Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 49 min ago

If it’s good enough for Microsoft, it’s good enough for me!

16 September 2020 - 2:00pm

I’m doing a print layout the a 350-page book for a family member, who didn’t listen when I said repeatedly InDesign will do all the formatting, and tried to make everything perfect in MS Word first. About 20 hours in, reviewing the draft PDF I handed over to check for typos…

Client: The images are in different places. I put in extra spaces and stuff to make them line up, but you took out the tabs in front of the paragraphs.

Me: If you want first line indents, I can change that easily. But please don’t worry about the formatting right now, I’m not done.

Client: But the page numbers are going to be different…

Me: (joking) Well, if you want it to look just like the Word docs, I can just print those to pdf and collate them.

Client: Would you? I kind of thought that was what you were going to do.

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Never stop starting: Personal Trainer Adam Bradley on how Creatives can stay healthy

15 September 2020 - 4:30pm

Working from home is the new reality, and with it comes a very, VERY sedentary lifestyle. Without having to leave your house to do anything, it’s easy to fall out of fitness and into new health problems.

Personal trainer Adam Bradley works with artists and creative workers one-on-one, offering personal consultations about how to keep in shape in ways that work for you. In today’s episode offers host Kyle Carpenter some tips about how to stay healthy while working from home, and his philosophy of why exercise shouldn’t be a shame-based chore. 

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

Think you’d be a great fit for the show? Let me know at

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

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<p>I was tasked with adding links to a

15 September 2020 - 4:00pm

I was tasked with adding links to a clients’ eBlast newsletter.

Client: My assistant Linda sent the email back to me, the link isn’t working and we really need to get this message out!

Me: What happened? As long as she didn’t edit that part of the letter it should be fine. Send it back to me and I’ll check it.

Client: The only thing I see that’s different is the president’s signature was added. But, the link definitely doesn’t work.

I get the email and immediately see the problem. The entire letter is now an image! Linda had to have copied the message body into a Word document so she could print it out and get the president’s signature. She then scanned the signed letter and inserted it into an email as a picture. The text that was supposed to be linked still appeared in underlined blue but was no longer clickable.

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<p>Client: We know a designer could’ve

15 September 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: We know a designer could’ve created a montage, but we want you to photograph this because we want the images to be real and not Photoshop-ed.

After I took the photos:

Client: Can you take this bit of image A, and Photoshop it onto image B; paint out the background, change the color of the logo….

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Medium difficulty

15 September 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: I was kind of hoping that I may have had the proofs by now.

A psychic medium client on day two of a three-day turnaround. Either they have unreasonably high expectations or they got their prediction wrong. Either way, terrible medium-ship.

The post Medium difficulty appeared first on Clients From Hell.

<p>I work remotely as part of a web

14 September 2020 - 4:00pm

I work remotely as part of a web team for the marketing department of a large company. My clients are all internal, submitting requests for website updates for their departments via a help desk ticket system. However, there are some departments that are able to publish directly to the website using specialty applications. Human Resources is one such department, they have the ability to publish job postings on the website themselves. I’m the person who trains departments to use these applications.

A new HR recruiter was hired. A week in, she was trained to publish job postings. Three weeks later…

Client: Can you walk me through how to publish jobs again? I really need to get some out there today, other departments have been waiting.

Me: Unfortunately, I’m not available today. I have a day stacked with meetings but if you want to submit whatever is urgent via a ticket, I should be able to do them later in the day. Then we can schedule training sometime in the next few days and do the others together.

HR lady agrees to this and then sends me 2 emails with a total of FIVE jobs attached. Sigh. Okay, she’s new so I create tickets for her between meetings. At the end of the day, I tackle the tickets and publish the jobs.

In closing one of the tickets, I wrote a note to her:

Me: Please note that I revised the wording in this position so that it follows our brand standards for correct grammar, voice, and tone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well-written.

The next day she phones me to upbraid me:

Client: It was unprofessional of you to change that posting and then tell me that I’d done a bad job. You should have consulted me first. You’re not a team player.

Me: I’m sorry that you feel that way. I should have clearly explained in advance that it’s a part of my team’s service and responsibility to make sure that our online representation follows minimum standards. We automatically make corrections while making sure not to alter the intent of the message. I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary in this case.

Client: These positions come to me already approved by the department directors and should not be changed. I review them and if they need to be changed, I do it. Again, it was very unprofessional of you and I would hate for this director to see what you wrote.

Then it occurred to me that she thought the ticket system was public and the director who wrote the job posting would see my comments. I explained that tickets were private between the client and the tech unless they were shared with other techs. As I did so, I updated the ticket to remove what I’d written and resent it to her.

She continued to repeat how unprofessional I was. At this point, I could have argued that the director who wrote it would probably appreciate the editing to ensure he’d receive quality candidates, and reiterated that this is the primary reason the web team is the filter for most content that’s published.

Instead, I took the high road and simply apologized.

Client: I’d like to get back on track with doing the postings myself. Is there someone else I could work with to be trained? I’d really like to work with someone else.

Me: Unfortunately, there isn’t. I’m the only team member that works with this particular application. I’ll have a look at our calendars and send you an invite for training sometime in the next few days.

I sent an invite for training. She proposed an alternate time which I accepted. The date came and she was a no show. Said she’d sent me a revised meeting request but was having trouble with email. I set another meeting for the next day which she accepted. She didn’t show for that one either.

Client: Hi! I tried to call you if you like send me a new invite with new time that would work better for you.

Me: I had rescheduled the meeting for this afternoon at 2:30pm. According to my Outlook calendar, you accepted the invite. That’s the second time this week I’ve sat in WebEx and on the conference phone line for 20 min waiting for you. Perhaps we should set this aside until you’re less busy? Please just submit help desk tickets for any changes you need until then.

HR: I called you at 2:38 as there was an employee who came in.

Me: What number did you use? I did not have a call waiting indicator and my Verizon portal doesn’t show the call in the logs.

No reply since.

Personally, I think it’s “unprofessional” and “not being a team player” to not use the clear systems in place for communication, but what do I know. I’m just a rude lone wolf… with impeccable grammar.

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Digital Forensics: Las Vegas

14 September 2020 - 3:00pm

I was asked to fly to Vegas and perform forensic recovery of a company’s email server and desktop computers in preparation for litigation in May of last year. I extracted the hard drives, hand-carried them to my lab in Charlotte, and began the process of recovering the data. The clients received regular updates.  I returned the data to the clients; they asked if I could then extract 250k emails and voice mails from opposing counsel’s discovery. I performed this task as well in August.

Here’s where it gets good.

They asked if I would continue to work on this task on the trade show booth while they were at a convention rather than in their offices. I agreed as I would have access to the company owner.

By ‘forensic recovery’ the company employees actually meant ‘sell retail items for us at the show so we can party and drink in Vegas.’ 

I had not yet been paid, so I didn’t walk off the floor.

Late, when presented the invoice for hundreds of hours of work:

Client: But, you did this for fun, didn’t you? You got to hang out with us in Vegas and that’s fun!

This, despite a clear contract.

To this date, they haven’t paid me.

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I hate my site!

14 September 2020 - 2:00pm

I was hired by a client to design a website for a new online t-shirt store. We determined that it would work out best for them if it was a WordPress site that they could update and manage themselves after launch. We planned to have candid non-posed looking photos taken of cute models wearing the shirts on different locations. Very classy and modern looking.

We chose a theme and I proceeded to set up the teaser splash page and customized the theme to their liking, all I needed now from them was the actual content: photos of the merchandise, descriptive copy and prices for the store section.

They kept promising that they would be getting me those materials soon, all they were waiting for was the samples to come back. Every month for 4 months I’d remind them that I was anxious to get their website completed (especially since they still owed me for the final half of my fees). I always got a different answer for why they didn’t have photos yet.

Months later, I ran into the client at the grocery store.

Me: So what is going on with your website? Are you ready to move forward?

Client: Ugh, I hate my website.

Me: Oh no, why?

Client: I can’t get it to do what I want to do. I’m ready to scrap it and start over?

Start over? We never really even started it, I thought to myself.

I didn’t even bother reminding her that there was no content on the site yet. 

I checked the website when I got home. It turns out she had moved it to Wix and setup an ugly splash page and online store without even telling me! The t-shirt photography is just flat black shirts on a white background. Nothing at all like we discussed.

Guess I’m not getting the other half of my money.

The post I hate my site! appeared first on Clients From Hell.

All the contracts you need to protect yourself for just $12!

13 September 2020 - 4:30pm

This week’s deal is a bundle of contracts specifically designed to protect you, the freelancer from, well, clients from hell. 

Some clients want to screw you over. Contracts stop them from doing that. 

Either you’re thinking about starting to freelance, or you’ve been doing it for a while and have already been ripped off by a client from hell. You know how expensive it is to hire a lawyer. With these contracts, you don’t have to. This bundle features multiple contracts that set in stone terms like payment, confidentiality, copyright and more. If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, or just got stiffed one times too many, buy these contracts and rest assured that you’re legally protected from bad clients.

Normally these contracts would sell separately for $149 and still be a good deal compared to hiring a lawyer – but this week they’re only $12. Protect yourself and your business for the cost of lunch out.

Check out the deal here. 



The post All the contracts you need to protect yourself for just $12! appeared first on Clients From Hell.

All your base layout are belong to client

13 September 2020 - 3:00pm

Freelance work. Client asking for 1 logo and 12 different bottle labels for their new home business.

Me:  It will be [X].

Client: Wow that’s really expensive, could you go lower?

Me: I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Client: How about you make the base layout, send me the original file and I do the rest? How much would that be?

Me:  Exactly the same until you can tell me exactly the difference between “the base layout” and “the full job.”

The post All your base layout are belong to client appeared first on Clients From Hell.

It done but do more

13 September 2020 - 2:15pm

I am a freelance Illustrator with most experience in children’s book Illustrations

Throughout the process I sent low resolution copies of the pages I’d completed to show the author that progress is being made and to allow them to suggest edits before I get too far along. For example, if they decide the main character should be in purple instead of red I can change 5 pages then move forward with less editing after the fact. 

Me: Here are the first pages, if you this is good I’ll do the rest.

Client: looks great!

Me: Here are the last pages. If you like I’ll send full resolution of everything after final payment. 

Client: I love it! Here is final payment

Me: Thanks! Here is everything in final format at high resolution.

Client: I need you to edit the outfits on every page.

Me: …I can’t do that with out charging you more. That’s why I sent you pages to confirm.

Client: I’ll take them to someone else to have them edited! 

Why would he pay someone else to do exactly what I could? The answer: to convince me to do it for free. 

The post It done but do more appeared first on Clients From Hell.

I’m baaaack!

12 September 2020 - 4:00pm

A potential client came to me by referral from somebody I had previously worked with. I spent weeks going back and forth with them, determining a good plan and direction for their project and what they needed, spending hours of spec work just to convince them to hire me. Eventually, they were on board:

Client: Send me an invoice for the deposit, I’m ready to go ahead!

I did right away, but they didn’t respond or pay.

A few days later I followed up:

Client: Sorry, I’m going another way. I found another designer who specializes in my industry and understands my business and what I need. I don’t have time to explain to you where I”m coming from.

They train dogs. Not exactly rocket science, but whatever.

I politely said, no probs, all the best, etc, then closed off the entire thing, but was still kind of mad that they strung me along for so long and then canceled the job on me without just telling me.

A couple of weeks later they send an email:

Client: So, turns out that the other lady is too busy to take on a new client. Are you still interested in taking me on?

Me: Oh darn. A bunch of new projects just came in this week, so I’m booked up for the next few months. All the best!

What’s the hardest you’ve ever been ghosted by a client? Let us know! 

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Last minute change = full time headache

12 September 2020 - 3:00pm

So I’m an artist that mostly draws people full references of their characters.

This one client sent me a barely visible sketch of a headshot drawn in crayons. That’s totally fine – not everyone is good at drawing or has fancy equipment – bu to get anything close to a character from what they sent me though I’d have to take a few artistic liberties. Because of this to make sure they were getting exactly what they wanted I decided to talk them through everything I was going to do.

Me: Since this is only a headshot I’m going to need you to tell me what body type, clothes, accessories etc you’d like me to include below the neck

Client: just do what feels natural it’s up to you

Me: All right, if you’re 100% sure I’d be happy to do that.

So from that, I took that I was free to draw it how I imagined. I showed the client the sketches and colours at every stage and got confirmation at each step. 

Eventually, I presented the “final” version.

Client: Well, actually the blue you used is actually a little too dark

Me: I’ve already merged the linework with the colors. Changing it is a pretty big job.

Client: Yeah I know but now I think about it I’m not sure. Can you change it?

Me:  But you confirmed that this was fine.

Client: Yeah, sorry, oops.


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I guess I should check these things!

12 September 2020 - 2:15pm

I’m a grant writer. I was working with a client on an online submission. I had gone back and forth with her on this submission numerous times asking her for details, emails that she didn’t answer, then she would keep emailing me asking me if it was submitted. To which I responded that she hadn’t given me the required data yet, so no, it wasn’t submitted. Also, in my initial conversation, I was providing her all the materials, and since it’s an online submission, I typically have clients actually upload and check all the documents themselves. After all our back and forth she wanted me to do the final submission myself. 

Me: Do you want to log in and make sure every thing is correct? 

Client: No, you can do it, if you made the final edits. 

Me: Okay. 

Later on.

Client: Can you send me the final submission?

I already sent it to her. 

Client: Oh no! Those are the wrong work samples! I gave you the wrong ones. 

Me: Since it’s the weekend, I’ll reach out when they are in the office on Monday and ask them to swap out the work sample for the correct version. 

Client: Maybe in the future I should check everything before the final submission. 


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A quick job… That isn’t quick, and barely a job

11 September 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: Hi, can you design a brochure?

Me: I’ll be out of town for the next two weeks, but might have time before I leave.

Client: It should be quick. 2-3 pages max. Using pre-designed art.

Me: OK, send over the copy.

Two weeks go by.

Client: Hi, I’m almost done with the copy!

Me: I’m out of town, like we discussed.

Client: Oh, right! Well, it’s longer now. Like about 70 pages.


Client: And I need about 100 new graphics for it. But good news! There’s no huge rush! Take your time!

Me: Ok, I’ll work on it when I’m back.

A week goes by. On a Friday night at 8pm:

Client: Hey, how’s it going?

Me: I have about 1/3 of the graphics drawn, wrapping things up for the night.

Client: Yeaahh well, so I actually need it all done by Monday morning so I can present it at a huge conference in Canada. This is kind of a huge deal so can you work on it this weekend?

Me: You need 60 graphics and a 70-something page book designed in two days?

Client: Work your magic!

The post A quick job… That isn’t quick, and barely a job appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Work your pixel magic

11 September 2020 - 3:00pm

The client is an official local distributor of globally recognised brands.

Client: I need a billboard design. 

Me: Alright. Send me the images.

Client sends 72dpi, 200kb web sized images.

Me: Uhh… Those images are too small to design a billboard.

Client: I thought you can scale an image to any size you want?!

Me: If the image is low resolution, I can’t scale it. It would pixelate.

Client: Well that’s all the images I have.

Me: Don’t you have official marketing and promotional images from the manufacturer/brand?

Client: No. I just went on their website and saved those images.

Me: O… K… Well what about doing photography for the product range?

Client: Nah that’s too expensive. Just use the images I sent. Work your magic… You’re talented. That’s why I came to you.

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Discount on a discount

11 September 2020 - 2:00pm

A client’s sister needed a photographer for her baby’s Christening and because of the pandemic, I was giving out 50% discount. 

Client:  I need a photographer for the christening of my baby.  It will be small ceremony. I want a few pictures.

Me: Ok, it will cost you $X. 

Client: It will be short ceremony – only about two hours. Can you reduce the price for me?

Me: This is the best offer i can give you. 

Client:  Give me a moment, please.

The client stepped aside to talk to their brother. I could hear every word.

Client’s brother: People charge twice the amount he’s charging us. This is a good deal.

Client: Really? I think I can get him down.

The client returned.

Client:  It’s a short ceremony and we just need a few pictures. Can you go down 20%?

Me: Do I have to stay for the whole thing?

Client: Yes.

Me: Then the price still remains.

They left, I didn’t take the job. Normally is say I hope they found what they’re looking for but I really, really don’t.

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<p>A client requested a screen share

10 September 2020 - 4:00pm

A client requested a screen share meeting to review a custom WordPress theme I had created.

Instead of sharing the website on their screen, they shared a PDF that consisted of angled photographs of a computer screen, printed out, marked up in Sharpie, and then scanned… with every page rotated in a different direction.

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10 September 2020 - 3:00pm

I work for a dev company and a design agency has sent us designs for a website they’d like us to build for them. After receiving the designs, we asked the design agency if there were any designs for mobile and tablet views. 

Client: Does it have to be responsive? I remember a time when a website was a website… It looked the way it looked no matter what you viewed it on. It looked bigger on a bigger screen with a bigger browser window and it looked smaller on a smaller screen with a smaller browser window, and it fitted the width of my tablet screen and I just had to scroll up and down to see more, and if I viewed it on my smartphone it looked tiny in portrait and better in landscape.

Yeah, we just changed how we do things for no dang reason. After all, people LOVE holding their phone in landscape.

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What PDF?

10 September 2020 - 2:15pm

Client: I need to send an annual report to the Board, but I need the Chairman’s statement removed from the PDF, can you help? I have the software to do it, but I need a copy of the PDF.

Me: I designed all the reports, so I can definitely help. Which one is it?

Client: This one.

They sent a direct link to the already-published, publically accessible PDF on the company website.

Me: Did you try just downloading this one?

Client: Oh! Can I do that? 


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