Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 28 min 12 sec ago

Unsatisfied Disoriented Clients

1 February 2021 - 2:00pm

I work for two hotels, sister sites, in the Caribbean. Clients from both properties asked me to prepare posters to advertise New Year’s Eve parties. 

I got started right away, and it should have been an easy job, except the clients continuously changed the information. Every day they’d send me new information that required me to basically start over. Then. when the first was finally ready to roll out after a week of revisions:

Client: We’ve decided we’re no longer advertising either of these NYE dinners.

So that was a big waste of time. 

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1800+ High-res background patterns for $9! Save 99%!

31 January 2021 - 4:00pm

This week’s deal is on over 1800 high-resolution patterns that will perk up your website backgrounds, packaging designs, posters and more!

> They’re cute, fun, and 99% off.

Flat colors have their place, but so do fun patterns to fill the spaces of your designs. These seamless repeating patterns are dynamic and fun, and easy to drop into any of your existing designs. All 1805 are unique, repeatable patterns that make it easy to create something vibrant and adorable! Each pattern features a theme like flowers, animals, or food and they look great. It’s not hard to imagine the possibilities here.

What’s more, at only $9, or 99% off the full asking price of $1260, buying all 1805 will only set you back the price of two premium coffees. That’s a TON of value for a price you’ll be able to turn around in no time. 

> Check out the deal here.

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Worthless test site

31 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: The site is broken!

Me: The site I’m working on? What do you mean? 

Client: I typed my business name into Google and it’s not showing up.

Me: …Okay. I’m still hosting the working draft of the site at a staging URL, and it’s not publicly searchable. I gave you the link so you can look at the latest changes I’ve pushed anytime. Let’s get this design finished, and then we start to worry about making sure you show up in a Google search.

Client: If my customers can’t find the site, then it’s worthless! What am I even paying you for? 

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Advance notice

31 January 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: I’ve been told that I should consult someone to create a marketing plan for this product.

Me: I can definitely help with that. When did you want to go live?

Client: In a week.

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Vision quest

30 January 2021 - 4:00pm

I was working for a tech startup managing their content and social media strategy. The CEO was pretty flighty, but after months of wrangling I’d finally convinced him to stick to one plan and build it over time. 

He took a week’s vacation, and when he came back: 

Client: Scrap everything. I’ve had a vision for how we’re going to change the world.

Turns out his holidays was an ayahuasca ceremony and I had to scrap everything and start over. 

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Dunno.

30 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: That isn’t working for me.

Me: Okay, what don’t you like?

Client: I don’t know. I just don’t like it.

Me: Is there anything about the design that you do like, that I can zero in on and expand?

Client: I’m not sure. It’s not BAD, I just don’t like it.

Me: Do you have an example of another design that you like that I can take a look at?

Client: No, I don’t really pay attention to this stuff.

Me: 

Client: I don’t know. Try to come up with something. 

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Chroma chameleon

29 January 2021 - 4:00pm

I logged into a client meeting on Zoom, and forgot that I’d set it to use a beach backdrop in my last meeting.

Client: Hey, where are you? The beach? Jealous! 

Me: Haha, yeah.

Client: But is it really safe to travel with the pandemic?

They weren’t kidding. The next fifteen minutes of the meeting were just me demonstrating chroma-keying to them. 

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High-quality iPhone screenshot

29 January 2021 - 3:00pm

I asked a client for a high-res version of their logo – they sent me a screenshot. 

Me: I’m sorry, I need a higher-quality file.

Client: I took this on my iPhone – that should be good enough considering what I paid for it. 

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What is this, a fridge comic strip?

29 January 2021 - 2:00pm

I submitted a poster design advertising a sales event to a local client.

Client: This looks great! Really fine work. 

A hour later:

Client: …I actually have some reservations about this. I think there’s a lot that can improve.

Me: You loved it an hour ago. What happened?

Client: Well, I showed it to my wife, and she changed my mind about it.

I don’t know what I resent more – that final approval was revoked, or I was unwillingly a participant in a “Boomer Humor” skit about wives being terrible. 

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Releasing Music

28 January 2021 - 4:00pm

I work in the music industry setting up releases for digital distribution. This is a pretty consistent conversation I have on a weekly basis.

Me: Hi! I need artwork in JPG format and at least 3000×3000 px for the thumbnail. There can’t be any copyrighted images on there. The audio needs to be a WAV file: 44.1khz and 24bit. Please send lyrics so I can check if the track is explicit (don’t include a marker on the artwork if it isn’t.)

Client sends me artwork with a BMW sticker, a Hennessy bottle and a Selfridge bag on it, front of stage. The resolution is 500×500 and the file format is .png. It has an explicit marker on it even though the track is not explicit. The audio is mp3, or mp3 converted to WAV.

 

 

 

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Anyone can do a writing.

28 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: You know, I’m so impressed you can make it as a writer. After all, anyone can do a writing. 

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A little help from my friends.

28 January 2021 - 2:00pm

I had a client who made a typo & didn’t see it until it went to print.

The printers saw it though and instead of contacting my client or me, they went rogue and altered it in the PDF… which changed all the fonts to whatever generic ones they had.

“You’re welcome” they said. 

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Typo refund

27 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: I found a typo – on page 76 it says “teh” instead of “the.”

Me: Oh, yeah it does. Sorry, that’s embarrassing.

Client: So what’s your refund policy in this situation? 

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The year of responding badly

27 January 2021 - 3:00pm

January 29: Initial Draft of Website Provided.

February 5: Sent Check-in Email.

Client had issues logging in, resent access info same day

February 7: Sent Check-in Email as User account still unregistered

February 12: Sent Check-in Email

Client: I am traveling at conferences, will do when I can.  

March 10: Sent Check-in Email.

Client: I know I have to get through the draft, sorry, been buried.

March 23: Sent Check-in Email.

April 1: Sent Invoice for Work to Date.

Client: (April 7 response to March 23 email) Later this week maybe, like Friday?

April 9: Resent link to draft site and requested feedback.

April 24: FINALLY received Client feedback/revisions. 

April 27: Notified client of updates completed, requested call to answer questions

May 1: Call with Client to review needs to complete site

May 19: Sent client check-in email with list of needs for the site.

Client: Thanks.  I hope to spend a bunch of time on it this weekend and get to final edits!

May 29: Sent Check-in Email.

Client: I really didn’t expect to have to do so much myself, and that’s not something I have time available for much, so I haven’t been able to get back to it.

There was no further communication in June, July, August, September, October, November.

December 22, 5:22pm:

Client: I have completed a review that’s ready for you to address.

Me: I’m just on the way out of the office for the holiday, but I’ll get right to it in the New Year.

Client: We finally have time and resources to dedicate to this and you are going to be non-responsive then for the two weeks we have set aside to do this?  That is totally unfair, and unreasonable.

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What about my investment?

27 January 2021 - 2:00pm

Me: Have you had a chance to look at that contract yet?

Client: Not yet. Would you mind if I waited to sign it until after the first deliverable?

Me: Uh… I would mind that. I would mind that very much.

Client: Well then how am I supposed to protect my investment? 

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But… I’M important!

26 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Me: Hey, I sent you my invoice weeks ago and it still hasn’t been paid. 

Client: Yeah, sorry, we’re almost done paying the important bills then we’ll get to you.

 

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Most ridiculous quibble from client

26 January 2021 - 3:00pm

A large church blew $7k on a tent, chairs and BBQ enough for 1200 people, but balked at the $800 to print and mail flyers promoting it. Their reason?

Client: Nobody pays that much for flyers.

8 people showed up.

Ouch. What’s the worst decision one of your clients has committed to?

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We need this by 4 days … or tomorrow

26 January 2021 - 2:00pm

I signed up a new client a couple of weeks ago. They showed a number of red flags immediately – negotiated my hourly rate down $3, only discussed things via the phone, and even added me to their timekeeping system and then sent me a brief video screen-share explaining how it works. Remember that tidbit.

Then came the first assignment. The brief was a mess, which was also a red flag. Despite that, I moved ahead:

Me: Based on what you’ve told me here, I’d say the turnaround should be about 4 days. 

They didn’t respond, so I set to work with that timeline in mind. Then, two days later, I got an angry message asking where the project was.

Apparently, they ignored my turnaround suggestion and set the deadline as THE NEXT DAY… in their time management system through a private message in an inbox I didn’t know I had.

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Again, but different.

25 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: I like it, but I want something different.

Me: Different how? 

Client: Not the same as this. Do I really have to spell this out? 

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I like to watch

25 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: So how do I watch you make the website? Do I Skype in, or…?

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