Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 38 min 40 sec ago

You’ve captcha-ed my attention

9 September 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: When you get to the captcha bit, it asked to match which squares contained vehicles far too many times. Once is enough. Change it.

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Design contest from hell

9 September 2020 - 3:00pm

Back when I was still a graphic design student, we had multiple contests in almost all of our subjects for small to large companies. I understand that student work is appealing and cheap and some companies love to dodge higher fees. 

The most baffling client work was when a pretty major magazine publisher came to us and asked us to rework their entire magazine from the ground up. Every student, individually, producing 30 different visual identities.  They demanded a minimum of three rounds of revisions.

Me: Is this really a contest any more?

The grand prize for all the hassle?

A three-month unpaid internship.

Oof. That’s pretty bad. Did anyone try to take advantage of you as a student? Let us know about it! 

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Video MAGIC!

9 September 2020 - 2:15pm

Client: I want the video to be at least 10 minutes long.

Me: You sent me 5 minutes of video.

Client: Just stretch it!

Me: I’m going to need more footage.

Client: Use your video editing magic to make it longer!

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<p>I’m a guitar player, and was playing

8 September 2020 - 4:00pm

I’m a guitar player, and was playing with a soul band based in London, England. We only played our own original material. The singer was black, everyone else was white, and we had a reasonable following in the area.

On one occasion the bandleader accepted an invitation to play at a wedding in a small town not far from London. He assured us that the bride had seen us play and wanted us to perform that same show on her big day. Okay, then! So we got to the venue, and the bride’s father told us to start playing some light jazz and bossa nova type stuff by other artists while the guests arrive. We explained that we were hired to play our material – that’s what had been discussed and agreed beforehand. Still, the keyboard player got up and tinkled some light mood music. We kept the peace.

Showtime was still a while away, and the bride’s father told us to play popular hits that everyone knew, then do our set. We explained again that we weren’t a cover band, and that we were only hired to play our show for the reception but that just pissed him off further. Keyboard player kept playing mood music, father of the bride disappeared.

Finally, we were on stage behind a curtain ready for the countdown…but had no singer. He was missing. The start time came…and still no singer. All of a sudden, he appears at the side of the stage in tears and distressed. The father of the bride and several other large angry men had cornered our singer, calling him the n-word and threatening him with a beating; and the smashing up of all of our gear unless the performance was fantastic. After all, it was his daughter’s special day!

We huddled like a football team and decided to play for our lives. It was a great show and they loved us. We got the fuck out of there afterwards as fast as possible. Several weeks later we received payment… for exactly half of what was agreed.

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User Submitted Post

8 September 2020 - 3:00pm

Me: Hi there, we are very overdue on your latest invoice. Please pay the full amount immediately.

Client: I have nothing right now. I will pay you in 3 months. If you send referrals my way, I can pay you sooner.

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User Submitted Post

8 September 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: Let me talk to whoever runs this place!

Me: Certainly, can I ask what this is regarding?

Client: I called the other day wanting an appointment, I was on hold forever then finally somebody picked up and said they had to take a message and someone would call me back. I didn’t leave a message but nobody ever called me back!

Me: How could we have called you back if you didn’t leave your number?

Client: Oh, so I guess it’s my fault?

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<p>A friend of a friend came to me with

7 September 2020 - 4:00pm

A friend of a friend came to me with a “business opportunity.”

Client: I’m starting a new project. Something big, we’re talking YouTube but for a more specific market.

Me: Honestly, I’ve been through this song and dance before with plenty of “businessmen” who say they want the next Google or Facebook or whatever. This kind of project would cost minimum six figures, probably more.

Client: Money is not a problem.

Me: …I’ll be frank. I know you owe a few of my friends money, which is fine, I get it, but unless you’ve won the lottery my understanding is you don’t have that kind of money.

Client: I’m in the middle of something, but I’m going to have the money soon.

Me: Let me guess: you just received a letter from some a lawyer, and a rich relative you didn’t know you had left you all his money, and all you have to do is send the lawyer a “legal” fee to get millions.

Client: …How did you know?

Me: Because I get the same letter from scammers roughly 10 times a week.

He was legitimately about to send a few thousand to these scammers.

So, no, I did not land a 6-figure contract – but he did buy me dinner and a few drinks for saving him a couple thousand from scammers.

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<p>I am a graphic designer/web

7 September 2020 - 3:00pm

I am a graphic designer/web developer for a large organization. About 2 years ago an IT employee from another department that I rarely talked to was fired. Despite this, he still rings me at work about web design issues even 2 years later.

This is one of those calls.

Client: Hi, what’s happening?

Me: Hi, Sorry who is this?

Client: Come on man you know who it is?

Me: Sorry I’m afraid not. It’s a bit early on a Friday morning. I can’t tell who this is.

Client: Come on man, seriously.

Me: …

Client: Come on how could you not know who this is?

I’ll gloss over the rest but this went on for an uncomfortably long time but I eventually figured out it was this past IT employee.

Client: You mentioned that you did some freelance web design work on the side.

Me: That’s correct but I don’t really take these calls during my regular work hours. I can give you my mobile to contact me later.

Client: (completely ignoring me) Yes, well I have some clients who are interested in having a website design and I was wondering if I could get a quote.

Me: (getting sucked in) That’s not a straight forward answer. Websites come in all shapes and sizes. Could be a simple site and the price only gets higher with increased functionality.

Client: But what would you charge?

Me: Anywhere between $300-$20,000. And anyone you contact is going to give you the same answer. Sorry if you need to speak further please contact me after hours.

Client: Ok, I’m going to contact my client and call you right back in 5 minutes?

Sure enough, I heard the phone ring 5 minutes later displaying his number.

I didn’t pick up.

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<p>I’m doing a logo and corporate

7 September 2020 - 2:15pm

I’m doing a logo and corporate design project for a client right now. He keeps trying to negotiate the already discounted price down. Not only that, but he wants his logo to be in orange and blue… and guess what font he ABSOLUTELY wants in the logo design.

That’s right, the blast from the past: Papyrus.

I thought this kind of client went extinct ten years ago.

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

6 September 2020 - 4:00pm
2,350+ Delicate and warm 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. Need a cute holiday invitation? This bundle has you covered. Designing a book jacket for a young adult novel about a coming of age romance? 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 September 2020 - 3:00pm

I worked in the publications department of a non-profit organization, as the production manager for a weekly newspaper.

A new CEO was hired who turned out to be a micromanager. He had worked on his school newspaper when he was in university, which made him an expert in graphic design and advertising, so he decided that he would revive the newspaper, which had been suffering from declining advertising revenue (along with every other newspaper in the world).

He kept imposing new “design ideas” which invariably looked ugly and made me embarrassed to have my name on the masthead. The weeks that we were allowed to operate without his input, he would take a hard copy of the newspaper and scribble all over it, writing things like “NO!” and his own set of proofreading marks which meant nothing to us.

Because it was printed on a web press, it had to be a multiple of eight pages, which meant that sometimes we had to use filler pages, and he didn’t understand that and would fly into a rage because those pages had no revenue. He actually argued with the press foreman at our printing company, a man with 40 years’ experience in the industry, insisting that we should be able to do multiples of two pages.

I spoke up against some of his ideas because I thought they would mean less paid advertising rather than more. I became part of a large-scale, multi-department layoff shortly after that.

After I was gone, some of his ideas were implemented and indeed the advertising kept declining rather than increasing. The newspaper folded a year and a half after I was let go.

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User Submitted Post

6 September 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: I want this site to appeal to a younger demographic.

Me: Cool! How about a bright pink design? That’s fun.

Client: Hmmm. No, keep it black and white with a standard font. But make it feel “young.”

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<p>I’m a web designer who does a lot of

5 September 2020 - 4:00pm

I’m a web designer who does a lot of work with authors – including self-published ones, who can be a little on the ‘special’ side. This one particular author, though, made me regret all the times I had thought my clients were acting strangely, by showing me just what strangereally is.

The project was a bit stalled, and I sent her an e-mail chasing for feedback on the designs. I got a very long and rambling e-mail back, most of which I didn’t understand. Then I got a call from her. She was talking for 30 minutes and it had nothing to do with the project. She was going on about a government conspiracy to stop her publishing her book; about having money stolen; about family issues, drugs, the US Marines, you name it.

I have no idea how much of it was based on reality (very little, probably), but there’s no doubt she had serious issues with technology and thought her computer was bad for her health – hardly ideal when we were trying to design a website to promote an ebook, and using e-mail to communicate. I had no idea what to say to any of this and in the end basically made up an excuse and ended the call.

After a very long, very rambling text from her with more of the same I came to the conclusion she was properly ill and needed help. I told her I was calling off our involvement in the the project and giving her her deposit back. Carrying on would have just felt like I was either taking advantage of her, or that I was risking becoming her counselling service instead of her designer.

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<p>Me: I’ve written the full report and

5 September 2020 - 3:00pm

Me: I’ve written the full report and saved it to this location but here is the quick summary of today’s workshop.

Client: Please write this up as a full report.

Me: …You didn’t even read my email, did you?

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<p>After working on a new brand for 11

5 September 2020 - 2:01pm

After working on a new brand for 11 months and getting ready for a launch, less than a week after the website went live, the CEO decided to change the logo. 

Client: I don’t get the logo.  Make it look like this.  

They’d already signed off on all creative and brand development.

Me: But we just launched last week.  

Client: Well, then it will be easy to get it all updated before many people see it.

Me: But all campaign styles, website and layouts are based off of the current logo. 

Client: You can keep all that.  I don’t care.  

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<p>I wrote a case study for a client

4 September 2020 - 4:00pm

I wrote a case study for a client and laid it out, based on information the client provided me and a layout the client liked. Keep in mind, I’m a writer, not a designer, but he insisted that I do the document design. I sent him the first draft. His first comment?

Client: The layout is underwhelming.

Client: Also, the information is inaccurate.

You gave me both.

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<p>Client: I like it, but I want a

4 September 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: I like it, but I want a white background.

Me: But your text is white, nobody will be able to read it.

Client: Can’t you just do some lines?

Me: On what?

Client: The logo!

If you understand what that means, then I have a client for you. 

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<p>We provide remote tech support for

4 September 2020 - 2:00pm

We provide remote tech support for real estate agents at a large, national company

Client: Can you please upload this list of names to my CRM?

Me: Sure!

Me: It looks like this is just names. The system needs contact methods like phone numbers, email addresses, or physical addresses.

The client sent back the same file with the same phone number for every contact.

Me: Unfortunately the system will ignore all after the first as duplicates. Do you have real phone numbers?

Then the client sent back the same file with fake phone numbers for every contact: 555-5555, 555-5556, 555-5557…

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<p>Working with a large company

3 September 2020 - 4:00pm

Working with a large company designing 5 websites on a large budget. I was leading the 2 main e-commerce sites whilst my junior designers headed up on the 3 smaller ones.

After 5 months of no contact from the client, they send through a Photoshop file of what they want their main site to look like – completely different from what was agreed in the first meeting.

Client: It has to be pixel perfect to this.

They proceeded to figuratively watch over our shoulders the entire time.

Another 5 months later, the director of the company showed up to a meeting an hour late.

Client: This is absolute garbage! It looks two decades old?

Me: This is exactly what your staff asked for.

Client: I don’t believe you. Also, why are these images so generic?

Me: Those are placeholder images. We’re waiting on more specific content from you.

Client: Bullsh**.

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Cheap and cheerful

3 September 2020 - 3:00pm

A corporate client bought one of their staff a cheap HP laptop with 32GB disk space and 2GB RAM. The lady is supposed to do her work on the local machine and also use it to connect to a Terminal Server. This computer is a toy, more suitable to 10-year-olds and students on a (very tight) budget.

I’ve been getting phone calls for weeks asking about the lack of disk space, and there is no convincing her or her company that the machine is not suitable for their needs. They installed a SD card and asked me to “move programs” across, I’ve changed the path for the user folders (documents, downloads, etc.) but Windows 10 keeps downloading updates and the space on C: is simply insufficient.

Me: I keep telling you – the computer is inadequate. You need to buy a better computer. You don’t even have to spend very much more.

Client: There has to be something you can do. 

Me: I’m doing it. Buy a better one. 

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