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I'm in an unfortunate situation where a client I'm currently working for is threatening to provide bad rating and feedback to my profile on a popular freelance outsourcing site (not sure if I can mention sites or not here, so hence the vagueness) if I don't help him with some other work that are not part of the initial project agreement and it's monetary value.

In simple terms, he want me to work more than what we agreed to FOR FREE to which if I don't agree, he will destroy my online freelance reputation that I've build for quite a long time with false allegations of incompetent work and bad quality rating and feedback.

Since most of the discussions I had with him is mainly via Skype calls, I can't provide any solid evidence of contract-breach to the freelance site support either so I'm kind of in a fix as I really value the rating percentile I have managed to maintain on the site.

What would be the best approach to get out of this predicament as reasoning with him doesn't seem to be working at all.

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No one mentioned that blackmailing freelancers for extra work out of scope is explicitly forbidden in the terms of service for most of these sites. Read the terms of service. Elance, for example, says clients may not threaten a bad review to extort free work from the freelancer. If you contact support with proof, the client is busted, they will get in big trouble and won't be allowed to leave a review, and generally funds in escrow will be released to you. They have a vested interest in this because they get less money when the client gets free work.

If you don't trust a client or they're trying to screw you, make sure you only communicate via written word (email or Skype) so you have records. Say your phone is broken if you have to.

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Have you contacted the site's support about this? I would start there. I think they have ways of dealing with these types of situations and can probably remove any negative reviews.

Also, If it's Elance, unless the job is marked complete (by both of you, I think) they cannot leave feedback. I don't know how other sites operate but they may be the same.

Worst case scenario, if they are able to leave a bad rating you should be able to dispute it. This may not make you feel much better but I know that when I am looking at a person's rating and they have a lot of good marks then just one bad mark, if they have commented explaining, I usually disregard the bad rating and assume the client is a nut-job.

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    1. The site is freelancer dot com and their support seems more interested in making employers happy rather than the freelancers working there. Quite hypocritical to it's company name, really lol 2. If a dispute is started, the project can be closed even if both sides haven't marked it as completed too. 3. "if they have commented explaining, I usually disregard the bad rating and assume the client is a nut-job." <<-- That honestly made me laugh and feel a bit better honestly lol – AndrewL64 Apr 7 '15 at 9:33
  • Are you able to respond to the feedback after it's left by the client? – Voxwoman Apr 7 '15 at 13:24
  • @Emily "nut-job" made me laugh. – Brad Ullery Apr 7 '15 at 14:22
  • @Voxwoman The project is still ongoing as I'm still working for him but yes, I will be able to provide a feedback to him too if the project is marked as completed. But the problem is I would still get a negative feedback regardless :( – AndrewL64 Apr 9 '15 at 22:49
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    Ha ha, "nut job" was because I didn't want to use profanity. ;-) – Emily Apr 11 '15 at 4:26
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What the client is doing is really a crime, something that he can be convicted for.

Maybe he is acting like that just to scare you to work more than what agreed and possibly he will not do for real what he told you.

What I would do is not be passive to this at all, I will clearly tell him that what he is doing is actually a crime and people go to jail for that, I think that he will think about that.

I would also tell him (as a "scare tactic") that I recorded our last conversations (even if you actually didn't record them) and you are ready to show them to the police or to the admin websites if there will be the need for it.

So in the end he will never risk to be convicted of a crime even if you don't have any evidence.

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This happens often.

Collect all your Skype conversation and format it properly indicating his threats.

Contact customer support of the website you use (probably odesk or elance) and explain your case and ask for opinion. Ask if they can prevent him blackmailing you over feedback. The client will not be aware of these actions.

Act quickly!!!

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In general, one piece of bad feedback will not "destroy your online reputation," especially if you have a long history and a lot of other feedback from other clients. Unethical people do this on a lot of sites where customer/client feedback is used (it happens all the time on Etsy, for example. People threaten bad feedback if they don't receive a discount/refund/free item for something they purchased.).

I don't know about the site you're using, but eLance (at least when I was active there, several years ago) lets the service provider respond to feedback in their profile, so you can explain your side of the story.

Also, are you also not able to leave feedback for your client? You can warn other service providers not to contract with this guy.

In the future, insist on interactions in writing with all clients that you are working with remotely.

  • Yes, I will most definitely do that with all future clients. – AndrewL64 Apr 9 '15 at 22:50

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