute, but I like to think they didn't because they realized themselves that they were unreasonable to a certain degree.


My success rate took a hit, I got the infamous warning email from Odesk when it was down to 60 something %. After staying away from the platform for a while, I decided to give it another shot and have been increasing it again, which wasn't even that difficult (that's why I occasionally mention that I don't think people should freak about this too much, it's actually not that difficult to rebuilt if it decreased, you can still find people to hire you at good rates if they understand that you're talking business).


I don't want to say that my behaviour as explained above was ideal, probably far from it. And I don't want this to sound as advise either. But from reading your scenario, I would have kept the money and taken the possible hit. Money isn't everything, but by keeping it you would have made the experience of what the consequences might be if you hadn't refunded. Now you're left worrying how to cope with the situation in case this whole thing (or something similar) happens again.


I also understand that each of these situations is kind of unique, you can't really compare them and there are many factors (and different perspectives, of course). But reading threads like this one and the many similar ones here on the forum, I personally feel that people cave in too easily in fear of success scores, bad feedback and the likes. I think this isn't right, especially if people end up trying to do their best and end up bending backwards and still turn out to be the loser in these scenarios, no matter what.


These not so pleasent situations also helped me to protect myself, to learn how to detect clients who might not be a good fit, to avoid these scanerios and to learn how to handle them in a better way if they arise. I appreciate Upwork, because once I feel I have figured these things out a bit better (although I am still learning, it's a process) it is actually a safer environment to work in than the brick/mortar businesses my partner and I each run additionally. If a project runs fairly well on here, you really don't have to worry about the money whereas in the real world, you always do (I won't start on how often people do not pay their invoices, and what a pain this causes for providers like us).


But my main point here, as said above, is that I don't think freelancers should back down (as much).

Active Member
Stanislav K Member Since: Jun 18, 2015
6 of 8

Thanks for your comment. It was actually usefull to hear. 'Taking a hit' was actually a second option people told me about. It was actually a hourly gig and money-wise it was not a big question, but client was really pushing about it 'being to costly'. And it affected the gig i really liked working on. I guess, i'm a perfectionist, and it's not that i'm scared to get bad feedback. it was un-willingness to deal with a case against me on oDesk and i didn't want to continue doing anything with this client anymore.

Actually, my experience of doing work outside of oDesk is very positie. I never do anything without upfront payment. Most of clients i work with are my friends or someone who recommended me. So we always reach agreements in any situations.

oDesk is the only place I meet creepy clients (this was not my first experience). And it's hard to understand how oDesk will actually react in each dispute.

But still, thanks again for your answer. Pretty refreshing and good argumentation.

Community Guru
Sandra T Member Since: Nov 26, 2014
7 of 8

Good for you on the upfront payment outside of Upwork, I've been meaning to try and introduce that to new "real" clients and see how they react, but it's rather uncommon here.


Anyway, I looked at your profile and you seem to have bumped into a few good clients afterall, so I hope those will outweigh the creepy ones in the future Smiley Happy

Community Guru
David G Member Since: Oct 6, 2011
8 of 8

@Sandra T wrote:

Good for you on the upfront payment outside of Upwork, I've been meaning to try and introduce that to new "real" clients and see how they react, but it's rather uncommon here.


 Before escrow was implemented, I always asked for (and got) 50% upfront for any fixed-price job. I still do that with clients off of Upwork.


Now, I just make sure that escrow is funded but I don't push for an upfront anymore.