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Buyer threatening legal action, saying my work isn't 'custom'.


sophiepearce

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Hi guys,

I've potentially come across the worst client i've ever worked for. Back in December I worked for a buyer and had a very unpleasant experience, he was demanding, impatient and all round awful to work with. Surprisingly, he rated me 5 stars for the experience however I rated him 1 star and wrote an honest review. Following this, I never wanted to work with him again and blocked him so he couldn't place anymore orders.

Fast forward to today and I had a message from customer support asking me to reach out to that customer as they are complaining saying my work isn't custom and that they have been copied. This isn't true at all, I work very hard on all my orders and while I offer a gig option for premade work which isn't custom, I have a gig for custom work and this is the one he placed an order with.

I messaged the buyer and he is saying the creation dates are from last summer. I knew this would be impossible but checked my files anyway and the creation date was 25th December 2022. I asked for further info and he sent across two files, one was from his original order and the other is from my premade set that I offer on my other gig. As I blocked him previously, I had no idea how he got my premade packs from my other gig. I assume he has created a new account to order from me after he realised I had blocked him.

For a little background info: I create Lightroom Presets for photo editing. These are like instagram filters that edit your photos in a particular style. I offer the style 'Moody' in my premade pack and the client had also asked for this style in his custom order as it's a very popular editing style for photographers. As presets come in a 'style' they would be similar in tones, for example Moody edits photos to be deeper and rich in tones. He has sent across one moody preset from his original order and one from my premade pack. He is claiming that I have copied the premade one and just changed the creation date to pass it off as custom. This is not true at all, I made his completely custom, the only similar part is the fact they are both in the same editing style. If you go online you would find 1000s+ of presets in the 'Moody' style. All the settings are different and made to order for my custom gig even in they are in a style that I have completed before. Even while working on Fiverr, I have already completed 200 moody style presets as it's so popular but every one I make is still custom for each customer as there are thousands of combinations of edits that can be done.

He is still claiming that I have copied them and wants a full refund on his original order of $500. I'm so upset as I spend so so many hours on this order and I know it was made custom to fit his requirements. He is threatening legal action which I know wouldn't stand up in court as he doesn't have any real evidence however i'm still very nervous and don't know how to handle this situation. If anyone can provide any support or advice, i'd really appreciate it.

If any of this doesn't make any sense, please let me know and I will explain further.

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2 hours ago, sophiepearce said:

He is still claiming that I have copied them and wants a full refund on his original order of $500. I'm so upset as I spend so so many hours on this order and I know it was made custom to fit his requirements. He is threatening legal action which I know wouldn't stand up in court as he doesn't have any real evidence however i'm still very nervous and don't know how to handle this situation. If anyone can provide any support or advice, i'd really appreciate it.

First, I'm sorry to hear about your experience with this buyer. While I can't speak to the truth of any claims made by them (or you), I will consider that you're in the right for the sake of this argument.

Also, I need to point out that I'm no legal expert, photo expert, filter expert, or expert of any kind relevant to your issue beyond having some experience with horrible clients over the years myself.  

If the buyer threatens legal action, and you're sure it wouldn't stand up in court, I suggest you contact your attorney. Send all documentation, including the initial order conversation, current inbox conversation, preset files, and examples that support your claim (such as using the two filters on the same image to demonstrate differences, for example – I guess you'd know what works best in this case). 

Inform your buyer that he's more than welcome to bring the matter to the courts, in which case his attorney may contact yours. Since you're not allowed to share contact information here on Fiverr, confirm with Customer support first to avoid violating any terms! Explain to them that the buyer is considering taking legal action, and you want to respond with a counter-claim. Ask how you can share the contact information with your attorney, etc. 

Alternatively, they would have to go through Fiverr by starting a legal process against them to get to you. 

Again, I'm no legal expert! 

Most likely, the buyer will understand that you feel confident enough to bring the matter to court and drop the matter then and there. If he doesn't, you have a prepared attorney, and if/when it ends up in court, take it with a smile when he has to pay the court costs. 

If your local laws allow it, claim compensation for lost time at work and all the stress this has caused you. Document everything so you can demonstrate any negative consequences his behavior has had. 

In my experience, 95% of clients who say they will take "legal action" will disappear when I refer them to my attorney and go about my day. 

If you're (un)lucky and he decides to take matters to court, and you know you're right, you could put him in his place in front of a judge or mediator. 

Worst case scenario? You end up losing even more time, some money, and your pride. But it most likely won't come to that if you're in the right here, and I'm guessing you are, based on your OP. 

Best of luck! 

 

 

 

Edited by smashradio
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45 minutes ago, smashradio said:

First, I'm sorry to hear about your experience with this buyer. While I can't speak to the truth of any claims made by them (or you), I will consider that you're in the right for the sake of this argument.

Also, I need to point out that I'm no legal expert, photo expert, filter expert, or expert of any kind relevant to your issue beyond having some experience with horrible clients over the years myself.  

If the buyer threatens legal action, and you're sure it wouldn't stand up in court, I suggest you contact your attorney. Send all documentation, including the initial order conversation, current inbox conversation, preset files, and examples that support your claim (such as using the two filters on the same image to demonstrate differences, for example – I guess you'd know what works best in this case). 

Inform your buyer that he's more than welcome to bring the matter to the courts, in which case his attorney may contact yours. Since you're not allowed to share contact information here on Fiverr, confirm with Customer support first to avoid violating any terms! Explain to them that the buyer is considering taking legal action, and you want to respond with a counter-claim. Ask how you can share the contact information with your attorney, etc. 

Alternatively, they would have to go through Fiverr by starting a legal process against them to get to you. 

Again, I'm no legal expert! 

Most likely, the buyer will understand that you feel confident enough to bring the matter to court and drop the matter then and there. If he doesn't, you have a prepared attorney, and if/when it ends up in court, take it with a smile when he has to pay the court costs. 

If your local laws allow it, claim compensation for lost time at work and all the stress this has caused you. Document everything so you can demonstrate any negative consequences his behavior has had. 

In my experience, 95% of clients who say they will take "legal action" will disappear when I refer them to my attorney and go about my day. 

If you're (un)lucky and he decides to take matters to court, and you know you're right, you could put him in his place in front of a judge or mediator. 

Worst case scenario? You end up losing even more time, some money, and your pride. But it most likely won't come to that if you're in the right here, and I'm guessing you are, based on your OP. 

Best of luck!

Thank you for your response it was super helpful. I will reach out to support and ask about sharing attorney information! He keeps mentioning that he doesn't want to take it to court and keeps lowering the amount he wants a refund on so i'm hoping that he's starting to back off now he's realised i'm not giving in to his accusations and giving him a refund for no reason.

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2 minutes ago, sophiepearce said:

Thank you for your response it was super helpful. I will reach out to support and ask about sharing attorney information! He keeps mentioning that he doesn't want to take it to court and keeps lowering the amount he wants a refund on so i'm hoping that he's starting to back off now he's realised i'm not giving in to his accusations and giving him a refund for no reason.

He's probably just one of those entitled people thinking he can push you around. Explain in a professional yet firm manner that, no, you don't offer refunds, nor partial refunds, because you can't take back the finished product (it's digital and customized) and that he is free to take matters to court if he so desires. 

Good on you for standing up for yourself! I hate bullies. 

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By the way, the following from the payment terms on Fiverr is very relevant in this case: 

"Completed orders (or, where applicable, completed milestones) may be canceled, upon review of our Customer Support team, up to 14 days after the order (or Milestone) is marked as complete. Please be advised that orders cannot be partially canceled (i.e. we can only cancel the entire order when it is justified)."

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3 minutes ago, smashradio said:

By the way, the following from the payment terms on Fiverr is very relevant in this case: 

"Completed orders (or, where applicable, completed milestones) may be canceled, upon review of our Customer Support team, up to 14 days after the order (or Milestone) is marked as complete. Please be advised that orders cannot be partially canceled (i.e. we can only cancel the entire order when it is justified)."

Thank you for posting this. He already told me that he contacted Fiverr first asking for a refund but they said no because it had been long past 14 days. That's why Fiverr support asked me to come to an agreement with him over the order (although i'm not really sure what agreement they expected to come of this!) I don't think Fiverr will give him a refund either way at this point.

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7 minutes ago, sophiepearce said:

Thank you for posting this. He already told me that he contacted Fiverr first asking for a refund but they said no because it had been long past 14 days. That's why Fiverr support asked me to come to an agreement with him over the order (although i'm not really sure what agreement they expected to come of this!) I don't think Fiverr will give him a refund either way at this point.

Most likely not, and if he can't prove that your work was less than described to Fiverr, he will probably realize that he can't prove it in court, either. But, I have heard of sellers getting their orders canceled by support months and even years after it was completed. Again, I can only take your word for it when it comes to what you delivered, but going by that, he probably won't get far with any claims to Fiverr. 

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1 minute ago, sophiepearce said:

Unfortunately, customer support are now suggesting I give the buyer a partial refund as the buyer asked for 45% back which would be over $250 in lost funds. Can I refuse this?

It's your call, but I would not do that. I was once suggested (on buyer's request) something similar by CS, and I declined the buyer's offer.

Edited by rahulkajla1
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2 minutes ago, sophiepearce said:

Unfortunately, customer support are now suggesting I give the buyer a partial refund as the buyer asked for 45% back which would be over $250 in lost funds. Can I refuse this? I don't even begin to understand how this is fair. 

I would say no. Make it clear that you did the work as described, and because of it, the buyer can't get a refund, not even a partial one. They might force the matter, but if you stand your ground, you can make it clear to the buyer that you will be the one taking legal action. I know I would. Unfortunately, this might be one of those cases where support is focusing on stopping the buyer from leaving the platform because of their "bad experience", and they might side with the buyer. But that doesn't stop you from taking them to court, if you know who they are. It could be more difficult if you don't, but I'd stand my ground no matter what. Giving him a partial refund is like saying you did something wrong, and you'll have no recourse. 

Edited by smashradio
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