How to Get Out of an Upwork Dispute Like a Boss?

03/12/2016 9 comments

Working as a freelancer on Upwork won’t always be a smooth ride as you would wish it to be. Sometimes, despite all the effort and hours you have put into a project, the client will (for whatever reason) not be satisfied with your work and he will let you know this by filing an Upwork dispute.

An Upwork disputes can be nasty, especially if you are new to Upwork and freelancing in general and are not sure how to handle the situation. Too often, freelancers who get into this kind of situation become dissatisfied with Upwork and freelancing in general and think about leaving it.

How an Upwork Dispute Can Work in Your Favour?

But, handled the right way, an Upwork dispute can work in the freelancer’s favour. He or she just needs to make sure of 4 things going into a dispute:

  • Handling the dispute like a professional
  • Sending the work on time (as agreed with the client)
  • Using the  Upwork Tracking App
  • Doing the best work they could

With these four points covered, a freelancer will win a dispute with a bitter client 9 out of 10 times, at least.

But, before you start thinking that’s all there is, you should know that an Upwork dispute can sometimes through you off your game, so here are 4 tips on how to handle it to your advantage:

Understand How Upwork Handles Freelancer-Client Disputes

If you work or plan to work on Upwork, you should know how the platform handles certain things like a client-freelancer dispute. As you already probably know, Upwork offers two types of jobs for you to apply to:

  • Hourly
  • Fixed

With both, disputes are handled in a different way, so let’s find out how that is.

If you are working an hourly job, pretty much all you need to do is to use Upwork’s track time tool. If you had this on on when you were working on a project, then there won’t be much the client can do about it, but if you didn’t then the situation will be reversed in their favour.

Here’s what happens when a client disputes your hours on Upwork:

Always Respond to an Upwork Dispute

First, you’ll get a notification of the Upwork dispute, with a link you should follow to respond. Whether you’ll reject or accept the client’s dispute is up to you entirely. But you still need to respond.

To do this you need to:

  1. Click the My Jobs tab. Select Contracts and from there check the Ended Contracts box.
  2. Locate the disputed job in the list and click on its title.
  3. View the job’s details by clicking on the weekly hour total within the Hours Worked pane.
  4. Fill out and submit the form.

Rejecting the Upwork dispute will lead the site to review your Work Diary and the hours you have hopefully recorded. If all your hours have been recorded according to Upwork Hourly Protection criteria, you won’t have anything to worry about as they will be paid as per the the normal weekly schedule.

But, if you left some (or all hours) unrecorded and they don’t meet the Upwork Hourly Protection criteria, then they will be refunded to the client.

As you can see, using the tracking app is an absolute must if you are working on an hourly job.

If you are working on a fixed-price job, things get a little more subjective on Upwork’s part. Basically, the client here can challenge the quality of your work, whether you have sent it on time and several other things and then it all comes down to who can present his or her case better to Upwork.

Quality Work is the Best Defence Against Upwork Disputes

If you completed the work according to the client’s instructions, sent it on time and the quality was of a high standard, you should be in the clear as far as the Upwork dispute going your way.

However, if you delivered the work that was of poor quality or were late with it, then the Upwork dispute won’t go your way.

Sometimes, if you are working on a fixed-price job, the client will fail to release a milestone payment. Under the Upwork Fixed-Price Protection, you can file a dispute if:

  • You delivered the work and the client didn’t release the milestone payment.
  • The client ended the job with an escrow balance.

Submitting an Upwork Dispute

Here is how you can file an Upwork dispute on an ended contract:

  1. Go to My Jobs and in the Ended Contracts click on View Request.
  2. Select the Do Not Approve option and click Next.
  3. Next, you need specify why you are disputing the contract. Make sure you have very good reasons for this and to present them well for the dispute specialist.
  4. Click Continue to understand how initiating an Upwork dispute works.
  5. Agree and click Continue to Dispute.

Once you have done all of this, the client will have seven days to respond to your Upwork dispute. If he or she fails to do this, the dispute will go your way and you will get your money.

Identify the Root of the Problem

A client can file a dispute on Upwork against you for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of them:

  1. The work provided was not of good enough quality.
  2. Not sending the work on time.
  3. Failing to follow the client’s instructions.
  4. Not using the time tracker
  5. Miscommunicating something with a client

The important thing here is to communicate with the client. Always be professional. Whichever way you’re communicating with clients, always respond on time.

Own Your Mistakes

We all make mistakes. If a client point to one you did working on his job, make sure to fix it. Even if it’s not obvious to you, it’s better to spend a little extra time making sure everything is okay, than getting into an Upwork dispute over this.

For example, if you are a freelance writer and the client ask you to edit something, do so. It’s his blog or website after all, and he probably knows better what kind of content he needs for it. Or, if you are asked to design a new logo and the client asks you for something different, do it.

Of course, keep in mind that these requests should be fairly reasonable. As a personal and professional rule, I don’t edit one article more than twice. If the client keeps asking me to rewrite and change 500 words over and over, then he clearly isn’t fully sure himself what he or she wants.

Be flexible and accept a critique. By fixing the mistake, you are less likely to get into an  Upwork dispute and have a higher chance of continuing to work with that client.

Handle the Upwork Dispute Professionally

Always handle your Upwork dispute professionally. Things won’t always go your way and you first instinct might be to throw fire and brimstones at the “idiot”, but it’s better to take a deep breath and respond professionally.

Going into a flame war will rarely (if ever) end with a good result.

Have you ever had an Upwork dispute? How did it go for you? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to click the “Follow” button to the left if you’re interested in freelancing.