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My name is Stan, I am web designer based in Canada. I have got some issues with one of my clients recently that make me really upset. The client is threatening me and trying to sue me because I am not doing the work we have not agreed on. I can tell you the whole story here in order to get the full understanding of how it all began.

First of all, I signed a contract with one client several months ago to help him to improve the project he was working on. We have agreed that I will make a logotype for him, make a re-design of his website in Photoshop (about 10 pages of design), and make a couple banners that will be included in Photoshop design, and finally, as the last milestone we had a "CSS minification and JQuery bug fixing" which means that I have to clean up the CSS coding file to make it more readable and usable for the future; and the JQuery bug fixing had to be done on one of the pages on his existing website. Those were all the milestones we've agreed on during the initial stages of the project.

After I have done all the work relative to logo design and website design in Photoshop along with banners, the client decided to take a different path. The client is now asking me to develop 10+ pages of the design I've done in Photoshop along with "CSS minification and JQuery bug fixing". The development of 10+ pages was not part of the contract as we've agreed that I will improve the design of the website and will help him with a couple issues with CSS and JQuery. That's it.

Right now, the client threatens me that he will get me to the court if I don't develop the pages we have not agreed on. I have all the messages related to the project and the messages with him telling that I will "get hurt" and that I am "acting like a fool", etc. There is a full history of messages that can tell you a whole story about this project.

Moreover, the client also decided to reorganize the milestones by himself in order to get what he wants, but the initial milestones and agreement tell a completely different story in terms of requirements.

I would like you to help me to resolve this issue as soon as it is possible as the client is trying to sue me and he is threatening me with telling me that I will "get hurt"! By the way, do you think I should end the contract or wait until we resolve this issue?

To conclude, I am ready to deliver the last milestone with "CSS minification and JQuery bug fixing" that was initially set as one of the milestones. However, I am not ready to do the work we've not agreed on.

Thank you for support, Stan. enter image description here

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    This is not a support site for Upwork. Contact Upwork i you have an issue on their site. – Scott Mar 12 '18 at 2:09
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    Also be aware general, non-descriptive, scare tactics are a common ploy for BAD clients. That doesn't necessarily mean their threats have any merit or they have any grounds for a lawsuit. – Scott Mar 12 '18 at 6:00
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    If a client told me I'll get hurt, I'd report it to the RCMP right away, and let them deal with it. Sounds like a threat to me, and no amount of money will help me sleep if someone threatens to hurt me or my family (even indirectly, through my business) – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Mar 12 '18 at 16:18
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Bad clients usually threaten all sorts of action, but rarely follow through. No one should go to court over USD 150 - and they should have better things to do than character assassinate you on Upwork.

It seems you have secured adequate documentation of the chain of events - which is good. All you can do is maintain your professionalism throughout. What the client does is out of your control.

Your preferred course of action very much depends on whether you have been satisfactorily paid for your services up till now.

If this is the case, inform the client that you have upheld your side of the agreement and send them all the deliverables. Ideally, this will end the matter.

However, if you still have money on the line, navigating this issue becomes more difficult. Do not focus on the threats of lawsuit, as they most probably are empty threats; focus on professionally ending the client relationship in the best possible (or least harmful) way.

  • I think the question is just a horrible question that can't be answered. However, I think this answer is perfect for practically all client relations. – Scott Mar 13 '18 at 21:21
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I think he's trying to play Mr. Big Man. Trust me, he doesn't want to go to court either. You must state that you both agreed the first version of the contract. And you must deliver on that and he pmust pay for that (unless you both agree you can cancel). If he then changes his mind, that's a new contract. When he changes the scope you must instantly remind them that changing the scope affects the contract. He might be confused and think what he is now asking for is the same as what's in the contract. Write to him and explain that you agreed X in the contract, and X involes doing a,b,c tasks. Then explain that he has requested Y, which was not included. And explain that because it takes more time, resources etc, a new time/estimate/price will need to be given, and it's not included in the contract. You must stress the importance of what you've agreed and outline that what he has asked for is not what you agreed. You must explain this to him like a child. He should then see he has no leg to stand on.

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(sorry for my not good english)

If during a work dialogue someone would tell me one (or more) times that "I will get hurt", that would be the perfect reason to stop suddenly any professional relationship because noone should consider working properly under threats of any kind.

Indeed if you keep talking with him will look like a passive behaviour and he will feel that you are somehow "scared" of him and tolerate his bad manners.

Once happened a similar situation to me many years ago and that was how I reacted:

  1. I printed all the emails and chats with all the threats and dialogues and I went to the local police, I talked 15 minutes about that with an officer, he told me that a phisical threat ("you will get hurt") is itself a crime and the client could be even sued just by that and asked of heavy monetary indemnification and get condemned by the law. I didn't officially filed a complaint anyway for that moment.
  2. I sent an email to the client stating all that in point #1, plus saying to him that from this moment any professional relationship is ended forever with no further contact with the motivation of his faulty and criminal behaviour, and that I will keep all the payments that I received since now and he had to pay me all the rest as stated in the contract (since the work was completed and clearly documented), he was just complaining to keep the work done and not pay me.
  3. I told him that I have a close relative that is an experienced lawyer and he is ready to assist me for free (not true, but helped! he would never know... I could always find a lawyer eventually...).

The client disappeared from that day plus I stalked him for months in email and messages until he payd me all that we agreed in the contract.

You know... barking dogs never bite...

PS: I would inform UpWork customer care that there is a user who threats phisically other users, probably his account will get suspended.

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