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Getting out of a bad gig


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Recently I came close to a bad buyer experience, but I managed to weasel out of it with only a cancellation. Here’s what happened:

The buyer approached me with a large project, asking for a custom offer. I sent samples as requested. I worked up an estimate and sent him one. Then I sent more samples after another request. I created a milestone table as he asked. He accepted the offer … and then announced a tighter deadline than he had agreed to, and also two more needs.

Well, screw that. It wasn’t likely to get better, and would probably keep getting worse. I explained that I could not do the project as he desired as quickly as he desired, and requested that we cancel. He actually declined to cancel, and I became a little concerned. Was this guy going to ream me for not meeting constantly shifting requirements overnight? Would I end up putting in ten times the work just to avoid a vicious rating and review?

So I had a li’l notion – I did part of the first stage of the project, but not very well. I sent it to him as a file (not as a delivery, of course), while mentioning again that I didn’t think I could do the work to his standards in the time he had available. While looking at my crap 🙂 , he agreed to cancel, and my second request was accepted.

There is always the question of why people do this. In this case, I suppose he just wanted deeply discounted work by getting me on the hook and then announcing more and larger requirements. Since he did in fact want the work, he lost interest when he believed my work would be crappy.

This feels a little sleazy somehow, but I’m not sure why. I did try to cancel with only the truth, and he wouldn’t allow it. I guess I could have just allowed the mess to blow up and then gone to CS, but isn’t this tidier? It hurts my numbers a little, but only a little, and it’s a lot less aggravation than a gig gone badly wrong would be.

What do the rest of you think? Assuming that a seller does this only once in a blue moon and only to someone who won’t agree to cancel, is this a reasonable approach to back out of a contract with a buyer who seems like trouble?

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I’m not a big fan of making elaborated scenarios, because you never know how they might backfire. So, in that respect, I would tell the buyer the truth: “I really can’t meet your deadline and I don’t want for your business to suffer. Please contact someone else who would happily work for you.”

If the refuse, I would insist. And insist. And insist.

Now, if I could do the project and he keeps changing the info, then I would say, “oh, you need these extra things? Then that’s a $$ charge.” One thing I learned a long time ago from face-to-face clients was to number the options/changes I’m sending. Once they start seeing we’re on option #18, you have more legroom to say, “we’re getting into ridiculous land if you don’t make up your mind soon”.

I have had clients who wanted my second option but bought the first cheaper option expecting me to deliver more. I tell them up front what they bought, what they will get, and how to go around getting what they need by buying extras, in case they still want more things than what the basic gig includes. So far, no problems here.

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I see your point in general, but it’s harder when you’re already on the hook. I suppose the “insist and insist” approach there is to do the original agreement but not one bit more, while also repeatedly pointing out that he is free to cancel. That seems like a recipe for a bad rating/review, though, and then I have to go dorking around with CS to get it removed.

It’s a more straightforward approach, so might be safer even though it’s more trouble. I think I just didn’t have the energy. I felt a little weird about it, though, which is why I posted about it in the first place.

You haven’t done that many Fiverr gigs yet, so you may run into trickier situations later. Stay strong. 🙂

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Well, if a buyer asks for something never discussed before, you can always contact the Customer Support.

Something similar happened to me! A buyer came out of nowhere and placed an order (mind my gig description says upfront: Contact me first!) So I sent an invoice (or request) asking the buyer to pay extra as well as contacted the Customer Support. Guess what? They cancelled the order themselves and it didn’t even appear on my stats (it still doesn’t).

I guess you could save a lot of precious time. Even a worst delivery takes a bit of it, right? Leave aside the risk of getting a bad review!

Jolly good,


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