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A client asked for a refund.

Active Member
Victoria M Member Since: Jun 12, 2019
1 of 8

Hi all,


I'm new here. I want to share my story and hear from you guys what you think about it.


So yesterday I sent a proposal for a transcription job offer, it was a 78 minutes audio transcription for 30$, I didn't have a transcription experience before, still I submitted my proposal, maybe I can do it and learn from it, the deadline was after 24 hours approximatly.


The client reached to me, and sent a sample to try me, it was a 5 minutes audio, I tried to do it, it was an unclear recorded interview among like 8 people,,trying to do it, I told the client that it will be really exhausting  because the audio was really unclear, the recorder was kind of far from the people talking and there was a background noise and their voices were so low, so I said that I cant do it. She said it's not a problem, she understands that the audio is unclear and suggested to put a time-stamp on the intervals of unclear audio. I suggested that if she couldnt find anyone to do it by the next day, she can contact me, I'll try my best to do it. She contacted me like 3 hours later, clearly because no one accepted such an offer, but I said it's fine I can help. She sent the offer, and I accepted it.

Doing the job was really exhausting, I spent my whole day doing it, I spent all my time repeating each sentence 10 times, first to hear well what they are talking about and then to understand it and write it. I felt that the time is passing and still I had like 30/78 minutes that are still not done, I asked her to postpone a bit the deadline, and she said okay. After that, I managed to submit the transcription file 3 hours after the assigned deadline. She didn't respond anything. Today in the morning, I found that she paid me, I checked her feedback, she gave me 3 stars, she mentioned that she found some 'double spaces' and some repeated words that she was trying to remove, she didn't know that I was writing every single word that was said, people were sometimes saying the word, stopping and thinking and then saying it again throughout the next sentence, and that's what I wrote, I will not comment about the double spaces because I feel it's something really silly to mention, people may do such mistakes. The thing is, after like 1 hour of paying, she asked for a refund for the whole amount of money. She mentioned that she didnt like the work, and again for the same reasons mentioned in the feedback, she also mentioned that some unclear sentences for me, were clear for her, so she didn't like the fact that I placed time-stamps there, moreover, she mentioned that I exceeded the deadline. I don't understand how those people think, first the deadline was 24 hours after the offer, even less, second, her budget was 30$ for such a project, third, she knew what I'm able to do, and I did what I can and I believe I did it really good! I want to know how upwork deals with such situations usually, I spent my whole day stressed trying to do this job, and in the end she asks for a refund that easy, with her illogical reasoning.

Community Guru
Kholleras I Member Since: Nov 24, 2015
2 of 8
  • Don't take cheap jobs unless you are prepared to risk your JSS and the money you earn (cheap clients are often demanding).
  • Don't take projects you have no experience with. Especially not after you do a trial and find out how hard the job will be.
  • Make sure that you understand the clients' expectations. Just because the client offered low pay doesn't mean that the client didn't expect quality.
  • Don't tell clients that doing their projects will be "exhausting." That's your problem, not the client's problem. Don't expect clients to care or to be forgiving with ratings.
Community Guru
John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
3 of 8
Victoria, I'm sorry you had this bad experience, but heed Heaven's advice and don't take this kind of job again. If you fully refund the client's payment, then you won't have the 3 star review in your work history, but it will still have a significant negative effect on your Job Success Score once you have one, because the client probably gave you low private feedback and a fully refunded job constitutes an unsuccessful job outcome.
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
4 of 8

I agree with everything that Heaven has said. Under the circumstances, it sounds like 3 stars was generous feedback. Upwork is not a work experience programme, so you should never bid on projects if you don't know how to do them. There's no doubt that an experienced transcriptionist would have done a better job than you did - and faster as well - so why would you expect the client to give you a perfect score?


Nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to take this project; if you agree to do a job for $30 and finish it in less than 24 hours, then you are expected to deliver the job for that price and meet that deadline. Anything less is unprofessional.


Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 8

Thirty dollars?


Only the lowest of clients gives you a hard time over $30.


If I hired a freelancer for $30 to do something, I would pay the full amount if they did something remotely close to the work I asked for, while spilling grape juice on my tuxedo and simultaneously insulting my parents, heritage and political beliefs.

Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
6 of 8

Preston H wrote:

Thirty dollars?


Only the lowest of clients gives you a hard time over $30.


If I hired a freelancer for $30 to do something, I would pay the full amount if they did something remotely close to the work I asked for, while spilling grape juice on my tuxedo and simultaneously insulting my parents, heritage and political beliefs.

This is not helpful to the OP and not relevant to the issue at hand. A FL who accepts a contract to perform work she has no experience doing, even after being furnished a sample and realizing it's beyond her capabilities, and then submits a poor quality deliverable after the agreed-upon deadline, should not expect to be paid and should not be surprised to receive poor feedback. It doesn't matter whether the contract was for $30 or $300 or $3. 


All of us depend on clients being able to rely on finding competent professionals here. Nobody--not FLs and not clients--benefits from encouraging the inexperienced to use it as a training ground.


Community Guru
Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
7 of 8

A very well know freelancer who was a professional transcriber who worked on Elance before Upwork took it over once told me that it takes 4 hours to transcribe 1 audio hour. 


Having said that, you should NEVER have even been looking at those types of jobs unless you had the experience. Clients don't come on here to teach freelancers or to have freelancer learn how to transcribe using their work. And you knew this because you state that even the 5 minute test was exhausting. What did you expect on a 78 minute audio? 


In the future, do NOT submit proposals that you have NO skills or experience with. And if you do test jobs, or converse in an interview and you feel the job is beyond what you're capable of, skilled at or have experience with or in any other way feel that you won't be able to produce professional quality work then learn to say NO to the client. Don't waste their time and your time. 


I'm Totally against refunding money just because a client asks for it saying they don't need the work, or it's not what they want etc. but in this case I think that the client has a very valid point.even though you "believe" you did a good job, But you're not a transcriptionit so you really don't know. 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
8 of 8

I want to respond to this thread as a whole and express my agreement with all of the posters who said that Upwork should not be used as a "training ground" for freelancers trying out types of work that they are completely unfamiliar with.


I agree that freelancers should provide high-quality service, and should not take on work that they don't know how to do.


My earlier post was very much about my own perspective as a client, and wasn't really about the freelancer at all. If I receive work I can't use from a freelancer, it's not worth my time to try to tutor the freelancer or spend further time with them. Or even take the time to try to get a refund. My own perspective doesn't reflect how every client feels.