Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 50 min ago

Client: I want something minimalist, like this!Shows me a picture that is the total opposite of...

18 October 2018 - 3:20pm

Client: I want something minimalist, like this!

Shows me a picture that is the total opposite of minimalist.

Client: Can I see how the project is going?Me: Sure! This is a work in progress right now, so it’s...

18 October 2018 - 1:40pm

Client: Can I see how the project is going?

Me: Sure! This is a work in progress right now, so it’s in black and white for the moment. I’ll add color later, so try to focus your feedback on the composition.

Client: Hmm… It needs more color.  

Client: Hey – you didn’t publish one of the stories I sent you!Me: Oh, sorry, do you know which...

17 October 2018 - 3:20pm

Client: Hey – you didn’t publish one of the stories I sent you!

Me: Oh, sorry, do you know which one?

Client: No, but I’m sure I emailed it to you. Can you look back at my emails and compare with what you published?

Me: (looks at a list of dozens of emails sent over two weeks containing just links and with no subject line, without communication or purpose)

Me: …No. No, I cannot.

Me: So who will be managing this project? Yourself or your client?Client: Our client. We don’t want...

17 October 2018 - 1:40pm

Me: So who will be managing this project? Yourself or your client?

Client: Our client. We don’t want to get involved.

Me: Ok, so should I contact them for the requirements and processes?

Client: No, please don’t contact them. Everything needs to go through us as we need to make sure the client and costs are kept under control.

Me: No problem. That sounds like you’ll be managing this project then.

Client: I suppose it depends on what you mean by “managing”

And to nobody’s surprise, the project was cancelled the next day.

I work in animation. A client said this after I quoted him a price for a five-minute animation with...

16 October 2018 - 3:20pm

I work in animation. A client said this after I quoted him a price for a five-minute animation with a handful of unique characters with complex movement and interaction:

Client: I dunno… that seems like a lot. I’ll think about it.

Of course, he’d bragged about how much he makes earlier, but whatever.

Half an hour later, I heard him speaking to someone else about a project that didn’t involve me:

Client: I have a video I want to make where I wrangle a bunch of homeless people and get them to play basketball against me, and I just absolutely destroy them. Man, that would be great, I’d be willing to spend like [10X what I quoted him] to make that happen.

I was asked some years ago to create an animation for a client. It was a three-second animation; the...

16 October 2018 - 1:40pm

I was asked some years ago to create an animation for a client. It was a three-second animation; the character was supposed to run in jump and somersault to a position onscreen for

The animation was done and I was showing it to the client.

Me: So here is the character.

Client: Oh great! Can you play that again?

Me: Sure…

He requests to see it a few more times, then finally:

Client: Can you slow it down so the viewer can see the character for longer?

Me: I could, but you said it needs to take no more than three seconds.

Client: I know, but the character needs to do that bit (somersault) slower… maybe you can make it start from further away or something?

A client asked me to rework a design one of their managers had generated. It involved...

15 October 2018 - 3:20pm

A client asked me to rework a design one of their managers had generated. It involved percentages and could easily be made into a pie chart…except for one problem. The percentages didn’t add up to 100.

Me: On this graphic, the percentages do not add up to 100. Could you supply the correct copy so that I can make the graph work?

Client: We don’t have the original source information for those numbers. Just tweak them.

Me: Wait - you want me to just arbitrarily change your report so the design fits?

Client: Yeah, please.

Client: I don’t like your cool new design. Go back to the old crappy one and live in...

15 October 2018 - 1:40pm

Client: I don’t like your cool new design. Go back to the old crappy one and live in mediocrity.

Okay, I made this up. But it speaks to a DEEPER TRUTH.

3,015 Adorable floral design elements for $15 — 99% off!

14 October 2018 - 3:20pm

This week’s deal is on an enormous collection of elegant floral elements and more! 

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All the elements in this bundle retail separately for $1312 altogether, but for the next week they’re available for 99% off, or just $15. And remember; this kind of thing is tax-deductible for professional designers! Just saying. 

> Check out the deal here. 

I’m a freelance video editor, and sometimes I end up with little gems like these of people that know...

14 October 2018 - 1:40pm

I’m a freelance video editor, and sometimes I end up with little gems like these of people that know nothing about basic video terminology. Case in point:

Client: I like this, but I wish it was a little bit brighter

I accept and increase the brightness and graded the footage a bit to make it slightly more vivid.

Client: That’s not what I wanted man, I want it to be a little bit BRIGHTER y'know?

I have no idea what the hell he means so I up the saturation a little bit along with upping the contrast and the brightness hoping that’s what they wanted

Client: You obviously know nothing about editing, I’ll do this myself if you can’t understand something as basic as upping the brightness

I had barely started so it wasn’t really anything awful, I simply asked he not use the project file I made and he agreed. A few days later I decide to check his channel to see if he made his footage brighter.

Apparently, the moron wanted lens flares.

A close family member asked me to do some headshots for a business he was pitching to investors. I...

13 October 2018 - 3:20pm

A close family member asked me to do some headshots for a business he was pitching to investors. I gave him the family rate, just a few hundred bucks for a half days work, did a few shots and sent him the edits the next day. He came back to me soon after saying his business partners liked the shots, but they were worried about the price.

Client: Look, just charge a little less. If this thing takes off it will be tons of work for you.

Me: Okay, fine.

Six months later they still hadn’t contacted me for work, and the product had been invested in by a major company, pulling in millions of dollars and spawning a major nation-wide ad campaign.

I recently had a client ask me to send out an email blast via Mailchimp. I went to sign in, and my...

13 October 2018 - 1:40pm

I recently had a client ask me to send out an email blast via Mailchimp. I went to sign in, and my password no longer worked. I clicked the link to reset it and find out that the client changed my account to be under his email address.

Me: Hey, looks like you changed the account details on Mailchimp.

Client: I did!

Me: Would you mind sending me the new credentials then?

Client: Why do you need those?

Moral of the story, even if you set up an account for a client, never share the login information unless you absolutely have to.

"The navy background is a bit too dark. Could you replace it with the rich sky blue we get in winter?"

12 October 2018 - 3:20pm
“The navy background is a bit too dark. Could you replace it with the rich sky blue we get in winter?”

Client: Here’s my drawing for the logo, just make it professional.I created a more eye-catching and...

12 October 2018 - 1:40pm

Client: Here’s my drawing for the logo, just make it professional.

I created a more eye-catching and logical take on his blurry drawing idea and sent it to him.

Client: That isn’t my sketch. Use what I sent you.

I pulled his actual .jpg into Illustrator and smoothed the lines, sent back his own drawing larger and cleaner.

Client: That still isn’t my sketch. Why are you making this harder than it has to be? I did all the work for you already. I sent it to you, it’s done.

Me: Can you tell me what I am allowed to change about this in order to make it better, then?

Client: Nothing! I just want that, professionalized!

In case any of you have the fortune of working with this man, “professionalizing” turned out to mean “slightly increasing the brightness and contrast of the actual blurry .jpg and emailing it back.”

I had a meeting with a prospective client about creating their website. I created a sample...

11 October 2018 - 3:20pm

I had a meeting with a prospective client about creating their website. 

I created a sample preliminary proposal containing some designs and an offer to create their (small) site for $XXX. I didn’t hear from the Client for a while, then contacted them to follow up on the proposal. 

Client: Hey, we really liked your design. But we decided to go with an agency. They’ll do it for $XXXX

Me: Oh, I see. My quote was $XXX for the same job

Client: Yeah, you are just by yourself and they are a bunch of people. 

I check and their new site is all dark text on magenta background with yellow accents and the text is presented in gif images. 

Funny thing, the Client also ran a business solo.  

Me: Is there any specific information you want on the poster?Client: Just be creative and see what...

11 October 2018 - 1:40pm

Me: Is there any specific information you want on the poster?

Client: Just be creative and see what works.

Can’t argue with the classics.

I work in IT. A friend of mine who is clueless to anything you have to plug in was setting up their...

10 October 2018 - 3:20pm

I work in IT. A friend of mine who is clueless to anything you have to plug in was setting up their new shop and asked for help, promising me “some compensation.” He is loaded as hell so I figured he would be good for it.

I put in five hours work (by myself after hours with the main building a/c turned off) installing multiple terminals, networking them all, and running through basic set up and updates so that they could be turned on and ready to go, NOT TO MENTION a basic hardening of his network so it would be reasonably secure.

He gave me a bottle of coke.

Last year I worked for a new “design agency.” The company was set up by two people and neither had...

10 October 2018 - 1:40pm

Last year I worked for a new “design agency.” The company was set up by two people and neither had any experience of working as a designer. One of them had worked in marketing and the other had some sales experience but no experience of working in design (btw his job title was head of design). On the first day after a brief call telling me that they wanted me to work on a packaging project, I received another call.

Client: Have you started the project?

Me: No not yet, could you send over the brief so that I can start on this?

Client: What kind of information would you need?

Me: Dimensions, any previously signed off colours, fonts, etc, etc.

Client: I’m just not sure where to get that kind of information.

Me: Just get it from the company you’re working for.

Client: But how would I get it from them?

Me: Just send them an email.

Client: Could I do that?

I run an embroidery business and my first really REALLY big order came in a few weeks ago. It’s...

9 October 2018 - 3:20pm

I run an embroidery business and my first really REALLY big order came in a few weeks ago. It’s still not done. Why? Well…

Client constantly changed their mind about what color they wanted, kept adding images and text to the hats, and argued with me for a full day about copyright laws. This whole deal took two weeks, and now he wants them by Friday because suddenly he doesn’t need them for work, he needs them for his nephew’s boxing club.

Some snippets from our texts:

Client: My nephew really like the gloves image that I send you because it is the classic olld [sic] school shape of old-school gloves.

Me: If you would like, you can purchase the image and then email it to me. To not purchase it before using it is theft.

Client: If you copy an image from Google is theft?

Me: Yes. It is stock imagery that is to be paid for. To use an image without permission with the intent to profit from it is theft.

Client: I understand but it is not for any kind of business. It’s for kids. No profit.

Me: I am the one making a profit, and would be the one in legal trouble.

Client: Wow!! Pretty passionate! You know a lot about this stuff. I am not a thief either, and I don’t like things for free either. I will purchase the image when I get home and send to you.

After this day-long conversation, he must have been searching around on the site because he sent me five or six images that were all significantly more expensive and would not have made for good embroidery. I will be taking note of this whole thing and adding things to my order forms to ensure that this kind of runaround doesn’t happen again.

A client I’d been working with for a while wanted a brochure designed. She didn’t like the photo I...

9 October 2018 - 1:40pm

A client I’d been working with for a while wanted a brochure designed. She didn’t like the photo I chose for the cover, so I sent her 10 links with the photos she might like instead. It took her a week to pick one because she kept sending other stuff that she wanted to be done, at which stage the emails were completely disorganised with her replies scattered all over my inbox, and I’m guessing hers as well.

After a week of nagging about everything else, she finally remembers to pick a photo and nudges me to send her the pdf ASAP because it’s URGENT and should have been done ALREADY which… was kind of on her. Whatever.


Almost a week later, she calls all irate about a printing problem. I call the printer, he says he simply needs A3 because I had sent him A4. Fixed that and forgot about it.

Almost a week later, she calls me foaming at the mouth.

Client: (angry) The couch in the photo is dirty!

Me: Wait, is this a problem with the print, or something in the original photo, or…

Client: It wasn’t dirty before so it must be something you did when you changed it from A4 to A3. 

Me: Uh… it really doesn’t work that way.

She doesn’t listen because she’s determined I sabotaged her brochure.

Me: I understand that you’re upset, but please remember I gave you several options. You chose that photo.

Client: (even angrier) Well you people should know better and have an eye for details! You should notice if a couch has a stain!

She asks me to open a pdf on my computer and see it for myself, like an idiot. I look at it, and *** me, there really is a tiny stain. Unfortunately, it was barely visible on the screen but something about the print made it more obvious. Not great, but also not the most pressing issue.

Client: I’m sorry for the oversight. I can send you a new photo ASAP and you can order a new print run. I won’t charge you for the edits and you only spent about $100 printing the first run – that’s not that damaging.

At this point, she’s screaming because her printer is leaving tomorrow and her business is failing (because of me, obviously, and the 50 stupid Euros she spent to print these, and not at all because she’s a disorganised jerk who does everything at the last minute).

She spent the next thirty minutes screaming at me and shot me down every time I tried to suggest a solution. I guess if your business is failing, it’s easier to get mad at someone else.

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