Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

Urgent! 19 days of urgency.

3 March 2020 - 2:00pm

I just got this email:

Client: Please urgently fill in the attached form, we urgently need to load you onto the system in order for you to have access to workbook. Please, this is urgent!

The client was supposed to do this for me 19 days ago. Couldn’t have been that urgent if they waited nearly a month and then asked me to do it last minute. 

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The Cole’s Notes edition of a consultation call that screamed “bad client red flags. Run far, far away.”

3 March 2020 - 1:00pm

Client: I’ve worked with a lot of freelancers who offered less than ten cents a word and ended up disappointed. What I really want is a long-term relationship with a contractor, you know? Someone who I can trust and rely on, and you could learn a lot from me. 

Me: Cool… here’s my rate, and here’s what’s included.

Client: Yeah…but what’s your per word rate, and how many words is that for? Did I mention I can help you out a lot?

Me:: I don’t do per word rates. That’s for posts in the 1,000 to 1,500 range including research, SEO, etc.

Client: Didn’t you hear me say I was looking for a long-term working relationship? I just don’t think you’re worth that amount. Would you be willing to do it for less?

All I learned from this client was how to say “no.”

The post The Cole’s Notes edition of a consultation call that screamed “bad client red flags. Run far, far away.” appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Can you just make it look pretty?

2 March 2020 - 2:00pm

I create graphics for government proposals. These usually have strict guidelines on margins, text sizes, font, color, etc., and any small violation can get the whole proposal disqualified.

Client: Sends me a draft graphic in Power Point that prints out to be 16″ wide and has 6pt font. The requirements for their proposal are 6.5″ wide max, and 10pt font.

I managed to fit everything on one page while staying compliant, but of course the graphic looked very different.

Me: It looks different than it did, but that’s what it took to make the image compliant. 

The client sent me back my original draft with a note: 

Client: Can you just make it look like this but pretty?

So much for compliance. 


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I never used the website, why pay renewal

2 March 2020 - 9:05am

I overworked and was underpaid for a client, building a website for a charity website. I did the math, and I made under $5 an hour once I counted all the hours I spent explaining basic concepts to her over the phone. 

A year after I made this site and called her:

Me: Your domain and hosting is up and you’ll need to renew it for another year.

Client: I never used that website. Why would I pay you to renew it?

Me: You don’t have to! But the site will expire and disappear in two weeks. If that’s what you choose, please don’t call me again. 

I got a missed call from her yesterday – one week after the domain expiration date.

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340 Vector illustrations of people for just $15! Save 99%

1 March 2020 - 2:00pm
340 Vector illustrations of people for just $15! Save 99%

This week’s deal is on 340 flat, vector illustrations of people in useful situations.

> These illustrations make it easy to create compelling images on nearly any topic! 

Vector illustrations let you put together original content quickly and easily, tailoring scenes to suit the needs of your client. This bundle features dozens of characters in professional contexts, allowing you to mock-up scenes for splash images and promotional materials in minutes! 

For a limited time, this bundle of 340 illustrations is 99% of, selling for only $15. That makes this bundle, which allows countless useful combinations, about the price of a premium stock image or two. 

> Check out the deal here! 

The post 340 Vector illustrations of people for just $15! Save 99% appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Delivery Dates are more like Guidelines…

1 March 2020 - 1:00pm

Boss: If the client asks when this work will be delivered, what should I tell them?

Me: Today’s the first, so tell them the end of the month. We might be ready a week sooner, but it always pays to have some extra time in case of unforeseen issues, scope changes, etc.

Boss: Brilliant, I’ll let them know.

1 week later, 3 weeks before the proposed delivery date.

Boss: How are things coming along? Are we on track for completion next week?

Me: Next week? Currently, we’re 3 weeks away from the due date we discussed last week. Has something changed that I should be aware of?

Boss: What do you mean 3 weeks away? I told the client this would be ready next week. You’ve put me in a really awkward position now. I’ll have to phone them and tell them the bad news.

Myself and the dev team worked out a plan involving significant overtime, and eventually deliver 2.5 weeks into the project (that’s a whole 1.5 weeks earlier than scheduled). Boss not happy, client not happy, and to this day, our boss still believes we let him down.

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User Submitted Post

29 February 2020 - 2:00pm

I’m working on something involving a caricature of the client company’s bosses.

Me: Can you get me better reference photos? These ones you sent are really small, I can barely make out any facial features.

Client: I’m sorry, that’s all we have. Just do your best and we can change anything in the pencils phase if we need to.

Me: Here are the pencils!

Client: Looks great! Approved.

Me: Here’s the finished piece!

Client: Continue to tweak the bosses’ facial expressions to match them more closely See attached photos.

Attached were the higher quality photos I originally asked for.

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CFH wants “new” and “different” branding as long as it looks exactly like their old branding.

29 February 2020 - 1:04pm

I was hired to create a new, modern corporate logo for a national machinery client. Their company brand and all of their current products’ brands were developed by a friend of the owner during the early 80s and had a typical raster-line look, ala AT&T with a sad, old-fashioned corporate color.

Me: Your current logo I’m sure has worked for the last couple of decades, but at this point it’s pretty dated. I’ve looked over some of your printed materials, and you can see where those fine raster lines create problems when you reduce it for print.  

Client: No, absolutely. We hired you because we wanted something to reflect our new ownership and a more modern approach. We liked how much of your portfolio is modern and sleek. 

After getting a signature on the contract and a deposit I spent about a month working on designs. The results were some of my best design work to date. I narrowed my work down to the three strongest ones. I created a presentation showing the three logos in the standard way: Solid black, grayscale, reversed, large, medium and small sizes on all (with a promise to get into color after the mark was locked down).

Me: Okay, don’t give me any thoughts yet. Spend some time with them and then let’s reconvene after a week or so to discuss. 

Three days later: 

Client: I showed it to some of my workers down on the machine floor and they didn’t like them. We’re going to in a different direction.

Two months later, I looked at their website. Their newly-named company logo is almost identical to their old one, same lined effect, same color scheme.

I later sold one of their rejected designs to another client.

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<p>Client: I can’t believe you used

28 February 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: I can’t believe you used this shot in the TV ad!

Me: I’m so sorry, but it was in the shot-list you approved.

Client: That document you gave me?

Me: Yeah.

Client: Well I’m a busy person and I didn’t get around to reading it before I signed it, do you want me to have to do everything for you?

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<p>I work with a company that serves

28 February 2020 - 1:01pm

I work with a company that serves packaging solutions. We design packages for products.

One client complained recently about what we made for them:

Client: This isn’t at all what we wanted! I just compared it to our competitor’s packaging and the heights are different.

Me: Well, you approved that design. We were just going off of what you said.

That didn’t’ help. Confused, I checked our design vs. their competitor’s – the dimensions were the same.

Me: Hey, I just checked that package design – it’s actually  the same height as your competitor’s. Are you sure that’s the problem?

He didn’t respond until a couple of days later with a photo of a package we made him with a printer error (I won’t explain our supply chain here, but printing is not our responsibility or our fault).

Client: Try to do better.

At this point, I realized he was just fishing for a discount.

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Gee, why didn’t I think of that?

27 February 2020 - 2:05pm

I work in a pre-press department at a printer. Recently I was pre-flighting a booklet of supplied PDF files. After the client received the first proof, he submitted revised files, but unfortunately batch #2 was missing the bleed that the batch #1 had. I let them know that they needed to supply new files that included bleed just like he did with the first batch of supplied files.

Instead, he uploaded the same file, but in the size description box on our upload site he typed in the dimensions that the files should be if they had bleed. He actually thought that simply typing the correct size in a description box on the web would somehow fix his file.

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<p>I worked for a design agency 10

27 February 2020 - 1:00pm

I worked for a design agency 10 years ago. My predecessor built two complete websites for a client – neither of which had gone into use or were ever paid for – but the client was a big shot in the industry and got away with it.

I changed jobs a couple of years later to another agency. Lo and behold, we get called to build a website for this same client. I told my boss about the two websites that never saw the light of day at my previous employer, and warned her to get paid upfront.

I went to the client’s offices to discuss the brief.

Client: Don’t worry about the content. I’ve actually already collated all the content into a mock website to give you an indication of what you’re looking for.

At this point, he showed me a demo model of one of the sites that were built at my previous boss’s agency!

Me: (feigning ignorance) Wow. Did you put that together yourself?

Client: (beaming with pride) Yes. Not bad, right?

Oh, it’s bad. Very, very bad.

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User Submitted Post

26 February 2020 - 2:00pm

Had a client ask us to create a logo for their small firm. After doing a  thorough creative brief with them and doing a whole presentation on the concepts made, we didn’t hear from them for a few months even after various follow ups.

Turns out, the partners split. The original contact asked us to rebrand and make a new logo for his firm. His original logo was just a serif font, nothing special about it. So, we went through another thorough creative brief.

Client: I want a new, cutting edge, unique design. Something that told the story of this company and its name.

Again, we delivered the presentation and he was so excited and loved all the concepts and said he would get back to us to let us know what he decided.

Didn’t hear back from him for a month. When he finally did call us back, he kept describing the revisions he wanted us to make, after repeating and trying to clarify what he was trying to explain, it ended up being EXACTLY like his original logo.

Turns out his wife (who was nowhere during the creative briefs) didn’t like any of them and wanted the original serif font logo he had… but it took them about 5 months to come up with that decision.

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Say it loud, say it proud

26 February 2020 - 1:10pm

I once had a freelance job  writing ad copy for a company that sold Silver Eagle Half-Dollars as collectors items. I’m sure you’ve seen similar ads. This, I was told, would be a full-pager on the back cover of a Sunday newspaper magazine insert.

The coins were in mint condition and were packaged in a very attractive velvet-lined cherry wood box, perfect for the discriminating coin collector. The company’s owner instructed me to write copy that would impress the reader with the collectible significance of this coin and its .999 percent pure silver composition. They sold for more than $100 each. My father was a coin collector, so I knew that these things had some real value.

I wrote what I thought was a dignified ad, extolling the coin’s mint brilliance and beauty. I had researched the historical significance of the coin and tried to convey to potential customers the importance of having such a magnificent piece among their collections. I even wrote about the beautiful, velvet-lined cherry wood box and how much value it added to the piece, which would no doubt be passed down from generation to generation and become a treasured family heirloom.

By the time I was done I wanted to buy one of the coins for myself.

When I showed it to the owner, he read it carefully, nodded a few times, while muttering a few thoughtful “hmmm” and “ahh” sounds. Then:

Client: This is great, but what it needs is more CAPITAL LETTERS and plenty of EXCLAMATION MARKS!!! That’s what catches their eye. Make it LOUDER.

Me: I was aiming for a more… dignified approach.

Client: Yes! Perfect! Capital letters and exclamation marks. 

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spice of life

25 February 2020 - 2:00pm

Customer brought in some mugs to be engraved. They wanted two logos engraved on each side of the mug. We normally require vector drawings, but we always have to work with whatever is given to us. 

The first logo is given to me on a printed piece of paper. It was a very small jpeg enlarged 300%. This was fine compared to the second logo.

He’d given me a bag of mugs to engrave. I was looking through and I saw a spice bottle.

Me: Sir, I think you accidentally left this in the bag.

Client: No, that’s your example.

I looked. There was a logo on the spice bottle. 

Client: That logo on the label should be good enough for you to use, right?

Me: ….

I would also like to point out that the logo was a very detailed family crest and was about 1″ 

After a long conversation and many phone calls I did get them to send me a vector provided by their labeling company. 

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<p>Client: Maybe you can sprinkle some

25 February 2020 - 1:00pm

Client: Maybe you can sprinkle some butterflies into this text to make it prettier. I don’t know – I don’t know these graphic design tricks.

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<p>I was creating a website layout for

24 February 2020 - 2:00pm

I was creating a website layout for a CMS. This particular software was very customisable, and without access to their source files, I had no idea how a client’s specific install operated in the non-standard details.

Me: I’ve got the board index layout complete, with placeholder images for the poster avatars. I don’t have the mod that makes avatars show up there on my test install, so I can’t put that code there.

Client: We ended up hard coding it in, because the mod we were using for that wasn’t very good, so don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of it.

I didn’t worry about it, and continued with the rest of it. Once it was done and I’d sent them their theme files, they messaged me again:

Client: Hey, how do I get the avatars to show up?

My bad, I assumed if you did it yourself, you knew how…

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<p>I work part-time for a client who

24 February 2020 - 1:00pm

I work part-time for a client who doesn’t seem to understand that part-time does not mean he can text me whenever he wants. He also doesn’t understand some key terms.

At 11 PM:

Client: Hey, I need the wireframe for the website. Can you have it ready by tomorrow?

Me: Wait, sorry, wireframe? By TOMORROW?

Client: Yeah, like we discussed.

Me: (panicking) I am nowhere close to being finished the wireframe. Are you sure we agreed to this?

Client: Yes. I need the wireframe for the logo. Can you have it ready by tomorrow?

Vector. He meant vector.

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Get delicate with these 2622 elements for 99.9% off! Only $9!

23 February 2020 - 2:00pm
Get delicate with these 2622 elements for 99.9% off! Only $9!

This week’s deal is on over 2600 design elements from Daria Bilberry’s BilberryCreate Studio!

> They’ve got a soft, whimsical style that is incredibly useful.

We’ve featured a bundle from Daria Bilberry before and it was EXTREMELY popular. This 2020 bundle features all new elements that go great with everything! Daria Bilberry is famed for her delicate, warm style and this bundle will instantly give you mastery over this look. You could conceivably make an entire career creating branding, marketing and wedding invitations with just this bundle. Not that you should, but you totally could.

Normally BilberryCreate would sell the elements in this bundle for $3000, but this week all 2600+elements are just $9. That’s nine dollars for all two thousand and six hundred plus elements. That’s incredible value, and if you sell one project with these elements you’ve already made that money back at least ten-fold. 

> Check out the deal here. 

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<p>Client: I need the logo to be white

23 February 2020 - 1:00pm

Client: I need the logo to be white and in a pdf

I made a white logo in Illustrator and sent it as a PDF.

Client: The attachment is blank, unless the white logo is blending in and I can’t see it. LOL

ME: Haha yes, that’s the case. if you highlight it, you should see the logo.

Client: I don’t know how to highlight.

Then I don’t know how to help you.

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