Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 53 min ago

dot com-plete moron

15 June 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: We have decided we want to call our new website ’’

Me: Unfortunately, the .com is already registered and in use. However, .net is available. That’s probably the best option unless you choose another name.

Client: Ah. Yeah, I don’t like the .net so much. I think I’ll just stick with the .com

Me: Sorry, I think you must have misunderstood, the .com is already owned by someone else. You need to pick another name.

Client: Thanks for the advice, we’ve decided we don’t like the .net so we’ll just go for the .com as originally planned. If you can register that for us ASAP and let us know once it’s done that’d be great.

A SMH moment from the Clients From Hell archives!

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Go ahead

15 June 2021 - 3:00pm

Me: So, as I understand, you will still want to review some of the website content, right?

Client: Yes, I will change some copy and some images.

Me: Ok, so I will wait for that before  work on the final mobile version. The site is not published yet, so it will not be a problem.

Client: Yes, sure, that would be fine. I will call when we are ready to launch.

Two days later:

Client: URGENT: we published the website ourselves and the mobile version is not working. That’s highly unprofessional and we have lost a lot of credibility for that. Fix it ASAP.

Me: Wow, ok. Have you made the final reviews?

Client: No.

The post Go ahead appeared first on Clients From Hell.

I could do it, I just don’t want to.

15 June 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: I could do what you do. 

Me: I mean, probably. I actually think that you really apply yourself, you can be a pro designer in a year. 

Client: No, like this afternoon. I could do it in an afternoon.

Me: …Then why don’t you?

Client: I just don’t feel like it.

It’s easy to criticize if you’ve never even tried.

The post I could do it, I just don’t want to. appeared first on Clients From Hell.


14 June 2021 - 4:00pm

During a conference call with a new client:

Client: So, are you the one I got the VD from?

Me: Um, no, I…

Client: Sorry, I meant DVD.

The post D-VD appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Crash course

14 June 2021 - 3:00pm

I am a tattoo artist. A client came to the shop and showed me someone else’s art.

Client: How long does it take to do this?

Me:  I don’t plagiarize, but a similar design could take me X hours.

Client: Ok. And price-wise?

Me: You are looking for a maximum of $XXX.

Client: … I have time this afternoon, can you teach me how to do it? How did you learn how to do it?


As you could guess, it’s a very demanding craft. I learn every day. I went through a couple of years of apprenticeship, countless hours of drawing… Aiming towards a lifetime of honing all the skills it takes…

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Design my illustration

14 June 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: Can you do this design as a painted illustration?

Me: I have a few tricks to make a photo look like a painting, but no, I don’t paint.

Client: I thought you were a designer!

Me: I am, but I’m not an illustrator.

Client: There’s a difference? 

The post Design my illustration appeared first on Clients From Hell.

2,800+ Artistic Design Elements only $9! Save 99%!

13 June 2021 - 4:00pm

This week’s deal is on a massive bundle of brushes, textures and elements that are brimming with possibilities.

> Just take a look at some of these and get inspired! 

These aren’t just a few illustrations or elements to be slotted into an existing design; these are tools designed to transform the way you create! The Elegant Collection Flower Brushes for Photoshop help create sumptuous, photo-realistic flower arrangements in seconds, the Spray and Hand Drawn toolkits give you more ways to express yourself, and the Rosalie bundle gives you a ton of gorgeous seamless patterns. Browsing this bundle is like shopping in a candy store  — except it’s a candy store where you can buy EVERYTHING for just $9

>Check out the deal here! 

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A matter of definition

13 June 2021 - 3:00pm

Client company needed a technical writer, and after 3 previous screenings, I finally got an interview with the project manager. The first words out of her mouth:

Client: here’s nothing you can tell me that’ll get me to hire you. I’m keeping this open until my son graduates from high school.

Me: Oh.

She then insisted that I show her my portfolio anyway, and this included a week-old cover story from a local weekly newspaper.

Client: (Tracing her fingers over the cover and moving her lips while reading the headline) This looks like a graphic to me.

Me: That’s just the cover. I wrote this whole article.

Client: Maybe I don’t understand what ‘cover story’ means, but that first thing looks like a graphic to me.

Is it really any surprise that the company shut down in the middle of the night 6 weeks later?

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Better living through chemistry

13 June 2021 - 2:00pm

A salesman for a publishing company that specializes in pharmacy research journals came into the print shop where I work as a designer. He gave me his business card, saying he needed more but with some changes. He had several molecular formulas he wanted to add “because they looked cool.” However, the images of the formulas weren’t of the highest quality.

Client: Can’t you just scan it and make the changes?

Me: The background won’t scan very well, and there’s some text on top of it. Can you tell me what these formulas represent? I should be able to find some suitable images in order to recreate them?

Client: I don’t know what they are. It’s really not that important what they are. I just need cards by Wednesday so I look like I know what I’m doing.

It was a rush job, and I would have preferred better images, but he gave his approval and we met the deadline in time for him to attend a bunch of conferences and hand out most of his cards.

Curious, I took to finding out what the formulas were for. Turns out the client handed out cards with the formulas for cocaine and a variety of other hard drugs to a bunch of chemists. 

The Clients From Hell archive breaks bad

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Watch out for the gays

12 June 2021 - 4:00pm

We were building a website for a client that has a preschool and sells curriculum. Just before we went live, they called up and asked us to remove the word “school” from all the page titles and URLs. I asked why. 

Client: We heard if the gays find out we have a preschool, they can force us to teach the children to be gay. We think its safest if nobody can see that we’re a school. And we don’t want to come up on any Google searches dealing with “school.”

A “yikes” moment from the Clients From Hell archives!

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12 June 2021 - 3:00pm

Two start-up bros contacted me seeking a technical writer. When they explained the loan proposals they wanted me to write, this conversation ensued: 

Me: Based on what you’re telling me, it sounds like you’re looking for a proposal writer.

Client: Yeah, we didn’t want to pay THAT much.

Me: So why are you searching for a technical writer?

Client: Because we’re a TECH company! DUH!

The post We use COMPUTERS! appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Where are you?

12 June 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: Where are you?

Me: Working at home?

Client: The meeting is starting!

Me: What meeting?

Client: The design meeting! You’re the designer, you need to be here!

Me: You need to invite me if you need me! There is NOTHING in my inbox about this.

Client: Well couldn’t you check my calendar?


Client: Oh…

Client: Well you should. 


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A scanner dumbly

11 June 2021 - 4:00pm

Me: Can you send the document again? 

Client: I already sent it to you, didn’t you get it? I’m very busy right now. 

Me: We received it, but we’ll need a new scan. The pages were fed into the scanner upside down. Can you flip them over and scan them again? 

Client: I don’t understand.

Me: You have to place the pages on the scanner so that the text is facing the electronic reader. Otherwise it scans the back of the page, which is blank.

Client: Maybe your computer is broken and that’s why they just look blank.

Me: I considered that, but saw one of the pages was dog-eared. A little triangle of upside-down text shows up in the corner of the otherwise blank page.

Client: What? I don’t get it. 

Me: I just need you to scan the document with the text facing the –

Client: Look, I’ll just fax it to you.

Just the fax from the Clients From Hell archives!

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6 Months Work in 1 Month

11 June 2021 - 3:00pm

I’m the technical consultant for a small company that produces data systems for large corporations. We’re currently mid-way through developing the next generation of our product and our company owner is looking to make a sale.

Client: Here are the requirements from this client and what they need. It has to be complete and ready to go end of May 2021 (1 month from now).

Me: I’ve reviewed what the customer needs. Based on their requirements, we’d be looking at Late 2021 to complete. As per the project plan, we’re still 6 months from completion. Plus any time needed for this client’s bespoke features.

Client: Unacceptable. We can’t be late. The customer needs it end of May.

Me: Perhaps there’s a compromise. Could we launch with a subset of features to meet their deadline, and release the remaining features as they are completed? 

Client: (with zero technical knowledge) I can’t believe you’re going to be late on something that should be easy.

Me: If you want everything they’ve asked for, it’s 6 months’ work. Otherwise, we have to compromise. I can’t be “late” when I haven’t agreed to the timescale.

Client: Well, if we don’t meet the deadline, you’re responsible. Because of you, I might need to lay people off to cover the cost of those extra months.

The fact you sold our unfinished product and agreed to an impossible timescale without consulting me is not my problem.

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Drop everything! But don’t actually drop anything!

11 June 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: We need you to change priorities ASAP to take on this new project with a tight turnaround.

Me: Okay.

I do. Three days later:

Client: Why isn’t [other project] done? Where are we on that?

Me: I had to set that aside to work on the crisis.

Client: I didn’t authorize that! 

Me: …You did though. You said to drop everything.

Client: Well, not your other jobs for me! 

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Wrong dimension

10 June 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: We need you to design a banner for us using the logo you created.

Me: Sure, okay. What are the dimensions?

Client: Well… here’s a picture of the room to give you an idea of how big it should be.

Me: Okay, but I need exact numbers.

Client: (frustrated) How do you expect me to know? I’m not in the room to measure it!

Me: I’m afraid I would only be wasting time without measurements.

Client: Fine, okay. Hold on, my co-worker just texted me; yeah, he said that it should be four laptop sizes wide.

Me: …Okay, so is this banner going to be digital now? Like, on a screen?

Client: I don’t see what’s so difficult about this. You’re supposed the be the expert.

A failure to communicate from the Clients From Hell archives

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A mother knows

10 June 2021 - 3:00pm

I was working for a woman who runs a regional wellness and soap brand. She was always… a little much, but this exchange stuck with me. 

We were going over the design brief for a kid-friendly soap, and she disagreed with one of my opinions.

Client: When you’re a mother you’ll understand.

Me: Oh, I’m not going to have kids.

Client: Why not? It’s not like you’re committed to a career or anything.

What do you think I’m doing RIGHT NOW other than a career?

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Make sure to get everything in writing.

10 June 2021 - 2:00pm

My clients were a father and son requesting an inventory system for their business. They were also family friends. They had a lot of product, but it was currently tracked via post-its and memory. The requirements were simple enough. They needed a very simple CMS. I suggested an excel spreadsheet, but they needed it to sync between computers and their two locations.

Me: So I can make you a website can do that. Let’s talk about how you want the inventory displayed when you log in, and we can work out what fields we need for data entry.

Client: We don’t want a website. We just want something that will keep track of everything between both locations and not on the internet.

After a little back and forth, and double checking they were not planning on setting up a network between locations, they both agreed a website with the CMS was the best course of action. (I should have gotten this in writing…)

I make a pretty simple CMS, test it and it works. The son signs off on it and I move on. (Once again…should have gotten this in writing.) 3 months later I get a very angry phone call from the father.

Client: The site is broken! Nobody can do anything!

Me: I am logged in….seems like it is working. What are you trying that is broken?

Turns out the son never told the father he signed off on the work and he assumed nothing was done. 6 more months goes by, another angry call from the father.

Client: When are you going to be done with this site?!?

Me: What do you mean? We talked about this last year?

Client: Can you just come into the shop and show me what you have done?

So I go in, show the father the site and now requirements are coming out of left field.

Client: So we need this to be faster so we can enter things in as people call. Also, we need to be able to sync this with the phone system so we can tie orders to customers as they call in. Where do I print checks from this? How do customers log in to upload photos of the stuff we might buy?

I told them for all of that work I would charge them at least $15k, based on industry standards I could find googling for about 2 minutes, and that was on the low end.

Client: If we wanted to pay that much, we would buy this other product that is industry standard. I thought we were family? Give us a deal.

Me: I think we’re done here

Last time they reached out to me, they threatened to sue me for not delivering the site to them that they requested. Luckily for me, none of this was in writing and my lawyer friend said they didn’t have a case.

Moral of the story? Get everything in writing. Especially if it is for friends or family.

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Im not a credit agency but can be if you really want

9 June 2021 - 3:00pm

This client relationship STARTED fine with prompt payments, but over time devolved into late payments. Eventually, I was chasing down a payment that was three weeks late.

Me: Just to remind you, you are now in breach of contract and can they advise on payment date.

Client: We will ASAP, but we’re having cash flow issues. Can we pay 40% of the invoice in a week, and then pay the rest by the end of the month?

Me: Fine, but I’m adding a late fee to the invoice.

Client: Why?

Me: I’m not a credit provider, but if you’re going to treat me like one I’m going to charge for my services.



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The only comparison that matters.

9 June 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: This quote seems high.

Me: Compared to what? 

Client: Compared to what I want to pay. 

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