Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 17 min 41 sec ago

User Submitted Post

28 September 2019 - 2:00pm

After stumbling across my pet-portrait commission work through social media shares, the “client” private messages me and sends me a (low quality, face barely visible) photo of their pet.

Client: Can you draw from this photo? If you did this and shared it to my social media feed your following will definitely double! 

Me: I’m currently taking commission bookings if that’s something you’re interested in?

Client: I was thinking that it would be a charitable donation. It would be really popular with my audience and I’m absolutely certain it would get you lots of sales!

At this point I was stalling for time as I racked my brain for a client-friendly response. From previous experiences where (paying!) customers have shared my work, sharing to this size of audience definitely doesn’t guarantee more sales.

Client: We could even get my audience to make decisions about the creative direction of the piece! There could even be a promotional campaign where a percentage of the profits from your future sales goes into my charity! 

Me: I can’t work for free, I’m very sorry.

(I then provided information about my fees and explained that I’m fully booked for several months so would have to wait their turn if they were to book now)

Client: Oh. Okay. 

I felt a bit bad about knocking the wind out of their sails, but I think I dodged a bullet. 

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User Submitted Post

27 September 2019 - 3:00pm

Me: I checked with the courier, and your brochures will be delivered between 9:30 and 11:30.

Client: (calls me at 11 am to ask where his brochures are)

I never realised ‘delivery time between x and y’ was such a difficult concept. 

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The Sprint Digital Marketing discussion

27 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I was recently discussing a digital marketing project with a prospective client. We were scheduled for about a 30-minute meeting. He came across as very defensive and hostile, which raised some red flags for me. However, I didn’t want to get up and walk away.

The client’s website was very basic. He had very little digital marketing done for his brand, even though his business had many locations. 

Client: Now, I’ve heard a number of proposals from you marketing people, so just let me know what you have to offer.

He was already very negative. I described some of my knowledge and services in a friendly and informative manner.

Client: Well, would you be able to update the website? Provide content? Partner with others? I’m not naive to this you know. 

He hissed that last part.

I briefly explained more about my skills and experience, and how I could help or partner with others. This included website updates, writing articles, and more.

Client: (sneering)I had a small agency working on my website, but they have other clients, so they couldn’t help me as much as I would have liked. Well, how would you create videos, how would you get people’s permission? What about e-mail campaigns? How would that work? 

I was starting to grow weary of explaining the entire realm of digital marketing to this client in a span of 30 minutes.

Client: What about content? How would you write that? If I were to build out a team, who should I hire for the team? How about photos? What about partnerships? What’s PPC? How about SEO? You know, our competitors, they’re all about the money. We actually care. What would your budget be for working on various projects?

I also remembered that I saw on some reviews of his business that some people commented that management was all about the money, which I thought was interesting given his criticism of his competitors.

The guy’s face became more and more red with tension and anger as he asked more and more questions. I tried to keep things basic and let him know some options. Red face; red flag.

Working with this guy would be a nightmare. The client was having a very hard time grasping everything I was talking about and was ready to take that frustration out on me.  That told me everything I needed to know.

 

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Overwhelmed? Get over it with Emily Leach

26 September 2019 - 6:45pm
Overwhelmed? Get over it with Emily Leach

 

It’s the 21st Century. Chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed right now. If you are, listen to this interview with The Freelance Conference’s Emily Leach to find her effective strategies for managing overwhelm! 

Even better, her tip isn’t just “plan better.” It’s to reach out to people you love and keep human connections in the picture. Find out why this works in this interview! 

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you’d be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

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

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It’s about consistency!

26 September 2019 - 3:00pm

Our team was having a meeting with a client company about the use of their logo. Their manager insisted that their logo always be in black, no matter what color the background. Their in-house designer tried to explain the necessity of a reversed version of their logo. The manager slammed her hand on the table and yelled:

Client: You don’t understand, it’s about consistency!

She was wearing a shirt with their logo embroidered in pink.

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I Should Bail! Moments…

26 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I worked with a client for longer than I should have. These are every I Should Bail!” moment from every step that I stupidly ignored because I was trying to help a friend. It was cathartic to document the torture:

I received a freelance job through a friend for a logo design, brochure, and business card for a boutique wealth management startup company targeting only high-income clients.  On the first meeting, the owner said everyone in his business uses images like luxury yachts. and he wanted something different that stood out and was simple and sophisticated. 

I submitted some logo designs. They didn’t even respond to the design and just sent me a logo they hacked together form Google Image Search results. Of course, the images were of luxury yachts.

I Should Bail! Moment #1

Me: Where did the image come from? Make sure it isn’t copyrighted.

Client: It isn’t copyrighted. They came from the internet. 

Me: Honestly an original design is always safer. I will be working on the brochure next. The design process takes time so if he could give me until next week I would appreciate it. The result will be better in the long run.

Client: Well we made it from things we found on the internet, so we should be fine. 

I Should Bail! Moment #2

Me: Do you want me to work on the business card design next?

Client: No, he wants to play with the design himself…

I Should Bail! Moment #3 

Client: We want visuals that evoke emotions. Include images of the Titanic on the brochure.    I Should Bail! Moment #4   Me: Do you know what quantity you want to print?   Client: No.   Me: We should find that out first so we can get some cost estimates.   Client: Just finish it. You should be able to figure this out.   They bailed! Moment #1   After struggling to meet their unreasonable demands and shifting directions for weeks.    Client: We went a totally different direction on the brochure. We decided not to use boats or water at all.    Me: What? That’s everything you told me you wanted.    Client: Yeah, we’re just going to do it in house.    Naturally that meant they weren’t paying me for my work. At least I got a deposit.

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Color Magic!

25 September 2019 - 3:00pm

Client:  If I give you a black and white copy, could you Xerox it in color?

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The 50/50 Game

25 September 2019 - 10:33am

Working on a colour concept for a client…

Client: Please change the railing colour to beige or sky blue, and the sky outside to sunset or dusk.

Me: (Changes railing to beige, and the sky outside to dusk)

Client: REVISIONS NOT DONE, please do as requested… I wanted the railing sky blue, and the sky to be sunset.

I’m not here to play a 50/50 game to guess which one you really want.

 

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Yes I can

24 September 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: How long would it take to make this video?

Me: Around 8 hours.

Client: Can you make it in 4?

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Helpless Desk

24 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I work in a Help Desk center for a university, we typically get calls from students, but sometimes we get calls from Faculty and Staff. Today, the same person had called over a dozen times, and it was only noon.

I came in, and then they called. I gave my usual introduction.

Client: I can’t access my voicemail on my office phone!

Me: Okay, are you getting any error message?

Client: Yeah, I’m entering the default passcode, but it’s saying I need to use my ID and hit pound.

Me: …And have you tried that?

Client: No, why would I?

Me: Give it a try!

After this, she just hangs up then calls back about an hour later.

Client: Now the phone is locked up! What the hell did you do?!

Me: I can’t access the phone in any way, ma’am, did you enter your ID and hit pound?

Client: No, I entered the default passcode and then it locked up!

Me: Okay, I’ll send a tech out, but I’ll need to verify some information first.

I ask her for the usual, DoB, ID number, Room number, etc.

Client: Why the hell do you need that? Just fix my phone, asshole, I’m not telling some asshole my personal information.

I could see all her information already, I just had to ask to verify. After a bit of a difficult back and forth, she gave me her office number and hung up angrily. The technician went to the room and she wasn’t even there, having gone home early. He checked, though – her phone wasn’t locked.

Later, her husband, another faculty member, called, furious that someone had called his wife “a bitch” on the phone. I hadn’t. 

Luckily, we keep a transcript of all support calls, so my boss informed him that we could sit down and listen to the conversation if he was concerned.

He never came in. 

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User Submitted Post

23 September 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: So, how is the development going? Are you done yet? This is time-critical.

Me: Yes! I finished it and sent it to you two weeks ago. 

Another two weeks later: 

Client: No no, this is all wrong! This isn’t what I had in mind. 

Me: But I built it specifically to what you asked for in your brief.

Client: I know, but I changed my mind later.

Me: But you didn’t tell me you changed your mind. Was I supposed to read your mind?

Client: Well yeah, that’s what I pay you.

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Why should I tell you what I want before you give me the price

23 September 2019 - 1:52pm

Client: How much will this animation cost?

Me: It depends on the complexity. Could you show me the character you want to animate?

Client: Bro chill, why are you acting like an architect. I just want the price bro.

Me: I can’t give you the price without knowing what you want. Do you go into a McDonalds and ask “What’s the price” before ordering anything?

Client: You’re weirding me out not gonna lie, why would you ask to see the character before giving me the price? You trying to steal my character?

 

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Get high resolution gold textures for only $9!

22 September 2019 - 3:00pm
Get high resolution gold textures for only $9!

This week’s deal is on over three hundred high-res metallic textures that will transform your designs!

> Use them as a background texture, or make your text glitter. 

You’ve seen this look everywhere: gold text with real metallic textures on a flat or marbled background. It signifies luxury and decadence, all while looking really, really cool. This pack of premium seamless textures gives you a ton of different looks and colors to play with and will make it easy to spice up your next business card, package design or poster. 

At only $9, you get over three hundred premium textures that you’ll use over and over for the price of 2-3 coffees. That’s a no-brainer.

> Check out the deal here. 

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User Submitted Post

22 September 2019 - 2:00pm

A local recruiting firm hired me to do a review of their internal processes because they kept “losing clients.” They were certain it was due to inefficiencies in their systems and wanted me to help diagnose the issue.

I visited the client’s office. The company name is the owner’s initials followed by “recruitment”. That name was put proud as punch behind the front desk along with a few words that reflected their “core values.”

One of those words was, I kid you not, “unscrupulous.”

The owner is convinced their issue is with internal processes, though.

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sEriOus CoVeR

21 September 2019 - 3:00pm

I’m a fantasy illustrator. A client hired me to do a cover for a “dark and serious” novel he wrote.

Client:  I based this on my life. The characters are my family members.

Oh NO. 

Me:  I am not sure if I want to take this up, family portraits are usually emotionally driven and I am a fantasy illustrator.

Client: Don’tworry, we love your work, and I’ll give you lots of reference photos. 

The client sent me a photo of everyone smiling. 

Me: In the scene I’m depicting, they just lost a friend. 

Client: Yes, it’s a very emotional moment.

Me: Do you have any photos where they aren’t smiling?

Client: Can’t you just use your imagination?

I did, and delivered it.

Client: They don’t look like my family anymore. Just use the photos I sent you. 

This resulted in an illustration where the characters are feeling gunfire and hiding for their lives… with smiles on their faces. 

Client: Perfect.

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User Submitted Post

21 September 2019 - 2:00pm

I work for a company that makes small career sites for clients. They’re templated with just a little bit of wiggle room for layout changes. There’s also another tier of site that is a completely custom layout but they have to pay more. Obviously we have lots of clients who try to circumvent the extra pay by asking for “edits”.

We received content for one site that was laid out a completely different sort of template than the one we use, and was missing content all over the place. There were also no images and no hope of putting it together within our normal 5-day timeline.

This is the conversation between me and my project manager

Me: Looks like this doc is missing content for the home page, and doesn’t have much for the other pages. I’ll put together what I can for now? Is this supposed to be template 2? I wasn’t sure based on the content provided.

PM: Sorry about that, yes please use the template.

 I got to work. Lots of content was missing and I was shadow boxing, making decisions based on information that wasn’t there. 

Me: This really isn’t working.

PM: The client wants to see the site built with whatever they have. I know the site will look like garbage but apparently they want to see the site built out “slowly”.

I’m in for a long week ya’ll.

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Bike Shop fun

20 September 2019 - 3:00pm

I worked in a cycle shop warranty department for may years and saw a lot of customers trying to get one over on me but this was the best.

A guy comes into the store with his £3000 carbon road cycle complaining of a crack in the paint on the down tube.

On inspection we realized the crack appeared right where the clamp off a roof rack would sit, and the warranty clearly states that that type of rack is not to be used on this particular carbon frame.

We explained this the gentleman and asked if he uses a roof rack to transport the bike in which he flatly denied and started to hurl abuse to the staff saying that he demands his money back and that we have no idea what were talking about.

After around half an hour and three staff members arguing with the chap including the store manager he left with his bike, placed on a roof rack of his car and sped off.

 

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Can you translate this, but not really, because I want it to say something entirely different?

20 September 2019 - 2:37pm

I’m a translator. 

Client:  We need the translation in american english with modern but powerfull lenguague [sic] because we will use it on T-shirts mainly. I would send the specific text to translate.

Me: Great.

The client sent the text. It was all mainstream quotes that for some reason were translated from English to Spanish and now they want me to translate them again (?) from Spanish to English. I do so and deliver the work.

Client: I feel that you did a literally translation (like google) and you don’t thing maybe other way to say in english with easy and powerfull words. I speak english a little but I’m not an “active” speaker, so I can’t find current words to say some things with power and easy way. For example, expresion:

“OLVIDATE DEL RELOJ POR UN MOMENTO” You said: FORGET ABOUT THE CLOCK FOR A MOMENT. I thing that a good easy and powerfull way could be: NO-TIME. Remember that we will use the translation to print on t-shirts, so please think in a better way to say those expression that they can look nice (easy and short way) on a t-shirt. I know that you can do it, venture, no problem!! Do you get it?

Me: *stares blankly at the screen*

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Technical Support Attachment Hell

19 September 2019 - 3:00pm

We were making make iOS applications for our clients. After a round of testing within one of their departments, they found an issue and reported it back to us. We sorted out a fixed build for them.

Me: So here’s the new IPA file.

Client: Ok, will do.

A few minutes later:

Client: It won’t open.

Me: What do you mean it won’t open?

Client: I tried to open the app and it just doesn’t open.

At this point, I’m panicking. What’s wrong with the app? 

Me: I’ve checked over everything, installed it on multiple devices here, done upgrades from one version to another and it seems fine. What are you doing exactly?

Client: Just trying to open it, keeps showing an error.

Me: Ah! ok, can you screenshot and send me the error? *why he never told me that first god knows*

So he does. He sends me a screenshot of his desktop, showing a picture of Microsoft Word saying “Unrecognised file format .IPA”

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User Submitted Post

19 September 2019 - 2:02pm

I used to design scratch-off lottery tickets for a big lottery ticket printer/manufacturer. One client was very delightfully easy to please, and often had a great sense of humor about the tackiness and the gaudiness needed in the design, hoping it would catch the eyes of customers.

The other client decided that for their batch of tickets for the following month, they’d fly to our business so they could sit next to me and “help” me design them. I grit my teeth and welcomed them.

Two people from the client’s marketing department sat with me the whole day, “designing” over my shoulder, carefully pondering each and every pixel in each and every layout. Finally, thankfully, we reached the last ticket to design. After I put the darned thing together, one of the marketers kept sighing in a passive/aggressive manner.

Me: You seem unsure about this design. What can I do to make it work for you?

Client: (sighing) I like the the layout, but…can you find a way to make everything stand out?”

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