Standing Up for Yourself - Being a Professional, Not a Patsy
(Page 5 of 5)
Abuse and Coercion
Sometimes it’s hard to discern a client’s motivations, but not always. The longer you freelance, the more likely it is that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re being abused by a client, or perhaps coerced into making concessions because you feel you have no choice.
Some unethical clients will flatly tell you that they will not pay you at all unless you do some amount of extra work for them. Most, though, use a more subtle technique called feedback hostaging. As a freelancer, reviews from past clients are pivotally important in securing future work, and they are especially important for new contractors. Some clients, knowing this, will threaten to give a bad review for a freelancer unless he or she agrees either to do extra work or to accept a lower payment after the project is underway.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure here: the best way to combat these types of abusive situations is to avoid them in the first place. Look for the signs that indicate the potential for an abusive client, and read their past reviews. Don’t take projects that seem too good to be true. Do your homework when it comes to freelancing sites: there are sites with escrow services and arbitration procedures, which provide protection against abuse. Use these instead of agreeing to do work with no funds escrowed and no arbitration, which puts all of the power in the client’s hands.
If you do find yourself in an abuse situation, I urge you to fight back to the best of your ability. Feedback hostaging is illegal on every freelance marketplace I know: contact the site and tell them what is going on, and they may have some recourse for you. Leave negative feedback for clients who behave improperly. If you are being ripped off, then use all the tools at your disposal, even an arbitration service that requires an additional cost. It will take up a chunk of your time, and you may not get all of your money, but at least you’ll send the message that you won’t take abuse lying down. Maybe, if nothing else, you’ll save some other freelancer from a similar negative experience.
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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