This is going to be a rant. But it ends with a lesson so stick with me.
I received a message a week or so ago from a potential client asking if I’d be interested in a medium sized project. It was for my naming gig. They said they tried another seller before me but that what they received wasn’t good. I do get this types of messages from time to time. There’s a bunch of people offering their naming services without knowing a thing about brainstorming names so I thought it’s possible. I didn’t ask who the other seller was.
We chatted a bit. They even asked what happens if they don’t like the names I give them. I explained that it doesn’t matter if they like the names or not, that what matters is wheater their potential clients like it or not. I also explained that all my orders come with one round of revisions because it’s hard to always get it right on the first go. They said they agree with this and that they accept my terms. The literally wrote: “Yes, I competently agree with you. I accept your terms, send me a custom offer here. Thanks.”
Anyway, we agree on the price and I start working on my order. They were very responsive, answered all my questions and seemed like an ok client. I delivered on time like I always do. I asked them to give my names a day or two as our perception of names changes over time. Within an hour or so they messaged me that the outcome of my work doesn’t reach their expectations and asked for a refund.
I found this strange. I do get a client from time to time that isn’t in love with what I deliver. But, they usually ask for a revision, which I always do. I deliver my work in a way that shows how I did it and why I did. This is usually enough for people to want me to do another round, even if they aren’t impressed with the first draft because they see my thought patterns and reasoning behind my decisions.
But here it was, no, don’t like it, give me my money back.
I declined the refund and wrote a calming message where I explained that I did the work we agreed on and that “I’m only willing to offer a refund if there’s something wrong (objectively) with what I delivered.” (direct quote from our conversation)
The next thing I saw was an angry 1-star rating. I understand that this happens and I wasn’t really all that mad about it. I did try to get it removed by CS since I believe the review breaks the TOS but they said no. What can you do? This is my first 1-star rating and I’ve had over 2,000 orders. I knew I’ll get one eventually.
I was sure this is where the story ends.
Boy was I wrong.
I got an email yesterday in which The Fiverr Team informed me that the client canceled their order and that the funds were taken from my account. I was shocked because I didn’t know clients can cancel orders on their own.
I contacted CS asking them what happened and why. They explained that the client pushed for a cashback with their payment vendor. Exactly what I figured happened. Again, what can you do? I knew I had no chance of getting the funds back so I didn’t even ask CS for this.
What I did ask was wheater they’ll delete the 1-star rating the client left. I figured, that if they canceled the order they shouldn’t even be allowed to leave a review.
I guess I was wrong again.
I received the all familiar canned response stating that “Due to our Feedback Policy, cancelling an order for any reason does not remove the feedback on the order. As you know, when a buyer leaves feedback, they are not just rating your delivery, they are rating their experience with you as a seller. We take our buyer’s opinions and experiences very seriously.”
I was like, REALLY? Can someone explain the logic behind this? This makes no sense to me. The order was canceled, it’s only natural that the review gets taken down. Or am I the madman here who doesn’t understand how things work?
I really don’t mind the cancellation request. I don’t mind the 1-star rating. I understand that these things happen to freelancers. You take them as they are.
But I’ve never heard of someone leaving a review for something they didn’t even pay for.
But, the story doesn’t end there. Oh no
I remembered that my client said they ordered the same thing from another seller. And that they weren’t happy with the delivery. See paragraph 2 if you forgot. I figured if they didn’t like the delivery there’s a good chance they left a negative review on the order like they did on mine. So I transformed into Sherlock. I googled “client’s username” + site:fiverr.com . This is a neat trick that should return all reviews the client left on Fiverr. But Google found nothing.
I wasn’t going to give up just yet
So I searched for the exact review they left to see if this shows up in Google. What I found was an almost identical review that someone left on another seller’s account, in the same category, posted a week before mine was posted. And the most curious thing was that the reviews weren’t left by the same account.
The other seller in questions is @jonbaas . I know he’s active on the forum and I hope he sees this.
Here’s the review I received from my client. Let’s call them CLIENT-1: “I don’t think he deserved the money. For me, it was a poor work. I paid $45, I was expecting something good but I did not receive it at all. I won’t be using any of them. The seller refused to refund. Communicating was okay. I highly REGRET my decision! Not worth it.”
And here’s the review jonbaas got from CLIENT-2: “I don’t think he deserved the money. For me, it was a poor work. I paid $50, I was expecting something good but I did not receive it at all. I won’t be using any of them. He sent me foreign names, and those are very hard to pronounce. Not worth it.”
These are almost identical. Something smells fishy here.
I informed CS about this.
Here’s my concern - is it possible that someone is making dummy accounts, buying gigs in the same category, leaving negative reviews and then filling for a cashback with the payment processor? Could it be that someone is trying to get rid of the competition?
This might be far-fetched, but something doesn’t feel right here.
What worries me is that we, sellers, are left with no defensive mechanism here. What’s stopping someone from making 10 dummy account, leaving 10 negative reviews and then getting their money back from Paypal. The reviews are apparently there to stay. I can see a bad person doing a lot of damage if they decide so.
I hope jonbaas can share if his order was canceled also. We might get to the bottom of this.
Thanks to everyone who decided to read the whole thing through. I want you to be aware of these things and to do whatever you can to protect yourself.
Keep on standing tall doers