Can anyone help with a sticky problem?

by Mart11
12 replies
I'm a copywriter in dispute with a client and need some advice:

In short, I agreed to deliver a multifaceted project - sales pack, press release etc - to a foreign company. After I delivered first drafts they said they were generally happy, just needed a few tweaks.

Then the next day they said they were unhappy and that I hadn't put enough effort in. I apologised and said that maybe I needed some more information. I sent over some questions that provided lots more information, so I asked for a deadline extension.

This made them furious and they asked to cancel the job, which I agreed to. They then asked for a refund of a half of the project fee. But, by my estimation I have done over two-thirds - when notes and time taken for meetings etc is taken into account.

My lawyer has said they have no legal basis to demand money from me, but that doesn't mean they won't try and I don't need the hassle.

Has anybody else been in this position? Does anybody have any advice on how best to handle this?
#copywriting #problem #sticky
  • Profile picture of the author gprialde
    In a BPO it is always half of the project fee being paid at the start of the project for the freelancers to deliver a beta or at least half of the project so the buyer can comment and make changes. Thus, what you have is just right for what you have delivered. Then again it doesn't this way always, buyers may ask for refunds but should agree to return the project files and sign an MOA not to use what has been delivered and returned...
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  • Profile picture of the author Mart11
    Thanks for your advice - they paid a deposit of under half, so I've got some money. They want to pull the plug on the project - not me, I'm happy to do revisions - so it seems ridiculous to be hounding me in this way.
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  • Profile picture of the author WarriorWasim
    I'll say forget about all rules and talk with them politely to justify what you did. If they are not agreed and if you think that half is enough then move and start your next work. If you think that you need exactly 2 third then follow your lawers what they said. You can't expect 100% from every work or business relationship. In some cases you'll earn more by doing less work and in some you'll generate less by investing more time than you expected so just take it easy and let it go. Thanks :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author Mart11
      Thanks for the advice. I agree! I've given up on getting any more money from them, but their threats about coming after me for money are a little concerning.
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    100% Refund their money.

    If it happened to you, what would you want?

    You don't need the hassle or the bad rep.

    The Internet is rife with pissed-off customers getting revenge on their vendors by hiring some hotshot SEO guys to post bad stuff (whether it's true or not.)

    When this happens, THERE IS NO RECOURSE.

    You could be making a copywriting career ending decision.


    P.S. What I do is share all my work with clients via google docs from the get go. That way they can comment immediately when they take exception to something I've written.

    I call the strategy "killing monsters while they're little."

    Think about it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marcus W K Wong
    was this in a marketplace? (Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr etc...)

    Generally there's a dispute system in place, but I'll agree with RickDuris, sometimes it really isn't worth the hassles in the future (costs of business as a service provider / content producer I know).

    That being said, if you do go down the route of refunding 'all of it' (this I don't recommend), then be hyper weary if they use your produced content.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I have only faced this problem twice in the last few months.
    Both filed a dispute through PayPal asking for half the money refunded.
    I spoke to PayPal and they said only contact the guy through PayPal so they would record my conversations.
    The simple one I gave them a full refund to shut them up.
    The second I was working on gave me the right options and then he said he wants a partial refund.
    The next day, despite positive discussions, he said he wants 66% of what he paid.
    Then I offer him 33%, despite him initially saying he wanted a flat rate.
    Due to PayPal chats, I could say the guy offered me 50% and I re-offered 30%.
    He told me to process the 30% and it would then work out. I did as PayPal asked then they sent him an email confirming closure of the problem after I paid the 30% I agreed on. I never heard back which is why I believe I did things right.

    I lost money BUT I kept my pride intact. The clients may come back again but if not, then it's no big deal.

    Cheers, Laurence.

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  • Profile picture of the author havplenty
    Refund the money and increase your authority-level as you engage new clients (Ideally they should be finding you). Deal mercilessly with the ones that feel they know more about marketing/advertising than you -- they make widgets and can't possibly know more about the craft than you.

    There's no such thing as a little monster and believing that is a false economy. Monsters are very hard to kill and to cut off their heads you need heavy weaponry; it also takes a lot of time, which is very valuable to you.

    How do you avoid having to kill monsters? Position yourself as the monster; a half man, half marketing god with flames spewing from your eyes.

    The type of clients you 'accept' should be clinging to your ankles, begging you to save them from the dreaded abyss called business failure.

    Don't be timid with clients, they are almost always wrong about everything when it comes to marketing. Making concessions on the stuff you create is like showing the enemy that you've been wounded -- they'll finish you off immediately. Assert yourself with them, always.

    Your inspiration starts at 5:35 and ends at 6: 16:

    And remember, it was a copywriter, like you, that made Apple the company it is today.

    Take over the world, my friend.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dolives
    pay them money and make your payment/deadline policies more detailed-wise next time you receive any work
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  • Profile picture of the author brookeharper08
    Hi, Mart11. This sounds like bullying to me and I'm aware that this normally occurs in freelancing platforms like Upwork. If your rep is at stake, it might be a good idea to return the money and to never accept any job offer from this company again. You win some and you lose some - it's better to cut all ties with them including the money that supposedly was for a job you've done wholeheartedly and it turns out that it didn't work in their favor after all. Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author katerinavaiou
    If the amount is not big, you should refund that.
    However as I see from your comment, you did a basic mistake i.e. you accepted that you made mistake which made them furious. Some clients can be silly enough to do such things. You need to be diligent next time when you deal with such clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    I don't get how anyone could suggest refund the money when they haven't seen the work offer or the finished work.

    There's a lot of folks out there looking for free content/services and also habitual refunds. There's also sloppy content producers but the OP reads like they have some sense.
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