Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 2 min ago

Insert film clip… in magazine.

21 November 2020 - 4:00pm

A client wanted a movie clip inserted into the magazine.

I put the video clip thumbnail in the proof, assuming that’s what they meant.

Client: I pressed the play button and nothing happened.

Uhhh… yeah. 

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“Approval or no, I still don’t like it.”

21 November 2020 - 3:00pm

I work as a senior graphic designer at a printing company that also offers trade-show and display solution. One of our customers is a dentist and his wife is a holistic therapist. They are going to come to a show and they need a portable booth solution.

They sent me a number of photos for consideration. All of them were the cheesiest photos that almost every dentist office uses to advertise their denture business. Some of them have “Happy Valentine” wordings in the back of the couple, and some are more towards to “Funeral” service… They asked me to choose one out of them. I chose the one that less “dating” and “funeral” vibe and told them why I chose it. The next morning, his wife told me she wanted to use photo of a couple making a heart with their hands. My boss and I laughed, but we decided to go with what customer wants because, well, customer is king!

A week after, the booth was done and delivered to them. The wife suddenly called my boss at the end of today to tell him that she didn’t like the font used for the main slogan.

Client: I didn’t expect that font.

Me: But we had not heard from you saying that you didn’t like it. Didn’t you see the proof sent by my designer before you approved it?

Client: Yes I did, but I didn’t see the font.

Me: What about the printed proof? I showed it to you and your husband. It clearly show how the font looks like.

Client: Well, I asked 3 people in my office and none of them liked the font.

Me: But you approved it. Had we heard that you don’t like the font, we would have changed to the font you want.

Client: (10 seconds silence) …I still don’t like it.

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Client is too lazy / idle to send me a written reply in response to my message that I have finished their website.

21 November 2020 - 2:10pm

A client asked me to replicate (plagiarize) a website. I worked hard to create a site that had the key features of his example but which wouldn’t violate copyright and sent him an email letting him know it was finished. He left me a voicemail in response.

Client: Thank you for your work, but it’s not finished. I really need it to look like [other site]. Please make it look more like that site in a professional manner you would be comfortable with.

Um, I did. 

The post Client is too lazy / idle to send me a written reply in response to my message that I have finished their website. appeared first on Clients From Hell.

<p>Over the years I’ve done some work

20 November 2020 - 4:00pm

Over the years I’ve done some work for my alma mater, primarily for student organizations, It’s typically easy stuff, a simple flyer here, a postcard there, and I don’t charge much (and it’s also great for my relatively thin portfolio).

As expected, the cheapest clients can sometimes be the worst but a lot of students are generally understanding. Recently however, I was working with a faculty member who sent me three emails in the space of an hour:

Client: Did I submit the flyers for print yet? It should be done by now.

Client: Here’s a typo in a name I submitted that I forgot to mention several emails ago.

Client: Please ad this sponsor logo. 


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The most disappointed client I’ve ever had.

20 November 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: You followed the brief exactly and gave me what I asked for. I’m really disappointed, and it’s not your fault. In fact, if I’m being perfectly honest, I have no idea what the f*** I was expecting.

Finally, a client who recognizes that it’s not my fault. So why am I crying?

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Going grayscale

20 November 2020 - 2:29pm

I’m in my late twenties, and I’m already going gray.

I attribute it to the number of times a clients has said “can’t you just use a placeholder?”  in the eleventh hour before going live.

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Coworker becomes CFH with one small title change

19 November 2020 - 4:00pm

A colleague of mine had a lateral title change and with that transition acquired a sense of arrogance that borders on harassment. 

At first, it was harassing me to drop projects to focus on hers with no lead time, strategy, and often missing key information like specs, assets, or messaging. I asked for a brief to make it simpler on us both, but was met with defensive indifference. 

To avoid a brief and my pushback for more information, she started doing her own designs often using my templates and not the guidelines.  I’d ask her about that too but was dismissed so I decided to “opt” out of trying to prioritize creative for her side of the team because she preferred to work independently and was demeaning towards me whenever I tried to help or guide her. 

I suggested she own sourcing images for her own email (which she does 95% of the time anyway without me because she doesn’t want to listen to me) and she made a big thing of it.  She said it should only take me an hour and she shouldn’t spend that time doing it because her time is very valuable (inferring mine was not). 

Her supervisor said that they hired me to assist with this initiative (which I agree with and do since I designed the layout and image templates for the email) but because of that said I should always be available to help (which I am but seriously it’s the most backwards approach to production I’ve ever witnessed in 10 years of working).  Overall the exchange was very unprofessional on there side and was met with a lot of finger pointing and taking zero accountability for the communication methods or approach. 

Essentially, a coworker got a non-promotion and BECAME a client from hell out of nowhere. Mind-boggling.

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Client will never send me a text message, always voice messages

19 November 2020 - 3:18pm

I have a client who won’t use email (my preferred platform for communication), insisting on using Facebook messenger. 

The most infuriating thing is he will never just write a text message to me in Facebook, it is always a voice message. They’re always a full minute long, and sometimes he sends several at once. 

He sent me a bunch on Sunday. It’s bad enough reading emails on Sunday – 10+ Facebook voice messages are not okay. I will ignore this message to teach him that I have other clients, not just him.

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<p>I&#8217;m an in-house designer

19 November 2020 - 2:37pm

I’m an in-house designer/animator combo. So fair it’s resulted in my client making various sound effects at me in an attempt to convey motion.

Client: Just like… you know? Making it go “boop”? And shwoop.

Yeah lemme just write that shwoop script.

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18 November 2020 - 4:00pm

We have a carpet pattern we needed approved and ordered last week to hit our deadline, and we got the following feedback this morning:

Client: I think your color palette is strong, but can we trade out colors A, B, C, F, and G?


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The only thing worse than dumb revisions is useless dumb revisions

18 November 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m working with a client, creating covers for study guides to other books.

Client: I want the covers to look exactly like the books they’re covering – enough that someone might be this instead of the original.

Me: That could be considered plagiarism. It would be much safer for me to come up with something similar, but different.

Client: I insist.

I spent too much time going through thirty revisions, each time getting closer and closer to the original designs. Finally, I send the 29th version, only to find out that one of the two people that have been receiving the versions didn’t actually understand that what they were receiving were ACTUALLY the book covers. This was after a month.

The primary client looked at the latest version and decides that the cover looks close enough to the text that it’ll work for now, “since once it goes to the publisher, they’re going to put their own cover on it anyways.”

Cue internal screaming. It’s still going. I’ll let you know when the screaming actually stops.

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When the universe tells you to run…listen

18 November 2020 - 2:02pm

I am a frequent copywriting subcontractor to a small marketing agency run by a really nice man. His client, however, was more than a bit of a tool; he thought he was the smartest man in any room, and his business and his ethics left a lot to be desired.

I was hired to write 3 web pages. Every draft of his less-than-original business concept went through multiple drafts as he had to run them by his fellow “experts” in the field.

He criticized word choices that were not used in the drafts, asked for content already covered, and suggested I used “strong” words like “comprehensive” and “all-encompassing.” [wtf]

Once I sent the final drafts, I happily sent my invoice to the nice guy and put this client in my “never again” file. He contacted me weeks later, explaining he needed a brochure in a matter of days, and basically asked me to plagiarize a brochure he sent me.

Trying to blow him off in a professional manner, I (honestly) explained that I had other projects on my plate and did not have the bandwidth to take on his project in his timeframe. To which he responded:

Client: What do you mean by no bandwidth? No internet access? And why is this an issue.

SMH. Dodged a bullet there.

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My uncle is a thief

17 November 2020 - 4:00pm

I am a Digital Design student, but I do some freelance work on the side for friends and family. During a family gathering, my uncle approached me:

Client: I need a logo for my new company. Can you do that?

Me: I’d be happy to!

A few days later he emailed me with the specs for the project, along with an attached file of an art piece of a lion.

Client: I want this to be the basis for the logo. Photoshop these parts and add some text, but keep the logo intact. 

The art piece was very highly detailed and had the artist’s information on the bottom along with a link to their deviant art page (in a section I was supposed to delete, obviously). I highly doubted my uncle got permission to use the piece, so I went to the artist’s page and found it very clearly stated; “NOT AVAILABLE FOR REUSE OR EDITING OF ANY KIND.”

Me: I looked up the piece and it’s clear you didn’t get permission to use it. If we go forward with this, we could both get in legal trouble. If you want, though, I can do something similar but different myself. 

I sent that email weeks ago. He hasn’t contacted me again.

Thanksgiving might be awkward.

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Website is not working…

17 November 2020 - 3:07pm

Client: Hey the website you built is not working. We need you to fix it.

Me: Okay, let me see what it is doing on my end. Hmm. It seems to be working just fine.

Client: It’s not working here. You need to do something.

Me: Can you go to any other websites?

Client: No, the computer says there is no internet connection.

Me: Okay, that means you’re having a problem connecting to the internet on your system.

Client: Not really sure what that means, but we need you to fix our website, it is so messed up we can’t get anything to work.

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U Mad?

17 November 2020 - 2:05pm

Client: I hope I didn’t offend you by asking you for free artwork for my project. I noticed you haven’t replied to my messages.

Their previous message:

Client: Here is a list of characters to draw. Please include all details. This is a personal project, so no payment will be made. If you MUST be paid, there might be some kind of arrangement, even if it’s just in exposure. This is for a project that I might proceed with.

Gee, I wonder why I didn’t respond.

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Don’t take jobs you can’t do

16 November 2020 - 4:00pm

I’m a character animator. I was contacted by a guy I knew in college who went into Illustration, not animation, but had taught himself the very basics of animating in Photoshop. For whatever reason, he took a fairly complex character animation job and it took months to realize he was in way over his head. He contacted me to do ghost work on the project, promised 80% of the pay.

Because he was a friend I agreed and he told me he informed the client he was outsourcing to me. I had to redesign his character (because it was designed so poorly) and then submitted him the rough animation. He insisted he do the cleanup work. What followed next was an email exchange where it was clear he had no idea what he was doing and wanted my help with this too, which I did up to the point of actually just doing it. I never heard back from him.

Months later I contacted him and got a run around about the clients billing department, and then that they never accepted the animation (which I can only assume was a flat-out lie or the final product was turned down due to the fact he wasn’t qualified to do the job in the first place let alone the cleanup. My only reassurance in this was when I called the client up myself, I was assured they never heard of me so I can at least rest easy the crap he submitted to them didn’t have my name attached.

Never heard from him again.

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I think I understand…

16 November 2020 - 3:00pm

Verbatim job board posting:

Client: Project Description: Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK??? Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK??? Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK??? Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK??? Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK??? Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK??? Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK??? Please do not apply for this job until you understand it…OK???

I CANNOT do Graphics therefore I need someone that can help me with MY IDEAS and To help me to create slides as I want/NEED them completed for my designs 1. I will send u the sketches as I want them designed. 2. You will assist me in creating the designs. 3. U must do UNLIMITED reviews as I do not want LAZY people working with me. 4. Upon COMPLETION of each series, I will pay u $5/new series…. so if it takes you ONE HOUR to complete … then you are averaging $5/hour, correct??? So the emphasis is on YOU!!! So if you are cooperative, we will do many designs… otherwise we will waste each others valuable time!!!! We will not tolerate ATTITUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WILL YOU DO A TEST ?????? Yes or NO ??? Do you understand the job offer now?

Hours of work: 40 Hr/week

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A necessary display of displeasure

16 November 2020 - 2:04pm

Back when I worked customer service for a Heating and Cooling company, I got a call for emergency work on a heater. Problem was we had no one to do the job and no emergency services for heaters, we only had emergency service for plumbing since those services could completely destroy a house. The conversation went as followed.

Client: I need someone out here tonight! We need the heater!

Me: My apologies we do not offer emergency services at this time for heaters, we can get to you in a day or two.

Client: I pay for a contract on this heater! I pay you every F***king month you need to fix this heater! Send me to your manager!

Me: Ma’am my manager is current on a call and I do not know when she will finish If you give me a call back number I can…

Client: No! You will send me to your manager’s line right now you B****h!

Me: Ma’am I cannot help you if you keep yelling and cursing. I cannot transfer you because my manager is busy. If I could have a call back number I….

Client: What is your name F***er? Tell me now!

Me: I do not feel comfortable giving you that information. Please stop yelling.

I hung up when the client continued to yell for my name and started being threatening. Not a minute later the representative behind me got the same lady, she was yelling so loud my co-worker had to take off her headset. My co-worker hung up as well, and the client called another rep. We all hung up on her for one important reason. It was the middle of July in an intense heatwave. We were not repairing heaters on any form of emergency basis.

If was an AC we would have been out the next morning.

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Save time and money designing packages and products with 395 seamless patterns for $8!

15 November 2020 - 4:00pm

This week’s deal is on nearly 400 beautiful patterns and textures for only $8.

> They’re gorgeous, and incredibly useful.

Whether you’re designing products, packaging, or just need a bit of zazz for a background, you’ll use these textures again and again. Ranging from tasteful watercolors to fun designs, one look and your mind will race with possibilities. These textures could be one of the most useful parts of your toolkit, and all 395 are under ten dollars.

Normally, every pattern in this bundle would cost $32, but this week you can save 75% and pay only $8 for the whole shebang

> Check out the deal here!

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Other Side Button

15 November 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: For this motion graphic video, I want the camera to turn around and show the laptop from the other side.

Me: Okay. Do you have a photo of the laptop from the other side?

Client: No, but doesn’t Photoshop do that? Hit the “other side” button or whatever.

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