Fiverr Forum

What to do when: Buyer Threatens to Kill (and ****** ) You

Dear colleagues,

Those of you who know me, will know that I really despise complaining. I’ll actually be the first one to jump and mock complainers expressing my sentiment that one should use the challenging situation to grow, improve and adapt, instead of complaining.

So I won’t complain.

Instead, I’ll do my best to provide true value to you. Like I always do.

Many times I’ve come across fellow Sellers complaining how buyers mistreat them, try blackmailing them, coercing them into doing free additional work, straight out tricking them and similar. We all know what do to in those situations.

As someone selling on Fiverr for 5+ years I’ve learned the importance of the old folk saying “it takes all sorts (to make a world),” and adapted my career on Fiverr according to it.

I’ve had my fair share of abusers, insulters, unreasonable people, and similar.

I’ve never so far had someone threaten to kill me, try verbally sexually abusing and racially discriminating me so far.

It took 5 years of full time work on Fiverr, several thousands of orders and the same amount of different people I’ve worked with to come across someone that really, truly upset me and stressed me to the point of finding it challenging to work.

Let me tell you my story, and see if you can learn/get insight from it…

I’ve had a buyer send me a vague “need an article for my vape product” message, then order, give no additional instructions but agree that all are delivered and tell me he expects a delivery within 24h.

No big deal. Got used to it. You have to if you work on Fiverr.

I do my best to work with what I have I’ve delivered the best I could with the information I’ve received.

This is where things take a turn for the worse…

First off, I get a strange vibe from a buyer that is insistent that he can’t provide me with the needed, real information for a revision because we need to “talk on the phone” and “do a teamviewer to show me each (instruction I guess)”.

A Buyer attempting to breach the ToS because they can’t be sanctioned and don’t care? No problems, got used to it.

Always handle it the same way: reasonably, professionally, politely and kindly explain to them that you’re unable to do it in order to respect the ToS.

I’m fired? Well, technically I’m not an employee of the buyer so I can’t be fired but if roleplaying a Boss is what fancies buyer’s imagination - who are you to complain? Customer support shells out warnings, demotions, infractions and urges to “always act professionally and politely” at any argument (no matter how professional, polite and rightful) with the Buyer.

It’s them financing Fiverr and putting food on both theirs, the CEOs, and Seller’s tables.

I get it. Diplomacy. Capitalism. Buyer is always right. Adapt and overcome (less fancy: shut up and put up) else you’re being replaced. As quick as 1, 2, 3.

This is exactly why I answer highly professionally and politely.

Guess who’s message is being reviewed? Mine of course (sellers)!

You should always be kept in a state of fear. Always treading carefully, knowing that the one wrong move can take bread off your table. Did the buyer get sanctioned for breaching the ToS? Warned even? Of course not.

“I see I’m not right about this cancelling thing as he has done everything requested upon with what he had… But I’m too laze to send the instruction. Let’s try a different threatening and blackmailing approach” ~ Buyer’s train of thought

I better cancel this order else the order is getting disputed. Who cares, right? No one will get sanctioned or anything. Even if they do, they’ll just create a new account and go on a happy buying trip again…

So what happens next?

"■■■■ it, this guy knows too much about the ToS. Threats with direct cancellation don’t work. Let’s do a different threatening approach again… ~ Buyer’s train of thought

So, we went ahead to blackmails stipulated in “give me your work for free else I’m harming your reputation, making your life a living hell and lying about you while changing my mind and disputing directly with Fiverr. Oh, and laugh about it in the process…”

Well, “you’re on Fiverr, son” I’m thinking to myself. "Not on Wall Street, “not in Sillicon Valley,” “not an important CEO of a Fortune 500 company”. Human and work rights work differently for you, as you’ve learned.

Fiverr won’t do a thing. “Improve your communication with the buyer”. Learn to adapt and play the game else you’re getting fired. For real. What’s taking a bit of written abuse, having someone constantly breach the ToS and be the one reviewed and inspected for it?

I answer like always. Professionally and politely. It’s how I was taught.

So the buyer decides that going down the “let’s try to blackmail this person into giving me work for free” route to direct insults.

Well… The buyer goes on to decide that going back to direct dispute (forget the Fiverr one, CS seen what’s going on, at least this must be handed to them) is the best route.

Of course they don’t care. There’s no sanctions for Buyers. No matter how hard they breach the ToS.

Since they can’t be sanctioned, why not amp up the abuse?

Please note that ALL of the previous messages that breach the ToS have been reported to the CS at this point and they haven’t even issued the buyer a warning, let alone sanction him coming from the way he kept behaving.

Despite the angst, frustration and bitterness I’m feeling knowing that I have to put up with all this, remaining fully professional, protecting my work and the 50 minutes I’ve invested in writing this copy with the vague information presented to me and agreed that they’re all I need to do the work, I still keep my composure and professionalism.

It’s how you stay afloat in this game.

Yet the buyer says something very important outlining why he doesn’t care about his behavior. “I can do it” sums it up quite well.

Well, if a sick and demented mind feels “they can do it” and “get away with it”, they’ll amplify their behavior, as history taught us.

This is where we get to death threats, verbal ■■■■■■ abuse and racial discrimination…

I’m feeling so bitter and angry writing this. I’ve always been professional, delivered the best I possibly could, worked when being ill, adhered to the rules and enjoyed great cooperation with thousands of great buyers.

The problem that troubles me is not that there are psychopaths who will threaten your life unless you give them your work for free. Not that they are demented minds around.

It’s that the system is created in a way that facilitates and supports their behavior by not sanctioning it.

ALL of the previous abusive and messages breaching the ToS were reported.

None were acted upon.

Now I’m finding myself having my life threatened, insulted on the basis of what I’m most proud in my life (my nationality) and abused for not wanting to work for free, accept blackmail and give in to the harassment.

While Fiverr is still doing nothing to prevent this or protect me as their Seller.

But I’m not the one to let threats at my life, racial discrimination and verbal ■■■■■■ abuse go like that.

I have filed a police report with my local police station and contacted a law firm in the designated country buyer’s from to file a report on my behalf.

I will take this to court. As far as I can.

“Customer is always right” is fine by me. But you don’t cross certain lines. When my life is being threatened and most basic human rights are endangered while the workplace I work on is giving support to it with its silence, I will do the standing up for myself, and Sellers in similar situations, myself.

You’ll all get to see the epilogue of this. I’ll update you.

My message so far to all those Sellers experiencing lighter or even more dangerous version of harassment of Fiverr: I want to tell you that you’re not alone and that there is no money, policy, organization, Terms of Service, or individual in the world that can take your dignity away from you, unless you give it away willingly.

I’m not giving mine. Promise.

I’ve experienced hundreds of similar cases like this throughout my years here, always being afraid that it’ll be ME getting sanctioned if I stand up for myself. But this is where I draw the line.

Thank you for reading and sorry if I came across incoherent at times… I’m highly upset. Much more than I like to show.

Will keep you updated.

Mod Note: Title edited, screenshot removed, Please blur/hide inappropriate words.

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I’ve had a reappearing person messaging me after placing orders three years ago and by attempting to explain in various ways what is going on, I said something that was taken wrong. Lesson learned: it is best to stop all communication completely.

If you continue to communicate with someone who is making you upset you put yourself at risk of saying something that will be taken wrong and snowball.

You are the one who gets hurt when you try to keep talking to someone who is not stable and harassing you. Go NO CONTACT and keep on going no contact.

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I am sorry this happened to you and I am glad you are pursuing legal measures.

Still, I recommend that in the future you block any lunatic after the first sign of bad behavior after you delivered what you was paid to. I mean, after the first sign of coocoo. Seriously, there’s no point in keep talking with a person that is clearly not worth your time. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’m unable to stop talking to them unfortunately, as after my initial first report (regarding attempt to communicate outside of Fiverr) the Fiverr has removed the “report” & “spam” buttons.

I can’t block the person from messaging me. The messages keep coming.

I’m sorry, wouldn’t like to sound argumentative, but: the person is far from making me upset. Spilling a bit of coffee on me when waiting in line makes me upset.

Threatening my life, saying you’ll kill me, verbally harassing me for days and insulting me on the basis of my nationality are things that not acting on is risky.

Regarding your advice [quote=“misscrystal, post:2, topic:316571”]
put yourself at risk of saying something that will be taken wrong and snowball.
[/quote], thank you but it’s impossible as I have full control of myself, my words and emotions. As opposed to the abusive buyer.

Unfortunately, considering that I have an open order with this person and that the Fiverr is not giving me the “block” or “report” option, and advising to “keep communicating towards resolution of the issue”, I’m practically forced to keep the communication going in order to protect myself (my response rating, my work and my rights).

Unfortunately sometimes ignoring simply won’t cut it. Discrimination based on nationality, threats at my life and se**l verbal abuse fall far from the “simply ignore” list.

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I am telling you again to not engage at all with this person or they won’t be affected or stopped but it is a risk only you are taking.

I said something perfectly honest. Something perfectly reasonable. And it was taken wrong.

In your case I might consider cancelling it. I do understand your position since you have an open order.

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Thank you, I know you mean well.

My initial responses to them were educational, as they breached the ToS but showed no sign of abusive language. Couldn’t guess it’ll turn to life threats and similar.

At this moment I have of course, ceased all communication and filed a police report. So, I do understand what you’re saying and have heeded that course of action.

Just hoping Fiverr will act and, if not sanction the Buyer, at least prevent them from contacting me…

Thanks for taking the time to respond!

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There is a number of aspects that need to be clarified, legally - we could assume that it could be considered a case of intimidation as civil offense in the U.S. - among these aspects there is the problem of the personal identification of the offender and the role of Fiverr in the matter.

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He’s not going to act on his threat as people who do this are not actually serious. But I would get away from someone who threatened my life and report him to customer service.

I didn’t lose control of myself either when I said the thing that was understood to be something other than what I meant. I was simply explaining something to them.

Things can get twisted around or be made to sound like what they are not when you are dealing with unstable menacing people. The most innocent thing can be made to seem like it’s something bad.

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Thank you for responding.

I fully understand where you’re coming from and usually I take the same approach.

However, I’ve had numerous cases when I’ve delivered everything and even had the order rated with a positive review, only to find it cancelled by the Customer Support because the buyer has complained to the CS that “Seller is not responding”.

The CS said I “wasn’t communicating with the buyer” so they cancelled the order. Thus harming my rating and making me lose time and money, as I’ve delivered the order as agreed upon.

Since then, I do my best to respond to every inquiry professionally and politely in order to ensure I don’t have my order cancelled (despite doing the work as agreed upon) simply because I was “unresponsive”.

It’s a bit of a “it’s damned if you too and damned if you don’t” kind of situation, it seems.

But what you suggest is the course of action I would definitely prefer taking. If it wasn’t sanctionable by losing money!

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I was trying to be helpful by explaining to a menacing person how fiverr works. And that was taken as me being bad. You really have to not communicate much at all and yet be responsive.

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I am very impressed! I’ve been waiting years for someone to do this and it does need to happen. If you send an abusive FB message in the UK, you have the police at you door faster than if there’s been a double murder.

Sadly, people who work online are told to just suck it up when communications turn hostile. Worse, as you point out, when buyers are abusive, it is often seller messages which get flagged. This makes the experience so much worse.

As far as I am concerned, an experience like yours is tantamount to an assault. The sooner more people start standing up against this kind of vile behavior, the sooner word will get out that freelancers are real people too.

It is different around the world. However, in the UK and Europe, this buyers messages would be seen as malicious communications and these can result in cautions and criminal charges issued against the person making them. I have a friend who managed to get someone cautioned for sending far less inappropriate messages.

As far as I am aware, the role of Fiverr would simply amount to one where they hand over any information to law enforcement (after a warrant is issued) which can be used to identify the buyer in question. (Or seller if it was a seller acting this way.) Social media platforms are issued with warrants like this every day and it is all perfectly legal.

Identifiable information can also amount to just an IP and it is surprisingly easy to find a user’s real location using an IP alone.

Of course, @richardbloch is based in Serbia and I am not familiar with how a case like this would be dealt with there.

I’m really sorry this happened to you @richardbloch. I also feel a little guilty, as I had a deranged vape person message me a few days ago who I had to pull the breaks on fast and tell them I couldn’t help. Of course, it might not be the same person and I didn’t recommend you or anyone else to them.

I fully commend your course of action. All I will suggest is that in the future, you consider simply not responding or if you have to, just respond with the same "This matter has been forwarded to Fiverr CS, please contact them directly to discuss your order."

Either way, well done for standing up for yourself!

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I’m trying to imagine what might have triggered a death threat. I’ve never informed anyone whom I have reported …not that it’s any excuse. You just never know when someone is going to blow for no good reason.

This is exactly the issue all of us Sellers are facing.

“Keep high response rate, be extremely responsive and friendly,” let’s not forget that the buyers can rate the quality of our response to their messages (not orders only).

Haven’t answered abusive question? Seller not responding = order cancelled. Answered it politely and professionally? Arguing with a buyer = ToS warning.

We’re really trying hard here as far as I can see, all of us doing our best to stay on top of the changing policies and always respect them, but sometimes it seems like a game of “Catch 22”.

From the famous “Catch 22” novel by Joseph Heller, where you can only get an absence from war if you demand a release from service on the claim that you’re insane, only to always be denied as no one smart enough to demand to get absence from war can be labeled insane.

It’s the same with Fiverr. “We’ll sanction you if you’re cheeky enough not to respond to the Buyer’s messages, however, if you do respond to them, we MIGHT interpret ANYTHING you’re saying as an infraction and give you a warning.”

Exactly what happened to you, for trying to help and explain a buyer from ages ago! For trying to be a good seller…

Sometimes it really gets tiring being so unprotected by the platform you work on…

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This buyer wanted a refund from an order three years ago and I was aware that the person was a super “difficult” person so to avoid conflict I explained we are limited in how many refunds we can give.

Wrong thing to say apparently. Never explain how many refunds we can give. I made a big error in judgement I will admit. This person was not entitled to a refund anyway. I should have just blocked them.

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Thanks so much for the words of support @cyaxrex . You are 1000% right.

If I worked anywhere from a local McDonald to an IT firm and a client/buyer whispered to me that “you’re a peasant who should go suck a c****” and that “you should be killed” and I reported it to the police, with even lesser evidence than the blatant saved messages like in this case, they’d have him in cuffs faster than one could say “cookie”.

On Fiverr, I am supposed to thank the Divine if Customer Support allow me to BLOCK this person so the death threats, racial discrimination and abuse stops?

No, no and no! I won’t work full time on a platform where someone can verbally abuse me, threaten my life and insult me personally in all kinds of ways and get away with such behavior only to do it to the next seller they don’t like the next day.

Not while I have a single fight in me left!

If it was a person requesting copywriting for a “vaping” product with really short messages and slightly poor English and extremely lacking information while acting quite strange - it’s the same person.

I’m so glad you dodged that bullet and happy for you. No one should ever need to deal with this. God forbid you feeling guilty. Absolutely unnecessary! Thank you for the words of support. They mean a lot in this moment, as I’m quite upset.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

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I would have reported it to customer support and blocked them and taken it as an idle, if spectacularly offensive threat.

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Hi Richard, I’m sorry you had to go through this. This is total madness. Fiverr keeps evolving so I’m sure cases like these would be used to roll out new systems and measures.

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Thanks for answering @pacquo . That’s a highly valuable information for me as I’m unfamiliar with the U.S. law. Much appreciated.

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I wonder whether it might be best to decline gigs from customers who are vague in their requirements and you’re unable to get them to elaborate/clarify quickly (as I think this example mentioned). Whether that might help partially filter out buyers who might have higher odds of giving bad reviews or worse. Though doesn’t cancelling orders affect one’s rating? At either rate, once someone personally harasses you esp to the point of sending a message threatening to physically harm you – you shouldn’t reply with a single further word to them. Period.
As that person is obviously in a mental state that you can’t effectively play psychiatrist to help them, responding further will just make things worse – at that point ofc contact CS and more if need be.

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I am genuinely sorry to hear of your issues with this seller @richardbloch. It is so frustrating that we are not supported by CS when these type of problems come up.

I had an abusive seller who insulted my work and said it screamed that I was a seller from a country other than where I live, which to me was an insult to that country. I refused his cancelation request several times, but CS stepped in and canceled it anyhow even after I reported his abusive behavior.

In the end, CS said he would be turned over to Trust and Saftey, but his account is still active, and when I looked for him online thru his username I found out he is a pastor who gives motivational workshops. :flushed:

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