Submitted Date 02/26/2020

What to do when you receive a bad review


An equally important title would be, "What not to do when you receive a bad review".


There comes a time in life when no matter how hard you try, or what kind of person you are, you make a mistake, or you do something that invites in a bad review. I have been watching "I am a Killer" recently. For those of you who have not seen it, the show dissects cases of people who have received a sentence of life in prison. First, you hear the side of the person who committed the crime. Then, you hear sides from the victim, prosecutor, or a person who feels the prisoner got the sentence they deserve. Some of the cases are cut and dry. The person did something bad and they received a sentencing that fit the crime. Some cases are not so cut and dry. For a person that endured years of abuse or are under some sort of mitigating circumstances, there is a grey area.


Often the prisoner will delve into the unfairness of it all based on their past. But then, no matter how true the abuse was they endured, or the circumstances surrounding the case, there will be someone in opposition (often the prosecutor) that swears they know the truth. The truth in their eyes is that the person did something in cold blood. It wouldn't have mattered what the circumstances were. This person is evil and deserves to be locked up. It is interesting how individuals, no matter what side they are on claim to know the absolute truth. The justice system was set up to understand a situation to the best of our ability. People (often a jury in these cases) make a judgement based on that.Obtaining absolute truth is not the goal. Yet, these people are convinced to a level where they believe they know the truth. The way these prosecutors described the truth they saw was in words such as "evil", "in cold blood", etc. "They had it out for them".


Life is messy, emotional, and often goes against the truth.


How can people claim they know the truth of a situation with so little information? In these cases they are presented with the person's worse side first. Then, maybe they study a person for a year or so. With this information they base judgement that assumes they know the defendant innately.


I have known people my whole life and have been surprised by their actions.


Of course, it is all about winning in the end. Prosecutors want to prosecute. Defendants want to be defended. The system is set up to win or lose. There is no in between. Everybody wants to progress, and if you are doing it in the name of your job, the name of your role, then it may seem ok to do whatever it is, no matter what the consequence. Including imposing judgements on people when you have not walked in their shoes. People star in a show where they play the role of God.


There are so many places to go online today where people make claims not knowing enough information. This is done openly through social media outlets and is accepted by a community that enables them to continue whatever claim it is. It's easier than ever to say bad things about people. It takes no time to type out a horrible text, tweet, or email. But once you hit that send button, there is no going back. My rule of thumb is, if I cannot say something to someone's face, then I should not say it at all.


I know and understand the implications of words and how they can harm individuals. I used to write things out, but then I realized I wouldn't say the same things in writing that I would to a person's face. Face to face communication can diffuse a situation. It forces understanding. Because at the end of the day most people would prefer to avoid conflict in person. Most people prefer to fix a situation and have compassion and understanding.


I have never been to prison. But I have received bad reviews. Recently I received a bad review that inspired me to write this. It is a ghost haunting me, and will haunt me for some time to come. The kind of ghost that appears in the middle of night and won't leave you alone. It nags you, saying, "You could have done xyz better, and now you are screwed." It's that self critical voice that clings on for life.


I won't go into my whole life story, but I will try and sketch the picture enough that you can decide whether you want to prosecute or defend me. Or perhaps you will remain in the grey areas of the story where you do not know enough information to make a choice.


I joined Upwork recently to make extra money. Long story short, I took a huge pay cut to help build my brother's company (we work in Wind Energy). In order to be able to afford simple things (like a toilet, I live off grid currently with no water or bathroom) I needed to compensate for my income. I was in a situation where I blew through my savings by taking a less paying job.


This is nobody's fault but my own. I took a risk, realizing that it would be tough. But I thought it would be worth it to be able to do something meaningful. To earn extra cash, I took on a few jobs at Upwork. Initially, it was great. I took jobs that I liked. I wrote about music and have contributed writing on various websites. I took a job where I summarized books. It sounded perfect to me because I read a lot anyway. This was the job that ended up having a bad review.


Most jobs on Upwork, especially for people starting off are underpaid. I assume it is this way because there's enough people that will take the jobs, but I don't think it is ethical. This was one of those jobs that was a lot of work for little pay. For example, it took me about 15 hours to finish one book of about 300 pages. My rate is $30 an hour, a rate I think is fair given my experience with writing. That would be $450.00. On Upwork I received $80 for 15 hours of work. I took the job mainly for a good review. I summarized four books, one of which was over 1,000 pages long. The first three I hit every deadline and communicated when I thought I wasn't going to make it. I did end up making every deadline despite sometimes not being sure I would. I communicated this as well.


There was a chain email with all the people in the project. People were consistently dropping out of the project at the last minute. The client was desperate to get things done and I came through.

My first three books were high quality summaries, under tight deadlines, and I got scores of 8/10 from whoever did the editing.



This whole job was kind of a scam to begin with. They are summarizing popular books and making them into audiobooks and selling them on Amazon. They are capitalizing off other people's words. It was a lot of work. All I did was write in my spare time during the job. I didn't take any more books after the 1,000 page book. It was right before the holidays and I was tired. I asked the client if it would be possible to get more money after finishing the 1,000 page book. They said they would definitely try to meet my needs going forward. But in the end they did not meet my needs as you can see from this communication.

After the first three books I did not get a review from the client. This is because I had planned to do more work after the New Year. Now a side note, this year I didn't really have a holiday. I had a work retreat over the holidays. I was starting to feel really burnt out. After the holidays I reached out and received a small assignment. The book was only 140 pages. Now, this is where things started to go downhill. The things I did poorly with this:

1.) I did not look at the contract to see that the deadline was shorter than the previous deadlines. I assumed it was the same. I was wrong.

2.) Because I thought the deadline was the same, I missed a bunch of communication asking me where the deliverable was. I didn't see the communication until I turned in the deliverable, and it was a few days late by that time.

As you can see, I apologized profusely. I even said that I would forgo being paid for the mistake. I asked what I could do to rectify the situation, I really did not want a bad review. Especially after all the hard work I had done. As I am fairly new to Upwork, I knew that the bad review could harm me getting further work as well. The client assured me that it was ok, just to pay attention in the future to the contract. I thanked the person. Flash forward a few days; I was going on vacation that week. The first one I had in over a year. It was the day before I left, and I got an email that my summary did not meet the word requirement of 4,000 count.


I was asked if I wanted to fill it out so I would receive the full pay. I replied and said no. I would take the lower pay. I did this for two reasons:


1.) The book was very short, I had summarized it to the best of my ability. To summarize any more would have been redundant and plagiarism.

2.) I was leaving town the next day and I was at a point where I was completely burnt out from work. My job is challenging in itself, so side work takes a lot out of me. I didn't want to do it, and I was happy to take lower pay.

That was the end of the communication between the client and I. They didn't say that they were in a bind or it would ruin the final product. They made it about pay, and for me, it wasn't worth it for the pay. I received a quarter of the pay that I was offered. That was disappointing as well. I wish I could post the summary on here so people could see what I was talking about. I went on my vacation and felt extremely refreshed after.


When I got back I was catching up with other activities in life I hadn't been able to do while writing. Then I was ready to start looking for jobs on Upwork again. I saw that the client had left me a horrible review. Essentially, they didn't take into account the earlier work I had completed and just reviewed my last job. It completely tanked my rating on Upwork. I will now have a very difficult time landing a job. I reached out to them writing an email asking why they hadn't taken into account the whole job, and just that one, and received no response.


This is a common thing. When people are called out for their behavior, often you are met with silence. Whether it be metaphorical or real, it is the common response. Looking back, I was thinking I should have tried calling him. That didn't occur to me until now, but I think even a phone call can diffuse things versus an email. It puts people on the spot, but it also can help simmer the emotions that may have overtaken your logic.


What is your verdict for this case? Is it cut and dry? Did I deserve my punishment? Making a judgement is difficult in this case. You didn't get to hear the other side of the story. You really don't know enough about me in general. You can't say for certain I'm not a lazy slob at work. You can also not determine the character of the client. But did you form a judgement in your mind? Were you certain that judgement was true for even a second? How did you feel when you made that judgement?


I am guilty of making judgments myself with not knowing or understanding the whole picture. And perhaps that is the lesson for me, to be more understanding. Everyone, including the person judging me, has a past that they come from. It has been tough since the bad review. I have not received a single response for bids I put out there. I can't be sure it's from the bad review, but I know it certainly won't help. All I can do is keep going forward and try.


The great thing in life is that nothing is set in stone. Although I may have made mistakes, I have an opportunity to make up for them going forward. I cannot control someone else's behavior, but I can control my own. I learned a lot from the experience and I hope you can learn something as well.


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