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Need guidance to deal with abusive client

Active Member
Muhammad Ahmad N Member Since: Sep 27, 2018
1 of 11
Hi all,

I'm new to upwork and during my first work here, I have come across a very perilous situation.
I need advice from fellow freelancers how they cope with these issues.
I highly appreciate if you read this in your busy routines and guide me

So, my problem is as follows:

I applied for my first job and the client messaged me after few days.

He sent me an editing task and asked whether I can do it.
(It included editing a research proposal of about 3700 words)

After checking, I told him I can do it and clarified with him that the job is to edit the file.

Before accepting, I did sample work for him (first 300 words of the sent file)

He liked my sample work and sent me job offer.

I accepted and completed the work within two days. Before submission, I sent him the final work.

He replied after two days that work was good and now, I need to write a thesis of atleast 30 pages.

I reminded him that my contract only includes editing, he replied that I have to do extra work.

When I refused to do extra, he started pressuring me by making false accusations.

At first, he said that I have not done any editing. I explained to him all the work I had done and even made a 10 page long word file to show all the editing.

He didn't even check the file and replied me the next second "It's not good"

I asked him to atleast check and he replied "I'm not going to pay you 30 dollars for this" "this is crap"

He's using abusive language.

I have already reported to upwork but they have told me to ask upwork community.

He liked my work but when I told him I would only do the work agreed in contract, he suddenly found it to be not good.

Kindly guide me, what am I supposed to do in this situation.

If I submit the work as it is, there's chance that he'll purposedly leave negative feedback in order to tarnish my job.

It's my first job and it matters a lot to me.

Kindly help me.

I highly appreciate your responses in this regard,
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 11

This is not a real client. This is a scammer who is tricking you into working for free.


He has no intention of ever paying you any money.


If it was me, I would tell him:

"Peter, there may have been some miscommunication. I have done what was requested for this milestone. You may release payment now, and you will own the work. If you do not wish to pay for the work I did within 24 hours, that is fine, too. The work then belongs to me, which would be good, because I would like to put it into my portfolio."


If he does not release payment, report this client for asking for free work and report him for any other Upwork TOS violations he committed. We should not put up with such outrageous behavior.


If this was me, I definitely would not let such a dishonest client get away with something like this without getting something out of it. Either payment or a portfolio piece. The "before" (unedited) file and "after" file showing your edits can be included together as a single portfolio piece, perhaps by combining them into a PDF file. Or a Word file demonstrating changes.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 11

re: "If I submit the work as it is, there's chance that he'll purposedly leave negative feedback in order to tarnish my job."


Well, obviously you are not going to write a thesis for him, when you were only hired to edit a file.


You should never ask a client before submitting the work. Always do the work, and then submit the work using the official button.


If the client does nothing, then you will get paid.


If the client asks for a legitimate revision covered under your contract, then do it and resubmit. If the the client asks for something preposterous, such as asking you to write a thesis, then close the contract yourself, put the work you did into your portfolio, and report the client for asking for free work.


If you close the contract yourself and release all payment back to the client then it becomes impossible for him to leave public feedback. His private feedback could still count against you, but is unlikely to change no matter what you do. So hopefully reporting his scam will remove him and his impact on you entirely.

Active Member
Muhammad Ahmad N Member Since: Sep 27, 2018
4 of 11

Dear Preston,


Thanks for taking time for reading my problem. I highly appreciate your detailed response.


I hae already made the portfolio file in word (showing the changes). I compared each sentence of the file and even forwarded him. Yet, he keeps saying it's not good, it's crap.


Should I submit the work I have done? (Since, I have already completed it).


And if he leaes negative feedback purposedly, does it mean end of my career as a freelancer on upwork? I am afraid because of this issue.


And where should I add portolio file?

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 11

re: "And where should I add portolio file?"


Add your portfolio file to your online portfolio on your Upwork profile page.


Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 7.31.20 AM.png

Community Leader
Matthew T Member Since: Nov 18, 2017
6 of 11

Muhammad, my heart aches for you, this is not okay, from what you said you made a wonderful effort and far far more than 30 dollars worth, in my personal opinion.


@Peter_H is correct, I suggest that you do not allow this man to abuse our community, and please be careful in the future




Community Guru
Martina P Member Since: Jul 11, 2018
7 of 11

If you mean original academic work by thesis, then be careful. The way your profile is worded, you risk to encounter many clients that will want you to do their school-work or other academic papers, which is strictly forbidden. 

These clients will not be pleasant clients, as they are trying to cheat their schools or universities, and they will try to cheat you. 

You must state in your profile very clearly what service you provide and that you will not engage in anything against upwork ToS, or your bad experiences will continue.  

Active Member
Muhammad Ahmad N Member Since: Sep 27, 2018
8 of 11

Dear Martina,


Thanks for guiding me. He's asking me to write thesis (original academic work) which is an academic crime all over the world.

I only agreed to do the editing, yet, he's the one trying to make me do this.

He has also sent many similar tasks, which I refused to do.

I hae reported him to upwork support, but there's no action taken against him.


I will keep your advice in mind and edit my profile accordingly.
I highly appreciate your response.

Goran V Moderator Member Since: Mar 24, 2017
9 of 11

Hi Muhammad,


I can confirm the job post you are referring to was already removed and client's account addressed for violating Upwork ToS. Please take a look at the list of tips for recognizing fraudulent jobs Lena compiled and posted Here. Thank you.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 11

re: "And if he leaves negative feedback, does it mean end of my career as a freelancer on upwork? I am afraid because of this issue."


There is not going to be any negative feedback on your profile, or anything else, because Upwork has removed ths job completely. And sanctioned the client.


You did the right thing in reporting this scammer. Real clients DO NOT act like this.