Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 59 sec ago

User Submitted Post

1 December 2019 - 1:00pm

I work as an inbound call agent for a fairly large rental platform, and 90% of the calls I get are older landlords who don’t know how technology works.

Client: I need to speak to a manager right away!

Me: I’m sorry sir, what seems to be the problem?

Client: I need you to turn off javascript on my account on your platform!

I spent half an hour with him on the phone, and to this day I legitimately do not know what he meant.

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New Babies & SEO

30 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I work in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The client decided to question 30% uplift in organic traffic (Year On Year) in an attempt to avoid payment. 

Client: This traffic increase happened naturally as the economy grew by 3%. It has nothing to do with your work. 

Me: I don’t think that overall economic growth can be directly impacting your rankings. You’re getting more visitors because we improved your rankings. 

Client: It does, do you know there are 100,000 babies born every month? 

Me: I don’t think they Google.

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User Submitted Post

30 November 2019 - 1:30pm

Client: This is still not what I wanted, I won’t pay for this.

Me: OK.

Client: Can you send me the raw files anyway?

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3… 2… 1…

29 November 2019 - 2:00pm

Me: Please watch the entire video very carefully, as multiple revisions slow down the process considerably. Export times can run very long, so please ensure everything is correct.

Client: Looks great! Approved!

Me: Great, we will get everything rolling.

12 hours later…

Client: Hey, I just noticed…

*Head goes through desk*

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The Onus of Proof

29 November 2019 - 1:20pm

I am a prepress technician for a full-service commercial press (but not a trade/online printer), as well as being a graphic designer. This following exchange happens again and again in various forms…

Client: I can’t print your proof. Can you please send me a print-ready proof?

Me: Our soft proofs are screen resolution for review/display only. We do not release press-ready printable files for proofing.

Client: But I need to be able to print it and make changes. Your file is locked. Can I have the password?

Me: We do not release press-ready printable files for proofing, and we do not share security information such as passwords used for document protection. I am happy to make any changes you need and proof it back to you. We do offer and recommend hard-copy proofing prior to print. The first hard-copy proof is free of charge. Would you like me to make your changes and email you an updated proof? Would you like a hard-copy proof for final approval before we print your brochure?

Client: Why can’t you just give me the password? I am just trying to run my business. I need to be able to print this proof. I need to be able to make changes to your PDF before I print it. You are keeping me from running my business.

Me: I’m sorry, we don’t release security information of any kind, and we don’t provide press-ready printable files for proofing purposes. Please let me know what changes need to be made and I can get it done for you very quickly.

Client: I don’t need changes now. I need to be able to change it in the future, and I need to be able to print it NOW. Every other printer that has designed something for me has given me a printable file. I plan to bring you tons of business and you are hurting my business by not providing me with the password.

So I send a printable file with a watermark

Client: This is not acceptable. I cannot print this. It has a mark on it. Can you delete the mark and send me a high quality file? I need it right now. No other printer does this to me. 

Yes. I’m so sure that every other printer you work with provides you with a printable press-quality/press-ready file as a “Proof.” Uh-huh.

At this point, this particular client chose to be verbally abusive and I had my boss take over the call. The client complained about me, told my boss that I was being uncooperative and hurting their business, etc. My boss pretty much repeated everything I had already said and reaffirmed our willingness to update and re-proof as needed. Th

Client: Fine! I’m going to get my designers to figure out how to unlock the file and fix the file for print. I’m NEVER going to work with you again.

But, wait… wasn’t I your designer? And didn’t you agree to a work estimate that included printing services with us? Hmmm. Good luck with that. I know you can get around the security with 3rd party software; but, I still sent you files that were exported at just 96dpi and don’t include the bleed! 

The post The Onus of Proof appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Is it portrait or landscape?

28 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I sent a proof with measurements shown on two square-shaped previews.

Client: Are these portrait or landscape?

Me: They’re squares.

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User Submitted Post

28 November 2019 - 1:30pm

I work in tech support, mostly for medical clinics. Lots of great stories there – but this is an example of a fairly common problem.

Today I was trying to help someone install a language pack so she can edit documents in Spanish with spellcheck. It kept failing to install with a pretty generic error, so I started checking some common problems for PC performance – like the amount of time the PC had been on.

97 days.

Me: Well I think we found the problem. This computer hasn’t been rebooted in over three months. There are probably a lot of pending updates, which can prevent programs from installing correctly.

Client: We never reboot our computers. No one told us we had to reboot our computers.

When we rebooted the computer it took 4 hours to install all of the pending updates.

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Freelance Forgiveness: Mike Tanner and the relationships in our heads

27 November 2019 - 7:20pm
Freelance Forgiveness: Mike Tanner and the relationships in our heads

It’s a familiar feeling for most of us. You overpromised a client on deliverables and got overwhelmed with work, or family stuff came up, or you hit a wall in the project that you just couldn’t overcome. You put it off for a day, then two days, then a week… All of a sudden you’re way overdue and you haven’t talked to the client in that entire time. Clearly they’re furious with you, fuming behind your back.

Or are they? Mike Tanner talks with Kyle Carpenter about the ways we create imaginary relationships with our clients, especially since freelancers don’t usually get to talk to them one on one on a regular basis. It’s never as bad as you think, for real. Find out how forgiveness is the way to move forward! 

Let us know on twitter @clientsfh – do you create imaginary relationships with your clients? Or are you strictly business, with nothing personal riding on your performance? How did you arrive where you are?

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User Submitted Post

27 November 2019 - 5:04pm

Client: I am looking for someone to photograph my family reunion. I need 6 hours. Can you handle this?

Me: I’d be happy to! What date is your family reunion?

Client: My budget is [X]. How can I make a deposit?

Me: You’ll be happy to know then that at my rates I only charge [Y] for event coverage. I can accept cash, cheque, or e-transfer. Do you have an email address I can send the contract to, or would it be easier to meet in person at a cafe?

Client: I will have you know that due to health reasons I need to do this through credit card in person. Can you do this?

Me: Unfortunately I cannot take credit card payments at this time, but I can accept cash, cheque, or e-transfer. Do you have an email address I can send the contract to?

Client: Good, I’ll set you up with a merchant service then.

Red flags start flying up all over the place.

Client: This can easily be set up with your bank. I will give you my credit card and even pay the setup fees with your bank due to my health issues.

Oh yeah, this sounds scammy…

Me: Unfortunately I am unable to setup anything to take credit card payment, but if we can arrange an alternative I’d be happy to do the work. 

I never heard back from the client again. The date of the event came and went and nothing else came of it. Between his insistence on setting up something with my bank and him dodging my requests for an email address to send the contract to, I like to think I dodged a bullet.

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A Win-Win?

27 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I recently discussed an interesting project with a real estate agent. The real estate agents on her team are very comfortably rewarded for the high-end real estate they sell.

Client: I can only pay you part-time, at an hourly rate, for you to market these luxury homes for our team. We need help with Google ads, social media, website development, logos – everything. You’ll be our “go-to” person for all things marketing. We know how important social media and other digital strategies are for gaining maximum exposure. Our clients expect top quality work.

Me: Sounds interesting. The pay you described is pretty low for the work, though.

Client: We have a specific budget allocated for this position. This job is a great stepping stone for someone looking to build their career, though. You will be a very important part of our team.

So, basically, I would be instrumental in gaining leads so they can make a lot of money off of selling the homes, at the lowest possible hourly rate someone would accept.

I’m wondering… how is that pay the best they can do – if they earn steep commissions off of closing the deals on the homes?

Somehow, I don’t think that staring at photos of other people’s luxury lifestyles and interacting with people making a great living off of my marketing work feels too great.

The post A Win-Win? appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Plenty of fish in the sea

26 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I have this client who’s a publicist and marketing specialist. He often adds some “graphic design included” packages to sweeten up his deals, and those odd jobs, usually a banner, often fall on my desk. I’ve acquired a few decent clients through him, so it’s fine in the long run, but he’s also the type to say “I just need to know if you can do it or not” immediately after I list all the reasons I said “no” the first time he asked if I could do it.

This time it was an underwater fish themed logo animation. It’s the first animating job I’ve taken with this client.

Client: This looks great! Which version do I show to the client?

Me: …The latest version, of course. Why would you show them versions which they’ve already made revisions and comments on?

Client: The one with the logo swimming as a fish, right? With the blue background?

The whole concept was the logo swimming into position, every version had that. Every version had a blue background.

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To Schedule or Not to Schedule

26 November 2019 - 1:00pm

While working as a contract administrator in a service-based office, there were a lot of chaotic and toxic interactions.

My client hardly left his office and every time I saw him in his office he was playing on his phone.

One particular moment stood out to me as disturbing in my first week.

Client: We can’t take on any new customers at the moment. We don’t have the staff for it.

He said this casually, in passing.

Me: OK.

I received a phone call from a customer who said she was a referral from a different company.

Me: This customer says she is a referral.

Co-worker: Ok, you can schedule her then.

Days later, I was talking to the customer on the phone about her upcoming appointment. I double-checked with a co-worker about the details.

Client: Sorry. We have to tell her we need to take her off the schedule. We shouldn’t have scheduled her. We just can’t do it.

Me: Oh, wow. I guess I have to tell her we can’t take her on.

Obviously, the customer was very upset by all of this and threatened to leave a horrible review about us online. We had to talk to her for half an hour to get her to calm down and get her back on the schedule.

The next day I was visited by another Manager in the office.

Manager: You should not have needed to take her off the schedule to begin with. She was a referral from the company I’ve partnered with, so that was fine to schedule her.

Ummm… the circles of B.S. here are crazy.

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The Narrow-Minded Hiring Method

25 November 2019 - 2:00pm

In a meeting with an attorney who expressed interest in my website development skills as a freelancer, the attorney wanted to know more about my skills and experience.

Client: So, where did you learn web development?

Me: I took online classes and created websites as a hobby, and now it’s my main interest. I do a lot of freelance work.

Client: So you do a lot of freelance work. Are you like a starving artist or something?

Me: Well, freelancing has allowed me to learn a lot of my skills, and work on a variety of projects. It’s going pretty well. 

Client: I mean – why don’t you get a career planner? (he said incredulously)

I guess some people think having a strictly linear career path is the only means to success. 

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User Submitted Post

25 November 2019 - 1:00pm

A project came in for a poster with a few paragraphs of text and a drawing of a medieval peasant plowing a field.

Manager: Here are the Client’s comments. Sorry about this, I’ve already talked him down on a few things.

He hadn’t liked how I’d laid out the text, so instead of saying what he wanted me to change, he printed off my rough, covered the text over with white paper, printed the text out again completely unstyled from Word, cut bits out and taped them down on the print-out. These were his comments

Client: Can the medieval ploughman be standing upright, please?

Client: And why isn’t he smiling?

Medieval peasants: known for their posture and joyful demeanor. 


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Give a gift to the designer in your life — The Designer’s Deck for 20% off!

24 November 2019 - 2:00pm
Give a gift to the designer in your life — The Designer’s Deck for 20% off!

This week’s deal is on a deck of cards that will make you a better designer! It was a smash hit last year, and it’s back again this year for your gift-giving needs! 

> The Design Deck: the fun way to learn design!

Flashcards are a proven way to learn new concepts fast, and poker is a proven way to have fun and MAYBE win some money. That’s win/win/win(?)! This high-quality deck of playing cards features 56 cards, each with a succinct summary of a different design concept, philosophy, or idea so that you can up your game while playing a game. Buy it as a gift for your designer friends, or, and this is shady, give it to your annoying clients so maybe they’ll stop second-guessing you all the freaking time. 

For a limited time, you can save 20% on this beautiful collectable that will make the perfect gift for the designer/s in your life — .or for yourself! Order now in time for the holidays! 

> Check out the deal here.

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How Dare You Question Me!

24 November 2019 - 1:00pm

As a freelancer working with a home improvement business, I was tasked with working with various departments on communications projects. I noticed there were constantly changing “rules” about what people needed to do to provide customer service and meet different department needs.

Throughout the course of a couple of weeks, I learned about tons of ways people had to “check” with each other in order to schedule and document projects – since different people had different ideas about how things should be done. Assumptions, accusations, and customer complaints were common.

The team leader who had been there awhile barely knew how the computer system worked that the team relied on to schedule projects, so he was of little help.

Here’s an example of just one of the many frustrating conversations I had with the client’s staff:

Me: Have you followed up on this customer concern that I sent you an e-mail about a few days ago? The customer called again to follow up and said she hadn’t heard from anyone.

I received a jumbled, confused response:

Client: The customer should know better than to ask about that, I mean, it’s complicated. 

Me: Okay…

Then, someone from the office rushed over to my desk to further explain the issue without any resolution, looking alarmed and angry. I e-mailed the associate again to gain further clarification.

Me: Are you going to call the customer, then?


I might also add that yelling, high-pressure drama, and offensive language was common at this office. I left shortly after.

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Your Vacation != My Vacation

23 November 2019 - 3:30pm

I work for a small company where the boss went on vacation for a week.  He left me with a months worth of projects to complete in that time with the expectation, “see what you can get done in a week.”  Seemed reasonable.  This week he came back.

Me: How was your vacation?

Client: Good.  How was yours?

Me: …um, I wasn’t on vacation.  I was here working on projects.

Client: Well… let’s face it.  When I’m not here, nothing gets done.  Unless you got everything I left you with finished, then you were pretty much on vacation.

Later in the day he dropped hints about removing “some” holidays and/or vacation time to accommodate the “lack of work that got done while he was gone.”

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User Submitted Post

23 November 2019 - 3:00pm

I am a proofreader and a client emailed me about reviewing his first book.

Client: I am a first-time self-publisher and writer looking for a proofreader. I’m writing in the AP style. I am looking to pair with someone just beginning as a proofreader, just as I am starting as a self-published writer.

Me: Great! I’m more experienced than just starting out, but I’d love to help you with your book. Here are my rates. 

Client: Oh, I was just hoping I could proofread something for you in return. 

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User Submitted Post

22 November 2019 - 8:37pm

I was designing a site for a website dealing with school-age kids.

The original placeholder image we used had a gaggle of kids: about 20 Caucasian girls, one Caucasian boy, and two East Asian girls.

Client: That’s not diverse enough.

Me: I agree. Let me see what else I can bring up. 

I found three images that might fit our needs, which the client kindly rated by “diversity.”

The first was a handful of African-American, Caucasian, and East Asian kids, split roughly evenly between boys and girls: 

Client: Maybe diverse enough.

The next had four African-American boys, one Caucasian boy, and one African-American girl: 

Client: That’s more diverse.

The last had three African-American boys: 

Client: That’s the most diverse.

You keep using that word. I do not think you know what it means.

Not one of their images had any Middle Eastern or Latin kids.

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22 November 2019 - 1:03pm

I’m the teacher that puts all the basketball sponsors on the scoreboard during games at the high school. The gymnasium scoreboard isn’t exactly high-res, so image size is usually not a problem. 

Except when a local car dealership (owned by a student’s parent) sent us .gif that was 60 x 31 pixels.

Me: Hi! Could you send me a higher resolution version of your ad for the scoreboard? This one is too small and will show up blurry.

Client: That’s okay, just use that one.

Three days later after the first home basketball game…

Client: My son told me that the logo is so blurry that you can’t even read the name! I WANT THIS CORRECTED IMMEDIATELY.

Angry responses come like clockwork.

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