I've recently acquired a client from one of the more well known freelancing websites that has an Escrow service, inside that Escrow service is currently a deposit for my time, equal to one hour of my standard rate.

I'm quite new to freelancing so i'm wondering if anyone has any advice on what to do next, when I accepted the contract and received the deposit I had given the client an estimate of time that it would take to complete the project, I work hourly so I also gave them a total of what that would cost, however once I got into the project I actually realised that due to a lot of the previous code from other developers having errors/bugs in it, it increased the time to deliver and thus my hourly rate.

At this point I stopped working on the project and took my newly calculated estimate to the client, they have told me the new estimate is out with their budget. I have then explained that I'm not willing to reduce my hourly rate or give a discount on my services, it just isn't worth it financially. After I explained all this, the client started asking me to give them another estimate, but with a different figure? I don't know if they're trying coax me into being within their budget or what they're trying to do.

Should I be suspicious that they could promise me my new estimate and not deliver all/any of it? considering they told me that it wasn't within their budget, i.e they don't have it to give.

During the first part, when I noticed that the project had bad code that I would need to fix, I spent the whole day documenting and looking into what parts I would change, I explained to the client that I wouldn't charge for those hours because I hadn't checked the code before I took on the project and thus it was my responsibility. The client then asked that I send them a detailed breakdown of everything they need to change on their site to optimise it.

  • Should I charge to create the optimisation checklist?
  • Should I take the deposit as pay for the optimisation checklist?
  • Should I take the deposit and charge for the optimisation checklist?
  • Should I give the client the deposit back and an optimisation checklist for free?
  • Let me get this straight, you agreed to a rate with a client and accepted the work. Then decide that you had given a bad estimate because you hadn't investigated the project well enough and you have a problem with the client? If I was the client, I would have a problem with you, we agreed on a rate and you are now trying to force me to pay more than we agreed? You acknowledge that you are new to freelancing, so I would suggest that you learn much more about business before jumping to conclusions about this client.
    – cdkMoose
    Jul 9, 2015 at 18:04
  • 1
    I didn't agree to a rate and fail to deliver, it's hourly and regulated through people per hour, the time scale increased
    – Grant
    Jul 9, 2015 at 18:06
  • Quoted from your question "and thus my hourly rate." At the end of the day, anything you do to change the total cost after agreeing to do the work is on you, not the client.
    – cdkMoose
    Jul 9, 2015 at 18:08
  • 2
    Moose is ignoring the very real problem that you can't give an accurate quote on working with existing code until you've read the code. Some clients won't send you the code until after they've hired you. If they sent you the code after they hired you, it isn't your fault that the estimate changed. It's only your fault if you had the code but didn't read it.
    – user45623
    Jul 10, 2015 at 18:07

1 Answer 1


This looks to me that this client is not worth of your time. You may eventually get a few work hours from him and get a bad rating. This is what usually happens.

I would stick to my new estimation and if they cannot pay me, I would leave. Don't ask for the payment of 1 hour as you risk getting a bad feedback for the petty money.

As I understood, the money is in escrow. Simply close the job and the escrow money will be returned to him.

  • What do you think I should do about the optimisation checklist?
    – Grant
    Jul 9, 2015 at 9:05
  • Hmm good question since the client is fishy. When the client is "normal" and if it will not take more than 1h of my time, I would make the list for free. If it takes more time, I do it either partially or short version within 1 hour of time, and tell him that the full list will be done after we start the project.
    – Peter MV
    Jul 9, 2015 at 10:12
  • Alright, thanks, I've sent all this to the client and I've issued the refund, they're still trying to push to hire me though
    – Grant
    Jul 9, 2015 at 10:15
  • Whatever I tell you now, I risk of being wrong. You have to act on your hunch now. Check how other contractors rate him. If he's new, I would not accept it working via freelancer rating system - I would suggest PayPal - yet again, doing so you risk your own account of being banned.
    – Peter MV
    Jul 9, 2015 at 11:07
  • It isn't freelancer I'm using however he is a new profile
    – Grant
    Jul 9, 2015 at 16:31

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