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Reporting a Client (Warning to other newbies)

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Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
1 of 14

Hey Community - how do I flag a client as a sociopathic liar and manipulator?

 

Apparently I'm gullible and new to Upwork. Just putting that up front.

 

It's made me vulnerable to being taken advantage of in one of my first jobs on here, so this is a warning to all the other newbies. The client did not break any of the rules, just a masterful display of sociopathy and manipulation to encourage me to break the rules. So, follow the rules kids, they are there for your protection.

 

Trying to establish a reputation and bid for the jobs I want, I need a work history, which means doing jobs I might otherwise not do,. But hey, we all gotta pay the bills right?

 

So, I get a contract to ghostwrite a book. Awesome, six weeks work, booya. All looks legit, I even sign an NDA*, client knows what they want, funds the first milestone and I get working, and now here I sit with egg on my face feeling like a twit being paid far less than the agreed contract.

 

*and he requests a copy of my ID. And because the talk function "didn't work" (I've had this problem more than once), we spoke though Skype. Another breach of the TOS.

 

How did this sociopath manipulate me?  Here's the details if you are interested.

 

1) Tight deadline for the job.  But there's nothing red flag about that right? Sometimes we have to work to tight deadlines. "I want you to work exclusively on this project, now and for the next book too."  See what they did? Creating dependency. One client - all my eggs in one basket... fostering dependency, hint of a carrot for future work. It's a tight deadline, to make it, I pretty much have to drop everything I am doing to do the job. I agree, because, trying to get reputation and build up work history remember.

 

2) "How will I know you are doing the work? I'm really worried because of the deadline. We can't miss that deadline." So me, being gullible, suggested a shared document outside the platform so he could see what I was doing. Ghostwriting is very collaborative after all. It's art and subjective in   nature. I need to tailor what I am doing for the client. This is my first mistake which played right into his hands. This also breaks TOS, but I suggested it, and there is no shared document function in Upwork.

 

3) He's funding one milestone at a time, not putting the entire contract price into escrow. I won't make this mistake again. Any client not prepared to put the full amount into escrow gets rejected. Yet at first glance it seems reasonable right? I don't know him, he doesn't know me, trust is a two way street. 

 

4) I complete the third agreed milestone and the escrow has not been funded. I'd stop, but - tight deadline remember, New job and I want a good feedback. I'm also under pressure. That deadline is approaching like a Sumo wrestler after a Mars bar. I send a message requesting the third payment and keep working, like an idiot.

 

5) He comes back after two more days. Because I'm a fast worker, and that deadline is looming I've now completed the forth milestone and still have no money in escrow. This is where the lies start. (sociopath remember), **Edited for Community Guidelines** <- Note the statement designed to make me feel sympathetic towards him, and understanding as to why I have not been paid for work I have already completed. Now, no one wants to be an asshat to someone who just lost their father. Even if I am skeptical, I can't actually ask for proof. 

 

6) "**Edited for Community Guidelines**." <- This is where I realized what a numpty I'd been. And, this is where the cold hand of dread pulls the short hairs on the back of my neck and I think.... sonova... If this guy is a liar I'm already boned. "I can't do that sir. Upwork takes five days to clear the funds after you release the milestone. I'd like to eat next week. I have to go looking for other work now to make up the shortfall." "**Edited for Community Guidelines**Yup. I am boned. I remove access from the shared doc. (too late he's already taken a copy), And go find another job, borrow money so I can eat, and hope like I am wrong and I get paid on Monday, and can continue the job.

 

It's now Friday. No contact. Total ghost. I can't even close the job and request money in escrow through the dispute function...becaus ethere's no money in escrow. 

 

How do I warn others not to trust this sociopath?

 

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 14

Julian:

You are correct in your understanding that the real problem in this situation was the freelancer, not the client.

 

I hope that you learned from your mistakes and will not make those same mistakes again.

 

Don't work on unfunded milestones.

 

But I am sorry that you were manipulated.

 

The good thing is that you are taking responsibility for your own actions. And you learned from this experience. You can look back and laugh at some of what the client said and did.

 

Next time a client tells you that he can't fund escrow because his father died and he lost his wallet, you can tell him: "Check in the coffin. Your father probably stole your wallet."

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Ace Contributor
Iga F Member Since: Dec 7, 2015
3 of 14

OP might be naive, but it is fully client's fault since he is a scammer.

Victim blaming looks ugly on anyone.

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Community Guru
Martina P Member Since: Jul 11, 2018
4 of 14

Iga F wrote:

OP might be naive, but it is fully client's fault since he is a scammer.

Victim blaming looks ugly on anyone.


It's not victim blaming if the person does not use the procedures that upwork has put in place so that everybody stays safe and gets paid. 

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Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
5 of 14

You are correct in your understanding that the real problem in this situation was the freelancer, not the client.

 

I think the problem is I'm an honest person dealing with someone who isn't.

 

But yes. Got that lesson down now. No unfunded milestones.

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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
6 of 14

Julian G wrote:

You are correct in your understanding that the real problem in this situation was the freelancer, not the client.

 

I think the problem is I'm an honest person dealing with someone who isn't.

 

But yes. Got that lesson down now. No unfunded milestones.


Well, no.  The real problem is that you are (maybe) an honest person who is also a person who jumped into a large project without taking the time to learn how Upwork works. You're far from alone in that, but the bottom line is that when you're working with strangers on the internet, precautionary measures are always sensible, and they are built in to Upwork if you take the time to educate yourself before you start working.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
7 of 14

For the record, communication through Skype is NOT against any rules.

 

Working with a shared document outside of Upwork is NOT against the rules.

 

You said from now on you only want to work with clients who put full amount of budget into escrow. I never want to do that.

 

I work on one milestone at a time. That milestone must be funded, or I do not work on it. "Total" project budget is irrelevant. All funding after that is irrelevant. Once the current milestone is completed and paid for, we can look at the next one.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
8 of 14

re: "...it is fully client's fault since he is a scammer. Victim blaming looks ugly on anyone."

 

You are quite wrong about this.

 

It is AWESOME to know that I am responsible for what happens to me.

 

Because then I can change it.

 

If my success in Upwork is subject to the capricious whims of other people, that is truly ugly.

 

But if it is my fault, then all I need to do is learn from my mistakes and change my behavior. And then I succeed.

 

And I don't need anybody's permission to succeed.

 

The "ugly" truth is that it is FREELANCERS who are primarily responsible for the problems on the Upwork platform. If freelancers did not behave inappropriately, then there would be very few clients trying stupid tricks to try to take advantage of them. And even when rare clients did try stupid stunts, they wouldn't get away with it.

 

No client can force a freelancer to work on an unfunded milestone.

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Community Guru
Martina P Member Since: Jul 11, 2018
9 of 14

It's really easy to warn others, you just leave honest feedback for the client.

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Active Member
Julian G Member Since: Nov 15, 2019
10 of 14

I will give him a couple more days then close the job and give some 'feedback'..

 

Seeing that parts of my original post were removed due to community guidelines, (And I have no idea what mistake was made to incur that editorial of my post).  Where do I find the guidelines for feedback to make sure my warning is loud and clear?