Clients from Hell
I just received this email.
Client: Good morning.
I would like to save a copy of our website.
Do you know an easy way to do this? Do you have an option that allows me to create a PDF doc of the entire website in 1 click?
I would like to hear from you.
I have so many questions.
I was working a package design for a client. It wasn’t a massive job — it was going to take me about a day and a half — but we’d agreed on a timeline that meant I could put it out of mind for two weeks while finishing other work.
The the client phoned me in a panic:
Client: Where is the file? Are you done? It needs to be at the printers tomorrow.
Me: What? Slow down. This is the first I’m hearing about this.
Client: We had to move everything ahead! Didn’t you see, I updated the timeline document.
I looked through my emails — I hadn’t received any notification that anything had changed.
Turns out, they’d changed the timeline… on their local copy of the .xslx file. They’d just assumed I’d received notification.
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At the time of this request, I was working at a large-format printing shop. I was the pre-press / file-prep person and also did the physical printing. The job didn’t include design at all, which is what I was looking for, but a job’s a job especially during 2020.
One of my co-workers had a friend that was reaching out to her network for free design work for her dog rescue company in L.A. (we are in Wisconsin). Because I was so bored and desperate to actually design something, I said yes. What the hell, I LOVE DOGS!
I spoke with the client and we agreed I could do it for her for free, as long as the company at least gave me a shout-out as the designer on social platforms. I thought, if anything, it would “give me exposure”, right?
Well, I created their logo in record time and they were VERY pleased.
Client: This is so much more than we could have hoped for, thank you! We’re about to launch our website – we’ll give you a raving testimonial on there.
The website went up, and… nothing. No word promoting my work, or giving me credit. Then, one day, I was perusing Instagram stories and I saw my logo creation printed on a water bottle. How cool to see! The description credited the people who printed the water bottle label… and not me.
Oh well. At least I helped those rescued dogs get prettier bandanas around their necks.
I received a request to re-create a sign for a real estate agent. The sales rep for my company sent me this for details (she copied what the real estate agent had sent to her).
Client: Also, I need 6 directional signs.
20″ width and 15″ length (you mean, height, but OK) Square White Background w/Green bold print: ESTATE SALE TODAY My logo Arrow at bottom”
DO YOU KNOW WHAT A SQUARE IS? So, needless to say, I changed the dimensions to 15″ wide x 15″ TALL.
I have a standing agreement with client who is also a former employer of mine. I’ll refer to her as the PM. We’ve been primarily working through a small group of companies under the same parent, providing each with a small brochure website. This is the PM’s client and I subcontract under her. I’ll refer to this party as the client.
The most recent request to take the last website we did together and duplicate it, changing only the colours and main logo. Simple enough, but since there’s all new content so it’s not a straight duplication. I provided a quote under these parameters, which was substantially lower than the original build, and the PM agreed. She later sent word that the client also agreed.
An email chain was started to kick off the project that included myself, the PM, and the client. It this message, the PM outlined the scope of work to the client, committing me to items well beyond the original quote. Furthermore, she included the billing information which was much higher than the cut she usually takes, and requested half payment up front, which is customary.
This alone wouldn’t be enough for me to take issue. At the end of the day, she manages the client relationship and has her own set of marketing services. However, when I spoke with her directly about the change in scope and the price it would entail, she actually lied to me about her cut and tried to get me to do it without an increase. She obviously forgot that she had included the billing information at the bottom of the email she included me on.
The project has been stalled for a month now. I’m unaware of any discussion happening between the PM and the client regarding the change in scope. The latest commitment made on my behalf by the PM without any prior discussion with me was for the project to be completed a week from now.
I believe the PM enlisted me to duplicate a previous project and sold the client on a new build and now she doesn’t know how to fix it.
The moral of the story is to always have a contract and never work with former employers at preferred rates. There’s an old power dynamic here that’s very difficult to shake.
I was contracted to manage the marketing and advertising efforts of a privately owned chain of dental offices. The dentist owner was a textbook “Type A” personality who didn’t want to be bothered with minutia.
Client: Dentures melt bone. They cause your jawline to deteriorate and change the look of your face. People suffer from dentures. Design a billboard for this. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Wow me.
I made a billboard with a bright red-headed toothless older woman holding an apple with her dentures lodged into it. The text read: Ditch the Dentures! It took two weeks for the client to look at it.
Client: I give it an “A” for creativity, but it’s too far out there. I don’t think it’s up to the level of care I provide.
I designed another billboard. It was more subdued, with an older woman rubbing her jaw. He took another three weeks before looking at it.
Client: Only 5% of my patients come here because their dentures are giving them problems. I don’t make any money from them. Do a billboard for dental implants.
I did. Three weeks later:
Client: What about people who suffer from dentures?
Our relationship didn’t last much longer.
The post I was contracted to manage the marketing and advertising… appeared first on Clients From Hell.
I am a portrait photographer and here is the message someone once left on my voice mail:
Client: Hello, I need a photographer for a photo.
Client: Of a cat.
Which is dead. (pause)
Which is in a place that is not a road!
Client: And I need a photo.
Client: To clarify, It’s a dead kitten. Please call me back, it‘s urgent.
As I got the message while I was on vacation, I did not call back… but I‘m not sure I would have called back even if I was home.What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever received?
A client contacted me through my site’s form.
Client: What are your COVID rates?
I was confused – I thought they were talking about my state’s rate of COVID infections, which… aren’t good. Then I realized they assumed I had slashed my rates for the pandemic.
I responded to say that my COVID rates were my normal rates. They never responded.
Client: Can you write the “Terms and Conditions” for our website?
Me: I’m sorry but we can’t do that. That would need to be done by someone that knows your business’ terms and conditions of trade with input from a lawyer to make sure that it with your local laws.
Client: Great, we need it up on our site this afternoon.
I had been contacted by a doctor to do some simple marketing for his website. He was vague about his needs, but most of my clients are because they don’t really know what marketing entails. I’d gone through all the usual with him up to this point: getting to know him and his business, what his objectives and goals were, etc. After we contracted, I provided my first documents with a SWOT analysis and some other content to him as a place to start. I call him, and we start talking about what I sent over. He lets me do the entire presentation before he stops me with a doozy of a question.
Client: This is all great. When will you be done with my new website?
Me: I’m sorry, new website? We didn’t discuss creating a new website- these edits are for your existing website. However, if you’d like to talk about a new site, I have a developer I regularly contract with that may be available to assist-
Client: No, my NEW website! What do you think I’m paying you for?
Me: Doctor, we have not discussed a new website until this very moment. Can you explain what it is you’re looking for?
Client: Yeah, it’s exactly what I talked to you about in the beginning. I have a medical practice. I sell these specific medical products. I need a website to sell those products online.
Me: This is the first I’m hearing of this. Regardless, let’s talk about this project some more. What can you tell me-
Client, loudly and in what felt like one very, very long breath: Listen, listen. It’s like this. My wife left me and took everything. Everything, can you believe it?! And it’s so hard to find good staff these days- my practice is suffering because I just lost 5 people in one week- they just walked out and never came back. So I need to do something else to pay the bills, you see? I want to sell the products that I use in my practice online. It’s so simple! Look, sweetheart, I don’t think you’re getting this. Listen, this is how it works. I am going to sell these specific medical products online, okay? You don’t have to be a patient of mine in my practice, I’m a doctor. So I have a company that will send the products out to the customer. Some of the products, anyway- I’ll send the rest from my office. It’s called dropshipping, and man, you should try it! You’ll get rich so fast- I read about it in a book from a guy who’s a millionaire! He says all I have to do is set this up, and then I won’t have to lift a finger, and I’ll make tons of money. So I need you to set all this up, okay? I don’t do computers. My computer doesn’t even turn on- I think it’s broken. Hey, maybe you could come to my house and fix it sometime! You’re young, right? You kids understand computers. So I do everything on the iPad, but I can’t do all the fancy stuff you want me to do, so you need to do it. I know about Google, I want you to make me the only result that comes up for these products on Google. I’ll pay you to do it. I also want to be the first products that show up for these products on Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target…We need to target Amazon, okay? Have you ever used Amazon? It’s great. So anyway I’ll send you some links on how dropshipping works in an email so you’ll know exactly how to set this up for me. You can handle all the business stuff with my accountant and my office manager- and call me when you need me to answer questions about the products. I also want to do videos so you have to tell me what kind of camera to buy- I’ll buy anything you tell me to. Youtube videos. Do you use Youtube? I saw a great documentary about a tiger on there last week, I’ll send you the name of it so you can watch it too. I know you’ll enjoy it, you’re just like me. That’s why I hired you, you understand me. Anyway, we should talk in my office sometime, just you and me, and then you can come to my house and fix my computer, okay? And then we could go out for dinner, and get to know each other. Wear something nice, I’ll take you to a fancy restaurant. I bet you’ve never been to a fancy restaurant before, but then again I don’t now what marketers make. But you sure are expensive! You charge me too much for what you do- I could do it myself but my computer doesn’t turn on. Maybe I’ll find someone in another country to do the work and you can just tell them what to do- that would be cheaper, right? I want all my money to go into this business. Oh, and I need this website up in 2 weeks because I have to pay my bills in 3 weeks, so after we launch on Amazon I need to be making a profit of about $50,000 a month, okay? That should be easy for someone like you with my videos presenting the website and the products. It’s important that every page has 2 or 3 videos, okay? And we need to show all the products on the home page, and each product needs a video of how to use the product, or else people won’t know. But these custom products need to be the highlight of the website. Only, people usually come in for these products, so you’ll need to figure out how I can give them custom products for their medical problems without seeing them or doing …what do they call it? Telehealth. But I could do telehealth if I had a camera. But I don’t want to have to do anything but make videos and money. So I need you to sell these products for me, babe. Because there’s nobody else that is doing this- nobody else sells products with videos on how to use them, I checked! This is going to make millions, am I right? So I’ll see you tomorrow then, at my office. You can leave your car- what do you drive, a young girl like you probably drives a secondhand Hyundai, right? I have a nice car- It’s a Toyota. I’ll drive us back to my house and to dinner, we can have a few drinks, talk about the business, and you can fix my computer. Do you wear high heels? You should wear high heels, I love a woman in high heels. I’m so glad you’re my new business partner!
Things to note: I’ve been in this industry for 10 years. I am not a young girl. Toyota’s don’t impress me- I’m impressed by things like the ‘66 Shelby Cobra Super Snake or the ‘70 Chevelle LS6 SS 454- both of which were pictured on my office wall behind me during the call. My engagement ring was CLEARLY visible during our video call. I work completely remote and was hundreds of miles from this client’s location. The pandemic was already happening when this “conversation” took place. And the emails he sent me after I told him I wasn’t interested in continuing this conversation? Viruses. Full of viruses.
I was putting together an Instagram ad for a client who kept micromanaging the text placement. She sent me ten emails asking me to move the dates “a little bit up” and “a little bit right” andn “a smidge down.”
I was getting pretty angry with her until she told me she was happy with it:
The problem? Because of how my files displayed in my attachment window, “rev11” was right next to “rev1” – which is what I accidentally sent her. Which means the past 10 revisions were completely useless.
Me: This is the fifth revision, sir. As per our contract, we will have to start charging you if there are more revisions to come.
Client: Charge ME? Why would you do that? I’m giving my feedback!
Me: When you engage us as your agency, we go to great lengths to ensure quality of work while meeting your expectations. But your expectations aren’t clear, nor are your issues with our work. Unless you can point out mistakes or problems in the design, going back and forth like this is a waste of time for everyone.
Client: I have my reasons not to accept the design. You do know that I can do that right?
Me: Can you tell me what was wrong with the last design?
Client: I just don’t like it. Simple.
My client and I were trying to negotiate a new contract for some work that was very time sensitive. Our previous contract was designed by a 3rd party who subcontracted to me, so they had never seen my contracts before.
Client: Hey, I found a mistake in the contract, can you fix it?
Me: Thanks for bringing it to my attention-I understand your concerns! I’ve changed the language to better suit your needs, but I do need to add a stipulation for promotional materials. Please review and let me know if you have any questions or concerns. If not, please sign and send back so we can get started!
The client does not respond to this, or anything else, for 3 days. I checked in on several occasions and heard nothing until…
Client: I thought I told you to fix this issue in the contract?
Me: I did, I sent a revised copy the night we spoke.
Client: No, the language I don’t like is still right here.
Me: Alright, let me check my file and resend. I’m sorry for the confusion.
Client: Fine, whatever.
I checked the file I’d emailed- it contained the updated language. Nevertheless, I resaved the file with a different name and resent it. For the record, the original contract with no revisions was drawn up by the appropriate parties, and the language in question was an industry standard practice for the type of work that was outlined.
Client: I can’t believe this! I’ve had 3 other people read this contract now and they all say you’re trying to pull a fast one- this isn’t industry standard practice and it’s illegal! I need this language changed immediately. Do not try to swindle me, or I’ll take you to court! Do you understand me?!
Me: Ma’am, I don’t appreciate the accusation that I am attempting to “swindle” you. I assure you, I run my business completely legally and aboveboard. The original language is legal, whether you agree with it or not. The new language is legal as well. Now, I will send one more iteration of the contract. If you do not see it as anticipated, please try viewing it from a different device.
I highlighted the section causing problems and completely redacted all traces of the rest of the language, rather than just crossing them out. The entire time, the client was calling and texting with nasty language about how I can’t possibly know anything about what I’m doing, and “is it my first time?”
Client: It’s the same file! You’re insane! That’s it, I’m calling my lawyer.
Me: First off, call your lawyer and show them the document- they’ll tell you exactly what I told you. Second, did you check the contract on a different device?
The client doesn’t answer my question. Rather, while I was wrapped up in other business, they proceeded to email, text, and call a multitude of times, and I finally blocked their number when the call I answered came through with “Are you stupid or something?”
Me: Thank you for your time. I am no longer interested in pursuing business with you.
20 minutes later…
Client: Oh, I found the contract! I didn’t realize you weren’t updating the contract in my downloads folder and that I had to download it again from my email. It looks great. I signed and sent it back with a few revisions. Thanks! I love working with you, you’re the best! Can’t wait to chat soon about moving forward. We’re going to work together forever, you and me!
The kicker? The client had completely rewritten the contract terms in ballpoint pen in the margins of the document, scanned it, and sent it back to me. To top it all off, the section they were concerned about? Their new “provisions” basically reset the content back to the way it was when they first saw the contract.
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