When it comes to work disputes, your freelancing experience doesn’t matter. Contract disputes are unpredictable and can come knocking at your door anytime.
That is why its good to be vigilant from the time a client contacts you. When you do so, you will be able to foresee a problem before a dispute arises.
Remember, in a situation where a dispute has arose, all the communication you had with the client will be used as evidence and can act against you or in your favor.
It is therefore important to state your terms clearly and ensure that your client is ok with them- by them writing back to you.
Also, ensure that the language you use in your communication exchanges with the client is respectful.
With this said, always try to eliminate predictable disputes by detaching your feelings or personal life with the work/contracts you are engaged in.
In this blogpost, I will share with you top tips that will help you harmoniously work with clients and never be scared of disputes.
Disputes are filed by either client or a freelancer if the;
- Client is not happy with work delivered by the freelancer and the freelancer wants to be paid.
- Freelancer has delivered opposite of what was needed.
- Client wants a refund after the freelancer has delivered the service.
- Terms of the contract changes along the way and the parties do not agree on additional costs arising from it.
These are four among other many reasons why people file disputes on contracts assigned to freelancers.
Here are my top tips to working around disputes before or after it arises.
BEFORE THE DISPUTE
Make Your Stand Clear From Start
Propose a collaboration plan to your client. Be clear on how you work the moment the client expresses their interest in working with you.
If you are on a different timezone, tell them. Let them decide if they are going ahead to work with you or not.
If you offer 3 rounds of revisions, say it. Tell them how much they are expected to pay for the 4th round.
Serious clients love such terms and will help them make a wise hiring decision.
Be Kind and Professional in Your Communications
Now, this is the key. Use words that are respectful to the client.
Let them know that they are safe working with you. Show what you guarantee and stick to your word.
If the client is mad at you, be sober, take time to look at the issue at hand and explain to them in detail why they shouldn’t be mad.
You are a salesperson and by all means, you need to be very persuasive in your freelancing business.
Persuasion should be your cup of tea/coffee.
WHEN THE DISPUTE ARISES
I know it’s scary to read an e-mail saying the client has requested a refund.
That is if you are in a case where you are in good communication with a client today, then the next day when you wake up, he/she has ended the contract with no reason and requested a refund on the funded milestone.
Many people will panic and worried of what to do next. Freelancing sites will encourage freelancers to communicate with their clients and resolve issues with them before raising a dispute.
While this is a good idea, if your communication with the client was not clear while on contract, you will proceed and file a dispute.
But first, put yourself together before doing so. Take a deep breath boy:-)
Compile Your Evidence
For your to win a dispute, you need to have evidence.
As I mentioned at the start of this blog post, if your message exchanges was clear with the client, compiling your evidence will be easier.
Don’t forget to put your anger aside and stick only to facts supported by evidence.
Argue Your Case
Argue your case and let the mediator (which is your freelancing site) to intervene. It’s very important that you don’t digress out of the main topic. Give reasons why your have to be paid .
Be patient and Wait for a Ruling
Wait for the mediation representative to rule on your case.
Don’t bother yourself by contacting Freelancer support team for an update. Once the ruling on your case is reached, your will receive an e-mail on what was decided.
NOTE: If you feel the decision reached by your mediator is not fair, you can decide to take your case further to be handled by the an arbitrator-who in this case will be someone outside the freelancing site you are working on. This will cost you around $300. In my opinion, this is not a good path to take if the contract in dispute is less than $300.
What if The Contract in Dispute was Entered Directly With the Client?
If the client offered you the job directly, it is a different case. The complexity of it depends on the terms you agreed upon when you entered into contract.
Chances are, you will end up not getting paid if you were not vigilant enough from the beginning to insist that the client makes a down-payment before you start work.
The down payment is a confirmation that the client is committed to working with you.
In conclusion, courtesy and clarity should be a way of life in the freelancing business. If you don’t have a clear stand, prospects will take advantage of you.
That’s it from me here.
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Until next time, take care.
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