Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 24 min ago

Link me not

5 hours 4 sec ago

Me: I am emailing you the link to the development site so you can see what your new website is going to look like.

Client: I don’t like clicking on links. Just send it to me as a PDF.

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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Recession proof

5 hours 59 min ago

Client: Why are you charging this much? Don’t you know there’s a recession going on? I can’t afford this!

Me: I’m also living in this recession, and if I don’t charge this then I can’t afford anything. 

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Wedding photographer

6 hours 59 min ago

I shot a wedding a few years back. Bride specifically requested a white background, with all of her family portraits on.

Client: Can I have all the group photos against a white background?

Me: Sure *shoots photos and sends them to her*

Client: I want a refund!! The background is too white!

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Pine wipe

7 May 2021 - 4:00pm

So I’m doing some design work for a tissue company that specializes in recycled paper. All their advertising promotes how eco-friendly they are. One print advertising has a picture of a forest on it with an eco-oriented recycling message:

Client: That picture is too harsh.

Me: I’m not sure I understand. Could you elaborate?

Client: That forest is too harsh!


Client: There are too many pine trees in there.

Me: Ok… but what does that…

Client: We recycle paper to make our toilet papers, could you imagine wiping yourself with a pine tree?

I see pine trees symbolizing “eco-friendly” on all sorts of branding, including TP, and to answer the question – no, I’ve never imagined wiping myself with a pine tree because NO-ONE DOES.

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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Not getting All the Info

7 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I work in a small screen printing shop. My boss seemingly likes to do as little as possible and so never gets the complete info from his customers for designs. He sent an email with a logo attached:

Boss: Please mock this up on a cap/

I did and sent off the proof.

Boss: They want the logo in a circle like a patch.

I looked and noticed in the long thread of emails with the customer that, yup, they asked for it to look like a patch. New proof sent.

Boss: Add a thick red outline around the circle.

Sigh. OK. New Proof sent.

Another email, boss writes nothing so from experience I look to the customers replies copied below. They wanted just a part of the logo in the patch, not the entire logo.

Why couldn’t you just get all that up front? Is it just too hard?

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Beyond the words

7 May 2021 - 2:00pm

I showed a client an initial design package for their business based on what they’d said they wanted. I was really happy with the package I’d put together thinking it was a pretty innovative and attractive version of what they’d SAID they wanted. I walked them through my font choices for them, the palette I’d designed. 

Client: This is great work, but I’m not sure it’s what I want. 

Me: That’s fair! We can refine. This is my first pass based on what you said you wanted, though.

Client: I know I said I wanted this, but it’s not what I actually wanted. I’d hoped you could see beyond my words. 

I’d say “there are no words” but I guess I’d have to see beyond them. 

The post Beyond the words appeared first on Clients From Hell.

The second 50%

6 May 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: I paid the first 50%. How much is the second 50% going to be?

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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Pray for me

6 May 2021 - 3:00pm

A client told me she’d pay me $25 for an event invitation. It was a family friend and I’m no pro but I knew I could make her something in Canva and she would think I was genius.

THEN she proceeded to tell me the church for the event was run-down and she’d have to pay for it to be cleaned up… so she could only pay me $20. 

In what world did that $5 make the difference? 

The post Pray for me appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Make it smaller, make it illegible!!!

6 May 2021 - 2:00pm

After a year-long successful work relationship with a client, they requested a full-bleed brochure to be completed outside of my regular work hours. We went through several revisions and I finished the brochure while on a trip. The client approved. Then:

Client: The brochure printed with a white border. The printing associate suggests that you make the content smaller and allow more space between it and the edge of the page.

Me: I’m so sorry to hear that. Let me look into it right now. What size paper are you printing on?

Client: It’s a regular sheet.

Me: Ok, I double-checked, and the brochure is designed to print full bleed on a regular sheet of paper. I can resize the content but some of the information is already in the smallest font approved for this project. Your target audience may not be able to see it if it’s smaller.

I ended up making the changes. I was told to resize again and some of the information became illegible. After an entire day of back and forth, I got a call. The printing associate reiterated what was said earlier and hands the phone back to the client.   

At this point, I was in the middle of nowhere, using my cell to tether internet to my laptop so I could upload the design to the printing company and view the proof.

Me: I am looking at the proof for the original design on the printing company’s website. It doesn’t come up with borders. By any chance, did you request their 1h rush service when you ordered?

Client: Yes

Me: According to the website all 1h rush service projects are printed with a white border. Full bleed orders can only be done under their regular time frame.

Client: Why didn’t the associate tell me that?

Me: I’m not sure, but I’ll send you the original file so you can get it reprinted.  I suggest that you either print within the regular time frame or find a different print shop.

The post Make it smaller, make it illegible!!! appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Time Travel Printing

5 May 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: Can I get 1000 copies of a book shipped to a convention this weekend? I haven’t quite finished layout yet.

Me: So, you are new to the whole print on demand concept I take it?

Client: The layout will be done Monday or Tuesday.

Me: After the convention you want to sell 1000 copies at is over?

Client: Yes, we’d like to make a big splash at the show. It’ll be awesome.

Me: Yes, being able to time travel to the future to get the final version of the book would be awesome.

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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I don’t read emails

5 May 2021 - 3:00pm

Some years ago, we were working with a big client but we didn’t seem to understand each other. Their expectations never ever met with the work we delivered.

Client: We need to set weekly meetings to make sure the project’s results are exactly what we requested. 

Me: Ok, no problem. In order to seize the time more efficiently, I will email you all the work as soon as it’s done and I expect you to send some feedback before the meeting so we can discuss the issues there.

Client: Sounds great.

Next meeting:

Me: Hi everyone. We didn’t receive any feedback about our work. Have you read my emails? Is there any doubt?

Client: Well actually, I don’t read emails. I don’t have the time to do that.

Oof. There’s disrespect and then there’s DIS-RESPECT. When’s the last time your client was this ridiculous

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What are your REAL rates?

5 May 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: What are your rates?

Me: They’re clearly stated on my website.

Client: Yeah, but what are your REAL rates?

Me: The ones on my website.

Client: Really? I thought everyone marked up prices online to make it seem like a deal when you give a discount.

Me: Maybe that’s a sales tactic, but I’m not really in sales.

Client: Oh. Would you consider giving me a discount anyway? 

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Business stuff

4 May 2021 - 4:00pm

I’m a freelance designer, working on a local businessman’s website.  The client wanted 4 or 5 pages on the site, but never specified what he wanted on each page other than a title.

Me: In terms of design, I think I’ve finished everything you’ve asked me to do. Go ahead and take a look at what I’ve uploaded and let me know if you need any final tweaks before we wrap things up.

Client: Well I looked at it, but there’s no text on any of the pages!

Me: That’s right – you didn’t give me any content to put on the site. You wanted to do that yourself, remember?

Client: Well it needs something on there! Just write some stuff about my business!

Me: I’d be happy to add text for you, but you need to tell me what you’d like me to write.  I don’t know anything about your business other than that you repair HVAC units.

Client: I don’t know, just like…  stuff about my business. 

Me: Okay… how long have you been in business?  Are you insured, licensed, bonded, or registered with the Better Business Bureau?  Do you have a business address or a PO Box number or anything you can tell me about to add to the site?  What kinds of units do you have experience repairing?  Are you trying to reach a residential crowd, or a commercial one, or both?  

Client: I don’t want to give out any of that information.  I accept credit card payments though!

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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4 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I work as an editor at a production company catering to charities. A client had demanded a film be delivered in 4 days, from a standing start. It was rough, but with a lot of late nights and some work over the weekend, I pulled it off – and the result was worth it. The video was warm, full of heart and human stories, and it really showed the excellent relationship this client had with their service users overseas.

But good things don’t last…

Client: We love the film! It really shows our strategic relationship-based approach…hey, that should be the title! A Relationship-Based Approach.

Client 2: No, that won’t do.

Me: (inwardly) Thank god.

Client 2: We should call it A Relational Rather Than Transactional Approach!

Me: *groans*

I tried talking them out of it, but they were adamant. With those 6 words, they  sucked all the joy and warmth out of the video.

The post Relationship appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Lost minute change

4 May 2021 - 2:00pm

I’d designed packaging for a client, and after final approval had sent the design to the printer with a greenlight to start printing.

Client: I had a second thought – could we change the wording on this tagline?

Me: No. No! It’s being printed as we speak!

Client: Are you sure? It’s a really small change. 


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One month to begin, three days to start over.

3 May 2021 - 4:00pm

I work at a Land Development/Management firm in Corporate Planning, but since I am the only one there who can also do graphic design (because I’m a professional freelance graphic designer in my free time too), I was tasked to do the annual report. I was their de facto Photoshop person cum writer. I started writing for the 2014 Annual report and doing the layout for it in December of 2013. I then submitted the entire thing in January 2014 to my then boss because I knew it needed to be printed and released during the stockholder’s meeting in April 2014. I waited two months, but got no reply, so I submitted it again, March 18th, 2014. Still no reply. 

I waited for months, still no reply. I had assumed that they moved on with their lives and didn’t need it anymore.

Come September, my boss calls me into her office. She was holding another company’s Annual Report. She asked the other offices to get that for her so just she could provide some “inputs” to my design.

Then she asked me to redesign the whole thing, and sort of “copy” the look of the other company’s Annual Report and finish it in 3 days. As you can imagine, I wanted to kill her. It took me a month to do the previous incarnation and then it took her nine months to comment, then she asks me to redo the whole thing.

From the Clients From Hell archives!

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Your project baby > my literal baby

3 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I’m a ghostwriter, and I was working with a client who kept hiring me for mini contracts to edit his chapters. He also recently became my lowest-paying client after I raised all my rates, and had insisted on lots of annoying extras like long rambling video meetings, so I wasn’t exactly sad to see him go. 

Me: Hello, [client]. I just wanted to update you on something that is going to affect my work going forwards. I’ve recently found out I’m pregnant! Although I’m so happy, it does mean I now need to carefully schedule my time for the next six months before I go on maternity leave, and unfortunately I can only fit in the work I already have contracted going forwards. That means I won’t be able to work on your project any longer. 

I’m paraphrasing… My actual letter was much more polite and apologetic. I signed off with recommendations for alternatives and wished him the best with the project.

Client: Okay. I can wait. Can you fit me in after six months? You’re still going to be doing a bit of work on maternity leave, right?

No, dude. I’m not going to be working on your book while I’m literally in hospital giving birth. Wow.

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3 May 2021 - 2:00pm

I had a client for a website that was a total pain… calling every day at least 1-2 times with a question or a small modification. The last one was the greatest:

Client: I need a small text to be modified…

Me: Sure… I’m already on the website… what would you need?

Client: Can you cut two letters from the domain name? We thought it would look nicer…

Me: No, that’s impossible. We need to order another domain.

Client: But I already ordered business cards…

The post CHANGE SOME TEXT ON MY SITE appeared first on Clients From Hell.

The Big Book of Font Combinations — $13!

2 May 2021 - 4:00pm

This week’s deal is on an invaluable resource for designers  — The Big Book of Font Combinations!

> This is useful whether you’re an expert or a newbie designer.

The Big Book of Font Combinations is a historic deep dive into the font pairings that have defined design since Gutenberg created his print press, delivered as a 100% Vector, fully searchable PDF! This text features 370 pages PACKED with inspirational combinations that will make you a better designer! Learn about the history of your craft, or just shamelessly swipe combo ideas from the greatest designers history has ever known. 

The Big Book of Font Combinations retails for $25, but for just a few more days you can save 48% and only pay $13. That’s a small price for a resource you’ll use time and time again. 

> Check out the deal here.

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Pike Fishing in Denali

2 May 2021 - 3:00pm

I was designing a Kindle Direct book for a client. We’d gotten proofs, but there was an issue with the cover.

Me: Yeah, looking at the screenshot, it is not a bleed issue, it is 100% a pagecount issue. I’ll need the updated pagecount from you to continue. 

Client: KDP got back to me, with page count (518).

This was on Friday, right before the end of the day. Then, on Saturday:

Client: How’s going with the re-sizing of the cover, now that you have the page count and the exact dimensions from KDP?

Later that day:

Client: What’s up, is fixing the cover harder than you thought? Or are you pike fishing in Denali? I hope you’re okay.  

On Sunday. 

Client: Okay, unless you are on life support or molesting some uncontacted tribe in Papua New Guinea, you owe me some kind of response today. My next move, since I have nothing to useful from the contract for a paperback cover, will be to appeal to Reedsy for a way to complete the project.

Me: Hello, I am sorry but I was away for the weekend, I have had some very tight deadlines before that. I am working currently on 20+ different projects so I can’t always get to things like this immediately. I will have it for you shortly though. I have finished everything on my part, an I even did the print cover twice. I have done changes after they were agreed upon. I know that you are new to this, but if you look at it from my side, you have sent me two incorrect pagecounts, which means I need to to the whole resizing process over again. Also, what do you mean “molesting an uncontacted tribe in Papua New Guinea”? That is completely uncalled for and honestly very rude.

Client: It meant you might be offline. Sorry if you thought I really believe that you are an eco-tourist. Not sending a short acknowledgement that you got my emails is also a breach of etiquette. For all I knew you were fed up with the whole project and decided to let it slide, or drop its priority to #21, leaving me to my own resources. Thanks for the file; I’ll submit it and see if it flies. If it doesn’t I’ll let you know, but I think this time I’ll just use the front cover and do my own with one of their templates.

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