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Dealing With An Unhappy Client Who Wants A Refund

This is a familiar story in the freelance world. Freelancer receives payment, completes and delivers work, client asks for refund. Sometimes client relationships or projects just don't go to plan. The question is, how do you handle clients who want a refund?


I'm an experienced designer freelancing part-time. My client has been causing me stress. I've already put more hours into the logo redesign than agreed yet I've stuck to their low budget. The final version has been delivered, but they're wanting a refund because they're unhappy with the design. I just want to be done with it.

This designer isn't a With Jack customer, nor do they have insurance. But their experience of an an unhappy client wanting a refund isn't uncommon.

Every freelancer—whether full-time or part-time—will at some point experience a project that doesn't go to plan or a client that isn't easy to work with.

There were some red flags in the above project;

  • Low budget
  • Endless revisions or scope creep without payment
  • No contract

Even with well-paid projects and a watertight contract, some client relationships just don't work.

The question is, how do you handle clients who want a refund?

Have the confidence to say no

This is one of the benefits of being insured. Insurance acts as a buffer and gives you the confidence to say, “I’m sorry you're not happy, but I delivered the work that was agreed”.

If the client pursues further action, your insurer would step in to offer legal assistance and cover the costs. You can have client confrontations without suffering the financial consequences.

Don't offer extras or added frills

It's tempting to throw in a 'freebie' if a client is asking for a refund.

"I'm sorry you're not happy with the photoshoot. How about I take some extra shots?"

"I'm sorry you're not happy with the logo. How about I throw in some business cards?"

Don't do this. This puts you in a vulnerable position as offering extras implies you feel you didn't deliver the work that was originally agreed. This gives your client ammunition to continue demanding a refund or to pursue things further.

It can also render your insurance void because the insurer may see this as you admitting liability.

Have the scope of work written, agreed and signed

Contracts are just as important as insurance. Their job is to lay the foundations of what duties are to be expected of both parties.

A good contract means you can prove you've satisfied all conditions. You can refer to the signed contract to show you completed the work to spec and within the agreed timeframe. The client therefore has no basis to request a refund.

How do you handle clients who want a refund?

  1. Get insured so you can confidently say no
  2. Avoid the urge to offer extras
  3. Have a contract as proof you've satisfied all conditions

We asked ourselves one important question…

What do we want out of an insurance provider?

With Jack is the answer