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A collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers.
Updated: 13 weeks 5 days ago

Client: Could you move the image closer to the edge by 2mm?Me: Do you mean 2 pixels? Client: No I’m...

8 January 2017 - 2:40pm

Client: Could you move the image closer to the edge by 2mm?

Me: Do you mean 2 pixels? 

Client: No I’m measuring my screen right now… The ruler says 2mm. 

Because of exacting demands, pointless revisions, and miscommunications like this, the project went well over time. Finally I billed him.

Client: So I’m looking at the bill and this is too expensive.

Me: We did go over time, yes. I logged all the time I spent on this project and I did warn you several times that the number of revisions would cost more.

Client: You were just moving things around? I don’t know how you can charge for that. Also, there were errors in the 5000 flyers we printed. I think your invoice should reflect that error.  

Me: (panicking in case there is a major issue) What is the error? I may be able to reprint with my own printing company. 

Client: The space between one of the titles and its paragraph is 1mm too high. We already printed it all and don’t see a point in wasting them so we’ll use them, but I want to see changes in the invoice to reflect this error. 


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

I’m a web developer and in this instance my client was the Reverend from a local church, who was a...

7 January 2017 - 4:20pm

I’m a web developer and in this instance my client was the Reverend from a local church, who was a lovely chap. I’d built the first draft of the website, we’d met up again and everyone was happy with it.

I came into work the following day to an email from the Rev stating how he’d liked the site, but had a few suggestions. His “suggestions” were a list of websites that he thought we might like to “skim the code from.”

This reverend obviously never got to the ten commandments section of the bible.

Client: We are a small non-profit with little budget to pay outside consultants, I was charging $300...

7 January 2017 - 2:40pm

Client: We are a small non-profit with little budget to pay outside consultants, 

I was charging $300 for five months of web update work.

Their “small nonprofit” annual revenue exceeds one million dollars.

A repeat client decided to go to another company for a project to save on costs. Being that we...

6 January 2017 - 4:20pm

A repeat client decided to go to another company for a project to save on costs. Being that we worked with her for a long time, when she requested we send one previously made file to the new company it didn’t seem like a problem.

Me: How would they like this file delivered?

Client: Just on a DVD would be fine.

I sent them an unlocked DVD, with the file.

Client: They can’t get the file off the DVD.

Me: That’s strange, can I just send them the file via Dropbox?

After getting the go ahead, I email them the file in the format they requested.

Client: They say the video is too orange.

Me: I haven’t touched it since you last saw it, but I can send it again.

They requested another format. Now, I as about to leave for the week and my client was well aware of that. I sent them the file in another format (and included another few types just as back up) and didn’t hear anything back the next day, so I assumed they figured it out. 

A week later I checked my work email to see this message from the other company:

My Competition: HELP!!! THE FILE DOES NOT WORK!!! CALL IMMEDIATELY!!!

The files were fine. They just didn’t know what they were doing. 

My client came back to me for their next project. 


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

I’m currently trying to make a name for myself as a freelance illustrator, and was approached...

6 January 2017 - 2:40pm

I’m currently trying to make a name for myself as a freelance illustrator, and was approached through Instagram about an illustration job for a novel:

Client: I’m looking for an illustrator to make eight illustrations plus a cover design for a book I’m writing! I really like your work and I think it would fit what I’m looking for!

Me: So nine complete illustrations?

Client: Correct.

Me: I charge about 60 dollars for complete illustrations (I’m still trying to build a client base so cheap prices bring people in right now), so the total for all nine illustrations would be about 550 dollars.

Client: Okay, let me put together a contract and I’ll get back to you.

Client puts together contract and emails it to me. The whole thing looks good so far. I told them in would not sign the contract until I had been paid upfront for the work. A few weeks later I get another message from the client.

Client: I know we talked about a payment of 550 dollars for the illustrations, but I found another illustrator who is willing to do them with less detail for 450. Would you still be willing to the same amount of detail for 450? I need an illustrator who is affordable and serious.

Me: I would love to help you bring your vision to life, but getting paid less for my work would go against my moral standing as an artist. I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am, and I cannot compromise what I believe my art is worth. 

Client: I know exactly what you mean. I’m working very hard on my novel and I wouldn’t cut any corners myself. 

Me: Thank you for understanding - I’m looking forward to working with you!

Client: Oh, no. I’m going with the other illustrator. It’ll save me 100 bucks!

Me: …. 


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

"We value your expertise"

5 January 2017 - 4:20pm

Client approached me for new website copy, complaining that the people who wrote their previous copy didn’t really nail the voice. I made sure to ask very specific questions about what they didn’t like and why, and wrote a brand guide for them before writing the website so I could be sure I was on the right track.

The whole torturous process has been studded with moments like this:

Me: So how would you describe the voice of your brand?

Client: It needs to be witty and urbane. Funny. But no actual jokes. 

Me: Here is your conversion-optimized website copy, with a full explanation of why I included certain pieces or phrased things a certain way. All of this is based on the research I did about your market. Please give me your feedback by adding comments instead of editing or rewriting the copy.

Client: (goes through every single page and rewrites it)

Me: We really want to keep the site copy about your visitors and what you can do for them, and less about you.

Client: Can you just replace [this piece, this piece, this piece, and that piece] with my copy, so they really know who I am?

Me: I’ve edited this piece down, as you requested, and would advise making it even shorter so it doesn’t look weird with the current site design.

Client: Put back in everything you edited out. Also, add this paragraph.

Client: Can we say “fabulously roomy” here?

Me: Yes.

During next round of edits:

Client: I’m not in love with “fabulously roomy”.

Pardon me while I drown myself in a bathtub of full of vodka.


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

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5 January 2017 - 2:40pm

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I run social media accounts for clients and one particular client had a new product launching. I...

4 January 2017 - 4:20pm

I run social media accounts for clients and one particular client had a new product launching. I asked them for material to post - urls, photos, attachments, etc - but didn’t receive anything. No problem - I put together stuff on my own. 

At midday on the day of the launch the client emailed requesting to see the remaining scheduled posts for that day. This wasn’t usually part of our working relationship but it was the big day - I sent them everything I’d planned on posting, including posts about the new product, relevant info, images, urls and relevant hashtags. 

The client edited my first post and emailed back with a note in bright red capital letters saying POST THIS —> followed by the revised tweet they edited in quotation marks, also in bright red. It couldn’t be clearer.

They had removed my hashtags, url and images and just replaced it with one long description about the product which was 140 characters. I did as they said and posted it.

One minute later I received an email:

Client: Where’s the image, url and hashtags in the tweet?

Me: You sent me a revised tweet that didn’t have room for those and said “POST THIS” in bright red letters. So I posted it. 

Client: No! You should have posted your original post! That’s what I meant by “POST THIS.” 

Me: So you sent a revised tweet, all in red, with an all caps “POST THIS,” also in red and pointing at the revised tweet to indicate that I should post an unaltered version of my original tweet? 

Client: What about this aren’t you understanding? 

This was how it went with this client. A few weeks later the company launched a new product, and again I wasn’t given any information - I was just told to draw facts from the website. 

I posted a tweet with a few facts & figures about the product when I suddenly received another angry email: 

Client: Why are you posting incorrect information?

Me: I took all my facts from the website, as instructed. What’s wrong about it? 

He sent me a link to the web page, but it had been updated with a few major changes in info. He’d clearly just changed to cover himself and blame me for the problem. 

Luckily I had taken a screenshot of the webpage the previous day with the original facts the client had incorrectly uploaded. I emailed the screenshot to his boss.

I still have the client but work with someone else at the company now.

> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

My employer just asked me to create a full brochure and flyer for a product that...

4 January 2017 - 2:40pm

My employer just asked me to create a full brochure and flyer for a product that does not yet exist.  

They want it done for tomorrow. 

"A lot of people make a big deal about ‘needing’ money in exchange for their work. Money..."

3 January 2017 - 6:57pm
“A lot of people make a big deal about ‘needing’ money in exchange for their work. Money is sorta irrelevant to me philosophically.”

- via @forexposure_txt

I was hired to do branding and a website for a non profit. After working together for over two...

3 January 2017 - 4:20pm

I was hired to do branding and a website for a non profit. After working together for over two months, the client loved everything I did and was thrilled all along the way. Unfortunately, she was a bit indecisive so it took a lot longer than expected because I kept having to make and revert changes for her. 

Me: Just to let you know, we’re getting pretty close to my hour cap for this project. I’m more than willing to do the work, but once we go over that I will have to start charging you additionally by the hour.

Client: That’s no problem! Do what you have to.

I reminded her of this several times, and let her know what kind of hours I as putting in. She gave the okay, every time.

Client: It’s incredible, thank you so much! We really love everything you’ve done and we are so excited.

She even cried at how much she loved it. 

Then I sent her the bill.

Client: Please send me the final files ASAP. Also, I’m really sorry but I am not going to be able to pay you the extra $1,000 that I owe you. 

Me: I cannot send the final files until you pay your bill.  

Client: I am not happy with the final branding and would like all my money back.  

The best part? I am a female designer and this is a non profit who’s mission is to help women who have been taken advantage of.


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

I work as a web programmer for a client who has three wordpress sites, all of which have many pages...

3 January 2017 - 2:40pm

I work as a web programmer for a client who has three wordpress sites, all of which have many pages and are very text heavy.

These are two examples of requests they often make of me:

Client: There’s a typo - “about” is misspelled.

Client: Please make the left margin bigger.

Reasonable requests, right? Except you may have noticed that they haven’t specified what site, page or section they’re referring to. I ALWAYS have to write back and ask what specifically they’re referring to, and ask them to remember to specify in the future.

They never do. Five months already and they never do. They must think I’m in the same sensate cluster than them.

I was working for an older gentleman who, when he found out I was gay, started making uncomfortable...

2 January 2017 - 4:20pm

I was working for an older gentleman who, when he found out I was gay, started making uncomfortable advances.

I was making a simple brochure for him, but he kept making small amends and demanding that we meet in person for every revision.

Me: Hi there, sorry but I can’t make this meeting too long. I have to meet MY PARTNER this afternoon.

Note the “subtle hint.”

Client: Oh not a problem, I just wanted to fit this in – no pun intended! Haha!

Me: (forcing awkward laughter) Ha ha. Well, I think you’ll be happy with these amends.

Client: Oh that looks much better, thank you! Beautiful results from a beautiful man!

Me: Thank you, that’s very kind.

I faked receiving a text.

Me: Oh, that’s my PARTNER. Is there anything else I can do you for before I go?

I shouldn’t have asked.

Client: It’s perfect, send me the print version as soon as you can. I’m on vacation next week in my Spanish Villa. Lounging in my pool and hot tub all alone, alas. I wish I had some company to keep me from getting bored. 

Me: (ignoring the obvious subtext) Have fun!

A week later I get an email from the client. It contained several photos of him topless lounging near his pool. No subject line, no context or subject, sent to me directly.

A few minutes later:

Client: Sorry! I meant to send those to someone else.

Sure….


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

Client: These photos are very pixelled.  Me: Pixelated? Client: That’s what I said, picturated. Try...

2 January 2017 - 2:40pm

Client: These photos are very pixelled.  

Me: Pixelated? 

Client: That’s what I said, picturated. Try zooming in so you can see more pictels.

Me: Pixels – and that’s not really how it works….

Client: I’ve been doing this for years. I think I know how to make images less picklerated.

2016: A Freelancing Year in Review

2 January 2017 - 12:00pm

Bryce Bladon and Kai Davis discuss the past year, covering:

  • Lessons learned
  • Lessons we refused to learn
  • Best moments
  • Worst moments
  • A fifth thing!

– 

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud
Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RSS


Download here!

DEAL: Business Card Creation Kit for $9 - 53% off!

1 January 2017 - 4:20pm

This week’s deal is 53% off of a robust business card creation kit - typically sold for $19, for a limited time this kit is $9.

Beautiful business cards are a must for any freelancer or entrepreneur. This kit will give you easy to use templates, layouts, backgrounds and more, making it easy to produce 100s of beautiful and professional business cards for anybody. This kit is a godsend, whether you’re making a card for yourself or streamlining the design process for your clients. 

The Premium Business Card Creation Kit is absolutely worth its suggested retail price of $19, but get it today and save over half its cost, paying only $9!

> Check out the deal here!

Client: I updated my computer this weekend and I couldn’t get my email to work with Outlook. I’ve...

1 January 2017 - 2:40pm

Client: I updated my computer this weekend and I couldn’t get my email to work with Outlook. I’ve tried logging in to the webmail and can’t get in.

The client was trying to login to a random webmail when his email was hosted at Rackspace. 

I’m the staff videographer in the marketing department of a multi-million dollar organization. A few...

31 December 2016 - 4:20pm

I’m the staff videographer in the marketing department of a multi-million dollar organization. A few weeks ago, I showed up to a project meeting with the head of another department only to have him tell me that he had recruited a student intern to produce this particular video for him. He made it clear that she (the intern) was supposed to run the show, but it would be a good idea for me to supervise, especially since she might need to use some of our gear. I was insulted, but shrugged it off because hey – it was one less project, and the department was notoriously difficult to work with.

I spent the day of the shoot setting up the company gear for the intern to film the cringe-worthy script that she and the department head had agreed on. Only after we packed up was I informed that since the intern didn’t own a computer, she would need to schedule time in-between her classes to come to my office and use my computer to edit the video. Despite the complete absurdity of this request, I’ve spent the last three mornings awkwardly sitting in the guest chair of my own office watching a college student (who very clearly has zero editing experience) struggle to do my job for me.

I now have less faith in my company’s competence than they apparently have in mine.


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

I responded to an ad online for an illustrator, They had supplied some sample art and I thought I...

31 December 2016 - 2:40pm

I responded to an ad online for an illustrator, They had supplied some sample art and I thought I was the perfect match because I had done very similar work in the past. I contacted the client and sent a link to my portfolio.

Client: Looks nice, but I am not sure it would fit our project - we’re are looking for a CG artist. 

Me: Oh! I actually do produce all my art digitally. Do you mean you’re looking for a modeler/3D render artist then? I was under the impression it was a 2D project.

Client: Yes it is. CG means computer graphics, it doesn’t have to mean 3D. How do you not know that? 

Me: I do know that - but a lot of people misuse it to mean 3D modelling. When you thought I didn’t fit your project I thought that’s what you meant. 

Client: I can’t believe you - a digital artist - don’t know what CG actually means! 

He then sent me a link to one of those “let-me-google-that-for-you” engines.

Nope. Thanked them for their time and dropped contact.


> Want to know if freelancing is for you?

"Can you move the image half a pixel to the right?"

30 December 2016 - 4:20pm
“Can you move the image half a pixel to the right?”