Clients from Hell

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A collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers.
Updated: 2 hours 35 min ago

This story is completely true, and utterly ridiculous at the same time.I’ve been doing some video...

15 June 2018 - 1:40pm

This story is completely true, and utterly ridiculous at the same time.

I’ve been doing some video editing jobs as part of my position at a digital design agency. I was recently briefed on a job that would be recurring monthly, and as a result, I needed to create a template that could be edited for future variations.

Client: The background is rather dark.

Me: Yes. It’s black. If you’d like we can try experimenting with different colors?

Client: No, no, I quite like the black, it’s just…very dark. Can we lighten it a bit?

Me: Well, sure. It won’t be black anymore though. Lightening it even slightly will make it a dark grey/charcoal.

Client: Hmmm. I don’t like that. Any other ideas?

Me: Well I could add a white pattern overlay. That should break up the monotony of the black a bit and add a little character?

Client: But won’t that make it even DARKER?

I’m not even kidding.

Me: *asks important questions about how a thing could be...

14 June 2018 - 8:07pm


Me: *asks important questions about how a thing could be possible*
Client: *gets offended*

Original story here: https://clientsfromhell.net/post/694721715/client-i-need-you-to-redesign-the-shirts-you

I’m a senior copywriter in an in-house marketing department.Client: We need you to write website...

14 June 2018 - 3:20pm

I’m a senior copywriter in an in-house marketing department.

Client: We need you to write website pages for these suites of programs.

Me: OK, can I get some guidance here so we don’t run into problems later? Can I see a design so I know what copy is needed and the general structure? Are there specific features of the program the brand team wants to mention? Etc.

Client: You’re a senior copywriter, I expect you to know this stuff.

Client: We printed the file you sent us to see how it looks in scale and I don’t think you set the...

14 June 2018 - 1:40pm

Client: We printed the file you sent us to see how it looks in scale and I don’t think you set the size correctly. It’s very small.

Me: Hmm, the artboard size reads 36 inches. How are you printing this?

Client: We used our printer and printed on a letter size paper.

Me: Okay, you will have to check “Do Not Scale” and print them out on several papers and tile them.

Client: But we have to fit it on a letter size, so we clicked “Fit to Page.” Now how do I make this bigger?

After 30 minutes of explaining how to print, I ended up calling the youngest available person in the company (an intern) to eventually get them to print in size.

A client who I had worked with for some years came back to me after an initial draft with a...

13 June 2018 - 3:20pm

A client who I had worked with for some years came back to me after an initial draft with a long list of changes. I sent him back EXACTLY the same brochure and EXACTLY the same video but 10% brighter.

Client: I am impressed. Let me check with the guys but I think we’ll get a thumbs up here.

Either I’ve delayed actually having to make those changes or I am a genius. 

"Tell the team today that they need to think of every conceivable way we can avoid paying his..."

13 June 2018 - 1:40pm
“Tell the team today that they need to think of every conceivable way we can avoid paying his invoice…. Yes, well we’ll just keep fobbing him off with excuses until he gives up, then.”

- Someone else’s client overheard in an otherwise quiet café . 

I am a 3D print artist. A client wanted 4 keys 10 cm long 2.5 mm thick. That worked, but barely – at...

12 June 2018 - 3:20pm

I am a 3D print artist. A client wanted 4 keys 10 cm long 2.5 mm thick. That worked, but barely – at this size, they can’t be made any thinner and still be printable in the desired material.

Client: I want another set of keys in 1/6 scale.

Me: I can design that, but it won’t be printable.

Client: Ok, well design them anyway.

Later:

Client: Hey! These 1/6 scale keys won’t print. Make them printable.

Me: I told you that at 10 cm long they couldn’t be any thinner and still be printable. I can alter them to make them printable, but they’ll have to be thicker.

Client: Okay, do that.

Later:

Client: Hey, why are these keys so thick?

After about four more rounds of the keys have to be that thick to print, vs yes they aren’t perfectly 1/6 scale, I finally convinced her to print 5 cm, 2.5 mm keys.

Six months later, I got an email asking for printable 1/6 scale keys and the loop started over.

I received an email from a guy who needed help with compositing one green-screen shot. He sent the...

12 June 2018 - 1:40pm

I received an email from a guy who needed help with compositing one green-screen shot. He sent the files to my Dropbox, along with a text file containing clear instructions on what to do. I completed the task and sent it back to him.

The next day a different shot showed up in my Dropbox with a new set of instructions. I finished that as well.

The next day, I woke up to find my Dropbox completely full. He had given me the rushes for his entire film, plus 6 text files detailing where to cut and how to arrange the scenes. I hadn’t agreed to this AT ALL.

Me: Sorry! I didn’t realize you wanted me to edit your whole film. There’s no way I can finish it before the deadline you’ve given me unless you offer someone to help or compensation for my time.

He was incredibly upset. He didn’t speak to me again and edited the film on his own.

Matt Inglot on how to grow your business with RECURRING clients

12 June 2018 - 10:03am

Matt Inglot’s Tilted Pixel is a thriving web design business that Matt runs all by himself. That wasn’t always the case - he used to run a small agency that took WAY too much of his time until he figured out how to make more money with less work.

Matt shares his strategy in this episode, telling you how to shift your efforts to securing clients that will keep you in steady income with less work. After all, if you’re spending less time doing outreach, you have more time to make money!

This is a really useful talk! Definitely check it out. 

Today’s links: 

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This episode is brought to you by Easel.ly, an infographic design service that transforms raw data into clear, interesting images. You can see their work on Clients From Hell

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Download here!

"I don’t like what you drew for me, I want something more original. Can you use these images I found..."

11 June 2018 - 3:20pm
“I don’t like what you drew for me, I want something more original. Can you use these images I found on Google instead?”

I’m currently looking for entry-level editing jobs — I’ve got a lot of experience, but nothing I...

11 June 2018 - 1:40pm

I’m currently looking for entry-level editing jobs — I’ve got a lot of experience, but nothing I can actually put on a resume, which means a lot of scouring Craigslist, Upwork, etc. I found a job for editing a sci-fi/fantasy novel that looked right up my alley, which was great until the issue of “price” came up.

Client: Payment would be in the form of being listed as Co-Author and splitting any profits from the sale of the book and/or movie rights.

Sigh.

Transform your designs with colorful smoke! Only $14!

10 June 2018 - 3:20pm

This week’s deal is on fire! Er… okay, it IMPLIES fire! 

> Add colorful smoke effects to your designs for only $14!

A subtle, fun way to add color to your designs, these colored smoke elements add whimsy and elegance to your photo and font collages. This bundle combines backgrounds, transparent photos, and even 120 smoke brushes for Photoshop that will let you paint smoke. That’s super cool. Make your photos look like you have a pro pyrotechnics team behind the scenes, or shroud your typography in mystery; there are lots of subtle ways to use these tools… and the bundle even comes with a quick tutorial!

Normally all 250+ items in this package would cost $59 but for a limited time you can save 76% and pay only $14

> Check out the deal here. 

A friend of a friend wanted four tutorial videos to put on Youtube, each at two minutes long.Me:...

10 June 2018 - 1:40pm

A friend of a friend wanted four tutorial videos to put on Youtube, each at two minutes long.

Me: I’ll do it for 615 USD.

Client: :o So expensive!

Me: I know. That’s what they cost. In fact, that’s cheap. I couldn’t do them for less, I’m sorry.

Client: Ok, I get it. But why it is so different… another guy said that he would do the 4 videos for 185 USD… and if you only do the filming and the editing, no storyboard and script, would it be the same?

Me: I don’t know what to say about the other guy… but I have to do all the process: storyboard, script, filming and editing. I can’t skip any step.

Client: And if the videos are only 1 min long?

Me: Yeah, that would change the price… Just a sec.

I did some calculations:

Me: Four videos, each a minute long would cost $555. That price is the cheapest I can send to you. You have to understand that making a video is a whole process…

Client: It is still expensive :/ Thanks anyway.

If a client was never serious about hiring you in the first place, were they ever really a client?

I once asked a potential client about his deadline: Client: I want it by yesterday!Me: Well if...

9 June 2018 - 3:20pm

I once asked a potential client about his deadline:

Client: I want it by yesterday!

Me: Well if that’s the timeline, it’s going to cost more.  

He was stunned. I maintained a poker-face, but in my mind was thinking “dude, I have to invent a freaking time machine to finish your project by yesterday… obviously, it’s going to cost!” 

I am a web designer who offers web hosting. My client, a very capable retired professional (not a...

9 June 2018 - 1:40pm

I am a web designer who offers web hosting. My client, a very capable retired professional (not a twelve-year-old), let his domain name expire and only noticed four months later.

I explained how to re-register the domain, and how to edit the nameservers so the site is accessible again. That kicked off this painful email exchange.

Client: I registered the domain name just now but I can’t log back in because I can’t remember what my username is! I thought it was my full name but that doesn’t work. Here is my payment transaction number and my password. Please figure it out.

Me: Can you take a look in your order confirmation email, or forward it to me? Your username is likely in it. Then we can get you logged in, tell the registrar where your website is, and get it going again.

Crickets. Two days passed.

Client: Why aren’t you helping me? I sent you everything you needed! I thought this was part of the service you provided! I need my username!

For the record, I designed his small HTML website 9 years ago; he’s never updated a word on it and has been paying me $50/year to host it since then. He sometimes emails to say how he hates the web and he’s so disappointed his website isn’t more successful.

Me: I’m doing everything I can to help you, but there’s only so much I can do. I suggest that you contact the registrar; they can give you your username.  Here’s a link to their support page with all their contact info.

Client: The registrar doesn’t have any contact information available. Nothing at all - not an email or a phone number. Why can’t you do this for me? 

Me: I don’t work for the registrar and can’t access your account information there. Here’s a link to their contact page again; they offer support via email, phone and support ticket. They’re known for great customer service and will help you.

Client: I guess I just won’t have a website, then. Why don’t you want to help me? 

"I didn’t know these wouldn’t be laminated!"

8 June 2018 - 3:20pm
“I didn’t know these wouldn’t be laminated!”

- A troublesome client receiving his business cards. 

A colleague of mine asked if I could rebrand his company, and I agreed. He signed a contract, paid...

8 June 2018 - 1:40pm

A colleague of mine asked if I could rebrand his company, and I agreed. He signed a contract, paid his deposit and we set a deadline for initial concept proofs. I met the deadline, and I send him the initial proofs. He chooses a concept, but I wasn’t certain that he really liked what I’d come up with, so I asked him if he’d like me to go back to the drawing board and keep working on something.

No reply.

I assumed all was good. After the first round of revisions, I pressed him a little.

Client: What’s not to love?

I went ahead with the next round of revisions, after which he finalized the design and asked for the files.

Two weeks later (a month after I’d initially submitted concepts), I received an email.

Client: What do we do about the logo? It’s not masculine enough.

…Okay. I make the corrections he requested.

Me: Is that better?

Client: I don’t like it. Actually, I think it’s terrible. I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth – I could probably put $300 on a contest website and get something I love, so why am I paying you? I mean, this is taking really long. It’s been over a month since I saw your concepts!

Me: …Well, maybe you can tell me more specifically what you’re looking for?

At this point, he sends me links to Google search results for “masculine logos.”

Client: I don’t know why I have to do all this research.

Me: I’m sorry you feel that way. But can you tell me what you SPECIFICALLY like about these examples?

No response.

I followed up a few times. Eventually, he texted me to let me know that he’d gotten my email but hadn’t had time to respond. That was over a month ago now. I’m still waiting for his response.

Jeez, I’m sorry it’s taking so long. Must be my fault. *shrugs*

It’s the complete confidence in ignorance that sells this...

7 June 2018 - 7:17pm


It’s the complete confidence in ignorance that sells this one. 

Original story here: https://clientsfromhell.net/post/1481634046/me-now-just-clear-the-cache-memory-in-your

I was directing a fundraising campaign video, and the client wanted to bring in another camera...

7 June 2018 - 3:20pm

I was directing a fundraising campaign video, and the client wanted to bring in another camera operator

Client: So I’ll be calling in another person to do some extra shots

Me: Great! I have the shot list and I’ll send it over once I’ve marked the shots she can shoot with little to no instruction.

Client: Sounds good, thanks. 

I sent the list. After a conversation with the other camera operator, it seemed like she knew what to do, so I stepped aside to let her work. 

On the last day of her shooting, I came to the location early to see what was going on, and the second camera operator was chatting with the client. Approaching them, I said hi.

Client: So we’ve decided that she (the second operator) is going to finish shooting and edit and finish the whole thing, you haven’t turned up to any of the shoots last week.

I wasn’t “at the shoots” because I had previously organised engagements. I told the client WELL in advance and we’d agreed on a schedule… which was WHY he hired the second camera op in the first place. I reminded the client of this fact:

Me: You knew I couldn’t be there – we scheduled all this via email.

Client: How would I know? I delete all my emails after reading them.

I threw in the towel, took my gear and headed home.

The fundraiser failed due to lack of funds.

An actual message I received from my Print Broker client....

7 June 2018 - 1:40pm


An actual message I received from my Print Broker client. He used to give me a lot of work so I returned the favour by charging HALF my rate, however, he now drip feeds small jobs and has a monthly spend smaller than my food bill. Lesson: Never drop your rate.

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