Clients from Hell
I started a job a few months ago. I received a 50% down payment with the balance due upon completion. Scope creep inevitably occurred:
Me: I’m happy to add these features, but I’m going to charge my hourly rate in addition to what we agreed while implementing them.
On Monday I sent the final invoice to no response, then sent a follow-up email today (April 5).
Client: Oh. We didn’t respond because we thought that ridiculously high invoice was an April Fool’s Joke.
Bit of a different context, but I thought the sentiment would be appreciated.
While I was in law school, over the summer I interned at a state child welfare office. Whenever a caseworker needed a copy of a court order, they would send an email to my boss, who would forward it to me. I would write down the case number and order date, and go down four floors to the clerk’s office in the basement. I’d give them the case number and order date, they would pull the order, make a copy of it, and give me the copy. I would then go back up four floors to our office and scan the copy of the order to my computer, and email it to my boss who would forward it to the caseworker.
I had never fully appreciated the futility of bureaucracy until that moment.
I’m a developer for machine vision systems. I was working with a client in order to define the scope of the new systems.
Client: Well we have 4 references that need to be inspected.
Me: Alright can we get some samples to start developing the software and design the inspection strategy?
Client: Sure, I’ll just note that down and we will write the scope on the contract.
As I’m part of the engineering team the contract never reached our hands; it only goes through the Commercial team. Around three months later without hearing from the client or the project, we get several boxes with the samples. But inside them, there were twenty different samples to inspect!
When confronted, the commercial team said that the contract was already signed for this project and that they were gonna talk with the client. A few days later we (the engineering team) were invited to a meeting to discuss the change of scope.
Client: What change of scope are you talking about?
Me: You stated there would be only four references to inspect, we got a box with ~20 different references…
Client: Oh no no, each reference has 5 different stylings, the scope is still the same.
Said differences in styling meant that the product had the same capacity but the morphology was completely different. This for us meant several weeks more to develop the inspection strategy for the newly added 16 different products.
Sadly to say this was just the first misstep into this project. The deadline was not moved.
Before I begin, I know I made some mistakes here and have learned from them.
I was just starting art commissions when I had a problem with my PayPal. Unfortunately, I had agreed to do some work already, so I explained the issue to my client who said it was no problem. They were fine paying once I got everything all settled. I felt bad for the delay and let them have the work early.
I had a lot going on, i.e. moving, so it took me a lot longer than expected to get my PayPal issues sorted out than I expected but I finally got it ironed out.
Me: Hey! I’m just letting you know I got PayPal together so I can accept payment for that commission now.
Client: Oh wow, it’s been a while, haha. I’ll get on that.
I thought everything was good. A week later, no payment. I messaged him again, no reply.
This went on for a few weeks. I kept messaging, he didn’t reply until finally after weeks:
Client: (upset) Look, I know the payment is important to you, it’s just tough getting it to you so long after I was supposed to pay you.
Me: If this moment is difficult for you, I understand that. Do you know when you’ll be able to pay me?
I gave him a month and sent him a message.
Client: It’s hard for me to pay at the moment. Anyway when you buy something it should happen right then, not when I need the money for something else.
Me: You agreed to pay me when my PayPal was back up. If you weren’t comfortable with that you could have said no.
Client: Well it’s your fault for taking so long! I don’t want to pay for something this long after I get it!
Eventually, I realized the issue wasn’t that they were experiencing “hard times,” it’s that they just didn’t WANT to pay me that long after the fact.
I asked the client to take down my art and never got paid. I learned a lot at least.
In this case, I was the client and the person I was serving with was the ignoramus. I thought you’d laugh anyway.
Me: I would like a quote for 500 business cards printed in black and white on two sides.
Printer: Sure! Just let me know how many cards you’d like, if they’d be printed in color or only in black, and if you need two sided printing!
During a meeting with a relatively new client, I noticed the left side of my face was starting to go numb. I mentioned this during the meeting, and terrified that I may have been having a stroke I ended up going to urgent care afterward. It turned out to be Bell’s Palsy, which is annoying but mostly harmless and usually heals within weeks or months. I told the client about this the next day and got on with my work.
Two weeks later, the client asked me if I’d completed work on something I didn’t recall discussing with her at all. I asked her when she’d asked me to do this as I had no emails or records about it, and she said she’d brought it up during the meeting two weeks earlier.
Me: You mean the meeting where I thought I was having a stroke?
Me: I wasn’t really mentally present, as I’m sure you can understand, and you’ve not mentioned it to me since.
Client: When I ask you to do something I expect to see it done.
Me: I understand that, but you asked me to do this during a meeting when I was having a stroke.
Client: That’s not a good enough excuse. If you’d been working with me longer I might understand, but you’ve only been on this project a few weeks.
Me: How long do I have to have been working with you for it to be okay for me to have a stroke during a meeting?
Shockingly, the client didn’t have an answer. I ended up leaving the project not long after that.
I was doing illustrations for a client: 8 variations on a theme. I got to work and finished the first half of the illustrations with plans for the second half.
Me: Alright, I’ve got A,B,C and D ready. I will send you the finished files in a second, and later that day, I’m going to finish E,F,G and H.
Client: Yeah, if you could send me E,F,G and H right now, that would be great.
Me: You… didn’t mention you needed those right away.
Client: Yeah, I do. Can you hurry them up?
I make some fanart stickers (among other items) to sell at conventions. The usual fare includes character art made by my partner and the name of the character over top. A person approached my booth near the end of the day on Saturday and seemed very interested in the stickers.
Client: Oh my god! I love your stickers! They’re so awesome! What font do you use on them?
Me: I’m glad you like them so much! All the writing that you see on the products is my own handwriting!
Client: (laughing) Ok, no, but seriously. What font?
Me: I am serious. I use my own handwriting.
Client: Listen here, you little bitch. No one writes like that. No one. Just tell me what font it is.
Me: Why do you want to know so badly, anyway?
Client: So I can recreate the stickers, duh.
Client: I know you just steal your art off the internet. You can’t fool me, I’ve seen that artist on Tumblr. I’m just going to do what you do.
That artist on Tumblr was me, natch.
Me: You need to go. Now.
Client: Whatever, bitch. I hope your house catches on fire with you trapped inside.
They stalked off in a huff. I guess it’s my fault for not using a font for my stickers?
Client: Why is the file smaller than the last version?
Me: It’s just a different way to compile the file. There shouldn’t be any difference when you open it.
Me: (thinking) You only need this file for a meeting. The video is going to shown on a regular size projector. Are you worried the file won’t work on IMAX or something?
I work for a company that designs award statuettes. A client who sent through their proposal for an award which consisted of a long thin pyramid with a ball floating above the point of the pyramid:.
Me: How do you anticipate having the ball suspended in mid-air?
Client: Just use invisible wire.
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The client approached me on Thursday afternoon at 3 pm to assist with a project that HAD to be done by Monday. Keep in mind this was something that should be 2-3 weeks of work. I understood the urgency and despite the timeline, wanted to do my best to meet it. We met on Thursday and I promised to have an initial mock up the following day.
Me: Let’s meet to discuss changes tomorrow. Does 1 pm work?
Client: Can’t do that I wanna go see my mom. Has to be 830 am
Me: Uh… that gives me like 1 hour to work on it. Let’s plan another day
Client: No! You must make it work!
Me: Pick another time then.
Client: 3 pm.
Me: I’ll send everything over just after noon for you to review and we can meet at 3 and discuss any changes.
Client: No need to meet. I need to proof by myself I’ll let you have feedback by this afternoon.
Client: I haven’t had time to give feedback yet. I’ll have it tomorrow morning.
The next morning (Saturday) at 11 am:
Me: hey how’s it looking?
Client: It will be this afternoon before I can check.
Client: I have many changes.
Me: OK, send them over and we can discuss what needs to be changed. I can probably meet you in the office tomorrow (Sunday) with an updated version if need be.
Client: Nope. I don’t want to send you changes until in person.
Me: OK. So tomorrow at 9 am?
Client: No! I have church.
Me: So when?
Client: 3 pm after church and family time.
Me: …Can you at least go ahead and send the list you made so I can start looking into it?
Client: Fine. By the way you are going to have to stay late at the office tomorrow because I will be gone all week on vacation and this MUST be done before I leave.
Me: (hating my life)
Two hours later:
Me: Hey, have you sent that list yet so that I can get started?
Client: No. I will bring it with me to tomorrow’s meeting. I want to make sure I sit beside you when you go to make changes so I can tell you what I want.
Me: (primal screaming into the night)
Me: Oh man this is tough, why is it not working?
Client: It must be the database.
Client: But can’t PHP do that too?
Me: …Isn’t PHP is a server side language?
Client: Delete all of your Java, we’re redoing it in PHP.
Client: I saw your advertisement for 3D modeling services. Can I see your past work in Blender?
I linked to my portfolio.
Client: Do you work with Animate Games?
Me: No, I haven’t animated before, sorry.
Client: No, ANIMATE_GAMES! They made games on Roblox like One Piece!!
Me: No, I haven’t.
Client: Can you make stuff like these?
Me: Might take a while, but I can do that for you!
Client: How much do you charge? Or is it free?
This was a huge red flag for me. I post prices in the advertisements, and this guy doesn’t seem to understand how much time things can take.
Me: About 20$ an hour, pretty cheap if you ask me.
Client: I know better people than you, and they do it cheaper. I guess you can’t work for me.
Me: All right.
I work at a signage shop in Pretoria, South Africa. We have a semi regular customer that for the 100th time mixed up his order with what he actually wanted.
He came in on a Tuesday to order a ISUZU sticker kit for his truck. You know – those matt black mud splat sticker kits everyone and their sister has these days.
I made him pay a deposit the following day where he once again clearly stated he wasnted an ISUZU kit. I say clearly because more than one person in the shop heard it and even the invoice says ISUZU decals.
On the day of application, he arrived in a Toyota Hilux.
My client asked me for some packaging designs. As always, I asked for the dielines or template for the packaging since they had a printer working with them on this project as well.
What I received were PDFs in Italian, with basically no measurements to work off of. I explained this to the client, but it’s all they received from the printer apparently. I did my best and sent the files off.
A week goes by.
Client: Hey, we need you to make a bunch of changes to the packaging you made. The printer had a lot of problems with them.
Me: Okay. What was wrong with them? I did the best I could with what I had.
Client: They said the sizing was all wrong and the layout needed to be adjusted.
Me: Well I never received proper measurements…
Client: We will send you what they sent us.
The printer sent my client proofs which contained the proper measurements and were the actual dielines I needed a week ago….where were they hiding them?
At a software company, we recently changed the website where we distribute a very large file required for quarterly updates.
Client: This new file doesn’t work with my brand new, ultra-modern Windows 10 computer. Send it to me the old way.
Me: It’s the exact same file, just at a different website…
Client: Well it took me HOURS to uninstall and reinstall it. It just hates Windows 10. Bring back .com – I don’t want to see .ca next update!
Me: That’s not possible? And it’s the exact same file!
Client: Fix this.