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Wonder what the forum thinks

My first ever oDesk contract ended on sour note.

Here is the basics of the fixed rate contract:

" All articles are needed to be original and error free. I will pay between $4.00 - $15.00 per article depending on word count. I will post payment for all of my writers on Monday of every week.

I always have assignments available so you can write as little or as much as you want. Your income on this project is solely up to you.

Each article will come with detailed instructions and will have a deadline. This is for EACH article. I'am not set up to send you multiple articles at once. You must be fine with working on one article at a time."

I signed on for only a week to ensure the working relationship was acceptable to both parties.

I completed 8 articles and a few revision request with out issue. Along comes the ninth article, which I complete. The client requested a revision, which I completed with out issue. The client asked me again to revise the article based on not following his revision guidance and changed his revision instructions. I felt strongly I followed his initial revision instructions. I informed the client I would no longer work on the article and would not ask for payment on this particular piece due to the contradictory revision instructions as I'd already spent too much time on it (about four hours). I asked if possible to get a new assignment. He then informed me that he would not pay for the articles I wrote previously and will end the contract and "graciously" gave the copyright back to me. However, he did say he would give some money to cover my time.

Knowing the terms and conditions I put my big boy pants on and reluctantly and politely expressed my disappointment while tactfully pointing out the payment terms in the contract was based on a per article basis but would accept his decision.

I knew this was a possibility when I decided to not work on that particular article anymore but considering how little I was being paid, I could not devote more time to confusing and contradictory revision request. I took some time to think about it as well. I could not find a valid reason as to why I should placate this client and do the revision. I reread his instruction and reread my work and it is obvious he either did not read his own instructions or he changed his mind on what he wanted in the revision. Keep in mind we are talking about paragraph. Although it seems small to stand up to principals over such a small amount of writing, I finally decided that this early in the working relationship boundaries would be needed to be established to what I was willing to do and not do. In a nut shell, I was saying I would not continue to revise an article if it's not clear what the client wants.

Anyways, Monday rolls around and no payment, no communication. I contacted support and the client contacted me Tuesday morning suggesting I would be paid Wed. which I was.

The agreement was $1 per 100 words and with one previous assignment including a bonus due to urgent need for an article. I was paid eight dollars for 8 articles and according to him, I should be happy. According to our contract terms the 8 articles should of paid $40 plus the bonus.

The client feels I was longer entitled to the payment for the 8 articles due to our issues on the ninth. I could careless about the money at this point. The client left feedback indicating I demanded more money and would not revise an article with out more...which was a lie. I clearly stated I would not ask for payment on that article. It was cheaper and pragmatic to cut my losses and go on to the next one.

So he did not honor the terms of the contract by virtue of payment nor date of payment and left disingenuous feedback. He suggested this is how the business is done traditionally. I do not think so. Am I wrong? What could I do different to better serve clients interest while protecting my own.

Vote Result

Score: 10.0, Votes: 1
Your mistake...

Your mistake was in working for so little in the first place. A penny a word is not a professional rate -- so what you get are unprofessional buyers.

When you set yourself up as an analyst/researcher and then go for the cheap jobs -- and you knew it was cheap when you sent in your proposal -- you're setting yourself up to not be treated professionally. You look like an amateur, not someone who knows what they're doing.

The clients who recognize what you can bring to the table and are willing to pay for it are the ones who will give you the least amount of worries.

Yep, Cate is right

Yep, Cate is right. On the open market you might want to consider folding if you're only holding a pair of 2's.

oDesk do state upfront that

oDesk do state upfront that fixed-price contracts are paid at the discretion of the buyer.

He suggested this is how the business is done traditionally.

This seems to be how business is done by scumpouches on oDesk and there seems to be quite a few of them playing in the 'stupidly low' pay ranges here.

What I suggest you do -and you're not going to like this but you don't really have any good options- is refund the money (which will wipe out the feedback AND return copyright of the articles to you). Then message the 'client' informing him that as he breached the terms of the contract then he no longer has permission to use your work. If he does use your work online anyway, you can report his site to Google and get it shot down in the listings.

Also take out a support ticket with oDesk complaining about both feedback blackmail and breach of contract. It probably won't get you anywhere, but you never know.

I don't know about this

If he refunds to get the bad feedback off his profile, it also takes his rather excellent, appropriate feedback off of the "clients" profile. This is obviously someone who is scamming contractors. Refunding lets the bottom dweller totally get away with it.

I agree with Robin, but it's not US with the foul feedback :(

Robin C. wrote:
If he refunds to get the bad feedback off his profile, it also takes his rather excellent, appropriate feedback off of the "clients" profile. This is obviously someone who is scamming contractors. Refunding lets the bottom dweller totally get away with it.

I totally agree and I would like to see that feedback STAY on that bottomfeeder client's profile.... Heaven knows how many of his "writers" have refunded their measerly few Dollars just to get rid of the feedback he left them? But at the end of the day the OP is the one who has to live with that nasty feedback - so it's easy for us to say "Leave it!"

There is no way in this WORLD, at ANY price, that I would work for that client.

I check the feedback a client has GIVEN much more carefully than I check the feedback they received. As far as I am concerned a client can be a pain in the proverbial provided he pays promptly and leaves fair feedback. Being driven to distraction by a difficult client is a temporary inconvenience - bad feedback is a permanent irritant....

I have turned down numerous projects simply because I did not like the client's profile with regards to feedback given.

If someone has NEVER left a full 5 stars for ANY contractor chances are my feedback rating would have taken a hit too. I choose my clients carefully these days (wasn't always that cautious but learned the hard way)

I'm with you, Petra

Man, the feedback that a client leaves for other contractors had better appear genuine or I don't even bother considering any other factors.

I know that it is not my profile, and I can feel for the OP. However, the way the feedback is weighted, $9 at that feedback score should not be hard to overcome. It won't effect much for long, assuming OP has learned, and chooses better next time. Any clients can see the feedback he left for the client, which clearly states the issues. They can also see that client has done the same before and thus the feedback does not truly reflect this contractors abilities.

OP, The feedback is weighted financially, and your score is not so low that you cannot rebound.

@Darrin, I truly appreciate all of the options that you suggest. They are viable and legitimate tools to break out and implement in certain situations. However, there are drawbacks to any direction OP wants to go, so I do have to point that out. Using google to defend seems like a lot of stress (although clearly worth it in some cases, and maybe this one). It would be nice if oDesk itself would step up its game and protect in these instances.

I wasn't suggesting that my

I wasn't suggesting that my approach is the One True's just what I would do. Leaving the $9 (I sit corrected) does buy the right to leave the feedback on the client's page, but it also leaves bad feedback on the OP's account and he has lost the work and the client has won.

Refunding gets the work back (with all the possibilities of making a profit and/or using the articles as portfolio pieces or whatever), plus the opportunity to yank on the scumpouch's chain a little. This guy is clearly doing this repeatedly and deliberately; and possibly a more direct virtual spanking would be a better lesson than bad feedback (which the guy already has)

Not an ideal option, I know,

Not an ideal option, I know, but the OP can then use his work in any way he sees fit. This includes selling it on an article site (Doreen could probably give an idea of which sites may be worth it) or publishing them on his own site for any SEO benefits.

More importantly the client will a) be caused extra administration b) will not feel like he's 'getting away' with this behaviour and c) will quite possibly publish or resell the articles; which leads to all sorts of entertaining possibilities. The $8 would be worth it for me.

I agree with Darren

I don't usually like to recommend a refund for any number of reasons, but Darren is right here. I'd refund the 8 and I'd try to (A) sell the articles on Constant Content or I'd put them up for sale on your own blog. What I do when I have rejected articles is I put a "for sale" page on my blog and I put an excerpt along with details (word count, reading scale and keywords) on the page.

Biggest Mistake

Your biggest mistake in my humble opinion was not reviewing this buyer's feedback prior to accepting the assignment. There are plenty of hints.

Learn from your mistakes and move on

When a buyer states that he/she is willing to pay between $4 to $15 per article article--this should always be a "red flag." There should always be a predetermined amount per article that they are willing to pay. Also, always make sure to check not only the buyer's feedback, but how long they have been an active buyer, whether their payment is verified, and how much they usually pay contractors for such work. All of these factors influence whether or not I choose to bid on a project or choose to walk away. If you notice a pattern, such as frequent jobs that are ended and numerous contractors didn't leave feedback, generally this is a bad sign. While I won't knock you for taking such a low paying gig, remember that buyers who appreciate the work that you do, will pay you what you deserve. =)

You might also want to consider asking for 50 percent upfront and 50 percent upon completion. This seems to work for most of the jobs I get. Also, you may want to ask the buyer if he or she is willing to allow you to work on an hourly basis with work view engaged, rather than at a fixed rate. That way you can be sure that you'll get paid for your work.

Hope this helps.

I would refund.

His feedback put your overall score down to 4.37. Most clients select 4.5 - 5.0 stars for feedback rating(advance search).

Appreciate the feedback and welcome more

It may spell doom but I am not refunding the clients money for a few reasons. The first, it is not stopping from getting interviews and/or work. It is early in my oDesk career but I see no reason I can not overcome this by using the advice given here by applying to reputable clients. Also, I have written confirmation that I own the copy right to the articles in question and its a great idea about selling them. Further, the money is inconsequential as the initial purpose of the job was to get some feedback but turned into one of principal and I'd feel bad if another contractor was ripped off if my comment did not stay.

Surprisingly the biggest lesson so far I learned was not to undervalue my work. I'm getting my feet wet trying to establish what the market is for my skills.