Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

I am working with a client who is about to launch a new high-end restaurant within a...

3 November 2018 - 12:40pm

I am working with a client who is about to launch a new high-end restaurant within a well-established tourist hotel in a beachside holiday destination. Until recently they’d served quite average food, but had updated the menu and were trying to highlight that.

I sent my client the press ad with a headline that read “Discover a new way of dining.”

Client: Yeah, not quite right - I really want you to focus on the fact that it is a NEW way of dining.

Me: Uh… so, like the heading that says “Discover a new way of dining”…?

Client: Awesome. You’ve nailed it.

I guess my work here is done. And was done. Before.

I am a graphic design student and a few days ago I designed a resume for myself. It was in full...

2 November 2018 - 2:20pm

I am a graphic design student and a few days ago I designed a resume for myself. It was in full color and featured infographics; I figured it should be eye-catching.

Later, I showed it to a friend who wanted me to do one like it for him.

Me: Okay, just send me what info you want on it and I’ll get started.

Client: Sure! I can’t wait.

He didn’t send me anything. About a week later:

Client: So how’s the design going?

Me: You haven’t sent me any information. I can’t design an infographic without it.

Client: Oh just design something and send it to me so that I can complete it.

Me: Or you could just send all the information and I’ll do it for you.

Client: Okay I’ll send you something.

Rinse, repeat. Eventually, he did send me some actual info and I made a simple design. I sent him the final result and he was really happy with it… until I got this text:

Client: Everyone criticized my new resume. They said I should go for something more conventional, so I’m just going to take your design and modify it a little bit. 

Needless to say, I’m not doing any favors for him ever again.

Me: Can you give a high-quality version of your logo? Preferably an .eps file or similar.Client:...

2 November 2018 - 12:40pm

Me: Can you give a high-quality version of your logo? Preferably an .eps file or similar.

Client: Sure!

He sent me a .jpg that was 1.4 GB. Turns out they thought “high quality” meant “3000 DPI.”

Client: Could we substitute the ampersand with a hyphen or something else?Me: Sure thing!I take out...

1 November 2018 - 2:20pm

Client: Could we substitute the ampersand with a hyphen or something else?

Me: Sure thing!

I take out the ampersands and send it back.

Client: Let me be clear. Delete the ampersands. I’ve never liked ampersands and don’t want them here on a poster. That’s it.

I’m a bit confused at this point, but look through the document and remove one ampersand from a header that I’d missed. Send it back.

Client: Again, please delete the “@” and replace with a small “at.” Are we all clear on this, or is there a problem? I’ve never had to squabble over punctuation before with a designer! 

Me: I think you misunderstood what an ampersand is. “&” is an ampersand while “@” is just called an “at” or “at sign.”

Client: What? No.

She did apologize after.

I did freelance database design and data entry. I once had a client on Wall Street who hired me to...

1 November 2018 - 12:40pm

I did freelance database design and data entry. I once had a client on Wall Street who hired me to do data entry on his client and prospect list.

Client: I need a bunch of data entry done tonight. Would you mind working outside your normal hours? It’s an emergency.

Because he had been a good client I agreed at my overtime rate.

Client: The files are in an envelope on my desk. Just pick them up from my office.

I picked up the envelope and got to work. The files were there… along with a set of photos of his wife. First, his wife in a dress. Then in a bikini. Then performing various sex acts with multiple men.

The client was nowhere in the pictures, which somehow makes sense to me. I never mentioned it and neither did he.

He paid the bill, and then I never returned his calls.

Client: I made a graphic using Wordle and I saved it as a jpg and now Its really bad quality. Can...

31 October 2018 - 2:20pm

Client: I made a graphic using Wordle and I saved it as a jpg and now Its really bad quality. Can you make it better quality with photoshop?

Me: Uh… no. You can downsample images but not upsample and make them better quality. Does the program have export settings so that you can change the quality in options?

Client: Yeah it does but you have to pay for it so I didn’t want to.

As part of a design, I’d made a solid black background for a client.Client: Could you add a...

31 October 2018 - 12:40pm

As part of a design, I’d made a solid black background for a client.

Client: Could you add a one-pixel black border to the background?

But it was all black, and already had a border. 

I sent it back without changes. 

Client: Perfect!

I was working as in-house graphic designer for a conference years ago. The chairman of the...

30 October 2018 - 2:20pm

I was working as in-house graphic designer for a conference years ago. The chairman of the conference was super enthusiastic for everything new but he didn’t really have any technical understanding of how things work. It was a good thing too most of the time because his ideas were totally out of the box in a good way.

Except when they weren’t.

This one time I was planning the next event’s online programme with him and our web designer. As there was a lot of presentations to be held during any conference day, we needed to put all presentation abstracts in a pop-up that opened when you clicked the title of the presentation. The web designer had made a live version for us to see how the site would work.

Clicking through the site the chairman got excited about the function but got concerned when the abstract pop-ups were left open (because this happened in a time before javascript and in-browser pop-ups):

Client: This is really good, really good. Now can we then get the pop-ups to close automatically once the person has read it?

The web designer and I stared each other for a moment and then tried to swallow our laughter, all while explaining in a polite way that no, it wasn’t possible, unfortunately.

I scheduled an in-office appointment with a client to discuss a project. The client missed the...

30 October 2018 - 12:40pm

I scheduled an in-office appointment with a client to discuss a project. The client missed the appointment completely and didn’t call or respond to calls. I gave up.

The following morning I sent an email to the client.

Me: You missed your appointment for yesterday and we wanted to see if there was a better day for you to come in to discuss your changes. Let me know and I’ll get it scheduled. 

Client: I can come now…

The time is 4:50 pm. We close at 5:00.

The birth of a font: Alanna Munro and Tofino Pro

30 October 2018 - 9:05am

As a freelancer, life comes at you fast; that’s why it’s a good idea to create a product to generate a passive income stream for those little unexpected changes. Kyle talks with designer Alanna Munro about how she created her typeface, Tofino Pro, during one of the bigger life events you can have! 

Today’s links: 

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Download here!

I was once commissioned to design a logo for a health and diet blog.Client: I want my logo to have...

29 October 2018 - 2:20pm

I was once commissioned to design a logo for a health and diet blog.

Client: I want my logo to have an elephant because that’s my favourite animal. I want the city skyline in the background, fruits and vegetables, maybe flowers and an infinity symbol. Ooh! Maybe the elephant’s trunk can resemble the infinity symbol… and I want it to be iconic and classic like the Chanel logo.

I’m a graphic designer in a print shop. A client came in wanting to self-publish a 700-page novel....

29 October 2018 - 12:40pm

I’m a graphic designer in a print shop. A client came in wanting to self-publish a 700-page novel.

Client: How much would it cost to print millions of copies?

Me:

Me: Uh… Okay, well maybe you’d want to start with a smaller quantity and see how those sell first?

Client: This is going to be a big movie someday, so if you have a bulk rate I might as well get that.

Talking to her, it turns out that she does have high level contacts so I start to think maybe she does have a shot at success.  

Until I read her writing. It’s HORRIBLE. the text is full of obvious mistakes, there are full paragraphs without a single comma, there are three characters (3!) with the same name, and the whole story is just so confusing!

Me: Have you considered hiring a professional proofreader or editor? After all, you don’t want to pay and print millions of copies of books that are full of errors.

Client: Oh, there’s no worry of that. I studied English in college.

Me: Uh…

Anyway, she asked me to do the corrections I found to the best of my knowledge and even offered to pay me. I figured why not, signed an agreement, and proceeded to read that thing.

It was worse than I thought. Spelling errors everywhere. She frequently mixed up “their,” “they’re” and “there,” “are” for “our” and once wrote “hors d’oeuvres” as “ordures.” (I guess technically, that was French instead of English). I found so many atrocities in the first chapter it’s unbelievable.

Me: Pardon me, but there are really a lot of errors here. I just read a whole paragraph and couldn’t tell what was going on at all.

Her response?

Client: Can you even read English?

2,000+ Artistic Design Elements only $9! Save 99%!

28 October 2018 - 2:20pm

This week’s deal is on a bundle of artistic flourishes that will inspire you to even further greatness.

> Just take a look at some of these. They’re brimming with possibility! 

These aren’t just a few illustrations or elements to be slotted into an existing design; these are tools designed to transform the way you create! Paper Kingdom is a suite of tools for making your art look like a pop-up paradise, while Creative Veila’s Acrylic Toolkit brings the texture of paint to your designs! The Fairy Vector Brushes will let you freehand draw a woodcut, and Memphis Space seamless patterns are here to party like it’s 1994! Browsing this bundle is like shopping in a candy store  — it’s exciting just to look, and even more exciting to buy it all

Everything in this bundle would sell separately for $1470, but for the next week you can save 99% and get them all for $9. Honestly, I’d pay $9 just for Paper Kingdom, and there’s a lot more here that I’m excited about! 

>Check out the deal here! 

A client asked me to replicate one of their competitor’s logos with “just a few tweaks”...

28 October 2018 - 12:40pm

A client asked me to replicate one of their competitor’s logos with “just a few tweaks” for “copyright’s sake.”

Me: I can look into designing something along those lines, but I can not make it identical to that existing logo for the other company.

Client: No, no, no… I want to it look the same, just in different colors.

"I need it printed the size of, you know, a four-drawer bureau."

27 October 2018 - 3:20pm
“I need it printed the size of, you know, a four-drawer bureau.”

- A client who thinks I work at IKEA

A long-time client of mine asked to do a mailing of a letter that we’ve done for the last few years,...

27 October 2018 - 1:40pm

A long-time client of mine asked to do a mailing of a letter that we’ve done for the last few years, with the same format but new text.

They provided the new text, I formatted it into the letter format and then sent the proof back for approval. They approved it, and it went to print.

Later:

Client: Something’s missing from the letter, and it could be a legal issue if it’s not on there.  

Not only was that not disclosed to me when we started, it wasn’t there for years on any other letters, nor was it mentioned when the proof was approved.

Client: Well, this would have been something to bring up when you approved it.

Client: I only wrote the letter. I didn’t see what it looked like after.

Me: I sent you the proof and you approved it before I sent it out.

Client: Well yeah but that doesn’t mean I actually LOOKED at it!

I work at a non-profit where my job is basically “designated young person.” I’m in charge of...

26 October 2018 - 3:20pm

I work at a non-profit where my job is basically “designated young person.” I’m in charge of anything that has to do with digital communications because a) everyone else is afraid of it and b) everyone assumes I know how to do it.

Today at work, I was asked to update the PDF documents of the policies posted on our intranet. Relatively easy… except that the files I was given were ginormous and exceeds the max file size of 2mb. After trying to find an easy way to reduce the file sizes, I asked the exec assistant who created the files if she still has the original Word documents, figuring I could just redo the whole thing on InDesign or Photoshop.

Turns out, she wasn’t making the PDFs directly from Word. She was printing them, scanning them as PDFs, and then emailing them to herself.  What should have been a 30kb file became a 9,000kb file! 

I did a branding project for a small restaurant. Defining the colors took forever because the client...

26 October 2018 - 1:40pm

I did a branding project for a small restaurant. Defining the colors took forever because the client changed her mind a couple of times. Then this happened:

Client: I ordered signs and they are all in the wrong color.

Me: What do you mean? We are not done with the color definition.

Client: I sent them your first draft.

Me: What? Why would you do that?

Client: I was talking about this “dark blue” from day one. I have this particular color in my mind and I talked to you about this. I thought we were sync.

Me: But I can’t read your mind. I’m trying my best to get as close as possible.

Three days later I received an email with a bill attached (3600€). The client demanded that I pay for the signs since it is my fault that I don’t get it right the first time.

I’m a comic colorist and I’m working on a project where the deadline is too close and they needed a...

25 October 2018 - 3:20pm

I’m a comic colorist and I’m working on a project where the deadline is too close and they needed a second colorist to make it.

So I send a page with a religious gathering in an open field and as there weren’t any indications on the script about how to color it. I just assumed it was daytime.

Client: Oh, but I wanted this with dawn light.

Me: There wasn’t any indication and you gave me green light when I sent you the flat colors.

Client: Yeah, but I think it will look better.

Me: But then I have to change almost everything.

Client: I’m counting on you!

…Five hours of work gone to waste

I work freelance videography and met a potential client at a tradeshow. After many emails, lots of...

25 October 2018 - 1:40pm

I work freelance videography and met a potential client at a tradeshow. After many emails, lots of time in discovery phase, and writing up a proposal for the client outlining the advantages, logistics, promotional distribution ideas and a rough script, we were set to shoot a promo video. 

Client: Thank you for all the work and research you put in, but I am going to take the proposal you made and look for someone cheaper to shoot it. Sorry, but that’s just business.  

If that’s not bad enough, I got this email a few months later: 

Client: I ended up hiring my niece to do this video and I really want to pay her.   Can you please send me a quote on how much you would have charged me so I will know how much of money I should give her?

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