Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 11 min ago

User Submitted Post

13 March 2020 - 1:00pm

A client had three intro boxes on their homepage which had a one- or two-word title, a picture automatically cropped by the Content Management System to a specific size, and a variable-length paragraph underneath the picture. The character limit on the title and the specific size of photo meant the photos were always in line with each other.

Client: Can we move the paragraph to above the photo instead of below it?

Me: I don’t recommend that. It would mean the photos wouldn’t always line up with each other depending on each user’s browser width, screen resolution and zoom level, as the paragraphs are of varying length.

Client: I’d like to try it anyway, please go ahead and make the change.

I make the change. It looks awful.

Client: OK, I see what you mean…

Me: (internally) Thanks, now please can I change it back?

Client: …However I’d like to see what my other options are. My friend who knows CSS has just said if I give the block a minimum pixel height the photos would line up. Can you do that?


Me: Again, whatever height it’s set at, there will be people who see the photos out of alignment due to a combination of screen resolution, browser width, zoom level and text length. I recommend the photo goes back to above the paragraph.

Client: On my screen a minimum height of 70 pixels looks perfect. Please make the minimum height of the block 70 pixels.

Me: (begrudgingly) OK, it’s done.

Client: Thanks!

One week later:

Client: Hey, I just looked at the site on a larger screen and now there is too much space between the text and the photo. Please could you take a look? Also, on my Uncle’s smaller screen, box 2 has one extra line compared to the others, containing just one word. Please fix.

Me: Here are some new restricted CMS login details, It gives your friends access to edit the CSS stylesheet files only. Please let me know when they’ve finished.

What I didn’t say at the end of that was: so I can laugh.

I also quietly removed my web design credit from the footer of the website. 

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User Submitted Post

12 March 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: I need this done AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Me: I have a lot of orders ahead of yours. If there’s a rush, can you let me know a date you need it done by so I can put it in as a rush order?

Client: No I don’t want a rush I just want it done NOW.

So don’t rush, just do it immediately. Gotcha. 

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User Submitted Post

12 March 2020 - 12:00pm

I work at a small IT consultancy, providing support of various kinds for startups and other small companies. Our focus is on planning and thoughtful recommendations, rather than being reactive. We work with dozens of companies, and our weeks are generally scheduled out a week or more in advance.

One day a client with about 40 employees sent an email at 5 PM:

Client: Hi! Sorry for the short notice, but we’re moving our office from the 3rd floor to the 5th floor tomorrow. Can someone come onsite at 9 AM?

We don’t work with that client anymore.

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Lamest excuse

11 March 2020 - 2:00pm

Several years back, I volunteered to produce some event materials for the local Boy Scouts district free of charge because I had a personal connection with them.

Their headquarters was in a local shopping mall, who were a long-time client of mine. After I made the Boy Scout materials, the new mall administration contacted me about producing posters to promote an upcoming holiday event. I agreed, and produced some proofs that I sent them for approval. They didn’t respond.

I followed up several times but while they responded they never actually gave me feedback. With the deadline fast approaching I took it upon myself to produce ten large posters for their kiosk displays. I delivered these to the mall office, only to have them tell me the manager and PR person were out of the office for meetings. I left the posters behind and went on my merry way.

Client: What are these? 

Me: You asked me to produce these. I was waiting for feedback but you never sent any, and with the deadline arriving I finished the job.

Client: I never looked at your proofs. But you also left a bill?

Me: Yes?

Client: We thought you would do this for free!

They had spoken to the Boy Scouts district official, who had told them I did the Scout event posters for free…they fully expected that I would do their holiday posters at no charge! Needless to say, I did no further work for the mall, and had some harsh conversations with the Boy Scout district volunteers!

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That’s not a week

11 March 2020 - 1:00pm

Me: I will need at least a week after shooting to edit everything to have it ready for the event on the 6th. Let me know when we can get everyone together.

Client: Can we film on the 4th?

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Trial & Error Training

10 March 2020 - 1:00pm

A client was walking me through the process of cleaning up and re-numbering of large e-commerce data sets in a custom, unintuitive database system. He seemed unsure about some of the steps, and parts got mixed up as he explains. We were dealing with several spreadsheets and various database locations.

Me: OK, so I think it would make sense for us to work on this together.

Client:  (angrily) Yeah, I guess I’ll have to sit here and try to explain this to you while I watch you mess up. 

What a great start to this job…

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Set it and Forget it

10 March 2020 - 12:00pm

A personal injury lawyer sought out my skills to help him with online marketing.

Client: I can pay you an hourly rate, under 10 hours a week. My budget for marketing is XXX (low hundreds per month). I don’t have much time to review the marketing plans, but just tell me what I need to know and I’ll review your drafts.

Me: I researched personal injury law, and it seems like you could spend a lot more over time and potentially get a great ROI. For example, how much do you earn when you win big cases? It seems to me it would make sense to invest more in the various marketing strategies we discussed – since you’re seeking big cases.

Is there a paralegal at your office who can be my point of contact, if you don’t have time? 

He quickly changed the topic since he decided that’s “not relevant.” No response to my questions about potential ROI, time invested, etc. I guess he wants easy to find clients with the “set it and forget it” method.

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That’s it?!

9 March 2020 - 2:00pm

I met with a prospective client who didn’t know much about the technical details or creative decisions involved in website development. He was unimpressed by the concept of needing a new website when he had one that hadn’t been updated in 12 years.

He made his old website with free software, and it was one of the most outdated sites I’ve seen, with blurry images and hard-to-read text.

Client: Can I see some samples?

Me: Sure, let me just bring some up on the computer here to show you.

I showed the client a few of my website design samples, that looked modern, clean and responsive with a thoughtful UX in mind. 

Client: What, that’s it?

Always a great sign that your work is going to be valued. 

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Which eye is the right eye?

9 March 2020 - 1:00pm

My girlfriend wanted me to design a graphic for a shirt that she could put up on a store page. She wanted it done in time for the Christmas Season (Read: December) She sprung this on me midway through the last week of November. So, of course, being the kind of guy I am, I decided I’m going to put in some late nights for her. 

The design we settled on was one of her characters, gift wrapped for the season. The problem in this story came from the fact that her character has heterochromic eyes. (Both eyes are different colors, one red, one blue.) I looked at the reference pieces that she provided, and my heart sank. About a third of the pieces I saw were reversed from the rest in this detail. So I asked her the clarifying question:

Me: Hey, so which of her eyes is the red one?

Client: The right one.

Me: My right or hers?

She pauses, and I can see her hold a hand up, and start flipping it back and forth as if trying to do advanced geometry in her head.

Client: Uhh… just take a look at the reference materials.

Me: (Showing her two pieces) The references don’t agree with one another.

Client: Okay, so what makes sense… uh, that one. Her right eye should be red.

Me: You’re pointing to her left eye.

Client: Wait… hang on.

I went out, and poured myself a drink, and she continued speaking to me about what she was trying to figure out. The entire conversation lasted for about half an hour. Here are some notable exchanges during that time:

Client: So when you say right, are you talking about house right or stage right?

Me: What? Stage right. I’m asking for your right eye. 

Client: Okay. (Turns around, makes some motions in the air and turns around pointing at her left eye) Right eye.

Me: No…

At this point I was getting frustrated.

Me: (pointing at my own right eye.) Look at me and imagine you’re looking at her. Is this the Red eye or the blue eye?

Client: So that’s the eye on the left, so it should be blue. Unless I’m confused, and I’m imagining things like I’m looking at a mirror.

Me: I don’t know what you’re imagining. But this is my right eye.

Client: So is that house right or stage right?

Me: What? Just which is her right eye? 

Client: (spends ten seconds going back and forth almost raising one hand or the other, then turns back around.) Am I supposed to imagine her standing here or that I am her and looking in a mirror? Oh, no wait, am I giving you house or stage directions here?

Me: (slapping my forehead) What is your fixation on stages and mirrors?

Client: I don’t know!

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Get retro with over 250 fonts for just $9!

8 March 2020 - 2:00pm
Get retro with over 250 fonts for just $9!

This week’s deal is on 250+ fonts in 47 retro font families, along with a bonus of 100+ vector graphics!

> There’s some great stuff here for 99% off! 

The fonts in this bundle are awesome. Check out the awesome slab serif font Denim, or the vintage-style label font Cosmic Lager – and they’re really the tip of the iceberg. This bundle is full of fonts that would look great on posters, branding for men’s grooming products, beer labels and so much more

The full price for everything in this package is $470, which is why you should jump on it now to save 98% and pay only $9 for dozens of fonts that will inspire you to use them again and again. 

> Check out the deal here. 

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Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it…

8 March 2020 - 1:00pm

I’ve recently started a new job in the e-commerce industry, and it’s a fun mix of customer support and design. One of our customers recently requested a change to the operation of their store. 

Client:  Can you change my store page so that customers have to log in as a very first step? I want them logged in before they can see my products, even.

Me: That’s really not the best idea. 

Client: I’m paying you. That’s how I want it. 

I whipped together a small bit of code that checks to see if a user is logged in, and it redirected to the log in page if not. We implemented a demo for the client.

Client: This is exactly what I want! Make it go live today.

The very next morning we got a support email from someone else at the business notifying us that their site is not functioning, as it is forcing people to log in before being able to do anything on the store, and that it should only ask for a log in before making a purchase.

Me: Talk to your guy – we just did what he wanted us to. 

One phone call later and I’m asked to remove the changes I made the previous day.

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RAM email storage capacity

7 March 2020 - 2:00pm

I was adding a new RAM module to a PC for a client.

Client: With that I will have more storage capacity in my email account, right?

You can imagine my face…

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Pick it up

7 March 2020 - 1:00pm

I’ve worked as the sole pitch document designer for a mid-size investment firm for the past 10 years. When I started, the firm had no branding guidelines, no training for associates working in PowerPoint and no rules about consistency or quality of presentations. I’ve worked hard to build templates anyone can use without messing up (too much), and we’re finally branching into onscreen, branded presentations with high-res images and animation versus printed decks with static Excel charts and pages full of text.

As the firm’s grown, so has my workload, so I’ve been assigned an assistant to help me. She’s great, works hard and is super willing to learn, but she’s from a secretarial background, with no design experience.

I was off work with flu this week, as a couple of long complicated onscreen presentations came through for editing. I got a message from a manager:

Client: I need you to get your assistant trained up to do these. It shouldn’t be hard for her to pick up.

Me: Cool. Glad you think two decades of design experience is something novice can pick up in a weekend. 

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Do good, get paid: Michael Fraser of Grantcrafty on community and values-based business

6 March 2020 - 3:00pm
Do good, get paid: Michael Fraser of Grantcrafty on community and values-based business


We all want to change the world, don’t we? We’d like to leave things better than they were without us, but it’s so hard to work full-time and still have energy left for “causes.”

That is, of course, unless you make your causes your job. Michael Fraser of Grantcrafty started as a freelance grantwriter for non-profits and now runs a small business, searching out funding opportunities for great causes and providing copy and marketing solutions for them too. He talks with Kyle about how he became an “entrepreneur” (he’s uncomfortable with the term) and how he managed to make a successful business out of his values and his community

Today’s links: 

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Order a custom infographic from! Use this link ( for a great price! 

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How Much Time Do You Think I’ll Need

6 March 2020 - 2:00pm

I’m editing another video for a repeat client, who always has intricate notes. It usually takes 4-5 versions before he’s satisfied. This was his reply 4 days after the first cut I sent him.

Client: Hey! Sorry! I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. I’ve been suuuuper busy. Anyway, I’m going to go ahead and tell the office this’ll be ready by Wednesday (6 days). Think you’ll be done by then?

Me: You haven’t given me your notes yet therefore I don’t know how long it will take to incorporate them.

Client: Right. I hear ya. I’ll send them first thing tomorrow morning.

He didn’t.

Me: I also need the voice over tracks, music, and graphics you wanted to use.

Client: I’m out of town for a conference. So busy, lol. I’ll get those to you when I get home Monday. In the meantime I’m gonna go ahead and tell the office we’re releasing the video on Wednesday, that way we can start promoting. You keep working on it. How’s the 2nd draft coming?

Me: I’m waiting for you.

No response. I have a feeling next week is going to be garbage.

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7MB is a VERY large file size

6 March 2020 - 1:00pm

Client: Our last request will be to reduce the overall size of the PPT template. 7 MB is a VERY large template size.

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User Submitted Post

5 March 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: We decided to do the video ourselves as you were too expensive. It didn’t turn out well, though – could you help us make it better, but not charge us? We feel we’ve done all the work already and it’ll be easy for you to fix.

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User Submitted Post

5 March 2020 - 1:30pm

I do some freelance graphic design for a small music label. For each release I create a cover, social media banners and a YouTube video with an audio visualizer and some fancy visuals.

I usually charge a very low price for the whole bundle per release, since most of the work can be re-used every time. What takes the most time is to create and render the videos.

For some of the earlier releases, we didn’t create any video material yet.

Client: Hi, mate – Could you create video for “X Release” and “Y Release“? I need them right now since the release is today!

Me: Sure, I’ll charge [extreme low price] per video, is that fine?

Client: No… That’s insane! We could create ourselves, but you want to keep the project files to yourself, we respect that.

Me: I think it’s fair, specially for a rush order. But okay then I won’t make them.

Client: May we get project files for these tracks then?

Me: No.

Client: Why not?

Me: Because that’s basically me giving you the finished product anyway. 


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User Submitted Post

4 March 2020 - 2:00pm

I work as a freelance proofreader, and one day I was asked to proofread a more than 400 pages long post doctoral thesis. I gave her my estimate, and she agreed.

One month later:

Client: Sorry to say but I can’t pay more than [less than half of the estimated amount], because I had some family and health issues.

Me: I’m very sorry to hear that, but I can’t do that for this little money. Let me calculate this for you.

I gave her a detailed calculation of why it would cost at least twice as much, and since having some health problems myself at the time, I declined and offered to give her other contacts.

Client: No, it has to be you, you were recommended to me. I can pay a little bit more.

Me: OK, fine. But if you only have that much money, I can’t provide you full service. It will only be a quite superficial proofreading with only a short preparation of the layout, and no layout control at all.

Client: Fine, thanks!

She then gave me ridiculously strict time tables that made me work during my family vacation but she herself never stuck to, and always came up with more and more tasks. I told her repeatedly that those weren’t covered by her budget, and she apologized, only to come up with other tasks three days later. In the end, I finished the project a day before the deadline, sent it to hear and – nothing. Not one word.

A week later she replied to me.

Client: Sorry to reply that late, but there still was SO MUCH to do in that document!


Well, yes, I told you at the beginning and then ten times more that your budget is way too small for a proper job. I need to learn to say No when it smells like trouble from the beginning…

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Client Designer

4 March 2020 - 1:00pm

Client: I need you to do this design EXACTLY like this Word art.

Me: Can I modify the colors? The purple and green are clashing quite a bit.

Client: No. 

Me: But I can pick the fonts correct?

Client: We’ve chosen the fonts. 

Me: There are so many fonts, can I…

Client: Stick to what’s there.

Me: The layout is…

Client: Keep the layout. 

He was beaming, impressed with his “virtuoso” design skill and authority. 


Client: This is TERRIBLE! It looks atrocious, I thought you were a professional!

Me: Sir that is YOUR design, mine is on the second page.

Client: (mumbling) Oh… still looks really bad…The colors look ugly, there are lots of  different fonts, and the layout cuts out in the middle…

Me: That’s the design you demanded.

At this point, he looked sad and defeated. 

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