Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 14 min ago

Time Travel Printing

8 October 2019 - 2:00pm

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.

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NGO from hell?

7 October 2019 - 3:00pm

About 10 years ago I had a client from an NGO that wanted a website. We agreed on a budget and we had a briefing meeting.

Me: This is the website mockup, it will have all the sections you requested and will be optimized for search engines and accessibility.

Client: This is fine, but we wanted something more flashy, more dynamic, with more color.

Me: This is what I usually do with my NGO clients. We’re delivering the message in a simple way. After all, you’re not selling Coca Cola.

Client: Yes! that’s what we want, Coke’s website.

Me: Well you don’t have the budget that they have for a website.

After some convincing, the Client begrudgingly accepted, paid the 50% in advance, and sent shitty low-res images and cringey text. I delivered the website to the best of my abilities on the deadline. I get no feedback or response from the client at all. Two weeks later after total radio silence, I found out they replaced the website I made with a full Flash made website with some vector animations over the shitty images on a slider. It was “dynamic”  but looked like total garbage. 

At least I got my deposit.

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A viral campaign

7 October 2019 - 2:00pm

I received a call from someone inquiring about some services.

It was weird.

Client: I’m retired, but I run two websites. I need a little work done on them and I also need a survey created on social media.

Me: That sounds easy enough. What are you hoping to achieve?

Client: I want to create a viral campaign to get the Pope to say he is proud of Jesus. The survey will provoke people to demand the pope to say that he is proud of Jesus. Here’s the thing though – I’ve trademarked the phrase, so once everyone starts saying that they too are proud of Jesus the money will start rolling in. 

Me: …And what is your budget for this?

Client: They way I see it, everyone should be proud of Jesus. Even the Pope! 

This went on for some time and I never got a number. I noped myself out of this project as quickly as I could. 

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2,350+ Pro graphic elements for just $19!

6 October 2019 - 3:00pm
2,350+ Pro graphic elements for just $19!

This week’s deal is on 2,350+ graphic elements that are as useful as they are beautiful. 

> Take a look. The watercolor elements alone are worth the asking price. 

There are literally thousands of intricate, well-designed elements in this bundle and they’re all going for only $19. Branding a new line of perfumes? This kit has it all. Designing a book jacket for a young adult novel about a girl’s coming of age? Weirdly specific but this would be perfect.  There’s a lot here, and it’s great.

This bundle’s normal price is the extremely reasonable $89, but you can get it for $19 which is great. Buy it for that.

> Check out the deal here. 


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User Submitted Post

6 October 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m a writer for a bank. Occasionally we send alerts to our customers over various platforms. My client asked me to write an alert for email, but specified that we weren’t sending SMS or push notifications.

The developer I was working with apparently didn’t get that note. Or, more likely got it and ignored it – because this happened. 

Dev: You are missing SMS and Push notification content. Please add the copy for SMS and Push into your document.

Me: Those aren’t a requirement for this alert and I was told not to add them. Please proceed with just email.

I assumed that was the end of it. A week later:

Dev: Please add the copy for SMS and Push into your document.

Me: This isn’t sent yet? As previously mentioned, we are only supposed to write for email. I have CC’d the client, who has made it clear that we are only to write for email.

Client: Yes, this is true. Please proceed with the email.

A week later:

Dev: Please add the copy for SMS and Push into your document.

Me: We have reviewed this several times now, and the client has made it very clear we are not to write for email. Please either consult your team on the requirements or proceed with email.

Client: Confirming the above. Please proceed with email only – no changes to the copy document needed.

Dev: OK.

Two minutes later:

Dev: Please remove the copy for SMS and Push from your document.

Me: Uh….

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User Submitted Post

5 October 2019 - 3:00pm

I was hired to do a project that would take one day of work with a deadline in ten days

Day 1:

Client: What is the status?

Me: I have not started yet.

Day 2: 

Client: What is the status? I like daily status updates.


Day 3: 

Me: Okay, I’m looking over the project now. Here is a list of things I need from you.

Client: Okay.

Day 4:

Day 5: 

Day 6:

Me: Still waiting on those items. Please send them so I can get this done.

Day 7-10, radio silence.

Day 11:

Client: What is the status of the project?

Me: I’m still waiting for those items from you. I can’t get started without them.

Client: Right, sorry. Okay, I’ll send those along. 

He didn’t. Day 13:

Client: What is the status?

Me: Still waiting for that stuff.

Client: Shoot, right. Here it is. 

Me: Thanks. Just so you know I’ve had a lot of things come up this week so I can’t get on this right now. 

Client: You promised me you’d have it done in ten days. 

Me: How can I finish it in ten days if it takes you thirteen to send me important information? Tell you what: I can squeeze this work in tomorrow. I’ll get it done then, I promise. 

Client: Fine.

The next day I started work.

Me: Hey, I just looked at what you sent me and a lot of the information is wrong or out of date. Can you send me an updated version? 

Client: Ok. I am busy right now and will check them in the evening. I hope this won’t affect our deadline today.


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User Submitted Post

5 October 2019 - 2:00pm

Not a client from hell, but certainly a contractor from hell.

We received a lighting plan for a restaurant we were designing, and it was based on a six-month old plan that didn’t match any of the other drawings, details, or renderings. As we were preparing to start construction, we were understandably concerned. It’s important to note that in order to keep track of the design process we place the date at the end of all our file names.

Me: It looks like this plan is very out of date. What date is on the plan?

Contractor: This is the plan we were given.

Me: Understood, but this design doesn’t align with anything we’ve discussed. What is the date on the plan?

Contractor: March 15th.

Me: …it’s October now. The updated plan has been available since September and is noted in the file with the date.

Contractor: We can’t be expected to keep track of what plans are the most current.

Internal screaming forever.

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Price what?

4 October 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: Hi, how much does a brochure cost to print?

Me: Before I answer, I just need a bit more information, such as size, pages and how many…

Client: Well, if you want to be that difficult I’ll just find someone else…

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Producers are clients sometimes, right?

4 October 2019 - 2:00pm

My client was a music producer who brought me in to assist with an album project for a young singer with Broadway and tour credits as the unofficial contractor. I hired local musicians and played certain instrumental parts myself.

One song had been orchestrated by the tour musical director; the producer was very keen that our recorded version adhered perfectly to that score. We had a meeting with the manager to ensure nothing was overlooked.

Client: You’ll notice that the percussion part specifies that these measures need to be played on a “mark tree”.

These words were enunciated slowly, as if they were actually surrounded by quotes and might be misunderstood otherwise.)

Me:  No problem. That’s just bar chimes. We already have those.

Client: No, you don’t understand. It specifically says that a “mark tree” is required here.

Me:  “Mark Tree” is the official orchestral term for bar chimes. Really. They’re the same thing. A mark tree is a set of bar chimes. This studio has two sets of them, and I even have a set of my own. We have everything we need.

Client: …


Client: (turning away from me and towards the manager) We need to locate a “mark tree”.

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Make it Pink, No Make it Blue!

3 October 2019 - 3:00pm

I advertise that I offer local businesses a discount on my designs to show my support. I got a call from a potential client asking for a logo.

Client: We want a logo made for our store, and it needs to be similar to the logo we had before, just cleaner and more modern.

Me: I can definitely help you! Send me what you have for your current logo and I can get started.

I received an email with a word document attached. Curious I opened it and saw that there indeed is a “logo” in it, made with clip art that has been stretched. I died a little on the inside but was happy they were making the choice to get it done by a professional.

I worked on a few mockups and send them back.

Client: These are wonderful! Let’s go with option A.

Me: Perfect! I can get that exported…

Client: But we want it to be more square, change the font, make it less feminine, and we should probably change the pink parts to a more gender-neutral color. We don’t want to offend our male customers.

Me: OK, no problem. I’ll rework this with those changes.

I made the changes.

Two weeks went by this time.

Client: This looks wonderful!

Me: Great! I can…

Client: But, the font is different from the first mockups and the colors are wrong. I thought we agreed to keep the pink?! Why is it a different color now?

Me: I have it in my notes you wanted to make it more gender-neutral, so I changed the font and the pink…

Client: No! I want the pink, just make it less feminine! Also, we hate the new font. Can’t you just make it the one that’s in the document we sent you?!

They used Algerian, so there was absolutely no way I was doing that.

Me: Definitely, I’ll take another shot at it. As for the font, [lie] I, uh, don’t have that one [/lie] so I will pick something that is close to it.

I make revisions, make all the pinks more of a coral orange color, switch the fonts, and send it back.

Three weeks later I send an email asking if it’s been approved and if they’d like me to send the exported files. No response. Good thing I got paid up front I guess.

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User Submitted Post

3 October 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m a Videographer and was hired to edit a music video.

Client: I need this in two months. Is it possible to get this edited for then?

Me: Yeah no problem, that’s plenty of time. I’ll get started on it later this week and should only take two days to edit. I’m working on a project now but let’s schedule a meeting for Tuesday to go over all the details. 

I got to work, but had a few things come up. I contacted the client on Monday:

Me: Hey, are we okay to reschedule that meeting to Wednesday morning? I have an emergency on another shoot.

Client: Yes of course no problem.

Wednesday morning at 6 am:

Client: Okay I want my deposit back right now you haven’t even downloaded the footage I sent you.

Me: I’m sorry I don’t fully understand? We were having a meeting today to go over the details so I could begin the editing process?

Client: You are a waste of time, send me back the footage and give me my money back.

Keep in mind he didn’t need it for two months and the edit would have taken 2 days maximum.

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User Submitted Post

2 October 2019 - 3:00pm

I’m a Videographer. When I was beginning I shot a video for someone who specialized in building huge tents.

Super nice people, shoot day went well and 4 minute edit was done within a week. It just needed a few amendments  – which is when the client became EXTREMELY impossible to contact.

Client: (always) I’ll get back to you tomorrow morning.

He never did. 

That’s not really so bad but this guy made us re-edit amendments NINE TIMES as well as being impossible to get hold of, so he was asking for amendments and they would be ready the next day and you just wouldn’t hear from him for over a month and it was every. Single. Time. 

Luckily I took a 50% deposit but it took him 7 months to finally pay. After that job I put in my contract that you can only have 3 amendment returns and they have to pay within a 10-day period after initial completion. I haven’t had a problem since.

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Wearing many hats

2 October 2019 - 2:00pm

I was hired by a large “megachurch” to come on staff and design and maintain a new website. I was instructed on my job duties and “to only work on the website” even though I had many other skills as an illustrator and designer.

Client: Focusing on this one area would allow me to excel in that task. We’ve found that giving too many other roles to people stretches them to thin.

So I designed and built the site in record time, and once it was up running well, I organized several ways to maintain and upkeep, as well as expanding some of the functions of the site, Everyone was very happy.

A few months later, I was visited by my supervisor and given my two weeks notice. They liked my work, but they’d recently hired a video production guy who promised he could “do it all”: video, audio, web design, graphic design, stage lighting… he was even certified in IT.

In all they ended up getting rid of me, the audio engineer, the video director, the other graphic designer and even canceled their contract with an IT maintenance company, replacing them all with this one guy!

They stopped updating the site I built- the new guy promised to build a great one from scratch, when he could find the time. They finally got a new website… 8 months later… and they ended up firing the guy a little later on because he was “stretched too thin to get any of the tasks done at a high level.”

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Racist ants cartoon

1 October 2019 - 3:45pm

I was hired to illustrate a cartoon design for a tee shirt. It was supposed to be 2 large “ants” having a picnic, with tiny cartoon people running around the picnic basket and blanket.

Simple enough. Two colors, red and black on a grey tee. I did most of the cartoon lines in black, and used red as a fill color on the checkerboard blanket and the two ants who were having the picnic.

When I showed the client, they didn’t like it.

Client: It looks racist to me. Those ants are stereotypes of African Americans.

I wasn’t sure why or how. They were red cartoon ants after all. 

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t really see it but I can change them if you don’t’ like them. 

The changes she wanted me to add? Large cartoon lips and a big hair bow to the girl ant, and a gold chain and baseball hat to the boy ant in solid black ink. 

For added WTF, the client was an African American woman. I’m still scratching my head on this one. 

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But it’s such a great deal!

1 October 2019 - 3:19pm

I worked for a local screen printer for a total of 5 years. In the first 2 years, they were a start up and it was just the owners who were a husband and wife team, myself and a screen printer. The screen printer was in another warehouse 1/2 a mile away, so he had to use his car to get films from me and his cell phone to call if there were issues. 

I did the graphics but was also expected to do sales even though I was clear that my math skills were severely lacking, not to mention that the constant interruptions make doing graphics very difficult. The owners showed up until after noon, but would act like we should feel sorry for them because they had to “work late” to 8 PM. In other words, a regular 8 hour day. 

The owner once got P.O.’ed about the time it was taking me to do a complex custom project and insisted he could do it in 30 minutes because he took a Community College Course in Illustrator. I invited him to educate me, as in my  20 plus years as a designer, I hadn’t learned that trick yet. Thirty minutes later he threw the mouse and stomped out, going home for the day to nurse his bruised ego.

They made promises of raises as the company grew and benefits, none of which I ever got. After year two, I finally asked for a raise from $12 per hour. With my experience, I felt I deserved better as the company had “grown.” Instead, I was fired because the screen printer and his wife (who started working for the company the previous year) walked out the day before and started their own printshop. We were friends, so I got fired.

Gotta love a Right-To-Work state.

Two years later they came back to me trying to hire me again. 

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The empty threat

30 September 2019 - 3:15pm

Client: Send me two quotes to bill your job — hourly and flat fee. Then I’ll choose which one I want.

Me: No.

Client: No?

Me: You don’t get to choose how I bill you. That’s my choice. I’m going to send you a flat-fee rate for my services. If you approve, I’ll send you a contract, and we can move forward.

Client: Then how will I know which is cheaper?

Me: It’s not an option. You are paying for the value of the project, not how much time I spend on it. 

Client: I don’t have to use you.

Me: No, you don’t. 

Client: I don’t have to use you.

He must have thought I didn’t hear him the first time.

Me: (again) No, you don’t. And I’m not desperate for work. So whatever you want to do is fine with me.

In the end, he used me for the flat fee. But I’ll never do work for him again, as there’s more to this story. As far as this one is concerned, I’m now perpetually busy.

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Magic log collecting

30 September 2019 - 2:48pm

I work in support. A client opened on July 11th a ticket for a problem that happened on July 2nd. Our logs are only kept for 7 days. I asked for a fresh example of the error that we can find in the current batch of logs.

This conversation happened today, July 15th:

Client: Can we extend the log retention period?

Me: Sure, we can flag your errors going forward. 

Client: OK, then extend it and take the logs from July 2nd.

Me: …

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Get elegant with the Exquisite Bundle of 1000+ elements for $9! 99% off!

29 September 2019 - 3:00pm
Get elegant with the Exquisite Bundle of 1000+ elements for $9! 99% off!

This week’s deal is on over a thousand high-end design elements for only $9.

> The entire bundle has a premium feel with more than a touch of class. 

This package has a ton of elements that will save you time, and therefore money: floral designs, decorative elements, flexible brushes, monograms, logo templates, icons, illustrations, seamless patterns and textures, watercolors, wedding invitation templates and more. Perfect for creating branding packages for vacation getaways, florists and wineries, wedding invitations, inspirational crafts… any project that requires an elegant feel will benefit from this package

Full price for every element in this package would add up to $1150, but this week you can get all of them for just $9 at 99% off! That’s incredible value and well worth the price, especially if you sell designs using these elements. Remember, if you’re using it for freelance work it’s TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. 

> Check out the deal here.

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The Effective Manpower Plan

29 September 2019 - 2:00pm

It was my first ever official job after graduating. This guy hired me as a designer for his newly created acrylic and sticker cutting business. By new I mean really brand new…the office were still being built by the time I start my first day and I had to design their logo right there.

Client: Your job will be to design promotion stuff and prep clients’ designs from file to production.  

After the cutting machine came and was all set up, he told me that my job ALSO includes being the customer service, cashier, machine operator and the one who goes to clients’ place to apply the product.

Me: That’s a lot of stuff to do. I don’t think I’ll be able to handle all that.

Client: It’s in your job description. 

I quit on my 4th day after he tried to make me operate a dangerous contraption to fold acrylic using heated metal and he dared to scold me.

Client: You’re giving up so easily! You have no ambition to succeed. 

Stayed just for a couple of days to show the new guy where the files are and took off never to return.

Client: Just stay for another month. 


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Like explaining colors to a blind man

28 September 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: Make this electric blue!

Me: Can I have an example of “electric blue”?(

Client: (NOT showing examples) Like pastel! But not easter eggs! (continuing to not show examples)

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