How to tell someone if you find a task impossible

15 replies
So, the only thing that hadn't happened before has happened(I wish it hadn't).

I accepted a project of 3 articles for a client, and later, I found that I cannot manage the task as I said I would. This is the first time that's happening, and he's disappointed with me, and I'm disappointed with myself even more.

The project was of a different style, and I accepted it as a challenge, but I tried hard for two days, and I couldn't do it.

Now I need a way to either make some changes to raise the project to atleast acceptable quality levels, or end it gracefully.

I know this may be hard to understand, but I don't want to leak any details that I shouldn't be sharing.
What do you guys recommend?
Thanks,
Chaitanya


P.S. I think that the damage done can be mostly controlled, as this client was not a referral(he was interested in me by a bid I wrote on Freelancer.com).
#articles #find #impossible #task
  • Profile picture of the author kk075
    First, you're over-thinking this. Forget about the project for a moment. Get away from your computer. Go outside and walk around your neighborhood for a good 15-20 minutes. Think about anything but this project.

    Next, go back to your computer and figure out WHY you can't meet the client's expectations. Is it not enough documentation? Is it too hard of a subject? Was the client not clear on what he wanted? Figure out the why....and then look for a solution.

    Finally, there's no shame in telling the client, "I'm sorry, but what you asked for can't be done."

    In fact, it's noble to be honest with your clients and tell them why their idea won't work, and most of them will end up respecting you for it. So if you can't do it because of information, just tell the client that. If it's how he's explaining the project, then ask for clarification. But you really need to talk to the client, not us....because we won't have the answer.

    And if there is no solution, then request for the job to be cancelled. That way you don't take bad feedback and you can move on unscathed. It really is that simple....get answers or move on to another project.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      There is NOTHING "noble" about this.

      I think that the damage done can be mostly controlled, as this client was not a referral(he was interested in me by a bid I wrote on Freelancer.com).
      You bid on a job - got the job - and can't do the job. You over estimated your abilities - after posting here about your writing skills in another thread.

      I tried hard for two days, and I couldn't do it
      It's three articles - so WHY can't you write them? Lack of knowledge of research? Lack of interest? Lack of writing skills?

      Your "challenge" led to wasted time by a buyer and disappointment for others who bid on the work (and could have DONE the work).

      Apparently you can back out without any negative comments and then bid on another project? Remind me to stay away from that freelance site!
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      • Profile picture of the author chaitanyathengdi
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post


        It's three articles - so WHY can't you write them? Lack of knowledge of research? Lack of interest? Lack of writing skills?
        Conflict in demands which I didn't anticipate when I bid on the project.
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        Your "challenge" led to wasted time by a buyer and disappointment for others who bid on the work (and could have DONE the work).
        I am aware of that. That's why I am disappointed.
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      • Profile picture of the author kk075
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        There is NOTHING "noble" about this.


        If I have a client that's waiting on an assignment and I know for a fact that I can't meet the deadline, then the client will ALWAYS appreciate the honesty so they can make other plans. They might be pissed off at first, sure, but they're much rather know ASAP that they have to find someone else for the job.

        Noble- having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.

        So yes Kay, being honest with a client and saving them time is noble...as would any situation where telling the truth is going to get you yelled at. If he can't do the assignment then he can't do it, and it's noble to bow out early instead of screwing the client by letting the deadline pass.
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        • Profile picture of the author san2hnl
          Managing expectations is key.

          You are making this worse by trying to find an easy way out. Just be honest with the client and end it. Better for you, better for them.

          I might be a little irritated if someone I hired to do a job suddenly said they couldn't do it, but I'd get over it and move on. I'd be really upset though if that person waited until the very last minute to tell me (forcing me to delay what I needed that work for).
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  • Profile picture of the author MMartin89
    The most polite way would be to just inform him asap because he might be counting on you big time!
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    • Profile picture of the author chaitanyathengdi
      Originally Posted by MMartin89 View Post

      The most polite way would be to just inform him asap because he might be counting on you big time!
      That's not the case. Did you not read the original post?
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  • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
    Hi Chaitanya,

    I have to agree with Kay on this.

    Originally Posted by chaitanyathengdi View Post

    I accepted a project of 3 articles for a client, and later, I found that I cannot manage the task as I said I would. This is the first time that's happening, and he's disappointed with me, and I'm disappointed with myself even more.

    The project was of a different style, and I accepted it as a challenge, but I tried hard for two days, and I couldn't do it.
    I'm in a little different field, but I wouldn't classify anything that I only expected to expend two days effort on as a project. It would go on my "to do" list as a task.

    Nor would I classify it as a "challenge".

    It sounds like you simply under estimated the job and now would like to find an easy way out.

    "Freelancer" doesn't mean "willy nilly", and 2 days isn't long enough to justify throwing in the towel on anything that you have contracted to do.

    You have an obligation to your client. I think you need to live up to your obligation even if you have to hire the work out at a loss to someone else.
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  • Profile picture of the author chaitanyathengdi
    I agree with you. Things just don't work out sometimes, and I should accept that.
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  • Nothing beats the truth. Once told, you have done your part. Time to move on..
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  • Profile picture of the author beautifulBeamon
    You can try to outsource it from any other guy who might get it done but I would rather keep my integrity and respectfully inform him that I am not compatible, at least this will keep the door between you two open for future..
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Just tell them. If you can't fulfill an order, refund the money, kindly tell them why, and thank them for choosing you. Then offer them something for free for the hassle.
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  • Profile picture of the author chaitanyathengdi
    I have not charged the client, but we both lost some amount($3 for them and $5 for me) as commission to the site.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Sounds to me like you accepted a job, and now you have better-paying opportunities. You spent two days trying to squeeze the project in, and now you want to back out.

      What bothers me is that you seem to dismiss the client's importance just because you connected on a freelance site rather than a direct referral. The bottom line is that you accepted the job.

      Backing out because there's something inherent in the job itself that makes you unable to complete it, or you have some out of the blue personal challenge is one thing. Simply having better things come up after accepting is different.

      In the first case, stuff happens. Contact the client and figure it out together.

      In the second, man up, honor your word, and finish the project. In other words, suck it up, buttercup.
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  • Profile picture of the author chaitanyathengdi
    Does it really sound like that? Oh man.

    I was saying that I have only the client and not anyone else to answer to, because I was unable to complete the said job. I wish I had that many people who wanted me to write for them. I really do.

    Anyways, I have contacted the client, explained that I was very sorry that I could not complete the job, and also said that if they found someone else who could complete the job as they specified, then to let me know how it could have been done.

    Apparently no one else who had bid satisfactorily claimed to be able to do the job, as the project was cancelled, without hiring anyone else.

    Chaitanya

    P.S. I think people on this site usually accept large writing projects.

    I'd like to let people know that I had a time of 3 days to submit the three articles. When the first one took two days, I submitted it to get feedback on how the client finds it. If he liked it, I was going to write the other two based on how I wrote the first, on a priority basis.

    You know the rest.
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