Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 21 min ago

User Submitted Post

12 November 2019 - 1:00pm

Client: I’ve changed directions. Use this. 

No amount of careful planning, writing, concept work, design, review, and approval can overcome an executive who finds a picture of a pug dog wearing pink sunglasses on the Internet.

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User Submitted Post

11 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I work at a law office as the communications manager. As a side project, I began helping our international clients with expedited passports. I have a good relationship with an expediting company and can help our clients 1 on 1 when they had trouble understanding the paperwork/needed hand-holding.  

Client: Okay, we want to leave this weekend. 

Me: Unfortunately, that won’t be possible. I emailed you a week ago asking about your travel date, it will be impossible to process your passport in the time described. Also, I warned you 2 months ago that this would happen if you waited for [legal process not related to passport] to be finished. But you insisted that we wait. 

Client: (immediately calls) You said it would take 2-3 days!

Me: Two days from the agency appointment date. I was very clear about that. And because there is a Public Holiday Monday, it will be impossible unless you travel to [City] in person. Also, I only attend agency appointments by appointment so I have time to gather your paperwork. I have other meetings today and cannot leave the office. 

Client: Well we can’t do that, it’s impossible. We can’t travel with the kids and we aren’t good on US roads. What if we left a week or two from now instead?

Me: Yes, I can definitely help you make that happen! Let’s meet at the agency on [date] and I will get things started with the expediting company. I’ll email you a map and a list of what I need you to bring. I’m glad we found a solution and I look forward to seeing you then. You will save a lot of money this way as well. 

Client: Great! Thank you very much! We will meet you there. 

One day later: 

Client: We need it this weekend, you said 2 to 3 days, so we need to go to the agency right now and get it!

Of course, the agency is closed until after the holiday at this point – also acceptance agencies don’t make passports, they only accept applications. 

Don’t you love it when clients think they don’t have to listen to what you’re telling them? Making demands is no substitute for “reading comprehension.” 

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User Submitted Post

11 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I’m a social media expert & strategist; the client asked for specific assets to promote/showcase their products. We agreed on a strategy.

Client: Cool, these are the best proposal ever. Let’s start with strategy 1. Can you put in action in a week?

I sent them detailed planning, and their only input was to decide which product goes first. I pinged them twice.

Client: Well, seems like you’re not doing the job. We’ve been waiting a week.

Me: I’ve sent you emails here and here to have your input.

Client: (angry) No way, we never got your emails.

Me: I can prove emails were sent, received and read as I have the receipt.

Client: Who the hell did you send them to? We didn’t get those emails, and we don’t use that email address, so either you’re lying and didn’t do the job or you just sent our campaign to a stranger. Either way, you’re incompetent. 

I didn’t respond right away because that was a lot to deal with. Two hours later:

Client: Uh well, we think we’ll go for strategy A. Good job on these!

I guess they found my emails. 

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Create stylish Art Deco designs for only $17!

10 November 2019 - 2:00pm
Create stylish Art Deco designs for only $17!

This week’s deal is on all the fonts, borders and backgrounds you need to make stunning art deco style designs. 

> Just take a look at this classic styling, all for only $17.

There’s a reason he was called the “Great” Gatsby and not the “merely ok” Gatsby. Art deco inspired much of modern design and remains utterly compelling in its own right. These fonts, border elements and backgrounds combine to let you harness this powerful and influential style for your own designs

This package retails at full price for $104, but for just a few more days you can get it at a savings of 87% for only $17

> Check out the deal here!

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When Your Client Thinks They Can Do Your Job Better Than You

9 November 2019 - 1:25pm

I recently agreed to do a graphic design project for a friend of a good client. I was very hesitant to do it because it was a kind of difficult project on a tight deadline. However, I agreed to do it anyways on the very clear terms that they HAD to pick one of the three layout options I gave them by a specific date.

The night before I needed their choice I send a reminder, to which they say they’ll “work on it”… the next morning (when I had planned to start drafting the ad) they sent half of a layout, clearly mocked up in Microsoft Paint.

Client: Can you use that? 

Me: Not really. And, as I stated when I agreed to this project, because of the tight deadline I don’t have the time to create new concepts. Normally I would be willing, but I need you to pick from the concepts I sent you. 

Client: Can’t you use what I sent you?

At this point they listed what they “liked” about their MS Paint version.

Me: OK, based on what you’re saying you like I think then my second option I gave you would work best for what you want. I am concerned about being able to finish your ad on time if I don’t spend all of my allotted time today on getting the actual draft done rather than finishing your layout.

Client: Okay, but could you [change one aspect of that layout that would ruin the entire composition]?

I didn’t want this job when I started, and I definitely don’t want it now. 

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Killing one employee with a lot of stones

9 November 2019 - 1:00pm

Saw this while looking for a new job about 5 years ago:

Client: Cutting tool distributor is looking for an I.T. Technician
Job description:

– Manage the computer system. Upgrade needed.
– Update the inventory database.
– Manage the inventory
– Create a new brochure and a new catalog
– Update and maintain the website
– Taking care of shipping and receiving
– Answer the phone

Post: permanent, full time, 35hrs/week.
Salary offered: $13.45/hr

I passed…

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User Submitted Post

8 November 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: I need to reorder my business cards, but please take the name off of them.

Me: Take… the name off your business card?

Client: Yes.

I do exactly this and send off a proof.

Client: Why did you take my name off? I need that on there!

There was no other name on the card. 

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Cheap Bosses

8 November 2019 - 2:00pm

I started working with this creative agency that had this new high profile client. The client was a big pharmaceutical company, and most of my design work wound up being for them. They didn’t give enough time for anything; basically every day I was working on several big campaigns that had to be turned around in two weeks. 

Even though it was stressful, I ended up adapting to their way of work. I stayed late on most days. 

The thing is that the pay was very-very low and I started to realize how important was my job for them. This pharma client was the biggest we had and was very demanding.

I asked for a raise. They downplayed every reason I gave them to demonstrate I deserved more.

Me: I’m working a ton of extra hours for this client. 

Client: We don’t pay extra time. This is just normal for agency life. 

They looked me with a straight face while saying this.

I stayed for almost a year more after I asked for a raise (I still don’t know why). I received a pitiful “yearly raise” and realized that it made me more angry than anything. I started looking for work that paid better, found it, and quit.  

Two months later, I talked to an old friend who was still at that agency. Apparently when I quit nobody could keep up with the workload for this client. They had to hire two extra designers to keep on top of it. 

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User Submitted Post

7 November 2019 - 2:30pm

Me: (replying to a public inquiry that included a budget) Hi. I’m able develop the site for you. Here are my references… However, it would require a bigger budget. Can you do XXX?

Client: Thank you for your quote. However, this is my 4th time inquiring for the site and I’ve gotten a lot of different quotes. I know it’s possible to develop it in the stated budget.

Me: But you haven’t hired anyone in that time?

Client: It can be done. Goodbye. 

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We Need to Sell These Items Quickly

7 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I met with a woman at her home to discuss working with her to sell merchandise online. When I arrived, I interviewed with her in her garage where we would work – surrounded by boxes and random products from her line.

Her jewelry and clothing line that had gone through various rocky changes over the years. She was looking to amp up her social media and online sales.

Me: So, what’s led you to hire someone now for this freelance role?

Client: Well, my business created a large amount of jewelry and clothing items for media and trade show events, but it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. So now, I have tons of merchandise in warehouses. I’m looking for someone to help me sell the items pretty quickly online.

The products looked like any number of fashion items one could find in stores online or in person.

Me: How are your sales doing on your website?

Client: I’m only selling a couple hundred dollars or so of items a month on my website. Most of my partnerships and PR efforts didn’t create the long-lasting results the way I had hoped.

Me: Hm. Well, how many more items are you looking to sell quickly?

Client: Many many thousands of dollars worth. My business produced mass quantities. The large warehouse bills are adding up quickly and I don’t want to hold on to the items much longer.

She came across as sullen and angry. This seemed like it could easily be a disaster. I didn’t end up working with her.

Two years later, I noticed online that she hadn’t made much progress in her online goals and she was still trying to sell her old merchandise. This could be a long haul – or a liquidation of products (whichever comes first).

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6 November 2019 - 2:00pm

My client rang me two weeks after his new website went up shouting at me to refund all of his money. He had paid promptly with no complaints.

Me: I’m sorry you’re not happy with the site. Can I ask why you want a refund?

Client: My friends told me all about things going viral on the Internet. Why didn’t my website go viral? Make it go viral!

I tried to explain it to him but you can imagine how that went…

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Saving 101

6 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I was hired as a freelance designer for a company that ended up being a crap show. No organization or communication, overworked/underpaid everyone, and lots of gossip behind the scenes. It was a miserable experience, and I quit shortly into it. During my last week, I was asked to upload everything I worked on to google drive and share it with them.

Me: I can absolutely upload! However, please be sure to download everything I upload ASAP as I do not have room on my drive to host these files long term. I will give you about a month to download everything before I delete them from my personal drive

Client: Sounds good, will do.

FIVE MONTHS LATER. I gave them an extra four months and my drive was to capacity, so I emptied it.


I pretended to be shocked.

Turns out, not only did they NOT do as requested, but they were also adding all their new art and files to my PERSONAL FOLDERS and using them as the company drive. Why a company would depend on a former employee to host the only originals (as well as giving access to everything they do to a former employee) is beyond me. I almost want to say I no longer have the files, but unlike them, I know how to save.

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Creatively Indecisive

5 November 2019 - 1:42pm

I had been working with this client for some time now, trying to nail down designs for two different illustrations they’d hired me for. The first was stuck in permanent development hell because the client couldn’t choose between two different versions, so I began work on the second illustration.

Client: This is the character you’ll be designing. I don’t know what I want, so it’s dealer’s choice. Just surprise me.

He provided me with several short stories, and a document explaining multiple different incarnations and appearances. After a while of struggling without any direction, I produced a sketch that I wasproud of and offered it to him.

Me: What do you think? It could really show his character during this point of the story well, and it’s expressive.

Client: Actually, now that I’ve seen this, I’ve decided that I don’t want that at all. Here are four sketches of different poses I want, and he now has an entirely different appearance than the ones I gave you as reference.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a very long process.

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The Angry, Difficult Client

5 November 2019 - 1:00pm

A small team met with me to discuss a freelance media coordinator opportunity.

Hiring Manager: The client is often argumentative, angry and accusatory in meetings. You will have to bear the brunt of a lot of it. But, it’s a great chance to work on exciting things.

Me: Hm. Well, I’ve seen a lot. I think I could handle it.

Hiring Manager: It’s important that we just do as he says and try to keep him happy.

Me: Okay.

Hiring Manager: I’m not kidding. Everything he says, down to the letter. This is important.

Me: …I’ll think about it.

This job felt off to me. I ended up taking another offer with a different group. Years later, I heard that the client ended up getting involved in a long legal battle over how he treated people he worked with. I dodged a traumatic experience.

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How long is a piece of string?

4 November 2019 - 2:00pm

We provide content services to science-based organisations, writing blog posts that are usually 800-1200 words long, optimised for SEO.

Client: These blogs posts are far too long! Cut them down!

I cut the posts to the bone.

Client: Why are all these posts so short? They don’t go into enough detail. We should be doing much deeper dives into the science, like 1,500 to 2,000 words. Why aren’t you doing that??

Me: [death stare]

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4 November 2019 - 1:00pm

I was sent an official Word document to be placed in a report. 

Me: This new text says “8-89 November 2018,” and you misstated the name of the Official Sponsoring Organization as “Sponsored Official Organization.”

Client: Please do the following correction
8-9 Nov. 2918, Official Sponsoring zirgibazaton
Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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Add hundreds of design tricks up your sleeve with a bundle of bundles for only $21 — 94% off!

3 November 2019 - 3:00pm
Add hundreds of design tricks up your sleeve with a bundle of bundles for only $21 — 94% off! 

This week’s deal bundles together a series of other bundles. It’s awesome.

> Take a look. There’s so much cool stuff here.

This is a seriously useful bundle of elements, combining textures, patterns, masks and vector illustrations. Frankly, the pack of retro diagram illustrations, including retro video game consoles, alone is worth the price. You could probably produce a couple of the textures or masks in this bundle yourself, but ask yourself: “if I paid myself for my time, could I do it for less than $21?” The answer is no, of course not. Treat yourself. There are thousands of awesome elements here that will make your job so much easier for a great price. Sell one design with one element, you’ve made your money back. Sell dozens? You’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Normally everything here would sell for $375 — which is already a great price — but this week you can get all included 26 bundles for just $21 or 94% off

> Check out the deal here.

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An Enraged Response

3 November 2019 - 2:00pm

An organization expressed interest in my skills for managing creative projects as a contractor. I discussed the position with a group of people in a meeting.

Client: In your opinion, describe some important aspects of managing a design project.

Me: Well, it’s useful to discuss the overall objective and any details of the project that have been determined, such as the font.

Client: You mean I need a FONT?

He said this in a loud, scoffing, angry way.

I’m not liking this person’s reaction to this so far.

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And the award for not reading emails goes to

2 November 2019 - 7:58pm
I have a client that uses a private web application I built for them. It stores personal information.   They want to partner with another company, and that company requires that the web app undergoes a penetration test to check security before they will work together.   Client: I talked to a pentest provider, they say you should ask your host’s permission before commissioning the test. Can you check if pentests are allowed?   Me: (after checking) No, my current host does not allow pentests and would suspend the account. I will need to move the web app to a new host. It will cost $X and I can do it at the weekend to avoid disruption. Can you give me the go-ahead to do that?   Client: Oh by the way I arranged the pentest, it’s being done tomorrow. Do we still need to move the site?   Me: …    Obviously I told them to cancel the test immediately but with a 15 hour time difference between myself and the client, I’m really not sure what the next 24 hours will bring.

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