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First project and the scope changed

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Lynne T Member Since: Mar 23, 2019
1 of 11

I agreed to my 1st fixed price contract to create a mail chimp template with 3 sections with a look to match a website that they provided a link too.

After I was awarded the job and I accepted the contract I was told that they wanted to switch platforms from Mail Chimp to another platform for that particular busienss but that they had another business that they were still going to use Mail Chimp with and wanted a template for that business.

The problem, this new template will contain more items in it, the website is still being built along with a logo.  I essentially have to try and come up with a template with no information.  The contract I agreed to based on the original information has a deadline for the first draft due on Wednesday and final copy by Friday which would have been fine if I was builnding something based on the originally website they provided.

It is my first job and I'm stumped on how to handle this.  I don't want to start off with my first rating being a poor rating.  Can I ask for an extension of time or back out of the contract?  If I can back out of the contract how do I do that without hurting my ratings?

 

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 11

Lynne:

A client can't change the scope of a project milestone. That is a violation of the contract and that is not how fixed-price contracts work.

 

But not all clients understand how fixed-price contracts work. So just because a client is doing this the wrong way, it doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad person.

 

You could tell the client something like this:

 

"Elizabeth:

Thank you again for the opportunity to work on the project. I want to make sure this is successful for you. I looked over the original specifications for the fixed-price milestone, and everything that was originally specified has now been done. I am going to use the "Submit Work" button now so that this original contract can be closed. This way you can set up a new hourly contract so that I get to work on these new tasks as soon as possible."

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Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
3 of 11

Preston, - Unless I'm mistaken the OP hasn't been paid for the job. She accepted the contract but after that the scope of the project changed and is much more complicated and will take a lot more time, effort and work then what was originally requested. If the client closes the project, that will be a job closed with no payment and will affect her JSS. 

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 11

Kathy:

The client SHOULD close the job immediately.

 

This can only be done by releasing the full escrow payment, which is something the client should do now.

 

The only way for the client to close the contract is to release payment or get the freelancer to agree to a refund.

 

I am not advising the freelancer to refund any money. I am advising her to close out the current fixed-price contract (with full pay) and move to an hourly contract which will allow the client the flexibility to ask for all kinds of changes and new requirements.

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Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
5 of 11

I don't agree with Preston. Forcing the client to continue with the current contract terms when they no longer meet the client's needs [(ETA) or asking the client to pay in full without receiving any work!] is unlikely to end well. Better to renegotiate the terms, including the timing and possibly the price. 

 

You could ask the client to close this contract and create a new one. I've read that, provided the client gives the right sort of feedback, a zero-earnings contract need not hurt your JSS. However I think it would be safer to accommodate the new terms within the current contract. Any terms in the contract could be overridden by explicit agreement between you and the client, clearly stated in Upwork Messenger. If the price needs to be increased, the client could add an additional milestone. (Alternatively, the client could simply pay extra when the existing milestone is complete. But then you wouldn't have the protection of escrow for the extra payment.)

 

If your client is reasonable, there's no reason this shouldn't work out well. Of course, if your client is unreasonable, it may be difficult to avoid bad feedback!

 

 

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 11

Richard, the client needs to close the contract and release full payment now. Otherwise, she is a bad client.

 

When a client hires a freelancer to do a fixed-price task, there is no flexibility built into the contract.

 

The client may wait for the freelancer to do in the task, with no deviation from the specifications.

 

Or the client may pay the freelancer and close the contract at any time if the client no longer wants the task to be done.

 

It is acceptable to ask the frelancer to refund part of the escrow amount if only part of the work has been done yet, when a client decides to change things. But that depends on the good will and volition of the freelancer. The client may not force that.

 

Very simply: Need to change things? Pay. Close. New hourly contract.

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Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
7 of 11

Preston H wrote:

Richard, the client needs to close the contract and release full payment now. Otherwise, she is a bad client.

 

When a client hires a freelancer to do a fixed-price task, there is no flexibility built into the contract.

 

The client may wait for the freelancer to do in the task, with no deviation from the specifications.

 

Or the client may pay the freelancer and close the contract at any time if the client no longer wants the task to be done.

 

It is acceptable to ask the frelancer to refund part of the escrow amount if only part of the work has been done yet, when a client decides to change things. But that depends on the good will and volition of the freelancer. The client may not force that.

 

Very simply: Need to change things? Pay. Close. New hourly contract.


Preston, you eventually figured out what was clear to the rest of us from the beginning: Lynne had not yet done any work on the project because the specs changed before she had a chance to begin. Please don't jump in offering advice that's misguided because you didn't trouble to read the original post carefully. That can be very confusing and frustrating to newcomers--the OP as well as other newbies reading along.

 

Furthermore, I think it's not so useful to promote the idea that everything is cut-and-dried and can be addressed through broad, categorical statements such as "Very simply: Need to change things? Pay. Close. New hourly contract.". That's ridiculous. If I had a client who changed specs immediately after executing a contract (and there were no red flags--it was simply an unforeseen directional shift that made sense for their business), I would try to find a way to adjust the contract and view closing it and opening a new one as a last resort. Add milestones, rename milestones, adjust budget & target dates... Closing and starting over may be the best option in a given situation. Or it may not.

 

 

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Lynne T Member Since: Mar 23, 2019
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8 of 11

It appears that I don't have many options other than crossing my fingers and hoping that I can work something out with this client, that they are reasonable, and that I will get a good review in the end.  I guess if I have to loose money on this it is a better option than a bad first review.  Not that there are any guarantees on getting a good review out of it either.

I can't see trying to force them to pay me, given that I didn't get any further than accepting the contract and then within hours the scope changed so no work has been done.

View solution in original post

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Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 11

Lynne:

Thank you for providing more details about this situation, including the fact that you have not really done anything on the project yet.

 

If that is the case, then you should definitely keep an open mind about the option to just close the contract yourself. You won't get paid, that's true. But you haven't really done anything. So the only "hit" you would take would be to JSS. You will NOT have wasted time working without getting paid.

 

If you continue working on this contract, you will regret it.

 

There are only two possibilities here:

A) This client is intentionally manipulating you and trying to get free work out of you, or drastically under-pay you.

[or]

B) This client genuinely does not understand how fixed-price contracts work.

 

I DON'T HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION, so I can't say for certain. But based on what you have said, I think it is (B): This client doesn't understand how fixed-price contracts work.

 

Working on fixed-price contracts with a client who doesn't comprehend how they work can be a nightmare. But these clients can often be lovely people to work for using an hourly contract.

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Richard W Member Since: Jun 22, 2017
10 of 11

Lynne T wrote:

It appears that I don't have many options other than crossing my fingers and hoping that I can work something out with this client, that they are reasonable, and that I will get a good review in the end.  I guess if I have to loose money on this it is a better option than a bad first review.  Not that there are any guarantees on getting a good review out of it either.


Lynne, there are never any guarantees. But it doesn't sound like you have much reason to worry yet. Talk to your client. Most clients are reasonable in my experience.

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